And Must the Sword this Controverse Decide

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And Must the Sword this Controverse Decide

Poem #64

Original Source

Hester Pulter, Poems breathed forth by the nobel Hadassas, University of Leeds Library, Brotherton Collection, MS Lt q 32

Versions

  • Facsimile of manuscript: Photographs provided by University of Leeds, Brotherton Collection

  • Transcription of manuscript: By Leah Knight and Wendy Wall.
  • Elemental edition: By Leah Knight and Wendy Wall.
  • Amplified edition: By Elizabeth Sauer.

How to cite these versions

Conventions for these editions

The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making

  • Created by Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
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X (Close panel)Notes: Transcription

 Editorial note

In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.
Line number 1

 Physical note

This poem is in a different hand from the main scribe, and is on paper that was tipped into the manuscript after binding.
Line number 3

 Physical note

double strike-through
Line number 7

 Physical note

two short upright marks atop
Line number 10

 Physical note

double strike-through
Line number 11

 Physical note

second “r” could be “t”
Line number 12

 Physical note

floating superscript “r” is blotted out in ink
Line number 16

 Physical note

second “e” scribbled out
Line number 17

 Physical note

two short upright marks atop
Line number 17

 Physical note

double strike-through
Line number 18

 Physical note

to right, after a space, vertical line curving to right at top
Line number 21

 Physical note

unidentified third letter crossed out
Line number 23

 Physical note

second “e” may be scribbled out
Line number 26

 Physical note

reverse of page blank
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Transcription

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[Untitled]
And Must the Sword this Controverse Decide
And Must the Sword this Controverse Decide
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
The aim of the elemental edition is to make the poems accessible to the largest variety of readers, which involves modernizing spelling and punctuation as well as adding basic glosses. Spelling and punctuation reflect current standard American usage; punctuation highlights syntax which might otherwise be obscure. Outmoded but still familiar word forms (“thou,” “‘tis,” “hold’st”) are not modernized, and we do not modernize grammar when the sense remains legible. After a brief headnote aimed at offering a “way in” to the poem’s unique qualities and connections with other verse by Pulter or her contemporaries, the edition features a minimum of notes and interpretative framing to allow more immediate engagement with the poem. Glosses clarify synonyms or showcase various possible meanings in Pulter’s time. Other notes identify named people and places or clarify obscure material. We rely (without citation) primarily on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the Oxford Reference database, and the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. When we rely on Alice Eardley’s edition of Pulter’s work, we cite her text generally (“Eardley”); other sources are cited in full. The result is an edition we consider a springboard for further work on Pulter’s poetry. See full conventions for this edition here.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Originally one of the few untitled poems, “And Must the Sword this Controverse Decide” (Poem 64) is in Pulter’s hand but may also be in two other hands,
Gloss Note
Christian, “The poems of Lady Hester Pulter,” 85.
[1]
its collective composition thus complementing its tradition themes and the shared royalist sentiments of the intellectual circles in which she worked. As Alice Eardley observes, “the opening up of a poem’s potential contexts involves establishing the bounds of the knowledge that may legitimately be brought to bear on the material.”
Gloss Note
Alice Eardley, “Hester Pulter’s ‘Indivisibles’ and the Challenges of Annotating Early Modern Women’s Poetry,” SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 52.1 (2012): 122 (117-41).
[2]
My editorial insertions and comments are intended to enrich the interpretative experience of “And Must the Sword” by recourse to writings on royalist history and cross-references to books Pulter may have consulted—an inventory of which scholars have attempted to reconstruct on the basis of intrinsic textual evidence—and by comparisons to other poems in her oeuvre. The poem in iambic pentameter couplets appeared as a single stanza, which I divided to highlight the unusually bold break in the argument and, at the same time, to underscore the performance of the poet and the restoration of order and truth over the confusion resulting from the civil wars, regicide, and divine judgement described in the poem’s first half.
Critical Note
By introducing this division, I forge formal connections between Poem 64 and Geffrey Whitney’s two-part emblem “Veritas temporis filia” (Whitney, A Choice of Emblemes, and Other Devises [Leiden, 1586], 4). See the note on line 21 below.
[3]
For the same reason, I have capitalized the first letters of the names and figures of divine agents in the poem, and inserted endstops, which are entirely lacking in the manuscript version, including at the end of the text. Some lines require enjambment (see lines 16-17, for example). The inclusion of endstops throws into relief those lines whose significances are enhanced by enjambment. I have also modernized most of the spelling for the modern reader.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This poem begins in medias res: mid-sentence (“And”), and apparently in the midst of England’s civil wars, but sometime after the beheading of Charles I in 1649. In her opening query, the speaker seems to regret the inevitability of violence (“the sword”) as a solution to her country’s misrule, yet she still invokes divine vengeance upon her foes. Although she appears to implore God to condemn all factions, Pulter evidently excluded her own party from this condemnation: factions were dissidents; royalists were loyalists. The invocation of the “Lord of Hosts,” an epithet from the Hebrew Bible, suits the eye-for-an-eye endgame envisioned here: if the speaker has her way, the bloodthirsty shall be quenched by each other’s blood, and as they were mercilessly deaf to the cries of the innocent, so God shall be to theirs, at the end of their earthly lives or (implicitly) in a hellish hereafter. The speaker then prays for the eternal salvation of those she considers God’s chosen, and for the restoration at the end of time of their slain king: not, in this context, Christ, but Charles I (although the two were often identified in royalist imagery). As though to usher in this future peace (for some, anyhow), the concluding hortatory anaphora (“Let … Let”) and personified abstractions (time, grace, truth) evoke a serenity utterly at odds with the bloody clashes earlier in the poem.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This lyrical poem resonates with Pulter’s three elegies on Charles I, which were influenced by the culture and aesthetics of kingship and martyrdom in the wake of the regicide (1649). In an age before political parties, royalism—which is on full display in Pulter’s poetry—emerged as a political, cultural, and literary phenomenon that resisted Cromwellian rule while upholding monarchical authority. Composed c. 1651, “And Must the Sword this Controverse Decide” reflects on the British civil wars, the ongoing political and civil disputes, and on the persistence of royalist sentiment and the value of literary production well after the regicide, implied by the reference to the king’s death, which “hath been deplored / So long by us.”
The tone of Pulter’s royalist verse is serious, and not reflective of the Anacreontic mid seventeenth-century literary mode, which emerged in the experience of royalist defeat, and which represents one branch of the heterogeneous Cavalier poetic tradition. Anacreon, the ancient Greek poet known for his drinking lyrics, was the inspiration for the witty, masculinist verse of some English Cavalier lyricists.
Gloss Note
Karen Britland, “Conspiring with ‘friends’: Hester Pulter’s Poetry and the Stanley Family at Cumberlow Green,” The Review of English Studies, NS, 69.292 (2018): 846-49 (832–54).
[1]
Unsurprisingly, neither Pulter nor her like-minded (female) contemporaries, notably Margaret Cavendish and Katherine Philips, indulge and toast the courtly ideals of fine living, drinking, socializing, and versifying in the spirit of sprezzatura (a casual grace).
Gloss Note
Ann Baynes Coiro, “The Personal Rule of Poets: Cavalier Poetry and the English Revolution,” The Oxford Handbook of Literature and the English Revolution, ed. Laura Lunger Knoppers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 206-37. The poems by Cavendish and Philips post-date Pulter’s Poem 64, but they display similar convictions. Pulter likely owned a copy of Cavendish’s Poems, and Fancies written by the Right Honourable, the Lady Margaret Newcastle (London, 1653). Philips defended the (dead) king’s reputation against the libel of Fifth Monarchist and Approver of Ministers, Vavasor Powell, in “Upon the Double Murther of K. Charles I,” which was not published until 1667, but was written in the early 1650s. See Philips, Poems by the most deservedly Admired Mrs. Katherine Philips, the matchless Orinda (London, 1667), 1-2.
[2]
Among the Cavalier poets who produced meditative verses on retreat, loss, exile, and death, which may have influenced Pulter, was Thomas Carew. His posthumous 1640 volume, titled “Poems,” is assumed to be among Pulter’s library holdings. Pulter likely also possessed a copy of Robert Herrick’s Hesperides or, The works both humane & divine of Robert Herrick, Esq. (1648) among whose poetic themes are the civil wars and Charles I’s stellification. “To the King,” for example, describes “my Charles [who] shines here, / A Publike Light (in this immensive Sphere).” Herrick’s Noble Numbers: or, His Pious Pieces (1647) in Hesperides (1648) contains various poems hailing the king, including “Good Friday: Rex Tragicus; or, Christ Going to His Crosse,” which eerily predicts Charles’s execution and prophesies his ascent: “begin, great King! Ascend Thy throne, / And thence proceed, to act Thy Passion / To such an height, to such a period rais’d, / As Hell, and Earth, and Heav’n may stand amazed.”
Gloss Note
Herrick, Hesperides or, The works both humane & divine of Robert Herrick, Esq. (London, 1648), 278; His Noble Numbers: or, His Pious Pieces, in Hesperides, 74.
[3]
Pulter’s Poem 64 will also commemorate and raise Charles to the spheres.
Pulter’s pro-monarchy poems are solemn, biblical, and formal—in line with many of the elegiac works composed in response to the regicide and the release of the most popular book of the seventeenth century, Eikon Basilike, a copy of which Pulter probably owned.
Critical Note
Stefan Graham Christian categorizes Eikon Basilike as a “possible” holding in Pulter’s library. See Christian’s authoritative and valuable list of Pulter’s library books, certain and probable, in Christian, “The Poems of Lady Hester Pulter (1605?–1678): An Annotated Edition” (2012), 60–64. Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3545910. Pulter was introduced in London to William Dugard, the printer of Eikon Basilike (Sarah C. E. Ross and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann, eds., Women Poets of the English Civil War [Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018], 90). Charles’s book is heavily reliant on the Psalms, as is Pulter’s poetry; in the case of Poem 64, note, for example, the indebtedness to Psalm 137.
[4]
Purportedly in prayer, Charles I appeals in Eikon Basilike to a higher form of truth and justice, and performs acts of self-examination and devotion, for which James I, John Donne, and George Herbert had supplied examples.
Critical Note
Refer to the Curation entitled Pulter reads Eikon Basilike for the foldout and title page of Eikon Basilike. Authored by Charles I and John Gauden, Eikon Basilike. The pourtraicture of His sacred Majestie in his solitudes and sufferings was printed by William Dugard (London, 1649). Charles was indebted to Sandys’s metrical translation of the psalter, A Paraphrase Upon the Psalmes of David in A Paraphrase Upon the Divine Poems (London, 1636, rev. ed. 1638, rpt. 1648), which was dedicated to the monarch and his spouse, and intended for singing in the Chapel Royal.
[5]
Pulter also adopted these writers as literary models, and in Poem 64, in the role of “Time’s fair Virgin Daughter,” unsheathes not a sword but a stylus to justify the legitimacy and legacy of kingship. The poet-speaker opens by asking Job’s question to God about whether “the sword this controverse [must] decide.” In the course of the poem, she demonstrates—as in the Epistle to the Hebrews 4:12 and in a contemporary book Pulter likely owned, Robert Burton’s 1621 Anatomy of Melancholy—that “It is an old saying, A blow with a word, strikes deeper then a blow with a sword.”
Gloss Note
Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (Oxford, 1621), 1.2.4.4, p. 196.
[6]
Poem 64 delivers a blow in verse form.
“And Must the Sword” resonates with other poems in Pulter’s oeuvre, including the tearful On the Horrid Murder of that Incomparable Prince [Poem 14], Let None Sigh More for Lucas or for Lisle [On the Same [2]] [Poem 15], which takes up the theme of Poem 14, and On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]. Pre-1649 Pulter poems that set the scene and supply interpretative frames for those on the regicide are Upon the Imprisonment of his Sacred Majesty [Poem 13], written in 1647, and On those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas [Poem 7], written c. 1648. These royalist poems provide her with a venue for political commentary, an uncharacteristic mode of expression for a female poet whose repertoire consists largely of personal poetry. However, she (Hester) identifies herself repeatedly in her oeuvre with and as the Noble Hadassah, a savior of her chosen nation.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Physical Note
This poem is in a different hand from the main scribe, and is on paper that was tipped into the manuscript after binding.
And
must the ſword this controverce deſide
Physical Note
This poem is probably in Pulter’s hand.
And
must the sword this
Gloss Note
obsolete form of “controversy”
controverse
decide:
Critical Note

The line is paraphrased rather liberally from the Book of Job 9:23 (“If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent”). Pulter is indebted to George Sandys’s A Paraphrase Upon Job in A Paraphrase Upon the Divine Poems (London, 1638), 14-15, which Sandys dedicates to King Charles. The relevant passage from A Paraphrase Upon Job is in the Curation entitled Pulter Reads George Sandys’s Paraphrase Upon Job. Neither the Geneva Bible nor the King James Bible (KJB)—which is the “Authorized Version” for readers of the time—provides the translation or paraphrase of Job 9:23 that Pulter uses for the opening line of Poem 64. And neither Stefan Christian nor Alice Eardley mentions Sandys’s A Paraphrase Upon Job in their editions of Pulter’s poems (for Eardley, see Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda, ed. Alice Eardley [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014]).

Many of the themes and figures used by Sandys in his paraphrase (or what we might call an amplified edition) of Job appear in Pulter’s present poem, which reflects on providence and divine judgement. However, by virtue of rendering “And with his Sword the controverse decides” into a rhetorical question, Pulter is re-paraphrasing Sandys’s A Paraphrase Upon Job. That Pulter is generally fascinated by Job is apparent as well in Upon the Imprisonment of his Sacred Majesty [Poem 13], in which she describes Charles: “Then let our Job-like saint rise from the ground / For piety and patience so renowned / That for the best of kings he may be crowned” (Elemental Edition, lines 13-15).

And must the sword this controverse decide
2
Which of theſe ffactions shall this kingdome ride
Which of these
Gloss Note
depreciative term for political (and often dissenting and disputatious) groups, here apparently alluding to warring sides in England’s civil wars
factions
shall this kingdom
Gloss Note
in this context, likely meaning dominate or control, oppress or tyrannize; connotations include gaining (unearned) advantage or aggrandizement from, and several senses related to violence (serving in a cavalry; going on horseback into battle; parading as punishment); figuratively, to ride hard (or to death).
ride
?
Which of these factions shall this kingdom ride?
3
Great God loock
Physical Note
double strike-through
down
on their pride and heere their bosts
Great God, look on their pride and hear their boasts;
Great God,
Critical Note
“down” appeared between the words “look” and “on” in the manuscript edition of the poem, but was struck out. It is still implied here, and the phrase appears in a number of Pulter’s poems, such as, Dear God, from Thy High Throne Look Down [Poem 63], which is in Pulter’s hand. How Long Shall My Dejected Soul [Poem 24] features “Oh then look down” (line 9). In line 3 of Poem 64, Pulter recalls KJB Genesis 11:5: “And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.” See also Psalm 137.
look on their pride
and hear their boasts;
4
Declare thy ſelfe alone the Lord of Hosts
Declare thy self alone the
Gloss Note
epithet for God used often in the Old Testament, sometimes alluding to the multitude of attending angels and sometimes to Israel’s armies; in latter sense, suggestive of “God of armies or battles.”
Lord of Hosts
;
Declare thy self alone the Lord of Hosts;
5
Confound their plotts and curs’t Imagination
Confound their plots and cursed imagination
Critical Note
to confuse; to overthrow. Pulter deliberately uses this word to connect the divine retribution against the proud builders of Babel to the cry for justice against the Cromwellian government. “Confound their language” is repeated within two verses of the KJB (Genesis 11:7, 9).
Confound
their plots and cursed
Critical Note

See KJB Genesis 11:6: “And the LORD said, Behold, … this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”

Pulter’s Mighty Nimrod (Emblem 1) [Poem 67] is replete with references to the delusions and folly of the builders “Foolishly dreaming” (l. 9). Verses 19-20 in the manuscript read “Let their Accursed plots prove their delusion / For Fance’d Glory let them find confusion.”

