Mighty Nimrod (Emblem 1)

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Mighty Nimrod (Emblem 1)

Poem #67

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 Millie Godfery and Sarah C. E. Ross.

How to cite these versions

Conventions for these editions

The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making

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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 5

 Physical note

“e” crowded between surrounding words, in darker ink and possibly different hand from main scribe
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
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Transcription

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
[Emblem 1]
Mighty Nimrod
(Emblem 1)
Mighty Nimrod (Emblem 1)
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
Our priority in editing these poems has been to modernise, and to achieve interpretative and visual clarity, in order to make the poems as accessible as possible to as wide a modern audience as is possible. Spelling is modernised, as is punctuation. Modernising the latter, in particular, often involves a significant act of editorial interpretation, but in our view this is one of the most productive areas of editorial intervention, particularly for a manuscript text such as Pulter’s where the punctuation is erratic compared to modern usage (and, indeed, compared to early modern printed texts).
1. See Alice Eardley, “‘I haue not time to point yr booke … which I desire you yourselfe to doe’: Editing the Form of Early Modern Manuscript Verse”, in The Work of Form: Poetics and Materiality in Early Modern Culture, ed. Ben Burton and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 162-178.
1
All biblical references are to the King James Version (1612).

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Pulter’s first emblem canvasses the vain ambition of the builder of the biblical Tower of Babel, who famously sought by “terrestrial towers” to attain the heights of “super-celestial bowers”; she then associates this biblical parable with the Greek myth of the giants who similarly overreached in seeking heaven. But how different, really, was Pulter’s ambitious poetic project? Even as she lambasted Nimrod, might she have seen herself as “foolishly dreaming” that her own “mortal sight / Could view invisible, inaccessible light”? It seems so, since this poem eventually takes a sharp turn away from cursing the presumption of Nimrod and other pre-Christian usurpers—in what might well have been a glance at rebels against the English throne—to a self-abasing prayer for preservation against being found in their company. What she hopes might save her from that fate is her adherence to Christ’s alternative spiritual architecture: not a monolithic tower, but more modest “steps.”

