Jeffrey A. Hammond's American puritan elegy PDF

By Jeffrey A. Hammond

ISBN-10: 051101807X

ISBN-13: 9780511018077

ISBN-10: 0521662451

ISBN-13: 9780521662451

Jeffrey Hammond's research of the funeral elegies of early New England reassesses a physique of poems whose significance of their personal time has been obscured through nearly overall overlook in ours. Hammond reconstructs the ancient, theological and cultural contexts of those poems to illustrate how they replied to Puritan perspectives on a selected strategy of mourning. The elegies emerge, he argues, as performative scripts that consoled readers by way of shaping their event. They shed new gentle at the emotional measurement of Puritanism and the $64000 function of formality in Puritan tradition.

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At first, the plainer sort of elegy assumed virtually identical form in both Englands. A poem written in  by “I. ” for Rev. John Rogers of Dedham, Essex, whose grandson would become president of Harvard, features most of the hallmarks of the New England elegy. Celebrating the “happy change and blessed gain” of a generalized saint, the poet praises “Our faithfull Moses” whose “graces” the reader is urged to “imitate”: “So shalt thou live in happy state, / and pleasing in Gods sight” (Draper, Century ).

Nor was such an office to be performed in secret. In early New England, as in preindustrial societies generally, nobody died alone, and Puritan grief was not “private” in the sense that it usually is for us: Puritan mourners could not escape Donne’s conclusion that “any man’s death diminishes me” (“Devotions” ). Not surprisingly, the initial impact of a death on these close-knit communities was frighteningly disruptive. Not only had a beloved person been taken, but God’s workers in the world, scarce enough to begin with, had been diminished by one.

At this time, too, funerary customs became more elaborate as a means of reinforcing a community of believers whose ties with England had been weakened. As William Scheick points out, the New England elegy in this later form separated from its English precedents by laying greater stress on the commemoration of a “collective self ” through which survivors could absorb the saintly traits of the deceased (“Tombless Virtue” –). 7 Once established in New England, the funeral elegy achieved remarkable stability, resisting the shift toward neoclassicism and sentimentality, which began to mark the English elegy soon after the Restoration, until  The American Puritan elegy well into the eighteenth century.

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American puritan elegy by Jeffrey A. Hammond


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