imagination
6
That haue allmost desroy’d this Church and Nation
That have almost destroyed this church and nation.
That have almost destroyed this
Gloss Note
refers to the concept of a stable, unified country, now devastated by the builders of Babel / the doomed Cromwellian government
church and nation
.
7
ffor blood they thirst,
Physical Note
two short upright marks atop
O
lett them bee imbrued
For blood they thirst: O, let them be
Gloss Note
stained, dyed, especially with blood; earlier also sometimes with the sense of “defiled”
imbrued
For blood they thirst: O, let them be
Gloss Note
stained or bloodied one’s hands or sword. The adversaries use swords; God and the poet wield words.
imbrued
8
In one anothers, that haue of bedu’ed
In one another’s, that have
Physical Note
The manuscript reads “of.”
oft
bedewed
In one another’s, that have oft bedewed
9
With tears ſad Widdows, and poore Orphans, eyes
With tears sad widows’ and poor orphans’ eyes;
With tears sad
Critical Note
This biblical phrase often appears in cries for justice for the oppressed; see, for example, James 1:27. Sandys writes, “Sad widowes, by thee rifled, weepe in vaine: / And ruin’d Orphants of thy Rapes complaine” (A Paraphrase Upon Job, 29). Poet Anne Bradstreet wrote about the crises of the “present troubles” in like terms, and textual evidence in Pulter’s poetry suggests she owned a copy of Bradstreet’s 1650 The Tenth Muse lately sprung up in America. Or severall poems, compiled with great variety of wit and learning, full of delight ... By a Gentlewoman in those parts (London, 1650). See the Curation entitled Pulter Reads Bradstreet’s Tenth Muse. Composed in 1643, Bradstreet’s “A Dialogue between Old England and New, concerning their present troubles. Anno 1642,” which laments the civil wars, is greatly indebted to French Huguenot poet Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas’s “Dialogue upon the Troubles past: Betweene Heraclitus and Democritus, the weeping and the laughing Philosophers.” Pulter probably owned a copy of Du Bartas in translation—Du Bartas his Devine Weekes and Workes by Josuah Sylvester (London, 1611). “A Dialogue” appears on pp. 759-63. Although she was a Puritan, Bradstreet, like her community, championed the cause of the king and decried the sufferings of the victims of war.
widows’ and poor orphans’
eyes;
10
Bee deffe
Physical Note
double strike-through
the
to theirs as they were to their cries
Be deaf to
Gloss Note
“theirs” and “they” refer to the warring factions; “their” to the widows and orphans.
theirs, as they were to their
cries.
Critical Note
“theirs” and “they” reverberate and reinforce the theme of just deserts. The cry for vengeance recalls Psalm 137: “without pity heare their dying grones” (George Sandys, A Paraphrase Upon the Psalmes in A Paraphrase Upon the Divine Poems [London, 1638], 160).
Be deaf to theirs, as they
were to their cries.
11
As in their highth they
Physical Note
second “r” could be “t”
merrie
ne’r would know
As in their
Gloss Note
not only a high or the highest point (spatially), but eminence or elevation in status or exalted rank; haughtiness; the highest point or degree
height
they mercy ne’er would know,
As in their
Critical Note
of pride. The references to height and, in the following line, to “extremes,” extend the comparison between the proud (nameless) builders of Babel and the Rump, who warred against king and country.
height
they mercy ne’er would know,
12
In their extremes noe Mertie
Physical Note
floating superscript “r” is blotted out in ink
r
to them ſhow
Gloss Note
in the last moments or stage of life (as in the Latin in extremis); given the spatial imagery in the line above (“height”), the meaning of “extreme” as a figurative position furthest from the (divine) center also resonates.
In their extremes
no mercy to them show.
In
Gloss Note
the phrase complements the aforementioned “their height” but also references “the last moments or stage of life” (OED, C.n.2b.)
their extremes
Critical Note
a reverberation of the cry for just deserts, a variation on the entreaty made two lines earlier
no mercy
to them show.
13
Butt in that dismale, Black, and Blooddy daye
But in that dismal, black, and bloody
Gloss Note
the Day of Judgment at the end of time, when God will judge the living and resurrected dead and reward them with eternal “life” (see next line) or punish them accordingly
day
,
Critical Note
acts as a volta in the argument and signals the start of the second and final section of the poem which is marked by alternating anaphoras (“And …. and”; “Let … let”). The pronouncements commencing with “And” are designed as responses to the poem’s opening rhetorical question, which begins with “And” and which a poet can best answer. The imperatives throughout the poem establish continuity between the two parts.
But
in that
Critical Note
dies mali; unfortunate, unpropitious day; a cry for justice and judgement that links the present moment to doomsday or the Day of Judgement
dismal, black, and bloody day
,
14
Give all thy choſen ones their liffe a praye
Give all thy
Gloss Note
originally, Israelites (“O ye seed of Israel his servant, ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones” [1 Chronicles 16:13]); in Protestant readings, any of God’s elect, chosen for salvation at the Day of Judgment
chosen ones
their life, I pray,
Give all thy
Critical Note
The alignment of Protestant English with the chosen Israelites was a very common historical and literary practice. See, for example, the Curation entitled Pulter Reads Bradstreet’s Tenth Muse.
chosen ones
their life, I pray,
15
And lett our Longeinge eyes behold restor’d
And let our longing eyes behold, restored,
And let our longing eyes behold, restored,
16
Our Gratious Kinge, whos loſs hath bin
Physical Note
second “e” scribbled out
deplor’ed
Our gracious
Gloss Note
Charles I; the next line (“let him rest above”) suggests the poem was written after his beheading, which would prevent his being “restored” on earth; the speaker anticipates his restoration at the Day of Judgment instead.
king
, whose loss hath been
Gloss Note
lamented
deplored
Our gracious king, whose loss hath been deplored
17
ſoe longe by us
Physical Note
two short upright marks atop
O
lett him rest above
Physical Note
double strike-through
in providence
So long by us. O, let him rest above
Critical Note
signals the prolonged experience of loss, which has been bewailed (deplored). The phrase helps date the poem as post-1649, the year of the regicide, after which conflicts involving the English, Irish, and Scottish Royalists and Presbyterians, and Covenanters continued through to 1651, when Pulter likely composed the poem. Laments and cries resound throughout the elegiac poem. The pivotal clause “whose loss hath been deplored” continues the enjambed verse.
So long
by us. O, let him rest above
18
In providence, and in the Orb of
Physical Note
to right, after a space, vertical line curving to right at top
love
In
Gloss Note
God’s omniscient and protective care
providence
, and in the
Gloss Note
apparently a reference to the divine realm (the Christian God being sometimes identified with love); “orb” as world, or a celestial sphere (as in a sun or planet); in astronomy, a hollow sphere thought to surround the earth and carry the planets and stars in their revolution.
orb of love
Critical Note
In the manuscript, “in providence” is crossed out and moved to the following line, thus fittingly suspending “above” while aligning “providence” with “Orb of love.” And of course the couplet reappears in the poem’s final distich, though this time as “love” followed by “above.”
In providence
, and in the
Critical Note
An orb is a ring (from Latin orbis “ring”). Here divine providence is figured as an orb of love, which encircles, envelops, orders, and directs the planets, stars, and worlds. The king moves in the orb of love’s orbit (the primum mobile). Cf. On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27], line 15. The Invitation into the Country [Poem 2], composed in 1647, prays for the stellification of the king and queen: “Just heaven, hear our prayers and tears / And place them in their shining spheres” (lines 187-88). Refer to the reference in the headnote to Herrick, who exalts Charles I as a “Publike Light (in this immensive Sphere).”
Orb of love
19
Lett all his actions move as in his youth
Let all his actions move, as in his youth;
Let all his actions move, as in his youth;
20
And lett them turn upon the Poles of th truth
And let them turn upon the
Critical Note
a metaphor extending the astronomical sense of the “orb of love” above, with “poles” signifying the ends of an axis on which something rotates (in this case, the axis being truth, and the actions of Charles I turning on that axis).
poles of truth
.
And let them turn upon the
Critical Note
an astronomical figure, displaying Pulter’s interest in astronomy. The poles serve as a magnet which draws the king and around which his movements revolve. “Truth” is pivotal, ending this line and beginning the next (Truth is Time’s daughter).
Poles of Truth
.
21
Let tym’s faire Virgin Daughter
Physical Note
unidentified third letter crossed out
pe[?]
pen his story
Let
Gloss Note
Proverbially, Truth is the daughter of Time.
Time’s fair virgin daughter
pen his story,
Let
Critical Note

Pulter would have known Geffrey Whitney’s emblem “Veritas temporis filia,” in which truth is personified as father Time’s “daughter deare” (Whitney, A Choice of Emblemes, and Other Devises [Leiden, 1586], 4, line 4). See the Curation Pulter Reads Whitney’s Emblemes. Whitney’s very popular Choice of Emblemes is a highly likely candidate for inclusion among Pulter’s library holdings. In “And Must the Sword,” Pulter’s speaker assumes the role of Truth (aligned with the “Poles of Truth”) who writes and transports the king into truth’s orbit. The poet thus “pen[s] his story” and immortalizes him, as she did in On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27] (1649-1651), in which his own “valor fills with wonder future story, / Whilst virtue crowns him with immortal glory” (elemental edition, lines 3-4). To eulogize Charles I, Pulter picks up the thread (the poem’s theme or storyline), which is connected to the thread of grace or divine favor.

Sandys assigns the job of settling the controversy not to the sword but to justice: “By Equitie let us our Judgements guide: / And this long controverted Cause decide” (A Paraphrase Upon Job, p. 44). In and through verses that plead for justice and the righteous restoration of kingship, Pulter implies that Truth, penned by the poet and identified as the poet, will restore order, and thus reverse the confusion of tongues and the babble. The term “truth” appears twice in the poem directly, once associated with the king’s movements and then with divine truth that envelops the king’s people who live, move, and have their being in him. But it is also inferred by the reference to Time’s Daughter who uses verses to forge the identifications between truths.

Time’s fair Virgin Daughter
pen his story,
22
Whils’t Grace conduct’s him to Eternall Glory
Whilst Grace conducts him to eternal glory;
Whilst
Gloss Note
God-given grace immortalizes the righteous king.
Grace
conducts him to eternal glory;
23
And then when totall Nature is
Physical Note
second “e” may be scribbled out
deſolve’d
And then, when total nature is dissolved,
And then, when total nature is dissolved,
24
Lett Him and His in Glory bee involv’d
Let him and
Gloss Note
those to whom he is closely related, his family or kindred; figuratively, the king’s followers
his
in glory be involved;
Let him and his in glory be
Critical Note

involve means to enfold, envelop, entangle, include (“involve, v.” OED, 1).

Dissolve[d]/involve[d] is perhaps Pulter’s most frequently used rhymed couplet. Select examples of poems in which the couplet appears include On that Unparalleled Prince Charles the First, His Horrid Murder [Poem 8]; On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]; The Center [Poem 30]; Aletheia’s Pearl [Poem 32]; The Invocation of the Elements [Poem 41]; and A Dialogue Between Two Sisters [Poem 56]. Most often, the couplet is used in distiches that describe the destruction of the world as a consequence of the eclipsed king: “But if the sun in darkness be involved, / Old nature’s fabric would be soon dissolved” (stanza 2, On that Unparalleled Prince Charles the First, His Horrid Murder [Poem 8]).
involved
;
25
And on all thoſe that doe thy Isarell love
And on all those that do
Gloss Note
literally, those descended from Israel or Jacob, so the Jewish or Hebrew nation; figuratively, here, God’s chosen, applied by Christians to Christians
thy Israel
love,
And on all those that do
Critical Note
England (the monarch and his people—new Israel). This is a poem about “this church and nation” (6).
thy Israel
love,
26
Lett peace, and truth, flow on them from
Physical Note
reverse of page blank
above
Let peace, and truth, flow on them from above.
Critical Note
Echoes line 6 of On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]. The line is a variation on Psalm 85:10. The alignment of peace with truth is a commonplace. John Milton’s Poems of Mr. John Milton both English and Latin (London, 1645), a copy of which Pulter likely owned, thanks to her younger sister Margaret Ley Hobson, connects “Truth, and Peace, and Love,” which, unlike Time, “shall ever shine / About the supreme Throne” (“On Time,” 20). Milton’s “On the morning of Christs Nativity. Compos’d 1629” allegorizes Peace, Truth, Justice, and Mercy, who prepare the way for the Second Coming (Poems, pp. 4, 7-8).
Let peace, and truth, flow
on them from
Critical Note
This second occurrence of the love/above rhymed couplet in the poem—the first being 9 and 10 lines earlier—reinforces the effectiveness of the poem’s work in binding king, nation, and God. The anaphora (“Let …. Let”) marking the last eight lines links the actions and connects the movements described in the poem. The concluding lines of Poem 64 are also reminiscent of Bradstreet’s prophetic benediction (with its anaphora) that constitutes the final speech in “A Dialogue” and envisions an elect, unified England. Refer to Pulter Reads Bradstreet’s Tenth Muse
above
.
X (Close panel)Notes: Elemental Edition

 Editorial note

The aim of the elemental edition is to make the poems accessible to the largest variety of readers, which involves modernizing spelling and punctuation as well as adding basic glosses. Spelling and punctuation reflect current standard American usage; punctuation highlights syntax which might otherwise be obscure. Outmoded but still familiar word forms (“thou,” “‘tis,” “hold’st”) are not modernized, and we do not modernize grammar when the sense remains legible. After a brief headnote aimed at offering a “way in” to the poem’s unique qualities and connections with other verse by Pulter or her contemporaries, the edition features a minimum of notes and interpretative framing to allow more immediate engagement with the poem. Glosses clarify synonyms or showcase various possible meanings in Pulter’s time. Other notes identify named people and places or clarify obscure material. We rely (without citation) primarily on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the Oxford Reference database, and the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. When we rely on Alice Eardley’s edition of Pulter’s work, we cite her text generally (“Eardley”); other sources are cited in full. The result is an edition we consider a springboard for further work on Pulter’s poetry. See full conventions for this edition here.

 Headnote

This poem begins in medias res: mid-sentence (“And”), and apparently in the midst of England’s civil wars, but sometime after the beheading of Charles I in 1649. In her opening query, the speaker seems to regret the inevitability of violence (“the sword”) as a solution to her country’s misrule, yet she still invokes divine vengeance upon her foes. Although she appears to implore God to condemn all factions, Pulter evidently excluded her own party from this condemnation: factions were dissidents; royalists were loyalists. The invocation of the “Lord of Hosts,” an epithet from the Hebrew Bible, suits the eye-for-an-eye endgame envisioned here: if the speaker has her way, the bloodthirsty shall be quenched by each other’s blood, and as they were mercilessly deaf to the cries of the innocent, so God shall be to theirs, at the end of their earthly lives or (implicitly) in a hellish hereafter. The speaker then prays for the eternal salvation of those she considers God’s chosen, and for the restoration at the end of time of their slain king: not, in this context, Christ, but Charles I (although the two were often identified in royalist imagery). As though to usher in this future peace (for some, anyhow), the concluding hortatory anaphora (“Let … Let”) and personified abstractions (time, grace, truth) evoke a serenity utterly at odds with the bloody clashes earlier in the poem.
Line number 1

 Physical note

This poem is probably in Pulter’s hand.
Line number 1

 Gloss note

obsolete form of “controversy”
Line number 2

 Gloss note

depreciative term for political (and often dissenting and disputatious) groups, here apparently alluding to warring sides in England’s civil wars
Line number 2

 Gloss note

in this context, likely meaning dominate or control, oppress or tyrannize; connotations include gaining (unearned) advantage or aggrandizement from, and several senses related to violence (serving in a cavalry; going on horseback into battle; parading as punishment); figuratively, to ride hard (or to death).
Line number 4

 Gloss note

epithet for God used often in the Old Testament, sometimes alluding to the multitude of attending angels and sometimes to Israel’s armies; in latter sense, suggestive of “God of armies or battles.”
Line number 7

 Gloss note

stained, dyed, especially with blood; earlier also sometimes with the sense of “defiled”
Line number 8

 Physical note

The manuscript reads “of.”
Line number 10

 Gloss note

“theirs” and “they” refer to the warring factions; “their” to the widows and orphans.
Line number 11

 Gloss note

not only a high or the highest point (spatially), but eminence or elevation in status or exalted rank; haughtiness; the highest point or degree
Line number 12

 Gloss note

in the last moments or stage of life (as in the Latin in extremis); given the spatial imagery in the line above (“height”), the meaning of “extreme” as a figurative position furthest from the (divine) center also resonates.
Line number 13

 Gloss note

the Day of Judgment at the end of time, when God will judge the living and resurrected dead and reward them with eternal “life” (see next line) or punish them accordingly
Line number 14

 Gloss note

originally, Israelites (“O ye seed of Israel his servant, ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones” [1 Chronicles 16:13]); in Protestant readings, any of God’s elect, chosen for salvation at the Day of Judgment
Line number 16

 Gloss note

Charles I; the next line (“let him rest above”) suggests the poem was written after his beheading, which would prevent his being “restored” on earth; the speaker anticipates his restoration at the Day of Judgment instead.
Line number 16

 Gloss note

lamented
Line number 18

 Gloss note

God’s omniscient and protective care
Line number 18

 Gloss note

apparently a reference to the divine realm (the Christian God being sometimes identified with love); “orb” as world, or a celestial sphere (as in a sun or planet); in astronomy, a hollow sphere thought to surround the earth and carry the planets and stars in their revolution.
Line number 20

