Dear God, Turn Not Away Thy Face

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Dear God, Turn Not Away Thy Face

Poem 20

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 Scott-Baumann.

How to cite these versions

Conventions for these editions

The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making

  • Created by Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
  • Encoded by Katherine Poland, Matthew Taylor, Elizabeth Chou, and Emily Andrey, Northwestern University
  • Website designed by Sergei Kalugin, Northwestern University
  • IT project consultation by Josh Honn, Northwestern University
  • Project sponsored by Northwestern University, Brock University, and University of Leeds
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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 4

 Physical note

“Invol” in left margin, like first parts of last lines in each subsequent stanza: “To ill,” “Whilst,” “I’le,” “Oh,” “Am C”
Line number 13

 Physical note

“A” written over other letter, perhaps “a”
Line number 24

 Physical note

these words are slightly elevated, crowding into the line above; probably in a different hand
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Transcription
Transcription

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
CATCHWORD
[Untitled]
Dear God, Turn Not Away Thy Face
[Untitled]
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
With an undergraduate and graduate student audience in mind, this poem has been modernised in spelling and punctuation. Where modernisation would affect form, priority has been given to the integrity of the poem’s formal features (so, for instance, verb endings -est and -eth have been retained unmodernised; where the meter requires it, the verb ending -ed is accented, e.g., “Then shall thy blessèd influence”). Nouns have been capitalized only when there is clear personification. The notes provide information essential to understanding the poem, while the Headnote aims to stimulate readers’ own interpretations through suggesting literary or historical contexts, possible influences, comparable poems (by Pulter and by her predecessors and peers) and relevant critical arguments.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This poem modulates between a desperate plea not to be abandoned and a vivid fantasy of becoming a heavenly (if dependent) power, whose glory is imagined as akin to royalty. The speaker’s anguished and repeated cries for God not to turn his face away echo both Christ’s tormented exclamation on the cross (“My God, my God why have thou forsaken me?”) and David’s entreaty in the Psalms (“Hide not thy face far from me; … leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation”). If the divine spirit would possess and illuminate her soul, the speaker would reciprocate by offering earthly hallelujahs (songs of praise, such as this poem). This earthly illumination would also set into motion the “eternal day” of the Christian Judgment Day, when her body—gruesomely imagined as eaten by material elements—might transform into a new physical state wearing new garments. Pulter experiments in the poem formally, offering six four-line stanzas that interconnect in unusual ways: the individual stanzas are comprised of a tetrameter tercet and offset ending trimeter line; and end rhymes structure the poem as three paired stanzas. The result is a verse that demonstrates an intensified bonding and coupling of its parts.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This poem draws on several key biblical uses of the “face”: in the Psalms, David wishes God’s face to be turned towards him (Psalm 27:9), in Genesis, the Holy Spirit moves upon the “face” of the seas as the world is created (Genesis 1:2), and that verb is picked up in lines 6-7 here. John Donne also played with similar imagery in ’Good Friday 1613 Riding Westward,’ though in his poem it is the believer who turns away his face from God (because travelling west on Easter day, and also because of his humility), until the poem’s final lines. As in ’The Hope,’ here Pulter embraces the idea of physical disintegration, suggesting that death of the body is rebirth of the soul. Pulter also incorporates the process of writing into the poem itself. In the second stanza the speaker writes her own “story” while also creating a devotional poem of praise: “I will hallelujahs sing.” The humility of Pulter’s account of her own writing echoes George Herbert’s. Her phrase “my eternal God and King” has biblical origins which Herbert also invokes when he defends plainness, albeit ingeniously, in ’Jordan (1)’:
Shepherds are honest people; let them sing;
Riddle who list, for me, and pull for prime;
I envy no man’s nightingale or spring;
Nor let them punish me with loss of rhyme,
Who plainly say, my God, my King.
We might see the same mixture of humility and assertion in Pulter’s poem. When she modestly comments “here I pass my story,” pass means “tell” or “relate” but it could also mean “surpass,” suggesting that Pulter’s speaker lives through (and beyond) her words.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Dear God turn not away thy fface,
Dear God,
Critical Note
See Psalms 27:9: “Hide not thy face far from me …. leave me not, neither forsake me, O God” (Eardley).
turn not away Thy face
,
Dear God, turn not away Thy face.
2
Deſert mee not, in Such a caſe
Desert me not, in such a case
Desert me not, in such a case
3
As I am in, without thy Grace
As I am in, without thy grace,
As I am in: without Thy grace,
4
Physical Note
“Invol” in left margin, like first parts of last lines in each subsequent stanza: “To ill,” “Whilst,” “I’le,” “Oh,” “Am C”
Involv’d
with Death and Night.
Gloss Note
entangled, enveloped
Involved
with death and night.
Gloss Note
enveloped, wrapped
Involved
with death and night.
5
Ô that the Spirits of Life and Love,
O that the spirits of life and love
Oh that the spirits of life and love
6
Would leave his Glorious Throne aboue;
Would leave His glorious throne above,
Would leave His glorious throne above;
7
And dein on my Dark Soule to move,
And
Gloss Note
condescend to bestow
deign
on my dark soul to move,
And deign on my dark soul to move,
8
To illuminate mee with Light.
Critical Note
pronounced as three syllables to match the ending trimeter of each stanza, the first three lines of which are tetrameter
T’illum’nate
me with light.
To illuminate me with light.
9
Though I noe Offering fitt can bring,
Though I no off’ring fit can bring,
Though I no offering fit can bring,
10
Yet I will Hallelujas Sing:
Yet I will hallelujahs sing
Yet I will hallelujahs sing
11
To my eternall God and King,
To my eternal God and King,
To
Critical Note
this biblical phrase is used also by George Herbert; see Headnote
my eternal God and King
,
12
Whilst here I paſs my Story.
Whilst here I
Critical Note
“pass” means to occupy, endure, carry out, or get beyond, but, especially given the spatial grounding here, could mean “to traverse”; in Pulter’s poems, “story” is often a synonym for “life.”
pass my story
.
Whil’st here I pass my story.
13
And when the Eliments
Physical Note
“A” written over other letter, perhaps “a”
Are
agreed,
And when the
Gloss Note
fundamental components of the physical world; in ancient philosophy, earth, fire, water, and air
el’ments
are agreed
And when the
Gloss Note
earth, water, air, fire; the substances of which all things are composed
elements
are agreed
14
On my Mortality to feed;
On my mortality to feed,
On my mortality to feed,
15
And neither ffaith nor hope shall need,
And neither faith nor hope shall
Gloss Note
be lacking; be necessary
need
,
And neither faith nor hope shall need,
16
I’le Shine with loue in Glory.
I’ll shine with love in glory.
Critical Note
when the speaker’s mortal body has expired, she will need only love (“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” [1 Corinthians 13:13]).
I’ll shine with love in glory
.
Oh

