John Bunyan (1628—1688) is best known as the author of the allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress. (The first part was published in 1678, and the second in 1684.) It is probably the best known allegory ever written in any language. Bunyan was a tinker by trade — a mender of pots — which did not provide well for his family. During the English Civil War he served in the Parliamentary army.
He began writing The Pilgrim’s Progress when he was imprisoned for preaching without a licence. During the restoration of the monarchy nonconformist meetings had been prohibited, and people were required to attend their local Anglican congregation. He admitted at one trial, “If you release me today, I will preach tomorrow.”
Many idioms in English come from the book, such as “the Slough of Despond” and “Vanity Fair”. Rudyard Kipling called Bunyan “the father of the novel”, and C.S. Lewis followed in Bunyan’s footsteps by writing his own allegory The Pilgrim’s Regress.
The following is a poetic passage from the second part of The Pilgrim’s Progress.
Oh, World Of Wonders
Oh, world of wonders! (I can say no less)
That I should be preserved in that distress
That I have met with here! Oh, blessed be
That hand that from it hath delivered me!
Dangers in darkness, devils, hell, and sin
Did compass me, while I this vale was in;
Yea, snares, and pits, and traps, and nets did lie
My path about, that worthless, silly I
Might have been catched, entangled, and cast down;
But, since I live, let Jesus wear the crown.
Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: www.dsmartin.ca