 Critical note

a metaphor extending the astronomical sense of the “orb of love” above, with “poles” signifying the ends of an axis on which something rotates (in this case, the axis being truth, and the actions of Charles I turning on that axis).
Line number 21

 Gloss note

Proverbially, Truth is the daughter of Time.
Line number 24

 Gloss note

those to whom he is closely related, his family or kindred; figuratively, the king’s followers
Line number 25

 Gloss note

literally, those descended from Israel or Jacob, so the Jewish or Hebrew nation; figuratively, here, God’s chosen, applied by Christians to Christians
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X (Close panel)Elemental Edition
Elemental Edition

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[Untitled]
And Must the Sword this Controverse Decide
And Must the Sword this Controverse Decide
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
The aim of the elemental edition is to make the poems accessible to the largest variety of readers, which involves modernizing spelling and punctuation as well as adding basic glosses. Spelling and punctuation reflect current standard American usage; punctuation highlights syntax which might otherwise be obscure. Outmoded but still familiar word forms (“thou,” “‘tis,” “hold’st”) are not modernized, and we do not modernize grammar when the sense remains legible. After a brief headnote aimed at offering a “way in” to the poem’s unique qualities and connections with other verse by Pulter or her contemporaries, the edition features a minimum of notes and interpretative framing to allow more immediate engagement with the poem. Glosses clarify synonyms or showcase various possible meanings in Pulter’s time. Other notes identify named people and places or clarify obscure material. We rely (without citation) primarily on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the Oxford Reference database, and the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. When we rely on Alice Eardley’s edition of Pulter’s work, we cite her text generally (“Eardley”); other sources are cited in full. The result is an edition we consider a springboard for further work on Pulter’s poetry. See full conventions for this edition here.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Originally one of the few untitled poems, “And Must the Sword this Controverse Decide” (Poem 64) is in Pulter’s hand but may also be in two other hands,
Gloss Note
Christian, “The poems of Lady Hester Pulter,” 85.
[1]
its collective composition thus complementing its tradition themes and the shared royalist sentiments of the intellectual circles in which she worked. As Alice Eardley observes, “the opening up of a poem’s potential contexts involves establishing the bounds of the knowledge that may legitimately be brought to bear on the material.”
Gloss Note
Alice Eardley, “Hester Pulter’s ‘Indivisibles’ and the Challenges of Annotating Early Modern Women’s Poetry,” SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 52.1 (2012): 122 (117-41).
[2]
My editorial insertions and comments are intended to enrich the interpretative experience of “And Must the Sword” by recourse to writings on royalist history and cross-references to books Pulter may have consulted—an inventory of which scholars have attempted to reconstruct on the basis of intrinsic textual evidence—and by comparisons to other poems in her oeuvre. The poem in iambic pentameter couplets appeared as a single stanza, which I divided to highlight the unusually bold break in the argument and, at the same time, to underscore the performance of the poet and the restoration of order and truth over the confusion resulting from the civil wars, regicide, and divine judgement described in the poem’s first half.
Critical Note
By introducing this division, I forge formal connections between Poem 64 and Geffrey Whitney’s two-part emblem “Veritas temporis filia” (Whitney, A Choice of Emblemes, and Other Devises [Leiden, 1586], 4). See the note on line 21 below.
[3]
For the same reason, I have capitalized the first letters of the names and figures of divine agents in the poem, and inserted endstops, which are entirely lacking in the manuscript version, including at the end of the text. Some lines require enjambment (see lines 16-17, for example). The inclusion of endstops throws into relief those lines whose significances are enhanced by enjambment. I have also modernized most of the spelling for the modern reader.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This poem begins in medias res: mid-sentence (“And”), and apparently in the midst of England’s civil wars, but sometime after the beheading of Charles I in 1649. In her opening query, the speaker seems to regret the inevitability of violence (“the sword”) as a solution to her country’s misrule, yet she still invokes divine vengeance upon her foes. Although she appears to implore God to condemn all factions, Pulter evidently excluded her own party from this condemnation: factions were dissidents; royalists were loyalists. The invocation of the “Lord of Hosts,” an epithet from the Hebrew Bible, suits the eye-for-an-eye endgame envisioned here: if the speaker has her way, the bloodthirsty shall be quenched by each other’s blood, and as they were mercilessly deaf to the cries of the innocent, so God shall be to theirs, at the end of their earthly lives or (implicitly) in a hellish hereafter. The speaker then prays for the eternal salvation of those she considers God’s chosen, and for the restoration at the end of time of their slain king: not, in this context, Christ, but Charles I (although the two were often identified in royalist imagery). As though to usher in this future peace (for some, anyhow), the concluding hortatory anaphora (“Let … Let”) and personified abstractions (time, grace, truth) evoke a serenity utterly at odds with the bloody clashes earlier in the poem.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This lyrical poem resonates with Pulter’s three elegies on Charles I, which were influenced by the culture and aesthetics of kingship and martyrdom in the wake of the regicide (1649). In an age before political parties, royalism—which is on full display in Pulter’s poetry—emerged as a political, cultural, and literary phenomenon that resisted Cromwellian rule while upholding monarchical authority. Composed c. 1651, “And Must the Sword this Controverse Decide” reflects on the British civil wars, the ongoing political and civil disputes, and on the persistence of royalist sentiment and the value of literary production well after the regicide, implied by the reference to the king’s death, which “hath been deplored / So long by us.”
The tone of Pulter’s royalist verse is serious, and not reflective of the Anacreontic mid seventeenth-century literary mode, which emerged in the experience of royalist defeat, and which represents one branch of the heterogeneous Cavalier poetic tradition. Anacreon, the ancient Greek poet known for his drinking lyrics, was the inspiration for the witty, masculinist verse of some English Cavalier lyricists.
Gloss Note
Karen Britland, “Conspiring with ‘friends’: Hester Pulter’s Poetry and the Stanley Family at Cumberlow Green,” The Review of English Studies, NS, 69.292 (2018): 846-49 (832–54).
[1]
Unsurprisingly, neither Pulter nor her like-minded (female) contemporaries, notably Margaret Cavendish and Katherine Philips, indulge and toast the courtly ideals of fine living, drinking, socializing, and versifying in the spirit of sprezzatura (a casual grace).
Gloss Note
Ann Baynes Coiro, “The Personal Rule of Poets: Cavalier Poetry and the English Revolution,” The Oxford Handbook of Literature and the English Revolution, ed. Laura Lunger Knoppers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 206-37. The poems by Cavendish and Philips post-date Pulter’s Poem 64, but they display similar convictions. Pulter likely owned a copy of Cavendish’s Poems, and Fancies written by the Right Honourable, the Lady Margaret Newcastle (London, 1653). Philips defended the (dead) king’s reputation against the libel of Fifth Monarchist and Approver of Ministers, Vavasor Powell, in “Upon the Double Murther of K. Charles I,” which was not published until 1667, but was written in the early 1650s. See Philips, Poems by the most deservedly Admired Mrs. Katherine Philips, the matchless Orinda (London, 1667), 1-2.
[2]
Among the Cavalier poets who produced meditative verses on retreat, loss, exile, and death, which may have influenced Pulter, was Thomas Carew. His posthumous 1640 volume, titled “Poems,” is assumed to be among Pulter’s library holdings. Pulter likely also possessed a copy of Robert Herrick’s Hesperides or, The works both humane & divine of Robert Herrick, Esq. (1648) among whose poetic themes are the civil wars and Charles I’s stellification. “To the King,” for example, describes “my Charles [who] shines here, / A Publike Light (in this immensive Sphere).” Herrick’s Noble Numbers: or, His Pious Pieces (1647) in Hesperides (1648) contains various poems hailing the king, including “Good Friday: Rex Tragicus; or, Christ Going to His Crosse,” which eerily predicts Charles’s execution and prophesies his ascent: “begin, great King! Ascend Thy throne, / And thence proceed, to act Thy Passion / To such an height, to such a period rais’d, / As Hell, and Earth, and Heav’n may stand amazed.”
Gloss Note
Herrick, Hesperides or, The works both humane & divine of Robert Herrick, Esq. (London, 1648), 278; His Noble Numbers: or, His Pious Pieces, in Hesperides, 74.
[3]
Pulter’s Poem 64 will also commemorate and raise Charles to the spheres.
Pulter’s pro-monarchy poems are solemn, biblical, and formal—in line with many of the elegiac works composed in response to the regicide and the release of the most popular book of the seventeenth century, Eikon Basilike, a copy of which Pulter probably owned.
Critical Note
Stefan Graham Christian categorizes Eikon Basilike as a “possible” holding in Pulter’s library. See Christian’s authoritative and valuable list of Pulter’s library books, certain and probable, in Christian, “The Poems of Lady Hester Pulter (1605?–1678): An Annotated Edition” (2012), 60–64. Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3545910. Pulter was introduced in London to William Dugard, the printer of Eikon Basilike (Sarah C. E. Ross and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann, eds., Women Poets of the English Civil War [Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018], 90). Charles’s book is heavily reliant on the Psalms, as is Pulter’s poetry; in the case of Poem 64, note, for example, the indebtedness to Psalm 137.
[4]
Purportedly in prayer, Charles I appeals in Eikon Basilike to a higher form of truth and justice, and performs acts of self-examination and devotion, for which James I, John Donne, and George Herbert had supplied examples.
Critical Note
Refer to the Curation entitled Pulter reads Eikon Basilike for the foldout and title page of Eikon Basilike. Authored by Charles I and John Gauden, Eikon Basilike. The pourtraicture of His sacred Majestie in his solitudes and sufferings was printed by William Dugard (London, 1649). Charles was indebted to Sandys’s metrical translation of the psalter, A Paraphrase Upon the Psalmes of David in A Paraphrase Upon the Divine Poems (London, 1636, rev. ed. 1638, rpt. 1648), which was dedicated to the monarch and his spouse, and intended for singing in the Chapel Royal.
[5]
Pulter also adopted these writers as literary models, and in Poem 64, in the role of “Time’s fair Virgin Daughter,” unsheathes not a sword but a stylus to justify the legitimacy and legacy of kingship. The poet-speaker opens by asking Job’s question to God about whether “the sword this controverse [must] decide.” In the course of the poem, she demonstrates—as in the Epistle to the Hebrews 4:12 and in a contemporary book Pulter likely owned, Robert Burton’s 1621 Anatomy of Melancholy—that “It is an old saying, A blow with a word, strikes deeper then a blow with a sword.”
Gloss Note
Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (Oxford, 1621), 1.2.4.4, p. 196.
[6]
Poem 64 delivers a blow in verse form.
“And Must the Sword” resonates with other poems in Pulter’s oeuvre, including the tearful On the Horrid Murder of that Incomparable Prince [Poem 14], Let None Sigh More for Lucas or for Lisle [On the Same [2]] [Poem 15], which takes up the theme of Poem 14, and On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]. Pre-1649 Pulter poems that set the scene and supply interpretative frames for those on the regicide are Upon the Imprisonment of his Sacred Majesty [Poem 13], written in 1647, and On those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas [Poem 7], written c. 1648. These royalist poems provide her with a venue for political commentary, an uncharacteristic mode of expression for a female poet whose repertoire consists largely of personal poetry. However, she (Hester) identifies herself repeatedly in her oeuvre with and as the Noble Hadassah, a savior of her chosen nation.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Physical Note
This poem is in a different hand from the main scribe, and is on paper that was tipped into the manuscript after binding.
And
must the ſword this controverce deſide
Physical Note
This poem is probably in Pulter’s hand.
And
must the sword this
Gloss Note
obsolete form of “controversy”
controverse
decide:
Critical Note

The line is paraphrased rather liberally from the Book of Job 9:23 (“If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent”). Pulter is indebted to George Sandys’s A Paraphrase Upon Job in A Paraphrase Upon the Divine Poems (London, 1638), 14-15, which Sandys dedicates to King Charles. The relevant passage from A Paraphrase Upon Job is in the Curation entitled Pulter Reads George Sandys’s Paraphrase Upon Job. Neither the Geneva Bible nor the King James Bible (KJB)—which is the “Authorized Version” for readers of the time—provides the translation or paraphrase of Job 9:23 that Pulter uses for the opening line of Poem 64. And neither Stefan Christian nor Alice Eardley mentions Sandys’s A Paraphrase Upon Job in their editions of Pulter’s poems (for Eardley, see Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda, ed. Alice Eardley [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014]).

Many of the themes and figures used by Sandys in his paraphrase (or what we might call an amplified edition) of Job appear in Pulter’s present poem, which reflects on providence and divine judgement. However, by virtue of rendering “And with his Sword the controverse decides” into a rhetorical question, Pulter is re-paraphrasing Sandys’s A Paraphrase Upon Job. That Pulter is generally fascinated by Job is apparent as well in Upon the Imprisonment of his Sacred Majesty [Poem 13], in which she describes Charles: “Then let our Job-like saint rise from the ground / For piety and patience so renowned / That for the best of kings he may be crowned” (Elemental Edition, lines 13-15).

And must the sword this controverse decide
2
Which of theſe ffactions shall this kingdome ride
Which of these
Gloss Note
depreciative term for political (and often dissenting and disputatious) groups, here apparently alluding to warring sides in England’s civil wars
factions
shall this kingdom
Gloss Note
in this context, likely meaning dominate or control, oppress or tyrannize; connotations include gaining (unearned) advantage or aggrandizement from, and several senses related to violence (serving in a cavalry; going on horseback into battle; parading as punishment); figuratively, to ride hard (or to death).
ride
?
Which of these factions shall this kingdom ride?
3
Great God loock
Physical Note
double strike-through
down
on their pride and heere their bosts
Great God, look on their pride and hear their boasts;
Great God,
Critical Note
“down” appeared between the words “look” and “on” in the manuscript edition of the poem, but was struck out. It is still implied here, and the phrase appears in a number of Pulter’s poems, such as, Dear God, from Thy High Throne Look Down [Poem 63], which is in Pulter’s hand. How Long Shall My Dejected Soul [Poem 24] features “Oh then look down” (line 9). In line 3 of Poem 64, Pulter recalls KJB Genesis 11:5: “And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.” See also Psalm 137.
look on their pride
and hear their boasts;
4
Declare thy ſelfe alone the Lord of Hosts
Declare thy self alone the
Gloss Note
epithet for God used often in the Old Testament, sometimes alluding to the multitude of attending angels and sometimes to Israel’s armies; in latter sense, suggestive of “God of armies or battles.”
Lord of Hosts
;
Declare thy self alone the Lord of Hosts;
5
Confound their plotts and curs’t Imagination
Confound their plots and cursed imagination
Critical Note
to confuse; to overthrow. Pulter deliberately uses this word to connect the divine retribution against the proud builders of Babel to the cry for justice against the Cromwellian government. “Confound their language” is repeated within two verses of the KJB (Genesis 11:7, 9).
Confound
their plots and cursed
Critical Note

See KJB Genesis 11:6: “And the LORD said, Behold, … this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”

Pulter’s Mighty Nimrod (Emblem 1) [Poem 67] is replete with references to the delusions and folly of the builders “Foolishly dreaming” (l. 9). Verses 19-20 in the manuscript read “Let their Accursed plots prove their delusion / For Fance’d Glory let them find confusion.”