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
17
Oh, then turn not thy face away,
O, then turn not Thy face away;
Oh then turn not Thy face away,
18
Let Love and Light bear all ye Sway;
Let love and light bear all the sway.
Let love and light bear all the sway:
19
Thel’e Soon create Eternall Day,
They’ll soon create eternal day,
They’ll soon create eternal day,
20
Oh doe it but explore.
O do it
Gloss Note
one meaning is “just try,” as an imperative with urgency; “but” can also mean absolutely, actually, or even (as in “but now”); “explore” can mean examine, survey, discover
but explore
.
Critical Note
The meaning of these apparently simple words is complex. The main addressee is God, to whom this is a strenuous plea: do at least (“but”) consider (“explore”) shining your light to create eternal day. It could also be read as an instruction to the reader to consider the idea that mortal death will bring the “eternal day” of “love and light.”
Oh do it but explore
.
21
Then Shall thy Bleſſed influence,
Then shall Thy blesséd influence
Then shall Thy blessèd influence,
22
Triumph ore Death her impotence
Triumph o’er
Gloss Note
Death’s impotence, lack of strength
Death, her impotence
,
Gloss Note
a compact and difficult formulation which seems to mean “Triumph over Death, rendering her impotent”
Triumph o’er Death her impotence
23
Whils’t I inrobed with Innocence
Whilst I enrobed with innocence
Whil’st I, enrobed with innocence,
24
Physical Note
these words are slightly elevated, crowding into the line above; probably in a different hand
Am Crown’d
for evermore.
Am crowned for evermore.
Am crowned for evermore.
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 modulates between a desperate plea not to be abandoned and a vivid fantasy of becoming a heavenly (if dependent) power, whose glory is imagined as akin to royalty. The speaker’s anguished and repeated cries for God not to turn his face away echo both Christ’s tormented exclamation on the cross (“My God, my God why have thou forsaken me?”) and David’s entreaty in the Psalms (“Hide not thy face far from me; … leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation”). If the divine spirit would possess and illuminate her soul, the speaker would reciprocate by offering earthly hallelujahs (songs of praise, such as this poem). This earthly illumination would also set into motion the “eternal day” of the Christian Judgment Day, when her body—gruesomely imagined as eaten by material elements—might transform into a new physical state wearing new garments. Pulter experiments in the poem formally, offering six four-line stanzas that interconnect in unusual ways: the individual stanzas are comprised of a tetrameter tercet and offset ending trimeter line; and end rhymes structure the poem as three paired stanzas. The result is a verse that demonstrates an intensified bonding and coupling of its parts.
Line number 1

