In “Upon a Wasp Chilled with Cold” Edward Taylor personifies a wasp as a beautiful woman. In a puritan culture, describing a beautiful woman was against society, but the speaker personifies a wasp to escape this. It is ironic that the speaker chooses to describe the beauty of a wasp because a wasp was referred to as “annoying” in the Old Testament. This may have been another way of avoiding puritan society. At the end of the poem, the speaker asks God to clear his mind. This can be seen as a way to ask for forgiveness from God and other puritans.
Instead of describing a beautiful woman in the poem, the speaker characterizes a wasp to avoid the consequences of a conservative puritan culture. “In Sol’s warm breath and shine as saving, / Which with her hands she chafes and stands / Rubbing her Legs, Shanks, Thighs, and hands” (Taylor ll. 4-6) describes a wasp warming up in the sun rubbing her legs, thighs, and hands. The wasp is personified because it cannot rub it’s own thighs and legs. This can be related to a woman bathing in the sun massaging her legs and thighs. “Doth Comb her velvet Capital” (Taylor l. 14) humanizes a wasp combing her hair. This also shows how the speaker used a wasp to describe an attractive woman.
In the puritan society, everything, including nature, relates to God. Negative talk of God’s creation might cause disturbance among puritans. The speaker chose to personify a wasp as an attractive woman because a wasp was often related to as “annoying.” The wasp was given many compliments throughout the poem. The wasp was not only given physical praise, but was also given abstract compliments. “Her warm thanks offering for all” (Taylor l. 28) expresses her thankfulness to God and other creatures.
The second stanza of the poem is asking God to clear his mind so that he can see God’s beauty. This can be seen as a way of asking for forgiveness from God and other purita...