imagination
6
That haue allmost desroy’d this Church and Nation
That have almost destroyed this church and nation.
That have almost destroyed this
Gloss Note
refers to the concept of a stable, unified country, now devastated by the builders of Babel / the doomed Cromwellian government
church and nation
.
7
ffor blood they thirst,
Physical Note
two short upright marks atop
O
lett them bee imbrued
For blood they thirst: O, let them be
Gloss Note
stained, dyed, especially with blood; earlier also sometimes with the sense of “defiled”
imbrued
For blood they thirst: O, let them be
Gloss Note
stained or bloodied one’s hands or sword. The adversaries use swords; God and the poet wield words.
imbrued
8
In one anothers, that haue of bedu’ed
In one another’s, that have
Physical Note
The manuscript reads “of.”
oft
bedewed
In one another’s, that have oft bedewed
9
With tears ſad Widdows, and poore Orphans, eyes
With tears sad widows’ and poor orphans’ eyes;
With tears sad
Critical Note
This biblical phrase often appears in cries for justice for the oppressed; see, for example, James 1:27. Sandys writes, “Sad widowes, by thee rifled, weepe in vaine: / And ruin’d Orphants of thy Rapes complaine” (A Paraphrase Upon Job, 29). Poet Anne Bradstreet wrote about the crises of the “present troubles” in like terms, and textual evidence in Pulter’s poetry suggests she owned a copy of Bradstreet’s 1650 The Tenth Muse lately sprung up in America. Or severall poems, compiled with great variety of wit and learning, full of delight ... By a Gentlewoman in those parts (London, 1650). See the Curation entitled Pulter Reads Bradstreet’s Tenth Muse. Composed in 1643, Bradstreet’s “A Dialogue between Old England and New, concerning their present troubles. Anno 1642,” which laments the civil wars, is greatly indebted to French Huguenot poet Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas’s “Dialogue upon the Troubles past: Betweene Heraclitus and Democritus, the weeping and the laughing Philosophers.” Pulter probably owned a copy of Du Bartas in translation—Du Bartas his Devine Weekes and Workes by Josuah Sylvester (London, 1611). “A Dialogue” appears on pp. 759-63. Although she was a Puritan, Bradstreet, like her community, championed the cause of the king and decried the sufferings of the victims of war.
widows’ and poor orphans’
eyes;
10
Bee deffe
Physical Note
double strike-through
the
to theirs as they were to their cries
Be deaf to
Gloss Note
“theirs” and “they” refer to the warring factions; “their” to the widows and orphans.
theirs, as they were to their
cries.
Critical Note
“theirs” and “they” reverberate and reinforce the theme of just deserts. The cry for vengeance recalls Psalm 137: “without pity heare their dying grones” (George Sandys, A Paraphrase Upon the Psalmes in A Paraphrase Upon the Divine Poems [London, 1638], 160).
Be deaf to theirs, as they
were to their cries.
11
As in their highth they
Physical Note
second “r” could be “t”
merrie
ne’r would know
As in their
Gloss Note
not only a high or the highest point (spatially), but eminence or elevation in status or exalted rank; haughtiness; the highest point or degree
height
they mercy ne’er would know,
As in their
Critical Note
of pride. The references to height and, in the following line, to “extremes,” extend the comparison between the proud (nameless) builders of Babel and the Rump, who warred against king and country.
height
they mercy ne’er would know,
12
In their extremes noe Mertie
Physical Note
floating superscript “r” is blotted out in ink
r
to them ſhow
Gloss Note
in the last moments or stage of life (as in the Latin in extremis); given the spatial imagery in the line above (“height”), the meaning of “extreme” as a figurative position furthest from the (divine) center also resonates.
In their extremes
no mercy to them show.
In
Gloss Note
the phrase complements the aforementioned “their height” but also references “the last moments or stage of life” (OED, C.n.2b.)
their extremes
Critical Note
a reverberation of the cry for just deserts, a variation on the entreaty made two lines earlier
no mercy
to them show.
13
Butt in that dismale, Black, and Blooddy daye
But in that dismal, black, and bloody
Gloss Note
the Day of Judgment at the end of time, when God will judge the living and resurrected dead and reward them with eternal “life” (see next line) or punish them accordingly
day
,
Critical Note
acts as a volta in the argument and signals the start of the second and final section of the poem which is marked by alternating anaphoras (“And …. and”; “Let … let”). The pronouncements commencing with “And” are designed as responses to the poem’s opening rhetorical question, which begins with “And” and which a poet can best answer. The imperatives throughout the poem establish continuity between the two parts.
But
in that
Critical Note
dies mali; unfortunate, unpropitious day; a cry for justice and judgement that links the present moment to doomsday or the Day of Judgement
dismal, black, and bloody day
,
14
Give all thy choſen ones their liffe a praye
Give all thy
Gloss Note
originally, Israelites (“O ye seed of Israel his servant, ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones” [1 Chronicles 16:13]); in Protestant readings, any of God’s elect, chosen for salvation at the Day of Judgment
chosen ones
their life, I pray,
Give all thy
Critical Note
The alignment of Protestant English with the chosen Israelites was a very common historical and literary practice. See, for example, the Curation entitled Pulter Reads Bradstreet’s Tenth Muse.
chosen ones
their life, I pray,
15
And lett our Longeinge eyes behold restor’d
And let our longing eyes behold, restored,
And let our longing eyes behold, restored,
16
Our Gratious Kinge, whos loſs hath bin
Physical Note
second “e” scribbled out
deplor’ed
Our gracious
Gloss Note
Charles I; the next line (“let him rest above”) suggests the poem was written after his beheading, which would prevent his being “restored” on earth; the speaker anticipates his restoration at the Day of Judgment instead.
king
, whose loss hath been
Gloss Note
lamented
deplored
Our gracious king, whose loss hath been deplored
17
ſoe longe by us
Physical Note
two short upright marks atop
O
lett him rest above
Physical Note
double strike-through
in providence
So long by us. O, let him rest above
Critical Note
signals the prolonged experience of loss, which has been bewailed (deplored). The phrase helps date the poem as post-1649, the year of the regicide, after which conflicts involving the English, Irish, and Scottish Royalists and Presbyterians, and Covenanters continued through to 1651, when Pulter likely composed the poem. Laments and cries resound throughout the elegiac poem. The pivotal clause “whose loss hath been deplored” continues the enjambed verse.
So long
by us. O, let him rest above
18
In providence, and in the Orb of
Physical Note
to right, after a space, vertical line curving to right at top
love
In
Gloss Note
God’s omniscient and protective care
providence
, and in the
Gloss Note
apparently a reference to the divine realm (the Christian God being sometimes identified with love); “orb” as world, or a celestial sphere (as in a sun or planet); in astronomy, a hollow sphere thought to surround the earth and carry the planets and stars in their revolution.
orb of love
Critical Note
In the manuscript, “in providence” is crossed out and moved to the following line, thus fittingly suspending “above” while aligning “providence” with “Orb of love.” And of course the couplet reappears in the poem’s final distich, though this time as “love” followed by “above.”
In providence
, and in the
Critical Note
An orb is a ring (from Latin orbis “ring”). Here divine providence is figured as an orb of love, which encircles, envelops, orders, and directs the planets, stars, and worlds. The king moves in the orb of love’s orbit (the primum mobile). Cf. On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27], line 15. The Invitation into the Country [Poem 2], composed in 1647, prays for the stellification of the king and queen: “Just heaven, hear our prayers and tears / And place them in their shining spheres” (lines 187-88). Refer to the reference in the headnote to Herrick, who exalts Charles I as a “Publike Light (in this immensive Sphere).”
Orb of love
19
Lett all his actions move as in his youth
Let all his actions move, as in his youth;
Let all his actions move, as in his youth;
20
And lett them turn upon the Poles of th truth
And let them turn upon the
Critical Note
a metaphor extending the astronomical sense of the “orb of love” above, with “poles” signifying the ends of an axis on which something rotates (in this case, the axis being truth, and the actions of Charles I turning on that axis).
poles of truth
.
And let them turn upon the
Critical Note
an astronomical figure, displaying Pulter’s interest in astronomy. The poles serve as a magnet which draws the king and around which his movements revolve. “Truth” is pivotal, ending this line and beginning the next (Truth is Time’s daughter).
Poles of Truth
.
21
Let tym’s faire Virgin Daughter
Physical Note
unidentified third letter crossed out
pe[?]
pen his story
Let
Gloss Note
Proverbially, Truth is the daughter of Time.
Time’s fair virgin daughter
pen his story,
Let
Critical Note

Pulter would have known Geffrey Whitney’s emblem “Veritas temporis filia,” in which truth is personified as father Time’s “daughter deare” (Whitney, A Choice of Emblemes, and Other Devises [Leiden, 1586], 4, line 4). See the Curation Pulter Reads Whitney’s Emblemes. Whitney’s very popular Choice of Emblemes is a highly likely candidate for inclusion among Pulter’s library holdings. In “And Must the Sword,” Pulter’s speaker assumes the role of Truth (aligned with the “Poles of Truth”) who writes and transports the king into truth’s orbit. The poet thus “pen[s] his story” and immortalizes him, as she did in On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27] (1649-1651), in which his own “valor fills with wonder future story, / Whilst virtue crowns him with immortal glory” (elemental edition, lines 3-4). To eulogize Charles I, Pulter picks up the thread (the poem’s theme or storyline), which is connected to the thread of grace or divine favor.

Sandys assigns the job of settling the controversy not to the sword but to justice: “By Equitie let us our Judgements guide: / And this long controverted Cause decide” (A Paraphrase Upon Job, p. 44). In and through verses that plead for justice and the righteous restoration of kingship, Pulter implies that Truth, penned by the poet and identified as the poet, will restore order, and thus reverse the confusion of tongues and the babble. The term “truth” appears twice in the poem directly, once associated with the king’s movements and then with divine truth that envelops the king’s people who live, move, and have their being in him. But it is also inferred by the reference to Time’s Daughter who uses verses to forge the identifications between truths.

Time’s fair Virgin Daughter
pen his story,
22
Whils’t Grace conduct’s him to Eternall Glory
Whilst Grace conducts him to eternal glory;
Whilst
Gloss Note
God-given grace immortalizes the righteous king.
Grace
conducts him to eternal glory;
23
And then when totall Nature is
Physical Note
second “e” may be scribbled out
deſolve’d
And then, when total nature is dissolved,
And then, when total nature is dissolved,
24
Lett Him and His in Glory bee involv’d
Let him and
Gloss Note
those to whom he is closely related, his family or kindred; figuratively, the king’s followers
his
in glory be involved;
Let him and his in glory be
Critical Note

involve means to enfold, envelop, entangle, include (“involve, v.” OED, 1).

Dissolve[d]/involve[d] is perhaps Pulter’s most frequently used rhymed couplet. Select examples of poems in which the couplet appears include On that Unparalleled Prince Charles the First, His Horrid Murder [Poem 8]; On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]; The Center [Poem 30]; Aletheia’s Pearl [Poem 32]; The Invocation of the Elements [Poem 41]; and A Dialogue Between Two Sisters [Poem 56]. Most often, the couplet is used in distiches that describe the destruction of the world as a consequence of the eclipsed king: “But if the sun in darkness be involved, / Old nature’s fabric would be soon dissolved” (stanza 2, On that Unparalleled Prince Charles the First, His Horrid Murder [Poem 8]).
involved
;
25
And on all thoſe that doe thy Isarell love
And on all those that do
Gloss Note
literally, those descended from Israel or Jacob, so the Jewish or Hebrew nation; figuratively, here, God’s chosen, applied by Christians to Christians
thy Israel
love,
And on all those that do
Critical Note
England (the monarch and his people—new Israel). This is a poem about “this church and nation” (6).
thy Israel
love,
26
Lett peace, and truth, flow on them from
Physical Note
reverse of page blank
above
Let peace, and truth, flow on them from above.
Critical Note
Echoes line 6 of On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]. The line is a variation on Psalm 85:10. The alignment of peace with truth is a commonplace. John Milton’s Poems of Mr. John Milton both English and Latin (London, 1645), a copy of which Pulter likely owned, thanks to her younger sister Margaret Ley Hobson, connects “Truth, and Peace, and Love,” which, unlike Time, “shall ever shine / About the supreme Throne” (“On Time,” 20). Milton’s “On the morning of Christs Nativity. Compos’d 1629” allegorizes Peace, Truth, Justice, and Mercy, who prepare the way for the Second Coming (Poems, pp. 4, 7-8).
Let peace, and truth, flow
on them from
Critical Note
This second occurrence of the love/above rhymed couplet in the poem—the first being 9 and 10 lines earlier—reinforces the effectiveness of the poem’s work in binding king, nation, and God. The anaphora (“Let …. Let”) marking the last eight lines links the actions and connects the movements described in the poem. The concluding lines of Poem 64 are also reminiscent of Bradstreet’s prophetic benediction (with its anaphora) that constitutes the final speech in “A Dialogue” and envisions an elect, unified England. Refer to Pulter Reads Bradstreet’s Tenth Muse
above
.
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition

 Editorial note

Originally one of the few untitled poems, “And Must the Sword this Controverse Decide” (Poem 64) is in Pulter’s hand but may also be in two other hands,
Gloss Note
Christian, “The poems of Lady Hester Pulter,” 85.
[1]
its collective composition thus complementing its tradition themes and the shared royalist sentiments of the intellectual circles in which she worked. As Alice Eardley observes, “the opening up of a poem’s potential contexts involves establishing the bounds of the knowledge that may legitimately be brought to bear on the material.”
Gloss Note
Alice Eardley, “Hester Pulter’s ‘Indivisibles’ and the Challenges of Annotating Early Modern Women’s Poetry,” SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 52.1 (2012): 122 (117-41).
[2]
My editorial insertions and comments are intended to enrich the interpretative experience of “And Must the Sword” by recourse to writings on royalist history and cross-references to books Pulter may have consulted—an inventory of which scholars have attempted to reconstruct on the basis of intrinsic textual evidence—and by comparisons to other poems in her oeuvre. The poem in iambic pentameter couplets appeared as a single stanza, which I divided to highlight the unusually bold break in the argument and, at the same time, to underscore the performance of the poet and the restoration of order and truth over the confusion resulting from the civil wars, regicide, and divine judgement described in the poem’s first half.
Critical Note
By introducing this division, I forge formal connections between Poem 64 and Geffrey Whitney’s two-part emblem “Veritas temporis filia” (Whitney, A Choice of Emblemes, and Other Devises [Leiden, 1586], 4). See the note on line 21 below.
[3]
For the same reason, I have capitalized the first letters of the names and figures of divine agents in the poem, and inserted endstops, which are entirely lacking in the manuscript version, including at the end of the text. Some lines require enjambment (see lines 16-17, for example). The inclusion of endstops throws into relief those lines whose significances are enhanced by enjambment. I have also modernized most of the spelling for the modern reader.

 Headnote

This lyrical poem resonates with Pulter’s three elegies on Charles I, which were influenced by the culture and aesthetics of kingship and martyrdom in the wake of the regicide (1649). In an age before political parties, royalism—which is on full display in Pulter’s poetry—emerged as a political, cultural, and literary phenomenon that resisted Cromwellian rule while upholding monarchical authority. Composed c. 1651, “And Must the Sword this Controverse Decide” reflects on the British civil wars, the ongoing political and civil disputes, and on the persistence of royalist sentiment and the value of literary production well after the regicide, implied by the reference to the king’s death, which “hath been deplored / So long by us.”
The tone of Pulter’s royalist verse is serious, and not reflective of the Anacreontic mid seventeenth-century literary mode, which emerged in the experience of royalist defeat, and which represents one branch of the heterogeneous Cavalier poetic tradition. Anacreon, the ancient Greek poet known for his drinking lyrics, was the inspiration for the witty, masculinist verse of some English Cavalier lyricists.
Gloss Note
Karen Britland, “Conspiring with ‘friends’: Hester Pulter’s Poetry and the Stanley Family at Cumberlow Green,” The Review of English Studies, NS, 69.292 (2018): 846-49 (832–54).
[1]
Unsurprisingly, neither Pulter nor her like-minded (female) contemporaries, notably Margaret Cavendish and Katherine Philips, indulge and toast the courtly ideals of fine living, drinking, socializing, and versifying in the spirit of sprezzatura (a casual grace).
Gloss Note
Ann Baynes Coiro, “The Personal Rule of Poets: Cavalier Poetry and the English Revolution,” The Oxford Handbook of Literature and the English Revolution, ed. Laura Lunger Knoppers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 206-37. The poems by Cavendish and Philips post-date Pulter’s Poem 64, but they display similar convictions. Pulter likely owned a copy of Cavendish’s Poems, and Fancies written by the Right Honourable, the Lady Margaret Newcastle (London, 1653). Philips defended the (dead) king’s reputation against the libel of Fifth Monarchist and Approver of Ministers, Vavasor Powell, in “Upon the Double Murther of K. Charles I,” which was not published until 1667, but was written in the early 1650s. See Philips, Poems by the most deservedly Admired Mrs. Katherine Philips, the matchless Orinda (London, 1667), 1-2.
[2]
Among the Cavalier poets who produced meditative verses on retreat, loss, exile, and death, which may have influenced Pulter, was Thomas Carew. His posthumous 1640 volume, titled “Poems,” is assumed to be among Pulter’s library holdings. Pulter likely also possessed a copy of Robert Herrick’s Hesperides or, The works both humane & divine of Robert Herrick, Esq. (1648) among whose poetic themes are the civil wars and Charles I’s stellification. “To the King,” for example, describes “my Charles [who] shines here, / A Publike Light (in this immensive Sphere).” Herrick’s Noble Numbers: or, His Pious Pieces (1647) in Hesperides (1648) contains various poems hailing the king, including “Good Friday: Rex Tragicus; or, Christ Going to His Crosse,” which eerily predicts Charles’s execution and prophesies his ascent: “begin, great King! Ascend Thy throne, / And thence proceed, to act Thy Passion / To such an height, to such a period rais’d, / As Hell, and Earth, and Heav’n may stand amazed.”
Gloss Note
Herrick, Hesperides or, The works both humane & divine of Robert Herrick, Esq. (London, 1648), 278; His Noble Numbers: or, His Pious Pieces, in Hesperides, 74.
[3]
Pulter’s Poem 64 will also commemorate and raise Charles to the spheres.
Pulter’s pro-monarchy poems are solemn, biblical, and formal—in line with many of the elegiac works composed in response to the regicide and the release of the most popular book of the seventeenth century, Eikon Basilike, a copy of which Pulter probably owned.
Critical Note
Stefan Graham Christian categorizes Eikon Basilike as a “possible” holding in Pulter’s library. See Christian’s authoritative and valuable list of Pulter’s library books, certain and probable, in Christian, “The Poems of Lady Hester Pulter (1605?–1678): An Annotated Edition” (2012), 60–64. Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3545910. Pulter was introduced in London to William Dugard, the printer of Eikon Basilike (Sarah C. E. Ross and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann, eds., Women Poets of the English Civil War [Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018], 90). Charles’s book is heavily reliant on the Psalms, as is Pulter’s poetry; in the case of Poem 64, note, for example, the indebtedness to Psalm 137.
[4]
Purportedly in prayer, Charles I appeals in Eikon Basilike to a higher form of truth and justice, and performs acts of self-examination and devotion, for which James I, John Donne, and George Herbert had supplied examples.
Critical Note
Refer to the Curation entitled Pulter reads Eikon Basilike for the foldout and title page of Eikon Basilike. Authored by Charles I and John Gauden, Eikon Basilike. The pourtraicture of His sacred Majestie in his solitudes and sufferings was printed by William Dugard (London, 1649). Charles was indebted to Sandys’s metrical translation of the psalter, A Paraphrase Upon the Psalmes of David in A Paraphrase Upon the Divine Poems (London, 1636, rev. ed. 1638, rpt. 1648), which was dedicated to the monarch and his spouse, and intended for singing in the Chapel Royal.
[5]
Pulter also adopted these writers as literary models, and in Poem 64, in the role of “Time’s fair Virgin Daughter,” unsheathes not a sword but a stylus to justify the legitimacy and legacy of kingship. The poet-speaker opens by asking Job’s question to God about whether “the sword this controverse [must] decide.” In the course of the poem, she demonstrates—as in the Epistle to the Hebrews 4:12 and in a contemporary book Pulter likely owned, Robert Burton’s 1621 Anatomy of Melancholy—that “It is an old saying, A blow with a word, strikes deeper then a blow with a sword.”
Gloss Note
Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (Oxford, 1621), 1.2.4.4, p. 196.
[6]
Poem 64 delivers a blow in verse form.
“And Must the Sword” resonates with other poems in Pulter’s oeuvre, including the tearful On the Horrid Murder of that Incomparable Prince [Poem 14], Let None Sigh More for Lucas or for Lisle [On the Same [2]] [Poem 15], which takes up the theme of Poem 14, and On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]. Pre-1649 Pulter poems that set the scene and supply interpretative frames for those on the regicide are Upon the Imprisonment of his Sacred Majesty [Poem 13], written in 1647, and On those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas [Poem 7], written c. 1648. These royalist poems provide her with a venue for political commentary, an uncharacteristic mode of expression for a female poet whose repertoire consists largely of personal poetry. However, she (Hester) identifies herself repeatedly in her oeuvre with and as the Noble Hadassah, a savior of her chosen nation.
Line number 1

