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By Randall A. Clack

From the center a while to the shut of the seventeenth century, alchemy was once primary to Western tradition, as ratings of experimenters sought to alter lead into gold. even though its importance declined with the increase of chemistry, alchemy persevered to captivate the mind's eye of writers and its photos nonetheless seem in glossy inventive works. This publication examines the literary illustration of alchemical thought and the metaphor of alchemical regeneration within the works of Edward Taylor, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller.

While Taylor used alchemical metaphors to demonstrate the redeeming grace of God upon the soul, those similar metaphors have been utilized by Poe, Hawthorne, and Fuller to depict a broader idea of redemption. those later writers used alchemical imagery to explain either the regeneration of the person and the prospective transformation of society. For Poe, alchemy turned a metaphor for the remodeling energy of mind's eye; for Hawthorne, it turned a way of representing the redeeming strength of affection; for Fuller, it figured the reconciliation of gender opposites. therefore those 4 American writers integrated the belief of regeneration of their works, and the tropes and metaphors of the medieval alchemists supplied a desirable method of imagining the transformative process.

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Chap. 29. 21 Of special interest to our study of Taylor is Webster’s account of the Aurum Potabile and the alkahest and their connection to Taylor’s use of aqua vitae. 10 (the biblical text is John 6:55: “My blood is drink indeed”). While the image of Christ’s blood (and the sacrament) is primary for the poet here, Taylor’s subtle use of chemical images and apparatus in the midst of this meditation (stanzas two through five) signals the secondary alchemical metaphor of the distillation process at work.

Chap. 29. 21 Of special interest to our study of Taylor is Webster’s account of the Aurum Potabile and the alkahest and their connection to Taylor’s use of aqua vitae. 10 (the biblical text is John 6:55: “My blood is drink indeed”). While the image of Christ’s blood (and the sacrament) is primary for the poet here, Taylor’s subtle use of chemical images and apparatus in the midst of this meditation (stanzas two through five) signals the secondary alchemical metaphor of the distillation process at work.

Apart from the poet’s wish to be with Christ, these lines recall the words of Philalethes, “Join heaven to earth in the fire of love,” and intimate that Christ is a spiritual bridge from heaven to earth wedding the two realms, as Taylor notes in stanza five: Heavens Golden Spout thou art where Grace most Choice Comes Spouting down from God to man of Clay. A Golden Stepping Stone to Paradise A Golden Ladder into Heaven! I’l pray Oh! that thou wast on Earth below with mee Or that I was in Heaven above with thee.

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