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This is the first poem in Pulter’s emblem series titled “The Sighs of a Sad Soul Emblematically Breathed Forth by the Noble Hadassah”. Comprised of fifty-three emblems, this poetic project constitutes a unique contribution to the tradition of English emblem poems, as Pulter revises the traditional tripartite format of the emblem, consisting of inscriptio (a motto), pictura (visual image), and subscriptio (a short epigrammatic verse). Pulter removes the visual image (pictura) to form what are known as “naked” emblems, in doing so placing the emphasis on the visual qualities of her writing (Alice Eardley, Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda / Lady Hester Pulter [Toronto; Iter and Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014], 28). By utilising the didactic affordances of the emblem genre, Pulter continues to address the personal and political concerns of her earlier occasional and devotional lyrics, attending to her experiences as a woman, mother, and royalist during the 1650s, in which the poems are believed to have been written.
Pulter begins her emblem collection here by asserting a political persona in contrast with the biblical Nimrod, the infamous conspirator behind the construction of the Tower of Babel. Nimrod’s ambitious project resulted in the division of language, God’s punishment for the vain aspirations which possessed Nimrod to seek beyond the “supercelestial bowers” of Heaven (line 8). Likening this to the gigantomachy (struggle between the gods and giants) detailed in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in which the earthly giants similarly sought a heavenly position, Pulter compares the ambition of the giants and Nimrod. She invokes the suggestion of Ovid’s English translator, George Sandys, that in each story, their ambition results merely in confusion, “one [being] confounded with lighting, and the other by the confusion of languages” (George Sandys, Ovid’s Metamorphoses Englished [New York: Garland, 1976], 27).
Pulter’s first emblem embodies the strongly visual evocations of “naked” emblems, while its account of vain impious ambition suggests the politicised role the collection will proceed to take in its criticism of the current political landscape in England, as the “usurping Nimrods” (line 18) here pertain to the republican parliamentarians (Eardley 28). Pulter elicits an image of humble godly steps to contrast with the Tower of Babel’s “huge fabric” (line 2), imparting to her readers that, by following in God’s footsteps – namely the steps of virtue that are then presented in Pulter’s second emblem – one can be “preserve[d]” from this ambitious folly (lines 2, 21). This message, confirmed in the final two couplets via Pulter’s own turn inward to a meditational prayer, encompasses the direction her following fifty-two emblems will take, as Pulter explores her own relationship to God in relation to the political and personal contexts emerging out of the Civil War. Thus, this emblem establishes her poetic devotion as a political response to the events of the 1650s, as she establishes a moral superiority throughout the collection as a model for her readers to follow.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
1 When Mighty Nimrode Hunting after fame
When mighty
Gloss Note
In the biblical book of Genesis, the ruler of vast tracts of Mesopotamia, remembered as the builder of the tower of Babel.
Nimrod
, hunting after fame,
When mighty
Critical Note
In Genesis 11, Nimrod is the leader of those who, in seeking to build the Tower of Babel to reach the Heavens, are motivated by their desire to surpass their mortal position and make “a name” for themselves (KJV Gen. 11.4). God punished this ambitious action by replacing the ubiquitous language of all people on Earth with multiple languages, halting the construction of the Tower by destroying the ability to communicate. Note that in her account, Pulter diverges from the Bible’s emphasis from the collective aim of the Babylonian people, focusing on Nimrod as the sole perpetrator of this ambitious desire. See Gen. 10-11. See also Paradise Lost 12.24-78 for Milton’s description of Nimrod’s “proud ambitious heart”. Sarah Ross compares these two depictions in “‘This Kingdoms Loss’: Hester Pulter’s Elegies and Emblems” (in Women, Poetry, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century Britain [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015], 135–73 [160]).
Nimrod
, hunting after fame,
2
Built this huge ffabrick to get him a Name
Built this huge
Gloss Note
building; here, the tower of Babel; but in general, any product of skilled workmanship or construction (“fabrication”)
fabric
to get him a
Gloss Note
obtain a distinguished reputation or fame
name
Built this huge
Gloss Note
the Tower of Babel
fabric
to get him a name
3
ffearing another Deluge might o’re flow
(Fearing another
Gloss Note
the flood described in the biblical book of Genesis
deluge
might o’erflow,
(Fearing another
Critical Note
a great flood; a destructive overflowing of water (OED 1). Here, “another deluge” alludes to the great Flood in the time of Noah, Nimrod’s great-grandfather (OED 2; Gen. 10).
deluge
might o’erflow,
4
And all Mans petty Projects overthrow
And all man’s petty projects overthrow),
And all man’s petty projects overthrow),
5
With Slime and Brick,
Physical Note
“e” crowded between surrounding words, in darker ink and possibly different hand from main scribe
inſtede
of Lime and Stone
Critical Note
Nimrod and the other “families of the sons of Noah” (Gen. 10:32) decide to “build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven” (Gen. 11:4); their building materials are those Pulter specifies: “they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter” (Gen. 11:3).
With slime and brick, instead of lime and stone,
Gloss Note
The people of Babel, by the direction of Nimrod, worked to build “a tower with its top in the heavens”, using brick and slime, or “bitumen” (OED 1: a mortar found in Babylon). See Gen. 11.
With slime and brick, instead of lime and stone,
6
Hee meant to Reach Unto Gods glorious Throne
He meant to reach unto God’s glorious throne.
He meant to reach unto God’s glorious throne.
7
Oh vain! To think by thoſe terrestriall Towers
O, vain! To think by those terrestrial towers
Oh vain! To think by those
Critical Note
relating to earth as opposed to heaven; earthly, mundane (OED 1). Nimrod believes that reaching Heaven will endorse his “greatness”. “Terrestrial” emphasizes the mundaneness of the tower and thus Nimrod’s own mortality.
terrestrial
towers
8
They could Ascend Super celestiall Bowers
Gloss Note
Nimrod and the other builders of the tower of Babel
They
could ascend
Gloss Note
above the skies, heavenly
super-celestial
Gloss Note
idealized dwellings
bowers
,
They could ascend
Critical Note
spatially refers to that place in the heavens and beyond (OED 1) but it also can refer to the nature or character of someone as more than heavenly; this is the acknowledgement Nimrod seeks by building the tower (OED 2).
supercelestial
Gloss Note
idealised abodes (OED 1b)
bowers
,
9
ffoolishly dreaming their dim Mortall Sight
Foolishly dreaming their dim mortal sight
Foolishly dreaming their
Critical Note
Pulter draws on the ineffability topos: the idea that the light of God cannot be looked at directly, nor can it be described accurately by humans. God is described as “dwelling in unapproachable light” in which “no man has ever seen or ever can see him” (1 Tim. 16). See the invocation at the opening of Milton’s Paradise Lost, Book 3, where he appeals for a “celestial Light” to shine inwards so he “may see and tell / Of things invisible to mortal sight” (3.51-5). Aemilia Lanyer also uses the topos in Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, exhorting that “in these Lines I may no further stray, / Than his most holy Spirit shall giue me Light: / That blindest Weakenesse be not over-bold” (Susanne Woods [ed.], Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum [New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993], lines 301-304).