 Critical note


The line is paraphrased rather liberally from the Book of Job 9:23 (“If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent”). Pulter is indebted to George Sandys’s A Paraphrase Upon Job in A Paraphrase Upon the Divine Poems (London, 1638), 14-15, which Sandys dedicates to King Charles. The relevant passage from A Paraphrase Upon Job is in the Curation entitled Pulter Reads George Sandys’s Paraphrase Upon Job. Neither the Geneva Bible nor the King James Bible (KJB)—which is the “Authorized Version” for readers of the time—provides the translation or paraphrase of Job 9:23 that Pulter uses for the opening line of Poem 64. And neither Stefan Christian nor Alice Eardley mentions Sandys’s A Paraphrase Upon Job in their editions of Pulter’s poems (for Eardley, see Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda, ed. Alice Eardley [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014]).

Many of the themes and figures used by Sandys in his paraphrase (or what we might call an amplified edition) of Job appear in Pulter’s present poem, which reflects on providence and divine judgement. However, by virtue of rendering “And with his Sword the controverse decides” into a rhetorical question, Pulter is re-paraphrasing Sandys’s A Paraphrase Upon Job. That Pulter is generally fascinated by Job is apparent as well in Upon the Imprisonment of his Sacred Majesty [Poem 13], in which she describes Charles: “Then let our Job-like saint rise from the ground / For piety and patience so renowned / That for the best of kings he may be crowned” (Elemental Edition, lines 13-15).

Line number 3

 Critical note

“down” appeared between the words “look” and “on” in the manuscript edition of the poem, but was struck out. It is still implied here, and the phrase appears in a number of Pulter’s poems, such as, Dear God, from Thy High Throne Look Down [Poem 63], which is in Pulter’s hand. How Long Shall My Dejected Soul [Poem 24] features “Oh then look down” (line 9). In line 3 of Poem 64, Pulter recalls KJB Genesis 11:5: “And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.” See also Psalm 137.
Line number 5

 Critical note

to confuse; to overthrow. Pulter deliberately uses this word to connect the divine retribution against the proud builders of Babel to the cry for justice against the Cromwellian government. “Confound their language” is repeated within two verses of the KJB (Genesis 11:7, 9).
Line number 5

 Critical note


See KJB Genesis 11:6: “And the LORD said, Behold, … this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”

Pulter’s Mighty Nimrod (Emblem 1) [Poem 67] is replete with references to the delusions and folly of the builders “Foolishly dreaming” (l. 9). Verses 19-20 in the manuscript read “Let their Accursed plots prove their delusion / For Fance’d Glory let them find confusion.”

Line number 6

 Gloss note

refers to the concept of a stable, unified country, now devastated by the builders of Babel / the doomed Cromwellian government
Line number 7

 Gloss note

stained or bloodied one’s hands or sword. The adversaries use swords; God and the poet wield words.
Line number 9

 Critical note

This biblical phrase often appears in cries for justice for the oppressed; see, for example, James 1:27. Sandys writes, “Sad widowes, by thee rifled, weepe in vaine: / And ruin’d Orphants of thy Rapes complaine” (A Paraphrase Upon Job, 29). Poet Anne Bradstreet wrote about the crises of the “present troubles” in like terms, and textual evidence in Pulter’s poetry suggests she owned a copy of Bradstreet’s 1650 The Tenth Muse lately sprung up in America. Or severall poems, compiled with great variety of wit and learning, full of delight ... By a Gentlewoman in those parts (London, 1650). See the Curation entitled Pulter Reads Bradstreet’s Tenth Muse. Composed in 1643, Bradstreet’s “A Dialogue between Old England and New, concerning their present troubles. Anno 1642,” which laments the civil wars, is greatly indebted to French Huguenot poet Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas’s “Dialogue upon the Troubles past: Betweene Heraclitus and Democritus, the weeping and the laughing Philosophers.” Pulter probably owned a copy of Du Bartas in translation—Du Bartas his Devine Weekes and Workes by Josuah Sylvester (London, 1611). “A Dialogue” appears on pp. 759-63. Although she was a Puritan, Bradstreet, like her community, championed the cause of the king and decried the sufferings of the victims of war.
Line number 10

 Critical note

“theirs” and “they” reverberate and reinforce the theme of just deserts. The cry for vengeance recalls Psalm 137: “without pity heare their dying grones” (George Sandys, A Paraphrase Upon the Psalmes in A Paraphrase Upon the Divine Poems [London, 1638], 160).
Line number 11

 Critical note

of pride. The references to height and, in the following line, to “extremes,” extend the comparison between the proud (nameless) builders of Babel and the Rump, who warred against king and country.
Line number 12

 Gloss note

the phrase complements the aforementioned “their height” but also references “the last moments or stage of life” (OED, C.n.2b.)
Line number 12

 Critical note

a reverberation of the cry for just deserts, a variation on the entreaty made two lines earlier
Line number 13

 Critical note

acts as a volta in the argument and signals the start of the second and final section of the poem which is marked by alternating anaphoras (“And …. and”; “Let … let”). The pronouncements commencing with “And” are designed as responses to the poem’s opening rhetorical question, which begins with “And” and which a poet can best answer. The imperatives throughout the poem establish continuity between the two parts.
Line number 13

 Critical note

dies mali; unfortunate, unpropitious day; a cry for justice and judgement that links the present moment to doomsday or the Day of Judgement
Line number 14

 Critical note

The alignment of Protestant English with the chosen Israelites was a very common historical and literary practice. See, for example, the Curation entitled Pulter Reads Bradstreet’s Tenth Muse.
Line number 17

 Critical note

signals the prolonged experience of loss, which has been bewailed (deplored). The phrase helps date the poem as post-1649, the year of the regicide, after which conflicts involving the English, Irish, and Scottish Royalists and Presbyterians, and Covenanters continued through to 1651, when Pulter likely composed the poem. Laments and cries resound throughout the elegiac poem. The pivotal clause “whose loss hath been deplored” continues the enjambed verse.
Line number 18

 Critical note

In the manuscript, “in providence” is crossed out and moved to the following line, thus fittingly suspending “above” while aligning “providence” with “Orb of love.” And of course the couplet reappears in the poem’s final distich, though this time as “love” followed by “above.”
Line number 18

 Critical note

An orb is a ring (from Latin orbis “ring”). Here divine providence is figured as an orb of love, which encircles, envelops, orders, and directs the planets, stars, and worlds. The king moves in the orb of love’s orbit (the primum mobile). Cf. On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27], line 15. The Invitation into the Country [Poem 2], composed in 1647, prays for the stellification of the king and queen: “Just heaven, hear our prayers and tears / And place them in their shining spheres” (lines 187-88). Refer to the reference in the headnote to Herrick, who exalts Charles I as a “Publike Light (in this immensive Sphere).”
Line number 20

 Critical note

an astronomical figure, displaying Pulter’s interest in astronomy. The poles serve as a magnet which draws the king and around which his movements revolve. “Truth” is pivotal, ending this line and beginning the next (Truth is Time’s daughter).
Line number 21

 Critical note


Pulter would have known Geffrey Whitney’s emblem “Veritas temporis filia,” in which truth is personified as father Time’s “daughter deare” (Whitney, A Choice of Emblemes, and Other Devises [Leiden, 1586], 4, line 4). See the Curation Pulter Reads Whitney’s Emblemes. Whitney’s very popular Choice of Emblemes is a highly likely candidate for inclusion among Pulter’s library holdings. In “And Must the Sword,” Pulter’s speaker assumes the role of Truth (aligned with the “Poles of Truth”) who writes and transports the king into truth’s orbit. The poet thus “pen[s] his story” and immortalizes him, as she did in On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27] (1649-1651), in which his own “valor fills with wonder future story, / Whilst virtue crowns him with immortal glory” (elemental edition, lines 3-4). To eulogize Charles I, Pulter picks up the thread (the poem’s theme or storyline), which is connected to the thread of grace or divine favor.

Sandys assigns the job of settling the controversy not to the sword but to justice: “By Equitie let us our Judgements guide: / And this long controverted Cause decide” (A Paraphrase Upon Job, p. 44). In and through verses that plead for justice and the righteous restoration of kingship, Pulter implies that Truth, penned by the poet and identified as the poet, will restore order, and thus reverse the confusion of tongues and the babble. The term “truth” appears twice in the poem directly, once associated with the king’s movements and then with divine truth that envelops the king’s people who live, move, and have their being in him. But it is also inferred by the reference to Time’s Daughter who uses verses to forge the identifications between truths.

Line number 22

 Gloss note

God-given grace immortalizes the righteous king.
Line number 24

 Critical note


involve means to enfold, envelop, entangle, include (“involve, v.” OED, 1).

Dissolve[d]/involve[d] is perhaps Pulter’s most frequently used rhymed couplet. Select examples of poems in which the couplet appears include On that Unparalleled Prince Charles the First, His Horrid Murder [Poem 8]; On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]; The Center [Poem 30]; Aletheia’s Pearl [Poem 32]; The Invocation of the Elements [Poem 41]; and A Dialogue Between Two Sisters [Poem 56]. Most often, the couplet is used in distiches that describe the destruction of the world as a consequence of the eclipsed king: “But if the sun in darkness be involved, / Old nature’s fabric would be soon dissolved” (stanza 2, On that Unparalleled Prince Charles the First, His Horrid Murder [Poem 8]).
Line number 25

 Critical note

England (the monarch and his people—new Israel). This is a poem about “this church and nation” (6).
Line number 26

 Critical note

Echoes line 6 of On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]. The line is a variation on Psalm 85:10. The alignment of peace with truth is a commonplace. John Milton’s Poems of Mr. John Milton both English and Latin (London, 1645), a copy of which Pulter likely owned, thanks to her younger sister Margaret Ley Hobson, connects “Truth, and Peace, and Love,” which, unlike Time, “shall ever shine / About the supreme Throne” (“On Time,” 20). Milton’s “On the morning of Christs Nativity. Compos’d 1629” allegorizes Peace, Truth, Justice, and Mercy, who prepare the way for the Second Coming (Poems, pp. 4, 7-8).
Line number 26

 Critical note

This second occurrence of the love/above rhymed couplet in the poem—the first being 9 and 10 lines earlier—reinforces the effectiveness of the poem’s work in binding king, nation, and God. The anaphora (“Let …. Let”) marking the last eight lines links the actions and connects the movements described in the poem. The concluding lines of Poem 64 are also reminiscent of Bradstreet’s prophetic benediction (with its anaphora) that constitutes the final speech in “A Dialogue” and envisions an elect, unified England. Refer to Pulter Reads Bradstreet’s Tenth Muse
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[Untitled]
And Must the Sword this Controverse Decide
And Must the Sword this Controverse Decide
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

— Elizabeth Sauer
The aim of the elemental edition is to make the poems accessible to the largest variety of readers, which involves modernizing spelling and punctuation as well as adding basic glosses. Spelling and punctuation reflect current standard American usage; punctuation highlights syntax which might otherwise be obscure. Outmoded but still familiar word forms (“thou,” “‘tis,” “hold’st”) are not modernized, and we do not modernize grammar when the sense remains legible. After a brief headnote aimed at offering a “way in” to the poem’s unique qualities and connections with other verse by Pulter or her contemporaries, the edition features a minimum of notes and interpretative framing to allow more immediate engagement with the poem. Glosses clarify synonyms or showcase various possible meanings in Pulter’s time. Other notes identify named people and places or clarify obscure material. We rely (without citation) primarily on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the Oxford Reference database, and the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. When we rely on Alice Eardley’s edition of Pulter’s work, we cite her text generally (“Eardley”); other sources are cited in full. The result is an edition we consider a springboard for further work on Pulter’s poetry. See full conventions for this edition here.

— Elizabeth Sauer
Originally one of the few untitled poems, “And Must the Sword this Controverse Decide” (Poem 64) is in Pulter’s hand but may also be in two other hands,
Gloss Note
Christian, “The poems of Lady Hester Pulter,” 85.
[1]
its collective composition thus complementing its tradition themes and the shared royalist sentiments of the intellectual circles in which she worked. As Alice Eardley observes, “the opening up of a poem’s potential contexts involves establishing the bounds of the knowledge that may legitimately be brought to bear on the material.”
Gloss Note
Alice Eardley, “Hester Pulter’s ‘Indivisibles’ and the Challenges of Annotating Early Modern Women’s Poetry,” SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 52.1 (2012): 122 (117-41).
[2]
My editorial insertions and comments are intended to enrich the interpretative experience of “And Must the Sword” by recourse to writings on royalist history and cross-references to books Pulter may have consulted—an inventory of which scholars have attempted to reconstruct on the basis of intrinsic textual evidence—and by comparisons to other poems in her oeuvre. The poem in iambic pentameter couplets appeared as a single stanza, which I divided to highlight the unusually bold break in the argument and, at the same time, to underscore the performance of the poet and the restoration of order and truth over the confusion resulting from the civil wars, regicide, and divine judgement described in the poem’s first half.
Critical Note
By introducing this division, I forge formal connections between Poem 64 and Geffrey Whitney’s two-part emblem “Veritas temporis filia” (Whitney, A Choice of Emblemes, and Other Devises [Leiden, 1586], 4). See the note on line 21 below.
[3]
For the same reason, I have capitalized the first letters of the names and figures of divine agents in the poem, and inserted endstops, which are entirely lacking in the manuscript version, including at the end of the text. Some lines require enjambment (see lines 16-17, for example). The inclusion of endstops throws into relief those lines whose significances are enhanced by enjambment. I have also modernized most of the spelling for the modern reader.

