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Edward Taylor uses an extended metaphor to compare his heart and a tinderbox in order
to highlight how human fragility plays a part in God’s overarching power. An extended metaphor is comparing two things over an extended time to prove the author’s message. In the first stanza, it states, “My heart was made thy tinder box. My ‘ffections were thy tinder in’t: Where fell thy sparks by drops. These holy sparks of heavenly fire that came. Did ever catch and often out would flame. The poet used an extended metaphor since at the time Taylor worked as a minister in Puritan society. It is inherent in Taylor’s nature to warn others that one has sinned from the start and order to be forgiven, one must immerse himself with God. Because of this, the context to which he writes this poem as if he is writing one of his public sermons, but through the use of an extended metaphor for the purpose of imagination. He introduces the metaphor with describing how his “heart was made thy God tinder box” in the second line. The subject of the poem is about decline and growth much like how a fire can go out or not which is why he ties in the human heart to the tinder. The metaphor is employed again when he says “….my heart is made thy censor trim, full of thy golden altar’s fire…”. His heart is still playing its role as a tinder that has failed to do its job by not providing sweet incense. This is interpreted as sinful men incapable of purifying their faith like the sweet incense which purifies the air. The extended metaphor works to drive the notion that humans who purify their faith will see God’s power through “the holy sparks of heavenly fire” that fill the innate heart of fragility.

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