chapter  1
2 Pages

'Absent from thee'

Joseph Addison was born on 1 May 1672, the son of the rector of Milston, in Wiltshire. He finished school at the Charterhouse from where he went up to Queen's College in Oxford. Addison's literary career began with his contributions to The Tatler, the popular periodical edited by his friend Richard Steele. Addison's poems reveal a nice blend of faith and 'philosophy'. Deriving inspiration from both the psalmist of the Old Testament and the scientific thinkers of the period, he achieves a tone that reconciles the two. Similarly, as in 'How are thy servants blest', he can redefine personal experience in terms of the traditional religious metaphor. In the process the poem arrives at a voice of both individual intensity and public fervour. Faith and devotion naturally grow in the mind of every reasonable man, who sees the impressions of divine power and wisdom in every object on which he casts his eye.