— Elizabeth Sauer
This poem begins in medias res: mid-sentence (“And”), and apparently in the midst of England’s civil wars, but sometime after the beheading of Charles I in 1649. In her opening query, the speaker seems to regret the inevitability of violence (“the sword”) as a solution to her country’s misrule, yet she still invokes divine vengeance upon her foes. Although she appears to implore God to condemn all factions, Pulter evidently excluded her own party from this condemnation: factions were dissidents; royalists were loyalists. The invocation of the “Lord of Hosts,” an epithet from the Hebrew Bible, suits the eye-for-an-eye endgame envisioned here: if the speaker has her way, the bloodthirsty shall be quenched by each other’s blood, and as they were mercilessly deaf to the cries of the innocent, so God shall be to theirs, at the end of their earthly lives or (implicitly) in a hellish hereafter. The speaker then prays for the eternal salvation of those she considers God’s chosen, and for the restoration at the end of time of their slain king: not, in this context, Christ, but Charles I (although the two were often identified in royalist imagery). As though to usher in this future peace (for some, anyhow), the concluding hortatory anaphora (“Let … Let”) and personified abstractions (time, grace, truth) evoke a serenity utterly at odds with the bloody clashes earlier in the poem.

— Elizabeth Sauer
This lyrical poem resonates with Pulter’s three elegies on Charles I, which were influenced by the culture and aesthetics of kingship and martyrdom in the wake of the regicide (1649). In an age before political parties, royalism—which is on full display in Pulter’s poetry—emerged as a political, cultural, and literary phenomenon that resisted Cromwellian rule while upholding monarchical authority. Composed c. 1651, “And Must the Sword this Controverse Decide” reflects on the British civil wars, the ongoing political and civil disputes, and on the persistence of royalist sentiment and the value of literary production well after the regicide, implied by the reference to the king’s death, which “hath been deplored / So long by us.”
The tone of Pulter’s royalist verse is serious, and not reflective of the Anacreontic mid seventeenth-century literary mode, which emerged in the experience of royalist defeat, and which represents one branch of the heterogeneous Cavalier poetic tradition. Anacreon, the ancient Greek poet known for his drinking lyrics, was the inspiration for the witty, masculinist verse of some English Cavalier lyricists.
Gloss Note
Karen Britland, “Conspiring with ‘friends’: Hester Pulter’s Poetry and the Stanley Family at Cumberlow Green,” The Review of English Studies, NS, 69.292 (2018): 846-49 (832–54).
[1]
Unsurprisingly, neither Pulter nor her like-minded (female) contemporaries, notably Margaret Cavendish and Katherine Philips, indulge and toast the courtly ideals of fine living, drinking, socializing, and versifying in the spirit of sprezzatura (a casual grace).
Gloss Note
Ann Baynes Coiro, “The Personal Rule of Poets: Cavalier Poetry and the English Revolution,” The Oxford Handbook of Literature and the English Revolution, ed. Laura Lunger Knoppers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 206-37. The poems by Cavendish and Philips post-date Pulter’s Poem 64, but they display similar convictions. Pulter likely owned a copy of Cavendish’s Poems, and Fancies written by the Right Honourable, the Lady Margaret Newcastle (London, 1653). Philips defended the (dead) king’s reputation against the libel of Fifth Monarchist and Approver of Ministers, Vavasor Powell, in “Upon the Double Murther of K. Charles I,” which was not published until 1667, but was written in the early 1650s. See Philips, Poems by the most deservedly Admired Mrs. Katherine Philips, the matchless Orinda (London, 1667), 1-2.
[2]
Among the Cavalier poets who produced meditative verses on retreat, loss, exile, and death, which may have influenced Pulter, was Thomas Carew. His posthumous 1640 volume, titled “Poems,” is assumed to be among Pulter’s library holdings. Pulter likely also possessed a copy of Robert Herrick’s Hesperides or, The works both humane & divine of Robert Herrick, Esq. (1648) among whose poetic themes are the civil wars and Charles I’s stellification. “To the King,” for example, describes “my Charles [who] shines here, / A Publike Light (in this immensive Sphere).” Herrick’s Noble Numbers: or, His Pious Pieces (1647) in Hesperides (1648) contains various poems hailing the king, including “Good Friday: Rex Tragicus; or, Christ Going to His Crosse,” which eerily predicts Charles’s execution and prophesies his ascent: “begin, great King! Ascend Thy throne, / And thence proceed, to act Thy Passion / To such an height, to such a period rais’d, / As Hell, and Earth, and Heav’n may stand amazed.”
Gloss Note
Herrick, Hesperides or, The works both humane & divine of Robert Herrick, Esq. (London, 1648), 278; His Noble Numbers: or, His Pious Pieces, in Hesperides, 74.
[3]
Pulter’s Poem 64 will also commemorate and raise Charles to the spheres.
Pulter’s pro-monarchy poems are solemn, biblical, and formal—in line with many of the elegiac works composed in response to the regicide and the release of the most popular book of the seventeenth century, Eikon Basilike, a copy of which Pulter probably owned.
Critical Note
Stefan Graham Christian categorizes Eikon Basilike as a “possible” holding in Pulter’s library. See Christian’s authoritative and valuable list of Pulter’s library books, certain and probable, in Christian, “The Poems of Lady Hester Pulter (1605?–1678): An Annotated Edition” (2012), 60–64. Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3545910. Pulter was introduced in London to William Dugard, the printer of Eikon Basilike (Sarah C. E. Ross and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann, eds., Women Poets of the English Civil War [Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018], 90). Charles’s book is heavily reliant on the Psalms, as is Pulter’s poetry; in the case of Poem 64, note, for example, the indebtedness to Psalm 137.
[4]
Purportedly in prayer, Charles I appeals in Eikon Basilike to a higher form of truth and justice, and performs acts of self-examination and devotion, for which James I, John Donne, and George Herbert had supplied examples.
Critical Note
Refer to the Curation entitled Pulter reads Eikon Basilike for the foldout and title page of Eikon Basilike. Authored by Charles I and John Gauden, Eikon Basilike. The pourtraicture of His sacred Majestie in his solitudes and sufferings was printed by William Dugard (London, 1649). Charles was indebted to Sandys’s metrical translation of the psalter, A Paraphrase Upon the Psalmes of David in A Paraphrase Upon the Divine Poems (London, 1636, rev. ed. 1638, rpt. 1648), which was dedicated to the monarch and his spouse, and intended for singing in the Chapel Royal.
[5]
Pulter also adopted these writers as literary models, and in Poem 64, in the role of “Time’s fair Virgin Daughter,” unsheathes not a sword but a stylus to justify the legitimacy and legacy of kingship. The poet-speaker opens by asking Job’s question to God about whether “the sword this controverse [must] decide.” In the course of the poem, she demonstrates—as in the Epistle to the Hebrews 4:12 and in a contemporary book Pulter likely owned, Robert Burton’s 1621 Anatomy of Melancholy—that “It is an old saying, A blow with a word, strikes deeper then a blow with a sword.”
Gloss Note
Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (Oxford, 1621), 1.2.4.4, p. 196.
[6]
Poem 64 delivers a blow in verse form.
“And Must the Sword” resonates with other poems in Pulter’s oeuvre, including the tearful On the Horrid Murder of that Incomparable Prince [Poem 14], Let None Sigh More for Lucas or for Lisle [On the Same [2]] [Poem 15], which takes up the theme of Poem 14, and On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]. Pre-1649 Pulter poems that set the scene and supply interpretative frames for those on the regicide are Upon the Imprisonment of his Sacred Majesty [Poem 13], written in 1647, and On those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas [Poem 7], written c. 1648. These royalist poems provide her with a venue for political commentary, an uncharacteristic mode of expression for a female poet whose repertoire consists largely of personal poetry. However, she (Hester) identifies herself repeatedly in her oeuvre with and as the Noble Hadassah, a savior of her chosen nation.


— Elizabeth Sauer
1
Physical Note
This poem is in a different hand from the main scribe, and is on paper that was tipped into the manuscript after binding.
And
must the ſword this controverce deſide
Physical Note
This poem is probably in Pulter’s hand.
And
must the sword this
Gloss Note
obsolete form of “controversy”
controverse
decide:
Critical Note

The line is paraphrased rather liberally from the Book of Job 9:23 (“If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent”). Pulter is indebted to George Sandys’s A Paraphrase Upon Job in A Paraphrase Upon the Divine Poems (London, 1638), 14-15, which Sandys dedicates to King Charles. The relevant passage from A Paraphrase Upon Job is in the Curation entitled Pulter Reads George Sandys’s Paraphrase Upon Job. Neither the Geneva Bible nor the King James Bible (KJB)—which is the “Authorized Version” for readers of the time—provides the translation or paraphrase of Job 9:23 that Pulter uses for the opening line of Poem 64. And neither Stefan Christian nor Alice Eardley mentions Sandys’s A Paraphrase Upon Job in their editions of Pulter’s poems (for Eardley, see Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda, ed. Alice Eardley [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014]).

Many of the themes and figures used by Sandys in his paraphrase (or what we might call an amplified edition) of Job appear in Pulter’s present poem, which reflects on providence and divine judgement. However, by virtue of rendering “And with his Sword the controverse decides” into a rhetorical question, Pulter is re-paraphrasing Sandys’s A Paraphrase Upon Job. That Pulter is generally fascinated by Job is apparent as well in Upon the Imprisonment of his Sacred Majesty [Poem 13], in which she describes Charles: “Then let our Job-like saint rise from the ground / For piety and patience so renowned / That for the best of kings he may be crowned” (Elemental Edition, lines 13-15).

And must the sword this controverse decide
2
Which of theſe ffactions shall this kingdome ride
Which of these
Gloss Note
depreciative term for political (and often dissenting and disputatious) groups, here apparently alluding to warring sides in England’s civil wars
factions
shall this kingdom
Gloss Note
in this context, likely meaning dominate or control, oppress or tyrannize; connotations include gaining (unearned) advantage or aggrandizement from, and several senses related to violence (serving in a cavalry; going on horseback into battle; parading as punishment); figuratively, to ride hard (or to death).
ride
?
Which of these factions shall this kingdom ride?
3
Great God loock
Physical Note
double strike-through
down
on their pride and heere their bosts
Great God, look on their pride and hear their boasts;
Great God,
Critical Note
“down” appeared between the words “look” and “on” in the manuscript edition of the poem, but was struck out. It is still implied here, and the phrase appears in a number of Pulter’s poems, such as, Dear God, from Thy High Throne Look Down [Poem 63], which is in Pulter’s hand. How Long Shall My Dejected Soul [Poem 24] features “Oh then look down” (line 9). In line 3 of Poem 64, Pulter recalls KJB Genesis 11:5: “And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.” See also Psalm 137.
look on their pride
and hear their boasts;
4
Declare thy ſelfe alone the Lord of Hosts
Declare thy self alone the
Gloss Note
epithet for God used often in the Old Testament, sometimes alluding to the multitude of attending angels and sometimes to Israel’s armies; in latter sense, suggestive of “God of armies or battles.”
Lord of Hosts
;
Declare thy self alone the Lord of Hosts;
5
Confound their plotts and curs’t Imagination
Confound their plots and cursed imagination
Critical Note
to confuse; to overthrow. Pulter deliberately uses this word to connect the divine retribution against the proud builders of Babel to the cry for justice against the Cromwellian government. “Confound their language” is repeated within two verses of the KJB (Genesis 11:7, 9).
Confound
their plots and cursed
Critical Note

See KJB Genesis 11:6: “And the LORD said, Behold, … this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”

Pulter’s Mighty Nimrod (Emblem 1) [Poem 67] is replete with references to the delusions and folly of the builders “Foolishly dreaming” (l. 9). Verses 19-20 in the manuscript read “Let their Accursed plots prove their delusion / For Fance’d Glory let them find confusion.”

imagination
6
That haue allmost desroy’d this Church and Nation
That have almost destroyed this church and nation.
That have almost destroyed this
Gloss Note
refers to the concept of a stable, unified country, now devastated by the builders of Babel / the doomed Cromwellian government
church and nation
.
7
ffor blood they thirst,
Physical Note
two short upright marks atop
O
lett them bee imbrued
For blood they thirst: O, let them be
Gloss Note
stained, dyed, especially with blood; earlier also sometimes with the sense of “defiled”
imbrued
For blood they thirst: O, let them be
Gloss Note
stained or bloodied one’s hands or sword. The adversaries use swords; God and the poet wield words.
imbrued
8
In one anothers, that haue of bedu’ed
In one another’s, that have
Physical Note
The manuscript reads “of.”
oft
bedewed
In one another’s, that have oft bedewed
9
With tears ſad Widdows, and poore Orphans, eyes
With tears sad widows’ and poor orphans’ eyes;
With tears sad
Critical Note
This biblical phrase often appears in cries for justice for the oppressed; see, for example, James 1:27. Sandys writes, “Sad widowes, by thee rifled, weepe in vaine: / And ruin’d Orphants of thy Rapes complaine” (A Paraphrase Upon Job, 29). Poet Anne Bradstreet wrote about the crises of the “present troubles” in like terms, and textual evidence in Pulter’s poetry suggests she owned a copy of Bradstreet’s 1650 The Tenth Muse lately sprung up in America. Or severall poems, compiled with great variety of wit and learning, full of delight ... By a Gentlewoman in those parts (London, 1650). See the Curation entitled Pulter Reads Bradstreet’s Tenth Muse. Composed in 1643, Bradstreet’s “A Dialogue between Old England and New, concerning their present troubles. Anno 1642,” which laments the civil wars, is greatly indebted to French Huguenot poet Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas’s “Dialogue upon the Troubles past: Betweene Heraclitus and Democritus, the weeping and the laughing Philosophers.” Pulter probably owned a copy of Du Bartas in translation—Du Bartas his Devine Weekes and Workes by Josuah Sylvester (London, 1611). “A Dialogue” appears on pp. 759-63. Although she was a Puritan, Bradstreet, like her community, championed the cause of the king and decried the sufferings of the victims of war.
widows’ and poor orphans’
eyes;
10
Bee deffe
Physical Note
double strike-through
the
to theirs as they were to their cries
Be deaf to
Gloss Note
“theirs” and “they” refer to the warring factions; “their” to the widows and orphans.
theirs, as they were to their
cries.
Critical Note
“theirs” and “they” reverberate and reinforce the theme of just deserts. The cry for vengeance recalls Psalm 137: “without pity heare their dying grones” (George Sandys, A Paraphrase Upon the Psalmes in A Paraphrase Upon the Divine Poems [London, 1638], 160).
Be deaf to theirs, as they
were to their cries.
11
As in their highth they
Physical Note
second “r” could be “t”
merrie
ne’r would know
As in their
Gloss Note
not only a high or the highest point (spatially), but eminence or elevation in status or exalted rank; haughtiness; the highest point or degree
height
they mercy ne’er would know,
As in their
Critical Note
of pride. The references to height and, in the following line, to “extremes,” extend the comparison between the proud (nameless) builders of Babel and the Rump, who warred against king and country.
height
they mercy ne’er would know,
12
In their extremes noe Mertie
Physical Note
floating superscript “r” is blotted out in ink
r
to them ſhow
Gloss Note
in the last moments or stage of life (as in the Latin in extremis); given the spatial imagery in the line above (“height”), the meaning of “extreme” as a figurative position furthest from the (divine) center also resonates.
In their extremes
no mercy to them show.
In
Gloss Note
the phrase complements the aforementioned “their height” but also references “the last moments or stage of life” (OED, C.n.2b.)
their extremes
Critical Note
a reverberation of the cry for just deserts, a variation on the entreaty made two lines earlier
no mercy
to them show.
13
Butt in that dismale, Black, and Blooddy daye
But in that dismal, black, and bloody
Gloss Note
the Day of Judgment at the end of time, when God will judge the living and resurrected dead and reward them with eternal “life” (see next line) or punish them accordingly
day
,
Critical Note
acts as a volta in the argument and signals the start of the second and final section of the poem which is marked by alternating anaphoras (“And …. and”; “Let … let”). The pronouncements commencing with “And” are designed as responses to the poem’s opening rhetorical question, which begins with “And” and which a poet can best answer. The imperatives throughout the poem establish continuity between the two parts.
But
in that
Critical Note
dies mali; unfortunate, unpropitious day; a cry for justice and judgement that links the present moment to doomsday or the Day of Judgement
dismal, black, and bloody day
,
14
Give all thy choſen ones their liffe a praye
Give all thy
Gloss Note
originally, Israelites (“O ye seed of Israel his servant, ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones” [1 Chronicles 16:13]); in Protestant readings, any of God’s elect, chosen for salvation at the Day of Judgment
chosen ones
their life, I pray,
Give all thy
Critical Note
The alignment of Protestant English with the chosen Israelites was a very common historical and literary practice. See, for example, the Curation entitled Pulter Reads Bradstreet’s Tenth Muse.
chosen ones
their life, I pray,
15
And lett our Longeinge eyes behold restor’d
And let our longing eyes behold, restored,
And let our longing eyes behold, restored,
16
Our Gratious Kinge, whos loſs hath bin
Physical Note
second “e” scribbled out
deplor’ed
Our gracious
Gloss Note
Charles I; the next line (“let him rest above”) suggests the poem was written after his beheading, which would prevent his being “restored” on earth; the speaker anticipates his restoration at the Day of Judgment instead.
king
, whose loss hath been
Gloss Note
lamented
deplored
Our gracious king, whose loss hath been deplored
17
ſoe longe by us
Physical Note
two short upright marks atop
O
lett him rest above
Physical Note
double strike-through
in providence
So long by us. O, let him rest above
Critical Note
signals the prolonged experience of loss, which has been bewailed (deplored). The phrase helps date the poem as post-1649, the year of the regicide, after which conflicts involving the English, Irish, and Scottish Royalists and Presbyterians, and Covenanters continued through to 1651, when Pulter likely composed the poem. Laments and cries resound throughout the elegiac poem. The pivotal clause “whose loss hath been deplored” continues the enjambed verse.
So long
by us. O, let him rest above
18
In providence, and in the Orb of
Physical Note
to right, after a space, vertical line curving to right at top
love
In
Gloss Note
God’s omniscient and protective care
providence
, and in the
Gloss Note
apparently a reference to the divine realm (the Christian God being sometimes identified with love); “orb” as world, or a celestial sphere (as in a sun or planet); in astronomy, a hollow sphere thought to surround the earth and carry the planets and stars in their revolution.
orb of love
Critical Note
In the manuscript, “in providence” is crossed out and moved to the following line, thus fittingly suspending “above” while aligning “providence” with “Orb of love.” And of course the couplet reappears in the poem’s final distich, though this time as “love” followed by “above.”
In providence
, and in the
Critical Note
An orb is a ring (from Latin orbis “ring”). Here divine providence is figured as an orb of love, which encircles, envelops, orders, and directs the planets, stars, and worlds. The king moves in the orb of love’s orbit (the primum mobile). Cf. On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27], line 15. The Invitation into the Country [Poem 2], composed in 1647, prays for the stellification of the king and queen: “Just heaven, hear our prayers and tears / And place them in their shining spheres” (lines 187-88). Refer to the reference in the headnote to Herrick, who exalts Charles I as a “Publike Light (in this immensive Sphere).”
Orb of love
19
Lett all his actions move as in his youth
Let all his actions move, as in his youth;
Let all his actions move, as in his youth;
20
And lett them turn upon the Poles of th truth
And let them turn upon the
Critical Note
a metaphor extending the astronomical sense of the “orb of love” above, with “poles” signifying the ends of an axis on which something rotates (in this case, the axis being truth, and the actions of Charles I turning on that axis).
poles of truth
.
And let them turn upon the
Critical Note
an astronomical figure, displaying Pulter’s interest in astronomy. The poles serve as a magnet which draws the king and around which his movements revolve. “Truth” is pivotal, ending this line and beginning the next (Truth is Time’s daughter).
Poles of Truth
.
21
Let tym’s faire Virgin Daughter
Physical Note
unidentified third letter crossed out
pe[?]
pen his story
Let
Gloss Note
Proverbially, Truth is the daughter of Time.
Time’s fair virgin daughter
pen his story,
Let
Critical Note

