Isaac Watts Poems

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Isaac Watts
Isaac Watts (July 17, 1674 November 25, 1748) is recognised as the "Father of English Hymnody", as he was the first prolific and popular English hymnwriter, credited with some 750 hymns. Many of his hymns remain in active use today and have been translated into many languages. Statue of Isaac Watts in Southampton.Born in Southampton, Watts was brought up in the home of a committed Nonconformist his father had been incarcerated twice for his controversial views. At King Edward VI School (where one of the houses is now named "Watts" in his honour), he learned Latin, Greek and Hebrew and displayed a propensity for rhyme at home, driving his parents to the point of distraction on many occasions with his verse. Once, he had to explain how he came to have his eyes open during prayers. "A little mouse for want of stairs ran up a rope to say its prayers." Receiving corporal punishment for this, he cried "O father, do some pity take And I will no more verses make." Watts, unable to go to either Oxford or Cambridge due to his Nonconformity, went to the Dissenting Academy at Stoke Newington in 1690. His education led him to the pastorate of a large Independent Chapel in London, and he also found himself in the position of helping trainee preachers, despite poor health. Taking work as a private tutor, he lived with the nonconformist Hartopp family at Fleetwood House, Abney Park in Stoke Newington, and later in the household of Sir Thomas and Lady Mary Abney at Theobalds, Cheshunt, in Hertfordshire, and at their second residence, Abney House, Stoke Newington. Though a nonconformist, Sir Thomas practiced occasional conformity to the Church of England as necessitated by his being Lord Mayor of London 170001. Likewise Isaac Watts held religious opinions that were more nondenominational or ecumenical than was at that time common for a nonconformist; having a greater interest in promoting education and scholarship, than preaching for any particular ministry. On the death of Sir Thomas Abney, Watts moved permanently with widow, Lady Mary Abney, and her remaining daughter, to their second home, Abney House, at Abney Park in Stoke Newington - a property that Mary had inherited from her brother along with title to the Manor itself. The beautiful grounds at Abney Park, which became Watts' permanent home from 1736 to 1748, led down to an island heronry in the Hackney Brook where Watts sought inspiration for the many books and hymns written during these two decades. He died there in Stoke Newington and was buried in Bunhill Fields, having left behind him a massive legacy, not only of hymns, but also of treatises, educational works, essays and the like. His work was influential amongst independents and early religious revivalists in his circle, amongst whom was Philip Doddridge who dedicated his best known work to Watts. On his death, Isaac Watts' papers were given to Yale University; an institution with which he was connected due to its being founded predominantly by fellow Independents (Congregationalists).

the snow man
 
 
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees cruste... [read poem]
the emperor of ice-cream
 
 
Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupis... [read poem]
disillusionment of ten o'clock
 
 
The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rin... [read poem]
against evil company
 
 
Why should I join with those in Play,
In whom I've no delight,
Who curse and swear, bu... [read poem]
two figures in dense violet light
 
 
I had as lief be embraced by the portier of the hotel
As to get no more from the moonlight... [read poem]
the man whose pharynx was bad
 
 
The time of year has grown indifferent.
Mildew of summer and the deepening snow
Are both a... [read poem]
six significant landscapes
 
 
I
An old man sits
In the shadow of a pine tree
In China.
He sees larkspur,
... [read poem]
asides on the oboe
 
 
The prologues are over. It is a question, now,
Of final belief. So, say that final belief
... [read poem]
the idea of order at key west
 
 
She sang beyond the genius of the sea.
The water never formed to mind or voice,
Like a bod... [read poem]
thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird
 
 
I
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.... [read poem]
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