dim mortal sight
10
Could view inviſible inacceſible Light
Could view invisible, inaccessible light!
Could view invisible, inaccessible light!
11
ffrom this the ffiction of the Gyants Roſe
From this the
Gloss Note
the Greek myth of ancient giant creatures including Briareus or “Egeous,” named below
fiction of the giants
rose,
From this, the fiction of the
Critical Note
Pulter invokes a parallel between Gen. 11 and a story in Greek mythology regarding the ancient creatures’ gigantomachy, meaning struggle with the gods. Ovid’s Metamorphoses recounts the event, in which the giants piled Mount Pelion on top of Mount Olympus in an attempt to reach heaven. Pulter’s following lines retell Jove’s “tear[ing]” down of these mountains “with thunder” (see note to line 13). Pulter compares the actions of Nimrod to those of the giants (see Headnote); this comparison fuses and reconciles classical and biblical sources to confirm the lesson of the poem regarding impious ambition. See Sandys, Ovid’s Metamorphoses Englished [New York: Garland, 1976], 4, 27-8.
giants
rose,
12
When they the Olympick Dieties oppoſe
When they th’Olympic deities oppose;
When they the
Gloss Note
the twelve gods of the Greek Pantheon
Olympic deities
oppose;
13
Then ffierce Egeous Scornd Joves Thunderstocks
Then fierce
Critical Note
Eardley notes that “Egeous” appears to be Pulter’s Aegaeon, or Briareus, a giant in Greek myth who was understood to have fought against the Olympian gods (led by Zeus or Jove, as he is called in the next line).
Egeous
scorned Jove’s
Critical Note
i.e., lightning bolts: Pulter’s neologism, or a transcription error for “thunderstroke”; a “stock” can be a stake, which works figuratively to describe lightning; “stock” here could also refer to Jove’s store of such bolts
thunderstocks
,
Then fierce
Critical Note
Pulter is likely referring here to the Greek giant Aegaeon, or Briareus, as outlined by Eardley (Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda [Toronto; Iter and Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014], 365). Aegaeon was a part of the gigantomachy (see note on “giants”).
Egeous
scorned
Gloss Note
the Roman God also known as Jupiter; the God of thunder and lightning, considered the equivalent to Zeus in Greek mythology
Jove’s
Gloss Note
Pulter’s neologism for “thunder stroke”; one usage of the word “stock” was to describe the act of thrusting a pointed weapon, possibly working figuratively to describe the act of a lightning bolt (OED n.3, 1, 2); alternatively, Pulter could be implying the “stock” of lightning bolts Jove has (OED 55a).
thunderstocks
,
14
When at his Head hee threw a Hundred Rocks
When at his head he threw a hundred rocks;
When at his head he threw a hundred rocks;
15
Like Mole Hills Mount\taine \ upon Mountains Haild
Like molehills, mountain upon mountains hailed.
Like molehills,
Physical Note
“Mount” has been written in the main scribal hand and “taine” inserted in the space above by a hand likely to be Pulter’s own. This is likely for metrical purposes.
mountain
upon mountains hailed.
16
Thus most preſumptiously they Heaven Scaild
Thus, most presumptuously,
Gloss Note
the “tyrants”
they
Heaven scaled,
Thus, most presumptuously, they Heaven scaled,
17
Till Thunder Rowted this Rebellioous Crew
Till thunder
Gloss Note
hurled, struck, beat; eradicated, destroyed; of thunder: roared, howled
routed
this rebellious crew.
Till thunder routed this rebellious crew.
18
Soe let Uſurping Nimrod’s have their due
So let usurping Nimrods have their due:
So let
Critical Note
Pulter addresses the act of usurpation throughout her emblem collection to contextualise the events leading up the period of the English republic; for example, see Ambitious Apes (Emblem 26) [Poem 91], which details numerous examples of ambition throughout history. Pulter warns that Nemesis, goddess of retribution, “will look down / On all usurpers”, and concludes that “all confusion from ambition springs,” so “’Tis best for everyone to keep his sphere” (lines 19-20, 40, 43).
usurping
Nimrods have their due,
19
Let their Accurſed plots prove their deluſion
Let their accurséd plots prove their delusion;
Let their accursed plots prove their delusion,
20
ffor ffanci’d Glory let them find confuſion
Critical Note
By choosing to punctuate this line and the one above it so as to divide these lines evenly, we emphasize the parallelism of the prayer. In each line, one thing begets another version of and return for itself, which is in keeping with the poem’s general investment in substituting one condition for another (Christ’s for Nimrod’s). Yet these lines could be punctuated differently. If read “Let their accurséd plots prove their delusion / For fancied glory; let them find confusion,” the reader understands the object of delusion (“glory”) and experiences the rhetorically powerful command in the prayer: “let them find confusion.” At this time, “confusion” meant not only mental discomfort but also ruin, destruction, and perdition.
For fancied glory, let them find confusion.
For fancied glory, let them find confusion.
21
But from preſumption Lord preſerve my Soul
But from presumption, Lord preserve my soul,
Critical Note
Pulter’s emblem concludes with self-reflection, turning inwards as opposed to expanding outwards to encompass the audience in a larger moral truth. She addresses God in direct colloquy, asking Him to “preserve” her soul from “presumption”. Rachel Dunn writes that the effect of this is a “psalmic inwardness” which contrasts with the traditional emblem’s “exegetical unfolding” (“Breaking a Tradition: Hester Pulter and the English Emblem Book”, The Seventeenth Century, 30.1 [2015], 64). This is a notable contrast from Milton’s appeal in Paradise Lost, a text which, although certainly not an emblem itself, draws on the emblematic quality of seeking to unfold a greater truth to readers, encouraging their spiritual edification (Dunn 63-4). For comparison with Milton, see also note to “dim mortal sight”.
But from presumption, Lord, preserve my soul,
22
That in thy Mercy I may Safely Rowl
Gloss Note
So that
That
in thy mercy I may safely
Gloss Note
revolve or flow; proceed; curl up; be enveloped
roll
,
That in thy mercy I may safely
Critical Note
Noted in Eardley’s edition as meaning to “be enveloped”, and in Wall and Knight’s elemental edition as meaning “revolve or flow; proceed; curl up; be enveloped”. We would also add the theological meaning “to trust in”, specifically God or Christ (OED 11a, b).
roll
,
23
Resting in Christ that Bleſſed corner Stone
Resting in Christ, that blesséd
Gloss Note
a stone used to hold together the others in a building
cornerstone
;
Resting in Christ, that blessed
Critical Note
the stone which consolidates a building; forms the quoin of a wall (OED 1). This is appropriate given that this is also a biblical term used in reference to Christ as “the chief cornerstone” supporting the house of God (Ephesians 2.20).
corner-stone
,
24
Then by his steps I’le mount his Glorious Throne
Then by his steps I’ll mount his glorious throne.
Critical Note
This final line introduces the last couplet’s thematic image of godly steps that is pursued throughout Pulter’s emblem collection, as she embarks on a didactic expression of virtue to criticise of the lack thereof in her contemporary English political landscape. It also refers directly to the next (second) emblem’s listing of virtues, which culminate a similar image of godly steps. The image of climbing stairs also resonates with her “stairs of revolution”, an idea she associates in Immense Fount of Truth [Poem 48] with the transformation of body and soul after death (line 6).
Then by his steps I’ll mount his glorious throne.
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