Pulter would have known Geffrey Whitney’s emblem “Veritas temporis filia,” in which truth is personified as father Time’s “daughter deare” (Whitney, A Choice of Emblemes, and Other Devises [Leiden, 1586], 4, line 4). See the Curation Pulter Reads Whitney’s Emblemes. Whitney’s very popular Choice of Emblemes is a highly likely candidate for inclusion among Pulter’s library holdings. In “And Must the Sword,” Pulter’s speaker assumes the role of Truth (aligned with the “Poles of Truth”) who writes and transports the king into truth’s orbit. The poet thus “pen[s] his story” and immortalizes him, as she did in On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27] (1649-1651), in which his own “valor fills with wonder future story, / Whilst virtue crowns him with immortal glory” (elemental edition, lines 3-4). To eulogize Charles I, Pulter picks up the thread (the poem’s theme or storyline), which is connected to the thread of grace or divine favor.

Sandys assigns the job of settling the controversy not to the sword but to justice: “By Equitie let us our Judgements guide: / And this long controverted Cause decide” (A Paraphrase Upon Job, p. 44). In and through verses that plead for justice and the righteous restoration of kingship, Pulter implies that Truth, penned by the poet and identified as the poet, will restore order, and thus reverse the confusion of tongues and the babble. The term “truth” appears twice in the poem directly, once associated with the king’s movements and then with divine truth that envelops the king’s people who live, move, and have their being in him. But it is also inferred by the reference to Time’s Daughter who uses verses to forge the identifications between truths.

Time’s fair Virgin Daughter
pen his story,
22
Whils’t Grace conduct’s him to Eternall Glory
Whilst Grace conducts him to eternal glory;
Whilst
Gloss Note
God-given grace immortalizes the righteous king.
Grace
conducts him to eternal glory;
23
And then when totall Nature is
Physical Note
second “e” may be scribbled out
deſolve’d
And then, when total nature is dissolved,
And then, when total nature is dissolved,
24
Lett Him and His in Glory bee involv’d
Let him and
Gloss Note
those to whom he is closely related, his family or kindred; figuratively, the king’s followers
his
in glory be involved;
Let him and his in glory be
Critical Note

involve means to enfold, envelop, entangle, include (“involve, v.” OED, 1).

Dissolve[d]/involve[d] is perhaps Pulter’s most frequently used rhymed couplet. Select examples of poems in which the couplet appears include On that Unparalleled Prince Charles the First, His Horrid Murder [Poem 8]; On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]; The Center [Poem 30]; Aletheia’s Pearl [Poem 32]; The Invocation of the Elements [Poem 41]; and A Dialogue Between Two Sisters [Poem 56]. Most often, the couplet is used in distiches that describe the destruction of the world as a consequence of the eclipsed king: “But if the sun in darkness be involved, / Old nature’s fabric would be soon dissolved” (stanza 2, On that Unparalleled Prince Charles the First, His Horrid Murder [Poem 8]).
involved
;
25
And on all thoſe that doe thy Isarell love
And on all those that do
Gloss Note
literally, those descended from Israel or Jacob, so the Jewish or Hebrew nation; figuratively, here, God’s chosen, applied by Christians to Christians
thy Israel
love,
And on all those that do
Critical Note
England (the monarch and his people—new Israel). This is a poem about “this church and nation” (6).
thy Israel
love,
26
Lett peace, and truth, flow on them from
Physical Note
reverse of page blank
above
Let peace, and truth, flow on them from above.
Critical Note
Echoes line 6 of On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]. The line is a variation on Psalm 85:10. The alignment of peace with truth is a commonplace. John Milton’s Poems of Mr. John Milton both English and Latin (London, 1645), a copy of which Pulter likely owned, thanks to her younger sister Margaret Ley Hobson, connects “Truth, and Peace, and Love,” which, unlike Time, “shall ever shine / About the supreme Throne” (“On Time,” 20). Milton’s “On the morning of Christs Nativity. Compos’d 1629” allegorizes Peace, Truth, Justice, and Mercy, who prepare the way for the Second Coming (Poems, pp. 4, 7-8).
Let peace, and truth, flow
on them from
Critical Note
This second occurrence of the love/above rhymed couplet in the poem—the first being 9 and 10 lines earlier—reinforces the effectiveness of the poem’s work in binding king, nation, and God. The anaphora (“Let …. Let”) marking the last eight lines links the actions and connects the movements described in the poem. The concluding lines of Poem 64 are also reminiscent of Bradstreet’s prophetic benediction (with its anaphora) that constitutes the final speech in “A Dialogue” and envisions an elect, unified England. Refer to Pulter Reads Bradstreet’s Tenth Muse
above
.
X (Close panel) All Notes
Transcription

 Editorial note

In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.
Elemental Edition

 Editorial note

The aim of the elemental edition is to make the poems accessible to the largest variety of readers, which involves modernizing spelling and punctuation as well as adding basic glosses. Spelling and punctuation reflect current standard American usage; punctuation highlights syntax which might otherwise be obscure. Outmoded but still familiar word forms (“thou,” “‘tis,” “hold’st”) are not modernized, and we do not modernize grammar when the sense remains legible. After a brief headnote aimed at offering a “way in” to the poem’s unique qualities and connections with other verse by Pulter or her contemporaries, the edition features a minimum of notes and interpretative framing to allow more immediate engagement with the poem. Glosses clarify synonyms or showcase various possible meanings in Pulter’s time. Other notes identify named people and places or clarify obscure material. We rely (without citation) primarily on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the Oxford Reference database, and the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. When we rely on Alice Eardley’s edition of Pulter’s work, we cite her text generally (“Eardley”); other sources are cited in full. The result is an edition we consider a springboard for further work on Pulter’s poetry. See full conventions for this edition here.
Amplified Edition

 Editorial note

Originally one of the few untitled poems, “And Must the Sword this Controverse Decide” (Poem 64) is in Pulter’s hand but may also be in two other hands,
Gloss Note
Christian, “The poems of Lady Hester Pulter,” 85.
[1]
its collective composition thus complementing its tradition themes and the shared royalist sentiments of the intellectual circles in which she worked. As Alice Eardley observes, “the opening up of a poem’s potential contexts involves establishing the bounds of the knowledge that may legitimately be brought to bear on the material.”
Gloss Note
Alice Eardley, “Hester Pulter’s ‘Indivisibles’ and the Challenges of Annotating Early Modern Women’s Poetry,” SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 52.1 (2012): 122 (117-41).
[2]
My editorial insertions and comments are intended to enrich the interpretative experience of “And Must the Sword” by recourse to writings on royalist history and cross-references to books Pulter may have consulted—an inventory of which scholars have attempted to reconstruct on the basis of intrinsic textual evidence—and by comparisons to other poems in her oeuvre. The poem in iambic pentameter couplets appeared as a single stanza, which I divided to highlight the unusually bold break in the argument and, at the same time, to underscore the performance of the poet and the restoration of order and truth over the confusion resulting from the civil wars, regicide, and divine judgement described in the poem’s first half.
Critical Note
By introducing this division, I forge formal connections between Poem 64 and Geffrey Whitney’s two-part emblem “Veritas temporis filia” (Whitney, A Choice of Emblemes, and Other Devises [Leiden, 1586], 4). See the note on line 21 below.
[3]
For the same reason, I have capitalized the first letters of the names and figures of divine agents in the poem, and inserted endstops, which are entirely lacking in the manuscript version, including at the end of the text. Some lines require enjambment (see lines 16-17, for example). The inclusion of endstops throws into relief those lines whose significances are enhanced by enjambment. I have also modernized most of the spelling for the modern reader.
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

This poem begins in medias res: mid-sentence (“And”), and apparently in the midst of England’s civil wars, but sometime after the beheading of Charles I in 1649. In her opening query, the speaker seems to regret the inevitability of violence (“the sword”) as a solution to her country’s misrule, yet she still invokes divine vengeance upon her foes. Although she appears to implore God to condemn all factions, Pulter evidently excluded her own party from this condemnation: factions were dissidents; royalists were loyalists. The invocation of the “Lord of Hosts,” an epithet from the Hebrew Bible, suits the eye-for-an-eye endgame envisioned here: if the speaker has her way, the bloodthirsty shall be quenched by each other’s blood, and as they were mercilessly deaf to the cries of the innocent, so God shall be to theirs, at the end of their earthly lives or (implicitly) in a hellish hereafter. The speaker then prays for the eternal salvation of those she considers God’s chosen, and for the restoration at the end of time of their slain king: not, in this context, Christ, but Charles I (although the two were often identified in royalist imagery). As though to usher in this future peace (for some, anyhow), the concluding hortatory anaphora (“Let … Let”) and personified abstractions (time, grace, truth) evoke a serenity utterly at odds with the bloody clashes earlier in the poem.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

This lyrical poem resonates with Pulter’s three elegies on Charles I, which were influenced by the culture and aesthetics of kingship and martyrdom in the wake of the regicide (1649). In an age before political parties, royalism—which is on full display in Pulter’s poetry—emerged as a political, cultural, and literary phenomenon that resisted Cromwellian rule while upholding monarchical authority. Composed c. 1651, “And Must the Sword this Controverse Decide” reflects on the British civil wars, the ongoing political and civil disputes, and on the persistence of royalist sentiment and the value of literary production well after the regicide, implied by the reference to the king’s death, which “hath been deplored / So long by us.”
The tone of Pulter’s royalist verse is serious, and not reflective of the Anacreontic mid seventeenth-century literary mode, which emerged in the experience of royalist defeat, and which represents one branch of the heterogeneous Cavalier poetic tradition. Anacreon, the ancient Greek poet known for his drinking lyrics, was the inspiration for the witty, masculinist verse of some English Cavalier lyricists.
Gloss Note
Karen Britland, “Conspiring with ‘friends’: Hester Pulter’s Poetry and the Stanley Family at Cumberlow Green,” The Review of English Studies, NS, 69.292 (2018): 846-49 (832–54).
[1]
Unsurprisingly, neither Pulter nor her like-minded (female) contemporaries, notably Margaret Cavendish and Katherine Philips, indulge and toast the courtly ideals of fine living, drinking, socializing, and versifying in the spirit of sprezzatura (a casual grace).
Gloss Note
Ann Baynes Coiro, “The Personal Rule of Poets: Cavalier Poetry and the English Revolution,” The Oxford Handbook of Literature and the English Revolution, ed. Laura Lunger Knoppers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 206-37. The poems by Cavendish and Philips post-date Pulter’s Poem 64, but they display similar convictions. Pulter likely owned a copy of Cavendish’s Poems, and Fancies written by the Right Honourable, the Lady Margaret Newcastle (London, 1653). Philips defended the (dead) king’s reputation against the libel of Fifth Monarchist and Approver of Ministers, Vavasor Powell, in “Upon the Double Murther of K. Charles I,” which was not published until 1667, but was written in the early 1650s. See Philips, Poems by the most deservedly Admired Mrs. Katherine Philips, the matchless Orinda (London, 1667), 1-2.
[2]
Among the Cavalier poets who produced meditative verses on retreat, loss, exile, and death, which may have influenced Pulter, was Thomas Carew. His posthumous 1640 volume, titled “Poems,” is assumed to be among Pulter’s library holdings. Pulter likely also possessed a copy of Robert Herrick’s Hesperides or, The works both humane & divine of Robert Herrick, Esq. (1648) among whose poetic themes are the civil wars and Charles I’s stellification. “To the King,” for example, describes “my Charles [who] shines here, / A Publike Light (in this immensive Sphere).” Herrick’s Noble Numbers: or, His Pious Pieces (1647) in Hesperides (1648) contains various poems hailing the king, including “Good Friday: Rex Tragicus; or, Christ Going to His Crosse,” which eerily predicts Charles’s execution and prophesies his ascent: “begin, great King! Ascend Thy throne, / And thence proceed, to act Thy Passion / To such an height, to such a period rais’d, / As Hell, and Earth, and Heav’n may stand amazed.”
Gloss Note
Herrick, Hesperides or, The works both humane & divine of Robert Herrick, Esq. (London, 1648), 278; His Noble Numbers: or, His Pious Pieces, in Hesperides, 74.
[3]
Pulter’s Poem 64 will also commemorate and raise Charles to the spheres.
Pulter’s pro-monarchy poems are solemn, biblical, and formal—in line with many of the elegiac works composed in response to the regicide and the release of the most popular book of the seventeenth century, Eikon Basilike, a copy of which Pulter probably owned.
Critical Note
Stefan Graham Christian categorizes Eikon Basilike as a “possible” holding in Pulter’s library. See Christian’s authoritative and valuable list of Pulter’s library books, certain and probable, in Christian, “The Poems of Lady Hester Pulter (1605?–1678): An Annotated Edition” (2012), 60–64. Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3545910. Pulter was introduced in London to William Dugard, the printer of Eikon Basilike (Sarah C. E. Ross and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann, eds., Women Poets of the English Civil War [Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018], 90). Charles’s book is heavily reliant on the Psalms, as is Pulter’s poetry; in the case of Poem 64, note, for example, the indebtedness to Psalm 137.
[4]
Purportedly in prayer, Charles I appeals in Eikon Basilike to a higher form of truth and justice, and performs acts of self-examination and devotion, for which James I, John Donne, and George Herbert had supplied examples.
Critical Note
Refer to the Curation entitled Pulter reads Eikon Basilike for the foldout and title page of Eikon Basilike. Authored by Charles I and John Gauden, Eikon Basilike. The pourtraicture of His sacred Majestie in his solitudes and sufferings was printed by William Dugard (London, 1649). Charles was indebted to Sandys’s metrical translation of the psalter, A Paraphrase Upon the Psalmes of David in A Paraphrase Upon the Divine Poems (London, 1636, rev. ed. 1638, rpt. 1648), which was dedicated to the monarch and his spouse, and intended for singing in the Chapel Royal.
[5]
Pulter also adopted these writers as literary models, and in Poem 64, in the role of “Time’s fair Virgin Daughter,” unsheathes not a sword but a stylus to justify the legitimacy and legacy of kingship. The poet-speaker opens by asking Job’s question to God about whether “the sword this controverse [must] decide.” In the course of the poem, she demonstrates—as in the Epistle to the Hebrews 4:12 and in a contemporary book Pulter likely owned, Robert Burton’s 1621 Anatomy of Melancholy—that “It is an old saying, A blow with a word, strikes deeper then a blow with a sword.”
Gloss Note
Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (Oxford, 1621), 1.2.4.4, p. 196.
[6]
Poem 64 delivers a blow in verse form.
“And Must the Sword” resonates with other poems in Pulter’s oeuvre, including the tearful On the Horrid Murder of that Incomparable Prince [Poem 14], Let None Sigh More for Lucas or for Lisle [On the Same [2]] [Poem 15], which takes up the theme of Poem 14, and On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]. Pre-1649 Pulter poems that set the scene and supply interpretative frames for those on the regicide are Upon the Imprisonment of his Sacred Majesty [Poem 13], written in 1647, and On those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas [Poem 7], written c. 1648. These royalist poems provide her with a venue for political commentary, an uncharacteristic mode of expression for a female poet whose repertoire consists largely of personal poetry. However, she (Hester) identifies herself repeatedly in her oeuvre with and as the Noble Hadassah, a savior of her chosen nation.
Transcription
Line number 1