 Critical note

See Psalms 27:9: “Hide not thy face far from me …. leave me not, neither forsake me, O God” (Eardley).
Line number 4

 Gloss note

entangled, enveloped
Line number 7

 Gloss note

condescend to bestow
Line number 8

 Critical note

pronounced as three syllables to match the ending trimeter of each stanza, the first three lines of which are tetrameter
Line number 12

 Critical note

“pass” means to occupy, endure, carry out, or get beyond, but, especially given the spatial grounding here, could mean “to traverse”; in Pulter’s poems, “story” is often a synonym for “life.”
Line number 13

 Gloss note

fundamental components of the physical world; in ancient philosophy, earth, fire, water, and air
Line number 15

 Gloss note

be lacking; be necessary
Line number 20

 Gloss note

one meaning is “just try,” as an imperative with urgency; “but” can also mean absolutely, actually, or even (as in “but now”); “explore” can mean examine, survey, discover
Line number 22

 Gloss note

Death’s impotence, lack of strength
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Elemental Edition
Elemental Edition

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
CATCHWORD
[Untitled]
Dear God, Turn Not Away Thy Face
[Untitled]
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
With an undergraduate and graduate student audience in mind, this poem has been modernised in spelling and punctuation. Where modernisation would affect form, priority has been given to the integrity of the poem’s formal features (so, for instance, verb endings -est and -eth have been retained unmodernised; where the meter requires it, the verb ending -ed is accented, e.g., “Then shall thy blessèd influence”). Nouns have been capitalized only when there is clear personification. The notes provide information essential to understanding the poem, while the Headnote aims to stimulate readers’ own interpretations through suggesting literary or historical contexts, possible influences, comparable poems (by Pulter and by her predecessors and peers) and relevant critical arguments.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This poem modulates between a desperate plea not to be abandoned and a vivid fantasy of becoming a heavenly (if dependent) power, whose glory is imagined as akin to royalty. The speaker’s anguished and repeated cries for God not to turn his face away echo both Christ’s tormented exclamation on the cross (“My God, my God why have thou forsaken me?”) and David’s entreaty in the Psalms (“Hide not thy face far from me; … leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation”). If the divine spirit would possess and illuminate her soul, the speaker would reciprocate by offering earthly hallelujahs (songs of praise, such as this poem). This earthly illumination would also set into motion the “eternal day” of the Christian Judgment Day, when her body—gruesomely imagined as eaten by material elements—might transform into a new physical state wearing new garments. Pulter experiments in the poem formally, offering six four-line stanzas that interconnect in unusual ways: the individual stanzas are comprised of a tetrameter tercet and offset ending trimeter line; and end rhymes structure the poem as three paired stanzas. The result is a verse that demonstrates an intensified bonding and coupling of its parts.