Pulter’s first emblem canvasses the vain ambition of the builder of the biblical Tower of Babel, who famously sought by “terrestrial towers” to attain the heights of “super-celestial bowers”; she then associates this biblical parable with the Greek myth of the giants who similarly overreached in seeking heaven. But how different, really, was Pulter’s ambitious poetic project? Even as she lambasted Nimrod, might she have seen herself as “foolishly dreaming” that her own “mortal sight / Could view invisible, inaccessible light”? It seems so, since this poem eventually takes a sharp turn away from cursing the presumption of Nimrod and other pre-Christian usurpers—in what might well have been a glance at rebels against the English throne—to a self-abasing prayer for preservation against being found in their company. What she hopes might save her from that fate is her adherence to Christ’s alternative spiritual architecture: not a monolithic tower, but more modest “steps.”
Line number 1

 Gloss note

In the biblical book of Genesis, the ruler of vast tracts of Mesopotamia, remembered as the builder of the tower of Babel.
Line number 2

 Gloss note

building; here, the tower of Babel; but in general, any product of skilled workmanship or construction (“fabrication”)
Line number 2

 Gloss note

obtain a distinguished reputation or fame
Line number 3

 Gloss note

the flood described in the biblical book of Genesis
Line number 5

 Critical note

Nimrod and the other “families of the sons of Noah” (Gen. 10:32) decide to “build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven” (Gen. 11:4); their building materials are those Pulter specifies: “they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter” (Gen. 11:3).
Line number 8

 Gloss note

Nimrod and the other builders of the tower of Babel
Line number 8

 Gloss note

above the skies, heavenly
Line number 8

 Gloss note

idealized dwellings
Line number 11

 Gloss note

the Greek myth of ancient giant creatures including Briareus or “Egeous,” named below
Line number 13

 Critical note

Eardley notes that “Egeous” appears to be Pulter’s Aegaeon, or Briareus, a giant in Greek myth who was understood to have fought against the Olympian gods (led by Zeus or Jove, as he is called in the next line).
Line number 13

 Critical note

i.e., lightning bolts: Pulter’s neologism, or a transcription error for “thunderstroke”; a “stock” can be a stake, which works figuratively to describe lightning; “stock” here could also refer to Jove’s store of such bolts
Line number 16

 Gloss note

the “tyrants”
Line number 17

 Gloss note

hurled, struck, beat; eradicated, destroyed; of thunder: roared, howled
Line number 20

 Critical note

By choosing to punctuate this line and the one above it so as to divide these lines evenly, we emphasize the parallelism of the prayer. In each line, one thing begets another version of and return for itself, which is in keeping with the poem’s general investment in substituting one condition for another (Christ’s for Nimrod’s). Yet these lines could be punctuated differently. If read “Let their accurséd plots prove their delusion / For fancied glory; let them find confusion,” the reader understands the object of delusion (“glory”) and experiences the rhetorically powerful command in the prayer: “let them find confusion.” At this time, “confusion” meant not only mental discomfort but also ruin, destruction, and perdition.
Line number 22

 Gloss note

So that
Line number 22

 Gloss note

revolve or flow; proceed; curl up; be enveloped
Line number 23

 Gloss note

a stone used to hold together the others in a building
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
[Emblem 1]
Mighty Nimrod
(Emblem 1)
Mighty Nimrod (Emblem 1)
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
Our priority in editing these poems has been to modernise, and to achieve interpretative and visual clarity, in order to make the poems as accessible as possible to as wide a modern audience as is possible. Spelling is modernised, as is punctuation. Modernising the latter, in particular, often involves a significant act of editorial interpretation, but in our view this is one of the most productive areas of editorial intervention, particularly for a manuscript text such as Pulter’s where the punctuation is erratic compared to modern usage (and, indeed, compared to early modern printed texts).
1. See Alice Eardley, “‘I haue not time to point yr booke … which I desire you yourselfe to doe’: Editing the Form of Early Modern Manuscript Verse”, in The Work of Form: Poetics and Materiality in Early Modern Culture, ed. Ben Burton and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 162-178.
1
All biblical references are to the King James Version (1612).