 Physical note

This poem is in a different hand from the main scribe, and is on paper that was tipped into the manuscript after binding.
Elemental Edition
Line number 1

 Physical note

This poem is probably in Pulter’s hand.
Elemental Edition
Line number 1

 Gloss note

obsolete form of “controversy”
Amplified Edition
Line number 1

 Critical note


The line is paraphrased rather liberally from the Book of Job 9:23 (“If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent”). Pulter is indebted to George Sandys’s A Paraphrase Upon Job in A Paraphrase Upon the Divine Poems (London, 1638), 14-15, which Sandys dedicates to King Charles. The relevant passage from A Paraphrase Upon Job is in the Curation entitled Pulter Reads George Sandys’s Paraphrase Upon Job. Neither the Geneva Bible nor the King James Bible (KJB)—which is the “Authorized Version” for readers of the time—provides the translation or paraphrase of Job 9:23 that Pulter uses for the opening line of Poem 64. And neither Stefan Christian nor Alice Eardley mentions Sandys’s A Paraphrase Upon Job in their editions of Pulter’s poems (for Eardley, see Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda, ed. Alice Eardley [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014]).

Many of the themes and figures used by Sandys in his paraphrase (or what we might call an amplified edition) of Job appear in Pulter’s present poem, which reflects on providence and divine judgement. However, by virtue of rendering “And with his Sword the controverse decides” into a rhetorical question, Pulter is re-paraphrasing Sandys’s A Paraphrase Upon Job. That Pulter is generally fascinated by Job is apparent as well in Upon the Imprisonment of his Sacred Majesty [Poem 13], in which she describes Charles: “Then let our Job-like saint rise from the ground / For piety and patience so renowned / That for the best of kings he may be crowned” (Elemental Edition, lines 13-15).

Elemental Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

depreciative term for political (and often dissenting and disputatious) groups, here apparently alluding to warring sides in England’s civil wars
Elemental Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

in this context, likely meaning dominate or control, oppress or tyrannize; connotations include gaining (unearned) advantage or aggrandizement from, and several senses related to violence (serving in a cavalry; going on horseback into battle; parading as punishment); figuratively, to ride hard (or to death).
Transcription
Line number 3

 Physical note

double strike-through
Amplified Edition
Line number 3

 Critical note

“down” appeared between the words “look” and “on” in the manuscript edition of the poem, but was struck out. It is still implied here, and the phrase appears in a number of Pulter’s poems, such as, Dear God, from Thy High Throne Look Down [Poem 63], which is in Pulter’s hand. How Long Shall My Dejected Soul [Poem 24] features “Oh then look down” (line 9). In line 3 of Poem 64, Pulter recalls KJB Genesis 11:5: “And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.” See also Psalm 137.
Elemental Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

epithet for God used often in the Old Testament, sometimes alluding to the multitude of attending angels and sometimes to Israel’s armies; in latter sense, suggestive of “God of armies or battles.”
Amplified Edition
Line number 5

 Critical note

to confuse; to overthrow. Pulter deliberately uses this word to connect the divine retribution against the proud builders of Babel to the cry for justice against the Cromwellian government. “Confound their language” is repeated within two verses of the KJB (Genesis 11:7, 9).
Amplified Edition
Line number 5

 Critical note


See KJB Genesis 11:6: “And the LORD said, Behold, … this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”

Pulter’s Mighty Nimrod (Emblem 1) [Poem 67] is replete with references to the delusions and folly of the builders “Foolishly dreaming” (l. 9). Verses 19-20 in the manuscript read “Let their Accursed plots prove their delusion / For Fance’d Glory let them find confusion.”

Amplified Edition
Line number 6

 Gloss note

refers to the concept of a stable, unified country, now devastated by the builders of Babel / the doomed Cromwellian government
Transcription
Line number 7

 Physical note

two short upright marks atop
Elemental Edition
Line number 7

 Gloss note

stained, dyed, especially with blood; earlier also sometimes with the sense of “defiled”
Amplified Edition
Line number 7

 Gloss note

stained or bloodied one’s hands or sword. The adversaries use swords; God and the poet wield words.
Elemental Edition
Line number 8

 Physical note

The manuscript reads “of.”
Amplified Edition
Line number 9

 Critical note

This biblical phrase often appears in cries for justice for the oppressed; see, for example, James 1:27. Sandys writes, “Sad widowes, by thee rifled, weepe in vaine: / And ruin’d Orphants of thy Rapes complaine” (A Paraphrase Upon Job, 29). Poet Anne Bradstreet wrote about the crises of the “present troubles” in like terms, and textual evidence in Pulter’s poetry suggests she owned a copy of Bradstreet’s 1650 The Tenth Muse lately sprung up in America. Or severall poems, compiled with great variety of wit and learning, full of delight ... By a Gentlewoman in those parts (London, 1650). See the Curation entitled Pulter Reads Bradstreet’s Tenth Muse. Composed in 1643, Bradstreet’s “A Dialogue between Old England and New, concerning their present troubles. Anno 1642,” which laments the civil wars, is greatly indebted to French Huguenot poet Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas’s “Dialogue upon the Troubles past: Betweene Heraclitus and Democritus, the weeping and the laughing Philosophers.” Pulter probably owned a copy of Du Bartas in translation—Du Bartas his Devine Weekes and Workes by Josuah Sylvester (London, 1611). “A Dialogue” appears on pp. 759-63. Although she was a Puritan, Bradstreet, like her community, championed the cause of the king and decried the sufferings of the victims of war.
Transcription
Line number 10

 Physical note

double strike-through
Elemental Edition
Line number 10

 Gloss note

“theirs” and “they” refer to the warring factions; “their” to the widows and orphans.
Amplified Edition
Line number 10

 Critical note

“theirs” and “they” reverberate and reinforce the theme of just deserts. The cry for vengeance recalls Psalm 137: “without pity heare their dying grones” (George Sandys, A Paraphrase Upon the Psalmes in A Paraphrase Upon the Divine Poems [London, 1638], 160).
Transcription
Line number 11

 Physical note

second “r” could be “t”
Elemental Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

not only a high or the highest point (spatially), but eminence or elevation in status or exalted rank; haughtiness; the highest point or degree
Amplified Edition
Line number 11

 Critical note

of pride. The references to height and, in the following line, to “extremes,” extend the comparison between the proud (nameless) builders of Babel and the Rump, who warred against king and country.
Transcription
Line number 12

 Physical note

floating superscript “r” is blotted out in ink
Elemental Edition
Line number 12

 Gloss note

in the last moments or stage of life (as in the Latin in extremis); given the spatial imagery in the line above (“height”), the meaning of “extreme” as a figurative position furthest from the (divine) center also resonates.
Amplified Edition
Line number 12

 Gloss note

the phrase complements the aforementioned “their height” but also references “the last moments or stage of life” (OED, C.n.2b.)
Amplified Edition
Line number 12

 Critical note

a reverberation of the cry for just deserts, a variation on the entreaty made two lines earlier
Elemental Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

the Day of Judgment at the end of time, when God will judge the living and resurrected dead and reward them with eternal “life” (see next line) or punish them accordingly
Amplified Edition
Line number 13

 Critical note

acts as a volta in the argument and signals the start of the second and final section of the poem which is marked by alternating anaphoras (“And …. and”; “Let … let”). The pronouncements commencing with “And” are designed as responses to the poem’s opening rhetorical question, which begins with “And” and which a poet can best answer. The imperatives throughout the poem establish continuity between the two parts.
Amplified Edition
Line number 13

 Critical note

dies mali; unfortunate, unpropitious day; a cry for justice and judgement that links the present moment to doomsday or the Day of Judgement
Elemental Edition
Line number 14

 Gloss note

originally, Israelites (“O ye seed of Israel his servant, ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones” [1 Chronicles 16:13]); in Protestant readings, any of God’s elect, chosen for salvation at the Day of Judgment
Amplified Edition
Line number 14

 Critical note

The alignment of Protestant English with the chosen Israelites was a very common historical and literary practice. See, for example, the Curation entitled Pulter Reads Bradstreet’s Tenth Muse.
Transcription
Line number 16

 Physical note

second “e” scribbled out
Elemental Edition
Line number 16

 Gloss note

Charles I; the next line (“let him rest above”) suggests the poem was written after his beheading, which would prevent his being “restored” on earth; the speaker anticipates his restoration at the Day of Judgment instead.
Elemental Edition
Line number 16

 Gloss note

lamented
Transcription
Line number 17

 Physical note

two short upright marks atop
Transcription
Line number 17

 Physical note

double strike-through
Amplified Edition
Line number 17

 Critical note

signals the prolonged experience of loss, which has been bewailed (deplored). The phrase helps date the poem as post-1649, the year of the regicide, after which conflicts involving the English, Irish, and Scottish Royalists and Presbyterians, and Covenanters continued through to 1651, when Pulter likely composed the poem. Laments and cries resound throughout the elegiac poem. The pivotal clause “whose loss hath been deplored” continues the enjambed verse.
Transcription
Line number 18

 Physical note

to right, after a space, vertical line curving to right at top
Elemental Edition
Line number 18

 Gloss note

God’s omniscient and protective care
Elemental Edition
Line number 18

 Gloss note

apparently a reference to the divine realm (the Christian God being sometimes identified with love); “orb” as world, or a celestial sphere (as in a sun or planet); in astronomy, a hollow sphere thought to surround the earth and carry the planets and stars in their revolution.
Amplified Edition
Line number 18

 Critical note

In the manuscript, “in providence” is crossed out and moved to the following line, thus fittingly suspending “above” while aligning “providence” with “Orb of love.” And of course the couplet reappears in the poem’s final distich, though this time as “love” followed by “above.”
Amplified Edition
Line number 18

 Critical note

An orb is a ring (from Latin orbis “ring”). Here divine providence is figured as an orb of love, which encircles, envelops, orders, and directs the planets, stars, and worlds. The king moves in the orb of love’s orbit (the primum mobile). Cf. On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27], line 15. The Invitation into the Country [Poem 2], composed in 1647, prays for the stellification of the king and queen: “Just heaven, hear our prayers and tears / And place them in their shining spheres” (lines 187-88). Refer to the reference in the headnote to Herrick, who exalts Charles I as a “Publike Light (in this immensive Sphere).”
Elemental Edition
Line number 20

 Critical note

a metaphor extending the astronomical sense of the “orb of love” above, with “poles” signifying the ends of an axis on which something rotates (in this case, the axis being truth, and the actions of Charles I turning on that axis).
Amplified Edition
Line number 20

 Critical note

an astronomical figure, displaying Pulter’s interest in astronomy. The poles serve as a magnet which draws the king and around which his movements revolve. “Truth” is pivotal, ending this line and beginning the next (Truth is Time’s daughter).
Transcription
Line number 21

 Physical note

unidentified third letter crossed out
Elemental Edition
Line number 21

 Gloss note

Proverbially, Truth is the daughter of Time.
Amplified Edition
Line number 21

 Critical note


Pulter would have known Geffrey Whitney’s emblem “Veritas temporis filia,” in which truth is personified as father Time’s “daughter deare” (Whitney, A Choice of Emblemes, and Other Devises [Leiden, 1586], 4, line 4). See the Curation Pulter Reads Whitney’s Emblemes. Whitney’s very popular Choice of Emblemes is a highly likely candidate for inclusion among Pulter’s library holdings. In “And Must the Sword,” Pulter’s speaker assumes the role of Truth (aligned with the “Poles of Truth”) who writes and transports the king into truth’s orbit. The poet thus “pen[s] his story” and immortalizes him, as she did in On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27] (1649-1651), in which his own “valor fills with wonder future story, / Whilst virtue crowns him with immortal glory” (elemental edition, lines 3-4). To eulogize Charles I, Pulter picks up the thread (the poem’s theme or storyline), which is connected to the thread of grace or divine favor.

Sandys assigns the job of settling the controversy not to the sword but to justice: “By Equitie let us our Judgements guide: / And this long controverted Cause decide” (A Paraphrase Upon Job, p. 44). In and through verses that plead for justice and the righteous restoration of kingship, Pulter implies that Truth, penned by the poet and identified as the poet, will restore order, and thus reverse the confusion of tongues and the babble. The term “truth” appears twice in the poem directly, once associated with the king’s movements and then with divine truth that envelops the king’s people who live, move, and have their being in him. But it is also inferred by the reference to Time’s Daughter who uses verses to forge the identifications between truths.

Amplified Edition
Line number 22

 Gloss note

God-given grace immortalizes the righteous king.
Transcription
Line number 23

 Physical note

second “e” may be scribbled out
Elemental Edition
Line number 24

 Gloss note

those to whom he is closely related, his family or kindred; figuratively, the king’s followers
Amplified Edition
Line number 24

 Critical note


involve means to enfold, envelop, entangle, include (“involve, v.” OED, 1).

Dissolve[d]/involve[d] is perhaps Pulter’s most frequently used rhymed couplet. Select examples of poems in which the couplet appears include On that Unparalleled Prince Charles the First, His Horrid Murder [Poem 8]; On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]; The Center [Poem 30]; Aletheia’s Pearl [Poem 32]; The Invocation of the Elements [Poem 41]; and A Dialogue Between Two Sisters [Poem 56]. Most often, the couplet is used in distiches that describe the destruction of the world as a consequence of the eclipsed king: “But if the sun in darkness be involved, / Old nature’s fabric would be soon dissolved” (stanza 2, On that Unparalleled Prince Charles the First, His Horrid Murder [Poem 8]).
Elemental Edition
Line number 25

 Gloss note

literally, those descended from Israel or Jacob, so the Jewish or Hebrew nation; figuratively, here, God’s chosen, applied by Christians to Christians
Amplified Edition
Line number 25

 Critical note

England (the monarch and his people—new Israel). This is a poem about “this church and nation” (6).
Transcription
Line number 26

 Physical note

reverse of page blank
Amplified Edition
Line number 26

 Critical note

Echoes line 6 of On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]. The line is a variation on Psalm 85:10. The alignment of peace with truth is a commonplace. John Milton’s Poems of Mr. John Milton both English and Latin (London, 1645), a copy of which Pulter likely owned, thanks to her younger sister Margaret Ley Hobson, connects “Truth, and Peace, and Love,” which, unlike Time, “shall ever shine / About the supreme Throne” (“On Time,” 20). Milton’s “On the morning of Christs Nativity. Compos’d 1629” allegorizes Peace, Truth, Justice, and Mercy, who prepare the way for the Second Coming (Poems, pp. 4, 7-8).
Amplified Edition
Line number 26

 Critical note

This second occurrence of the love/above rhymed couplet in the poem—the first being 9 and 10 lines earlier—reinforces the effectiveness of the poem’s work in binding king, nation, and God. The anaphora (“Let …. Let”) marking the last eight lines links the actions and connects the movements described in the poem. The concluding lines of Poem 64 are also reminiscent of Bradstreet’s prophetic benediction (with its anaphora) that constitutes the final speech in “A Dialogue” and envisions an elect, unified England. Refer to Pulter Reads Bradstreet’s Tenth Muse
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