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This poem draws on several key biblical uses of the “face”: in the Psalms, David wishes God’s face to be turned towards him (Psalm 27:9), in Genesis, the Holy Spirit moves upon the “face” of the seas as the world is created (Genesis 1:2), and that verb is picked up in lines 6-7 here. John Donne also played with similar imagery in ’Good Friday 1613 Riding Westward,’ though in his poem it is the believer who turns away his face from God (because travelling west on Easter day, and also because of his humility), until the poem’s final lines. As in ’The Hope,’ here Pulter embraces the idea of physical disintegration, suggesting that death of the body is rebirth of the soul. Pulter also incorporates the process of writing into the poem itself. In the second stanza the speaker writes her own “story” while also creating a devotional poem of praise: “I will hallelujahs sing.” The humility of Pulter’s account of her own writing echoes George Herbert’s. Her phrase “my eternal God and King” has biblical origins which Herbert also invokes when he defends plainness, albeit ingeniously, in ’Jordan (1)’:
Shepherds are honest people; let them sing;
Riddle who list, for me, and pull for prime;
I envy no man’s nightingale or spring;
Nor let them punish me with loss of rhyme,
Who plainly say, my God, my King.
We might see the same mixture of humility and assertion in Pulter’s poem. When she modestly comments “here I pass my story,” pass means “tell” or “relate” but it could also mean “surpass,” suggesting that Pulter’s speaker lives through (and beyond) her words.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Dear God turn not away thy fface,
Dear God,
Critical Note
See Psalms 27:9: “Hide not thy face far from me …. leave me not, neither forsake me, O God” (Eardley).
turn not away Thy face
,
Dear God, turn not away Thy face.
2
Deſert mee not, in Such a caſe
Desert me not, in such a case
Desert me not, in such a case
3
As I am in, without thy Grace
As I am in, without thy grace,
As I am in: without Thy grace,
4
Physical Note
“Invol” in left margin, like first parts of last lines in each subsequent stanza: “To ill,” “Whilst,” “I’le,” “Oh,” “Am C”
Involv’d
with Death and Night.
Gloss Note
entangled, enveloped
Involved
with death and night.
Gloss Note
enveloped, wrapped
Involved
with death and night.
5
Ô that the Spirits of Life and Love,
O that the spirits of life and love
Oh that the spirits of life and love
6
Would leave his Glorious Throne aboue;
Would leave His glorious throne above,
Would leave His glorious throne above;
7
And dein on my Dark Soule to move,
And
Gloss Note
condescend to bestow
deign
on my dark soul to move,
And deign on my dark soul to move,
8
To illuminate mee with Light.
Critical Note
pronounced as three syllables to match the ending trimeter of each stanza, the first three lines of which are tetrameter
T’illum’nate
me with light.
To illuminate me with light.
9
Though I noe Offering fitt can bring,
Though I no off’ring fit can bring,
Though I no offering fit can bring,
10
Yet I will Hallelujas Sing:
Yet I will hallelujahs sing
Yet I will hallelujahs sing
11
To my eternall God and King,
To my eternal God and King,
To
Critical Note
this biblical phrase is used also by George Herbert; see Headnote
my eternal God and King
,
12
Whilst here I paſs my Story.
Whilst here I
Critical Note
“pass” means to occupy, endure, carry out, or get beyond, but, especially given the spatial grounding here, could mean “to traverse”; in Pulter’s poems, “story” is often a synonym for “life.”
pass my story
.
Whil’st here I pass my story.
13
And when the Eliments
Physical Note
“A” written over other letter, perhaps “a”
Are
agreed,
And when the
Gloss Note
fundamental components of the physical world; in ancient philosophy, earth, fire, water, and air
el’ments
are agreed
And when the
Gloss Note
earth, water, air, fire; the substances of which all things are composed
elements
are agreed
14
On my Mortality to feed;
On my mortality to feed,
On my mortality to feed,
15
And neither ffaith nor hope shall need,
And neither faith nor hope shall
Gloss Note
be lacking; be necessary
need
,
And neither faith nor hope shall need,
16
I’le Shine with loue in Glory.
I’ll shine with love in glory.
Critical Note
when the speaker’s mortal body has expired, she will need only love (“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” [1 Corinthians 13:13]).
I’ll shine with love in glory
.
Oh