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Pulter’s first emblem canvasses the vain ambition of the builder of the biblical Tower of Babel, who famously sought by “terrestrial towers” to attain the heights of “super-celestial bowers”; she then associates this biblical parable with the Greek myth of the giants who similarly overreached in seeking heaven. But how different, really, was Pulter’s ambitious poetic project? Even as she lambasted Nimrod, might she have seen herself as “foolishly dreaming” that her own “mortal sight / Could view invisible, inaccessible light”? It seems so, since this poem eventually takes a sharp turn away from cursing the presumption of Nimrod and other pre-Christian usurpers—in what might well have been a glance at rebels against the English throne—to a self-abasing prayer for preservation against being found in their company. What she hopes might save her from that fate is her adherence to Christ’s alternative spiritual architecture: not a monolithic tower, but more modest “steps.”

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This is the first poem in Pulter’s emblem series titled “The Sighs of a Sad Soul Emblematically Breathed Forth by the Noble Hadassah”. Comprised of fifty-three emblems, this poetic project constitutes a unique contribution to the tradition of English emblem poems, as Pulter revises the traditional tripartite format of the emblem, consisting of inscriptio (a motto), pictura (visual image), and subscriptio (a short epigrammatic verse). Pulter removes the visual image (pictura) to form what are known as “naked” emblems, in doing so placing the emphasis on the visual qualities of her writing (Alice Eardley, Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda / Lady Hester Pulter [Toronto; Iter and Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014], 28). By utilising the didactic affordances of the emblem genre, Pulter continues to address the personal and political concerns of her earlier occasional and devotional lyrics, attending to her experiences as a woman, mother, and royalist during the 1650s, in which the poems are believed to have been written.
Pulter begins her emblem collection here by asserting a political persona in contrast with the biblical Nimrod, the infamous conspirator behind the construction of the Tower of Babel. Nimrod’s ambitious project resulted in the division of language, God’s punishment for the vain aspirations which possessed Nimrod to seek beyond the “supercelestial bowers” of Heaven (line 8). Likening this to the gigantomachy (struggle between the gods and giants) detailed in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in which the earthly giants similarly sought a heavenly position, Pulter compares the ambition of the giants and Nimrod. She invokes the suggestion of Ovid’s English translator, George Sandys, that in each story, their ambition results merely in confusion, “one [being] confounded with lighting, and the other by the confusion of languages” (George Sandys, Ovid’s Metamorphoses Englished [New York: Garland, 1976], 27).
Pulter’s first emblem embodies the strongly visual evocations of “naked” emblems, while its account of vain impious ambition suggests the politicised role the collection will proceed to take in its criticism of the current political landscape in England, as the “usurping Nimrods” (line 18) here pertain to the republican parliamentarians (Eardley 28). Pulter elicits an image of humble godly steps to contrast with the Tower of Babel’s “huge fabric” (line 2), imparting to her readers that, by following in God’s footsteps – namely the steps of virtue that are then presented in Pulter’s second emblem – one can be “preserve[d]” from this ambitious folly (lines 2, 21). This message, confirmed in the final two couplets via Pulter’s own turn inward to a meditational prayer, encompasses the direction her following fifty-two emblems will take, as Pulter explores her own relationship to God in relation to the political and personal contexts emerging out of the Civil War. Thus, this emblem establishes her poetic devotion as a political response to the events of the 1650s, as she establishes a moral superiority throughout the collection as a model for her readers to follow.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
1 When Mighty Nimrode Hunting after fame
When mighty
Gloss Note
In the biblical book of Genesis, the ruler of vast tracts of Mesopotamia, remembered as the builder of the tower of Babel.
Nimrod
, hunting after fame,
When mighty
Critical Note
In Genesis 11, Nimrod is the leader of those who, in seeking to build the Tower of Babel to reach the Heavens, are motivated by their desire to surpass their mortal position and make “a name” for themselves (KJV Gen. 11.4). God punished this ambitious action by replacing the ubiquitous language of all people on Earth with multiple languages, halting the construction of the Tower by destroying the ability to communicate. Note that in her account, Pulter diverges from the Bible’s emphasis from the collective aim of the Babylonian people, focusing on Nimrod as the sole perpetrator of this ambitious desire. See Gen. 10-11. See also Paradise Lost 12.24-78 for Milton’s description of Nimrod’s “proud ambitious heart”. Sarah Ross compares these two depictions in “‘This Kingdoms Loss’: Hester Pulter’s Elegies and Emblems” (in Women, Poetry, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century Britain [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015], 135–73 [160]).
Nimrod
, hunting after fame,
2
Built this huge ffabrick to get him a Name
Built this huge
Gloss Note
