Edward Taylor, a Puritan minister of the Colonial Period, was also a poet who experimented on the art of poetry in order to glorify the Word of God. Taylor`s life-long quest for poetry resulted in a series of religious poems called the Preparatory Meditations (1682~1725), which not only reveals his endeavor to harmonize his religious belief with his poetic expectation, but also provides us a good chance to examine the tension between the poet`s religious sense of the Word and his artistic sense of human language. Taylor`s double concern about the Word and human language is so stubbornly sustained throughout the Preparatory Meditations that, at the first glance, it seems only to further the overall monotony of his poetry: thus, critics like William Scheick argue that "there is. . . no development, no divergence, no progress in the thought or artistry of his verse." Such an argument itself would admit of no dispute, if we attributed the overall stasis of the Preparatory Meditations, as Charles W. Mignon does, to the poet`s suspension of belief between doubt and certitude." This, however, is not exactly true of the poet`s stance over the issue of human language: the poet may be irresolute in fathoming the Word, but definitely reveals his changing views, as well as his inner conflict, about words. As might be expected, the earlier poems of the Preparatory Meditations reveal the poet`s enthusiasm for "singing," together with his confidence in his verbal ability. The poet is so confident in his divine quality that he even argues that "Angells. . . further from the Godhead stande than I" ("The Experience"). More than two years after he has started the Preparatory Meditations, however, he begins to be aware of the limits of his words: "How shall I praise thee then? My blottings Jar / And wrack my Rhymes to pieces" (1. 10). The poet eventually admits that "Words though the finest twine of reason, are / Too Course a web for Deity to ware" (2.43). It is true that any endeavor to bridge the chasm between the Word and human language is likely to win only paper victories-even by an appeal to poetry. The anxiety caused by the awareness of such limitations must have been by far the greatest for Taylor, since this orthodox Puritan minister, overwhelmed by the Word of God, could never fully sustain the idea that human language would match the Word. The idea itself, at a certain moment, must have struck him as "black Sin" (2.6), although his words were devoted solely to praising God. At this point, the change of tone in the Preparatory Meditations is quite predictable. Those poems written after 1686/87 manifest no more of Taylor`s enthusiastic poetic aspiration to "the Heavens above": rather, he is forced to acknowledge that "I fain would try / To heave thy Glory ``hove the Heavens above, / But finde my lisping tongue can never prie / It up an inch above this dirt nor move" (2.138). In spite of his frustration with words, however, he can never completely give up "the fairest blossoms of the minde" (2.43), i.e., human language, as evidenced by his later poetic career. However deeply one might be plunged into frustration, one could not even realize one`s frustration without words. Precisely for this reason, it becomes imperative for Taylor to grope toward a certain way of rekindling his ever weakening-yet, still remaining-hope for words. Thus, prayers and invocations come to play more and more crucial role in his later poetry, assuming much more humble and self-humiliating tone than ever before. We may note here that, as revealed in his prayer toward God to "cleanse" his body (2.75), the poet hopes to do away with his earth-bound quality, or, to be more specific, to transcend the limits of human language. But how can one transcend them, if one has no choice but to do so only within the limits or the prison house of language? The poet is eventually led to confess that "I. . . finde / My Prizing Faculty imprison`d lyes. / That its Aporeciation is confinde / Within its prison walls and small doth rise" (2.106). One may here imagine the poet coming to a deadlock. But, while writing the last part of the Preparatory Meditations over the span of twelve years (1713~25), Taylor opens his eyes to a new vision of language, as Jeffrey A. Hammond points out, by "center [ing] upon the Canticles allegory as a means of fixing his meditative attention almost exclusively on the next world," and thus by inviting the "element of futurity" to his poems. In particular, the poet seems to hope that "the aesthetic problem would resolve itself in the soul`s future; all ineffective praise [here on earth] would be corrected in heaven, and the lisp of the earth-bound poet would be eliminated once he is transported to glory." In short, the poet seems to believe in the future possibility of human language: it would purge itself of its earthly quality, and finally transcend its limits in the heavenly world of God. Such a religious hope as it is may not change the immediate reality of words, but it enables the poet, who is now near to the final moment of life, to accept human language and poetry as the status quo with renewed affection-in spite of its obvious limits.