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
17
Oh, then turn not thy face away,
O, then turn not Thy face away;
Oh then turn not Thy face away,
18
Let Love and Light bear all ye Sway;
Let love and light bear all the sway.
Let love and light bear all the sway:
19
Thel’e Soon create Eternall Day,
They’ll soon create eternal day,
They’ll soon create eternal day,
20
Oh doe it but explore.
O do it
Gloss Note
one meaning is “just try,” as an imperative with urgency; “but” can also mean absolutely, actually, or even (as in “but now”); “explore” can mean examine, survey, discover
but explore
.
Critical Note
The meaning of these apparently simple words is complex. The main addressee is God, to whom this is a strenuous plea: do at least (“but”) consider (“explore”) shining your light to create eternal day. It could also be read as an instruction to the reader to consider the idea that mortal death will bring the “eternal day” of “love and light.”
Oh do it but explore
.
21
Then Shall thy Bleſſed influence,
Then shall Thy blesséd influence
Then shall Thy blessèd influence,
22
Triumph ore Death her impotence
Triumph o’er
Gloss Note
Death’s impotence, lack of strength
Death, her impotence
,
Gloss Note
a compact and difficult formulation which seems to mean “Triumph over Death, rendering her impotent”
Triumph o’er Death her impotence
23
Whils’t I inrobed with Innocence
Whilst I enrobed with innocence
Whil’st I, enrobed with innocence,
24
Physical Note
these words are slightly elevated, crowding into the line above; probably in a different hand
Am Crown’d
for evermore.
Am crowned for evermore.
Am crowned for evermore.
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition

 Editorial note

With an undergraduate and graduate student audience in mind, this poem has been modernised in spelling and punctuation. Where modernisation would affect form, priority has been given to the integrity of the poem’s formal features (so, for instance, verb endings -est and -eth have been retained unmodernised; where the meter requires it, the verb ending -ed is accented, e.g., “Then shall thy blessèd influence”). Nouns have been capitalized only when there is clear personification. The notes provide information essential to understanding the poem, while the Headnote aims to stimulate readers’ own interpretations through suggesting literary or historical contexts, possible influences, comparable poems (by Pulter and by her predecessors and peers) and relevant critical arguments.

 Headnote

This poem draws on several key biblical uses of the “face”: in the Psalms, David wishes God’s face to be turned towards him (Psalm 27:9), in Genesis, the Holy Spirit moves upon the “face” of the seas as the world is created (Genesis 1:2), and that verb is picked up in lines 6-7 here. John Donne also played with similar imagery in ’Good Friday 1613 Riding Westward,’ though in his poem it is the believer who turns away his face from God (because travelling west on Easter day, and also because of his humility), until the poem’s final lines. As in ’The Hope,’ here Pulter embraces the idea of physical disintegration, suggesting that death of the body is rebirth of the soul. Pulter also incorporates the process of writing into the poem itself. In the second stanza the speaker writes her own “story” while also creating a devotional poem of praise: “I will hallelujahs sing.” The humility of Pulter’s account of her own writing echoes George Herbert’s. Her phrase “my eternal God and King” has biblical origins which Herbert also invokes when he defends plainness, albeit ingeniously, in ’Jordan (1)’:
Shepherds are honest people; let them sing;
Riddle who list, for me, and pull for prime;
I envy no man’s nightingale or spring;
Nor let them punish me with loss of rhyme,
Who plainly say, my God, my King.
We might see the same mixture of humility and assertion in Pulter’s poem. When she modestly comments “here I pass my story,” pass means “tell” or “relate” but it could also mean “surpass,” suggesting that Pulter’s speaker lives through (and beyond) her words.
Line number 4

 Gloss note

enveloped, wrapped
Line number 11

 Critical note

this biblical phrase is used also by George Herbert; see Headnote
Line number 13

 Gloss note

earth, water, air, fire; the substances of which all things are composed
Line number 16

 Critical note

when the speaker’s mortal body has expired, she will need only love (“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” [1 Corinthians 13:13]).
Line number 20

 Critical note

The meaning of these apparently simple words is complex. The main addressee is God, to whom this is a strenuous plea: do at least (“but”) consider (“explore”) shining your light to create eternal day. It could also be read as an instruction to the reader to consider the idea that mortal death will bring the “eternal day” of “love and light.”
Line number 22

 Gloss note

a compact and difficult formulation which seems to mean “Triumph over Death, rendering her impotent”
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Amplified Edition
Amplified Edition

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
CATCHWORD
[Untitled]
Dear God, Turn Not Away Thy Face
[Untitled]
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 Scott-Baumann
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 Scott-Baumann
With an undergraduate and graduate student audience in mind, this poem has been modernised in spelling and punctuation. Where modernisation would affect form, priority has been given to the integrity of the poem’s formal features (so, for instance, verb endings -est and -eth have been retained unmodernised; where the meter requires it, the verb ending -ed is accented, e.g., “Then shall thy blessèd influence”). Nouns have been capitalized only when there is clear personification. The notes provide information essential to understanding the poem, while the Headnote aims to stimulate readers’ own interpretations through suggesting literary or historical contexts, possible influences, comparable poems (by Pulter and by her predecessors and peers) and relevant critical arguments.