building; here, the tower of Babel; but in general, any product of skilled workmanship or construction (“fabrication”)
fabric
to get him a
Gloss Note
obtain a distinguished reputation or fame
name
Built this huge
Gloss Note
the Tower of Babel
fabric
to get him a name
3
ffearing another Deluge might o’re flow
(Fearing another
Gloss Note
the flood described in the biblical book of Genesis
deluge
might o’erflow,
(Fearing another
Critical Note
a great flood; a destructive overflowing of water (OED 1). Here, “another deluge” alludes to the great Flood in the time of Noah, Nimrod’s great-grandfather (OED 2; Gen. 10).
deluge
might o’erflow,
4
And all Mans petty Projects overthrow
And all man’s petty projects overthrow),
And all man’s petty projects overthrow),
5
With Slime and Brick,
Physical Note
“e” crowded between surrounding words, in darker ink and possibly different hand from main scribe
inſtede
of Lime and Stone
Critical Note
Nimrod and the other “families of the sons of Noah” (Gen. 10:32) decide to “build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven” (Gen. 11:4); their building materials are those Pulter specifies: “they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter” (Gen. 11:3).
With slime and brick, instead of lime and stone,
Gloss Note
The people of Babel, by the direction of Nimrod, worked to build “a tower with its top in the heavens”, using brick and slime, or “bitumen” (OED 1: a mortar found in Babylon). See Gen. 11.
With slime and brick, instead of lime and stone,
6
Hee meant to Reach Unto Gods glorious Throne
He meant to reach unto God’s glorious throne.
He meant to reach unto God’s glorious throne.
7
Oh vain! To think by thoſe terrestriall Towers
O, vain! To think by those terrestrial towers
Oh vain! To think by those
Critical Note
relating to earth as opposed to heaven; earthly, mundane (OED 1). Nimrod believes that reaching Heaven will endorse his “greatness”. “Terrestrial” emphasizes the mundaneness of the tower and thus Nimrod’s own mortality.
terrestrial
towers
8
They could Ascend Super celestiall Bowers
Gloss Note
Nimrod and the other builders of the tower of Babel
They
could ascend
Gloss Note
above the skies, heavenly
super-celestial
Gloss Note
idealized dwellings
bowers
,
They could ascend
Critical Note
spatially refers to that place in the heavens and beyond (OED 1) but it also can refer to the nature or character of someone as more than heavenly; this is the acknowledgement Nimrod seeks by building the tower (OED 2).
supercelestial
Gloss Note
idealised abodes (OED 1b)
bowers
,
9
ffoolishly dreaming their dim Mortall Sight
Foolishly dreaming their dim mortal sight
Foolishly dreaming their
Critical Note
Pulter draws on the ineffability topos: the idea that the light of God cannot be looked at directly, nor can it be described accurately by humans. God is described as “dwelling in unapproachable light” in which “no man has ever seen or ever can see him” (1 Tim. 16). See the invocation at the opening of Milton’s Paradise Lost, Book 3, where he appeals for a “celestial Light” to shine inwards so he “may see and tell / Of things invisible to mortal sight” (3.51-5). Aemilia Lanyer also uses the topos in Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, exhorting that “in these Lines I may no further stray, / Than his most holy Spirit shall giue me Light: / That blindest Weakenesse be not over-bold” (Susanne Woods [ed.], Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum [New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993], lines 301-304).
dim mortal sight
10
Could view inviſible inacceſible Light
Could view invisible, inaccessible light!
Could view invisible, inaccessible light!
11
ffrom this the ffiction of the Gyants Roſe
From this the
Gloss Note
the Greek myth of ancient giant creatures including Briareus or “Egeous,” named below
fiction of the giants
rose,
From this, the fiction of the
Critical Note
Pulter invokes a parallel between Gen. 11 and a story in Greek mythology regarding the ancient creatures’ gigantomachy, meaning struggle with the gods. Ovid’s Metamorphoses recounts the event, in which the giants piled Mount Pelion on top of Mount Olympus in an attempt to reach heaven. Pulter’s following lines retell Jove’s “tear[ing]” down of these mountains “with thunder” (see note to line 13). Pulter compares the actions of Nimrod to those of the giants (see Headnote); this comparison fuses and reconciles classical and biblical sources to confirm the lesson of the poem regarding impious ambition. See Sandys, Ovid’s Metamorphoses Englished [New York: Garland, 1976], 4, 27-8.
giants
rose,
12
When they the Olympick Dieties oppoſe
When they th’Olympic deities oppose;
When they the
Gloss Note
the twelve gods of the Greek Pantheon
Olympic deities
oppose;
13
Then ffierce Egeous Scornd Joves Thunderstocks
Then fierce
Critical Note
Eardley notes that “Egeous” appears to be Pulter’s Aegaeon, or Briareus, a giant in Greek myth who was understood to have fought against the Olympian gods (led by Zeus or Jove, as he is called in the next line).
Egeous
scorned Jove’s
Critical Note
i.e., lightning bolts: Pulter’s neologism, or a transcription error for “thunderstroke”; a “stock” can be a stake, which works figuratively to describe lightning; “stock” here could also refer to Jove’s store of such bolts
thunderstocks
,
Then fierce
Critical Note
Pulter is likely referring here to the Greek giant Aegaeon, or Briareus, as outlined by Eardley (Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda [Toronto; Iter and Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014], 365). Aegaeon was a part of the gigantomachy (see note on “giants”).
