By Jeffrey A. Hammond
Jeffrey Hammond's learn of the funeral elegies of early New England reassesses a physique of poems whose significance of their personal time has been obscured via nearly overall forget in ours. Hammond reconstructs the old, theological and cultural contexts of those poems to illustrate how they spoke back to Puritan perspectives on a particular technique of mourning. The elegies emerge, he argues, as performative scripts that consoled readers through shaping their event. They shed new mild at the emotional size of Puritanism and the $64000 position of formality in Puritan tradition.
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Additional info for American puritan elegy
If the aging minister ever chanced upon a copy of issue Number of the New-England Courant, Franklin’s parody made no impact on how he applied his poetic gifts to the occasion of death. Increase Mather died scarcely a year after the Dogood parody appeared, and during the next two years Taylor carefully worked through four versions of an elegy for his old friend written in the same old style. Taylor saw no need to abandon a form of commemoration that was still vital for him, least of all for such trivial reasons as bowing to literary fashion or heeding the benighted carpings of Boston wits.
Its roots lay in Renaissance England, where Protestant reforms initiated lively debate over what constituted proper mourning. ” Such Puritan plainness struck some, however, as going too far, even to the point of casting dishonor on the deceased. In John Weever complained that “wee, in these days, doe not weepe and mourne at the departure of the dead, so much, nor so long, as in Christian dutie we ought” (Stannard , , ). It was within this debate, with opinion ranging from disgust at pomp and ceremony as a relic of “Romish” practice to horror at Puritan-inspired funerary rites so plain that they struck many as being disrespectful, that the varieties of English elegy developed.
Franklin’s joke was based, of course, on his reader’s recognition that “Kitelic” poems were hardly new. 3 The passing of a devout soul virtually demanded a poem, a verbal marker of the deceased’s victory and an encapsulation of the Puritan view not just of leaving this world but of living in it. Like all funerary texts, the Puritan elegy extended consolation in part because of its predictability. What made it distinctly “Puritan” was the fervor with which it both reaﬃrmed the communal mission of God’s people and situated individual readers within that Monuments enduring and otherwise mission as a precondition to paying proper respect to the dead.
American puritan elegy by Jeffrey A. Hammond