— Elizabeth Scott-Baumann
This poem modulates between a desperate plea not to be abandoned and a vivid fantasy of becoming a heavenly (if dependent) power, whose glory is imagined as akin to royalty. The speaker’s anguished and repeated cries for God not to turn his face away echo both Christ’s tormented exclamation on the cross (“My God, my God why have thou forsaken me?”) and David’s entreaty in the Psalms (“Hide not thy face far from me; … leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation”). If the divine spirit would possess and illuminate her soul, the speaker would reciprocate by offering earthly hallelujahs (songs of praise, such as this poem). This earthly illumination would also set into motion the “eternal day” of the Christian Judgment Day, when her body—gruesomely imagined as eaten by material elements—might transform into a new physical state wearing new garments. Pulter experiments in the poem formally, offering six four-line stanzas that interconnect in unusual ways: the individual stanzas are comprised of a tetrameter tercet and offset ending trimeter line; and end rhymes structure the poem as three paired stanzas. The result is a verse that demonstrates an intensified bonding and coupling of its parts.

— Elizabeth Scott-Baumann
This poem draws on several key biblical uses of the “face”: in the Psalms, David wishes God’s face to be turned towards him (Psalm 27:9), in Genesis, the Holy Spirit moves upon the “face” of the seas as the world is created (Genesis 1:2), and that verb is picked up in lines 6-7 here. John Donne also played with similar imagery in ’Good Friday 1613 Riding Westward,’ though in his poem it is the believer who turns away his face from God (because travelling west on Easter day, and also because of his humility), until the poem’s final lines. As in ’The Hope,’ here Pulter embraces the idea of physical disintegration, suggesting that death of the body is rebirth of the soul. Pulter also incorporates the process of writing into the poem itself. In the second stanza the speaker writes her own “story” while also creating a devotional poem of praise: “I will hallelujahs sing.” The humility of Pulter’s account of her own writing echoes George Herbert’s. Her phrase “my eternal God and King” has biblical origins which Herbert also invokes when he defends plainness, albeit ingeniously, in ’Jordan (1)’:
Shepherds are honest people; let them sing;
Riddle who list, for me, and pull for prime;
I envy no man’s nightingale or spring;
Nor let them punish me with loss of rhyme,
Who plainly say, my God, my King.
We might see the same mixture of humility and assertion in Pulter’s poem. When she modestly comments “here I pass my story,” pass means “tell” or “relate” but it could also mean “surpass,” suggesting that Pulter’s speaker lives through (and beyond) her words.


— Elizabeth Scott-Baumann
1
Dear God turn not away thy fface,
Dear God,
Critical Note
See Psalms 27:9: “Hide not thy face far from me …. leave me not, neither forsake me, O God” (Eardley).
turn not away Thy face
,
Dear God, turn not away Thy face.
2
Deſert mee not, in Such a caſe
Desert me not, in such a case
Desert me not, in such a case
3
As I am in, without thy Grace
As I am in, without thy grace,
As I am in: without Thy grace,
4
Physical Note
“Invol” in left margin, like first parts of last lines in each subsequent stanza: “To ill,” “Whilst,” “I’le,” “Oh,” “Am C”
Involv’d
with Death and Night.
Gloss Note
entangled, enveloped
Involved
with death and night.
Gloss Note
enveloped, wrapped
Involved
with death and night.
5
Ô that the Spirits of Life and Love,
O that the spirits of life and love
Oh that the spirits of life and love
6
Would leave his Glorious Throne aboue;
Would leave His glorious throne above,
Would leave His glorious throne above;
7
And dein on my Dark Soule to move,
And
Gloss Note
condescend to bestow
deign
on my dark soul to move,
And deign on my dark soul to move,
8
To illuminate mee with Light.
Critical Note
pronounced as three syllables to match the ending trimeter of each stanza, the first three lines of which are tetrameter
T’illum’nate
me with light.
To illuminate me with light.
9
Though I noe Offering fitt can bring,
Though I no off’ring fit can bring,
Though I no offering fit can bring,
10
Yet I will Hallelujas Sing:
Yet I will hallelujahs sing
Yet I will hallelujahs sing
11
To my eternall God and King,
To my eternal God and King,
To
Critical Note
this biblical phrase is used also by George Herbert; see Headnote
my eternal God and King
,
12
Whilst here I paſs my Story.
Whilst here I
Critical Note
“pass” means to occupy, endure, carry out, or get beyond, but, especially given the spatial grounding here, could mean “to traverse”; in Pulter’s poems, “story” is often a synonym for “life.”
pass my story
.
Whil’st here I pass my story.
13
And when the Eliments
Physical Note
“A” written over other letter, perhaps “a”
Are
agreed,
And when the
Gloss Note
fundamental components of the physical world; in ancient philosophy, earth, fire, water, and air
el’ments
are agreed
And when the
Gloss Note
earth, water, air, fire; the substances of which all things are composed
elements
are agreed
14
On my Mortality to feed;
On my mortality to feed,
On my mortality to feed,
15
And neither ffaith nor hope shall need,
And neither faith nor hope shall
Gloss Note
be lacking; be necessary
need
,
And neither faith nor hope shall need,
16
I’le Shine with loue in Glory.
I’ll shine with love in glory.
Critical Note
when the speaker’s mortal body has expired, she will need only love (“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” [1 Corinthians 13:13]).
I’ll shine with love in glory
.
Oh

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17
Oh, then turn not thy face away,
O, then turn not Thy face away;
Oh then turn not Thy face away,
18
Let Love and Light bear all ye Sway;
Let love and light bear all the sway.
Let love and light bear all the sway:
19
Thel’e Soon create Eternall Day,
They’ll soon create eternal day,
They’ll soon create eternal day,
20
Oh doe it but explore.
O do it
Gloss Note
one meaning is “just try,” as an imperative with urgency; “but” can also mean absolutely, actually, or even (as in “but now”); “explore” can mean examine, survey, discover
but explore
.
Critical Note
The meaning of these apparently simple words is complex. The main addressee is God, to whom this is a strenuous plea: do at least (“but”) consider (“explore”) shining your light to create eternal day. It could also be read as an instruction to the reader to consider the idea that mortal death will bring the “eternal day” of “love and light.”
Oh do it but explore
.
21
Then Shall thy Bleſſed influence,
Then shall Thy blesséd influence
Then shall Thy blessèd influence,
22
Triumph ore Death her impotence
Triumph o’er
Gloss Note
Death’s impotence, lack of strength
Death, her impotence
,
Gloss Note
a compact and difficult formulation which seems to mean “Triumph over Death, rendering her impotent”
Triumph o’er Death her impotence
23
Whils’t I inrobed with Innocence
Whilst I enrobed with innocence
Whil’st I, enrobed with innocence,
24
Physical Note
these words are slightly elevated, crowding into the line above; probably in a different hand
Am Crown’d
for evermore.
Am crowned for evermore.
Am crowned for evermore.
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

With an undergraduate and graduate student audience in mind, this poem has been modernised in spelling and punctuation. Where modernisation would affect form, priority has been given to the integrity of the poem’s formal features (so, for instance, verb endings -est and -eth have been retained unmodernised; where the meter requires it, the verb ending -ed is accented, e.g., “Then shall thy blessèd influence”). Nouns have been capitalized only when there is clear personification. The notes provide information essential to understanding the poem, while the Headnote aims to stimulate readers’ own interpretations through suggesting literary or historical contexts, possible influences, comparable poems (by Pulter and by her predecessors and peers) and relevant critical arguments.
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

This poem modulates between a desperate plea not to be abandoned and a vivid fantasy of becoming a heavenly (if dependent) power, whose glory is imagined as akin to royalty. The speaker’s anguished and repeated cries for God not to turn his face away echo both Christ’s tormented exclamation on the cross (“My God, my God why have thou forsaken me?”) and David’s entreaty in the Psalms (“Hide not thy face far from me; … leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation”). If the divine spirit would possess and illuminate her soul, the speaker would reciprocate by offering earthly hallelujahs (songs of praise, such as this poem). This earthly illumination would also set into motion the “eternal day” of the Christian Judgment Day, when her body—gruesomely imagined as eaten by material elements—might transform into a new physical state wearing new garments. Pulter experiments in the poem formally, offering six four-line stanzas that interconnect in unusual ways: the individual stanzas are comprised of a tetrameter tercet and offset ending trimeter line; and end rhymes structure the poem as three paired stanzas. The result is a verse that demonstrates an intensified bonding and coupling of its parts.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

This poem draws on several key biblical uses of the “face”: in the Psalms, David wishes God’s face to be turned towards him (Psalm 27:9), in Genesis, the Holy Spirit moves upon the “face” of the seas as the world is created (Genesis 1:2), and that verb is picked up in lines 6-7 here. John Donne also played with similar imagery in ’Good Friday 1613 Riding Westward,’ though in his poem it is the believer who turns away his face from God (because travelling west on Easter day, and also because of his humility), until the poem’s final lines. As in ’The Hope,’ here Pulter embraces the idea of physical disintegration, suggesting that death of the body is rebirth of the soul. Pulter also incorporates the process of writing into the poem itself. In the second stanza the speaker writes her own “story” while also creating a devotional poem of praise: “I will hallelujahs sing.” The humility of Pulter’s account of her own writing echoes George Herbert’s. Her phrase “my eternal God and King” has biblical origins which Herbert also invokes when he defends plainness, albeit ingeniously, in ’Jordan (1)’:
Shepherds are honest people; let them sing;
Riddle who list, for me, and pull for prime;
I envy no man’s nightingale or spring;
Nor let them punish me with loss of rhyme,
Who plainly say, my God, my King.
We might see the same mixture of humility and assertion in Pulter’s poem. When she modestly comments “here I pass my story,” pass means “tell” or “relate” but it could also mean “surpass,” suggesting that Pulter’s speaker lives through (and beyond) her words.
Elemental Edition
Line number 1

 Critical note

See Psalms 27:9: “Hide not thy face far from me …. leave me not, neither forsake me, O God” (Eardley).
Transcription
Line number 4

 Physical note

“Invol” in left margin, like first parts of last lines in each subsequent stanza: “To ill,” “Whilst,” “I’le,” “Oh,” “Am C”
Elemental Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

entangled, enveloped
Amplified Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

enveloped, wrapped
Elemental Edition
Line number 7

 Gloss note

condescend to bestow
Elemental Edition
Line number 8

 Critical note

pronounced as three syllables to match the ending trimeter of each stanza, the first three lines of which are tetrameter
Amplified Edition
Line number 11

 Critical note

this biblical phrase is used also by George Herbert; see Headnote
Elemental Edition
Line number 12

 Critical note

“pass” means to occupy, endure, carry out, or get beyond, but, especially given the spatial grounding here, could mean “to traverse”; in Pulter’s poems, “story” is often a synonym for “life.”
Transcription
Line number 13

 Physical note

“A” written over other letter, perhaps “a”
Elemental Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

fundamental components of the physical world; in ancient philosophy, earth, fire, water, and air
Amplified Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

earth, water, air, fire; the substances of which all things are composed
Elemental Edition
Line number 15

 Gloss note

be lacking; be necessary
Amplified Edition
Line number 16

 Critical note

when the speaker’s mortal body has expired, she will need only love (“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” [1 Corinthians 13:13]).
Elemental Edition
Line number 20

 Gloss note

one meaning is “just try,” as an imperative with urgency; “but” can also mean absolutely, actually, or even (as in “but now”); “explore” can mean examine, survey, discover
Amplified Edition
Line number 20

 Critical note

The meaning of these apparently simple words is complex. The main addressee is God, to whom this is a strenuous plea: do at least (“but”) consider (“explore”) shining your light to create eternal day. It could also be read as an instruction to the reader to consider the idea that mortal death will bring the “eternal day” of “love and light.”
Elemental Edition
Line number 22

 Gloss note

Death’s impotence, lack of strength
Amplified Edition
Line number 22

 Gloss note

a compact and difficult formulation which seems to mean “Triumph over Death, rendering her impotent”
Transcription
Line number 24

 Physical note

these words are slightly elevated, crowding into the line above; probably in a different hand
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