Egeous
scorned
Gloss Note
the Roman God also known as Jupiter; the God of thunder and lightning, considered the equivalent to Zeus in Greek mythology
Jove’s
Gloss Note
Pulter’s neologism for “thunder stroke”; one usage of the word “stock” was to describe the act of thrusting a pointed weapon, possibly working figuratively to describe the act of a lightning bolt (OED n.3, 1, 2); alternatively, Pulter could be implying the “stock” of lightning bolts Jove has (OED 55a).
thunderstocks
,
14
When at his Head hee threw a Hundred Rocks
When at his head he threw a hundred rocks;
When at his head he threw a hundred rocks;
15
Like Mole Hills Mount\taine \ upon Mountains Haild
Like molehills, mountain upon mountains hailed.
Like molehills,
Physical Note
“Mount” has been written in the main scribal hand and “taine” inserted in the space above by a hand likely to be Pulter’s own. This is likely for metrical purposes.
mountain
upon mountains hailed.
16
Thus most preſumptiously they Heaven Scaild
Thus, most presumptuously,
Gloss Note
the “tyrants”
they
Heaven scaled,
Thus, most presumptuously, they Heaven scaled,
17
Till Thunder Rowted this Rebellioous Crew
Till thunder
Gloss Note
hurled, struck, beat; eradicated, destroyed; of thunder: roared, howled
routed
this rebellious crew.
Till thunder routed this rebellious crew.
18
Soe let Uſurping Nimrod’s have their due
So let usurping Nimrods have their due:
So let
Critical Note
Pulter addresses the act of usurpation throughout her emblem collection to contextualise the events leading up the period of the English republic; for example, see Ambitious Apes (Emblem 26) [Poem 91], which details numerous examples of ambition throughout history. Pulter warns that Nemesis, goddess of retribution, “will look down / On all usurpers”, and concludes that “all confusion from ambition springs,” so “’Tis best for everyone to keep his sphere” (lines 19-20, 40, 43).
usurping
Nimrods have their due,
19
Let their Accurſed plots prove their deluſion
Let their accurséd plots prove their delusion;
Let their accursed plots prove their delusion,
20
ffor ffanci’d Glory let them find confuſion
Critical Note
By choosing to punctuate this line and the one above it so as to divide these lines evenly, we emphasize the parallelism of the prayer. In each line, one thing begets another version of and return for itself, which is in keeping with the poem’s general investment in substituting one condition for another (Christ’s for Nimrod’s). Yet these lines could be punctuated differently. If read “Let their accurséd plots prove their delusion / For fancied glory; let them find confusion,” the reader understands the object of delusion (“glory”) and experiences the rhetorically powerful command in the prayer: “let them find confusion.” At this time, “confusion” meant not only mental discomfort but also ruin, destruction, and perdition.
For fancied glory, let them find confusion.
For fancied glory, let them find confusion.
21
But from preſumption Lord preſerve my Soul
But from presumption, Lord preserve my soul,
Critical Note
Pulter’s emblem concludes with self-reflection, turning inwards as opposed to expanding outwards to encompass the audience in a larger moral truth. She addresses God in direct colloquy, asking Him to “preserve” her soul from “presumption”. Rachel Dunn writes that the effect of this is a “psalmic inwardness” which contrasts with the traditional emblem’s “exegetical unfolding” (“Breaking a Tradition: Hester Pulter and the English Emblem Book”, The Seventeenth Century, 30.1 [2015], 64). This is a notable contrast from Milton’s appeal in Paradise Lost, a text which, although certainly not an emblem itself, draws on the emblematic quality of seeking to unfold a greater truth to readers, encouraging their spiritual edification (Dunn 63-4). For comparison with Milton, see also note to “dim mortal sight”.
But from presumption, Lord, preserve my soul,
22
That in thy Mercy I may Safely Rowl
Gloss Note
So that
That
in thy mercy I may safely
Gloss Note
revolve or flow; proceed; curl up; be enveloped
roll
,
That in thy mercy I may safely
Critical Note
Noted in Eardley’s edition as meaning to “be enveloped”, and in Wall and Knight’s elemental edition as meaning “revolve or flow; proceed; curl up; be enveloped”. We would also add the theological meaning “to trust in”, specifically God or Christ (OED 11a, b).
roll
,
23
Resting in Christ that Bleſſed corner Stone
Resting in Christ, that blesséd
Gloss Note
a stone used to hold together the others in a building
cornerstone
;
Resting in Christ, that blessed
Critical Note
the stone which consolidates a building; forms the quoin of a wall (OED 1). This is appropriate given that this is also a biblical term used in reference to Christ as “the chief cornerstone” supporting the house of God (Ephesians 2.20).
corner-stone
,
24
Then by his steps I’le mount his Glorious Throne
Then by his steps I’ll mount his glorious throne.
Critical Note
This final line introduces the last couplet’s thematic image of godly steps that is pursued throughout Pulter’s emblem collection, as she embarks on a didactic expression of virtue to criticise of the lack thereof in her contemporary English political landscape. It also refers directly to the next (second) emblem’s listing of virtues, which culminate a similar image of godly steps. The image of climbing stairs also resonates with her “stairs of revolution”, an idea she associates in Immense Fount of Truth [Poem 48] with the transformation of body and soul after death (line 6).
Then by his steps I’ll mount his glorious throne.
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition

 Editorial note

Our priority in editing these poems has been to modernise, and to achieve interpretative and visual clarity, in order to make the poems as accessible as possible to as wide a modern audience as is possible. Spelling is modernised, as is punctuation. Modernising the latter, in particular, often involves a significant act of editorial interpretation, but in our view this is one of the most productive areas of editorial intervention, particularly for a manuscript text such as Pulter’s where the punctuation is erratic compared to modern usage (and, indeed, compared to early modern printed texts).
1. See Alice Eardley, “‘I haue not time to point yr booke … which I desire you yourselfe to doe’: Editing the Form of Early Modern Manuscript Verse”, in The Work of Form: Poetics and Materiality in Early Modern Culture, ed. Ben Burton and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 162-178.
1
All biblical references are to the King James Version (1612).

 Headnote

This is the first poem in Pulter’s emblem series titled “The Sighs of a Sad Soul Emblematically Breathed Forth by the Noble Hadassah”. Comprised of fifty-three emblems, this poetic project constitutes a unique contribution to the tradition of English emblem poems, as Pulter revises the traditional tripartite format of the emblem, consisting of inscriptio (a motto), pictura (visual image), and subscriptio (a short epigrammatic verse). Pulter removes the visual image (pictura) to form what are known as “naked” emblems, in doing so placing the emphasis on the visual qualities of her writing (Alice Eardley, Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda / Lady Hester Pulter [Toronto; Iter and Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014], 28). By utilising the didactic affordances of the emblem genre, Pulter continues to address the personal and political concerns of her earlier occasional and devotional lyrics, attending to her experiences as a woman, mother, and royalist during the 1650s, in which the poems are believed to have been written.
Pulter begins her emblem collection here by asserting a political persona in contrast with the biblical Nimrod, the infamous conspirator behind the construction of the Tower of Babel. Nimrod’s ambitious project resulted in the division of language, God’s punishment for the vain aspirations which possessed Nimrod to seek beyond the “supercelestial bowers” of Heaven (line 8). Likening this to the gigantomachy (struggle between the gods and giants) detailed in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in which the earthly giants similarly sought a heavenly position, Pulter compares the ambition of the giants and Nimrod. She invokes the suggestion of Ovid’s English translator, George Sandys, that in each story, their ambition results merely in confusion, “one [being] confounded with lighting, and the other by the confusion of languages” (George Sandys, Ovid’s Metamorphoses Englished [New York: Garland, 1976], 27).
Pulter’s first emblem embodies the strongly visual evocations of “naked” emblems, while its account of vain impious ambition suggests the politicised role the collection will proceed to take in its criticism of the current political landscape in England, as the “usurping Nimrods” (line 18) here pertain to the republican parliamentarians (Eardley 28). Pulter elicits an image of humble godly steps to contrast with the Tower of Babel’s “huge fabric” (line 2), imparting to her readers that, by following in God’s footsteps – namely the steps of virtue that are then presented in Pulter’s second emblem – one can be “preserve[d]” from this ambitious folly (lines 2, 21). This message, confirmed in the final two couplets via Pulter’s own turn inward to a meditational prayer, encompasses the direction her following fifty-two emblems will take, as Pulter explores her own relationship to God in relation to the political and personal contexts emerging out of the Civil War. Thus, this emblem establishes her poetic devotion as a political response to the events of the 1650s, as she establishes a moral superiority throughout the collection as a model for her readers to follow.
Line number 1

 Critical note

In Genesis 11, Nimrod is the leader of those who, in seeking to build the Tower of Babel to reach the Heavens, are motivated by their desire to surpass their mortal position and make “a name” for themselves (KJV Gen. 11.4). God punished this ambitious action by replacing the ubiquitous language of all people on Earth with multiple languages, halting the construction of the Tower by destroying the ability to communicate. Note that in her account, Pulter diverges from the Bible’s emphasis from the collective aim of the Babylonian people, focusing on Nimrod as the sole perpetrator of this ambitious desire. See Gen. 10-11. See also Paradise Lost 12.24-78 for Milton’s description of Nimrod’s “proud ambitious heart”. Sarah Ross compares these two depictions in “‘This Kingdoms Loss’: Hester Pulter’s Elegies and Emblems” (in Women, Poetry, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century Britain [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015], 135–73 [160]).
Line number 2

 Gloss note

the Tower of Babel
Line number 3

 Critical note

a great flood; a destructive overflowing of water (OED 1). Here, “another deluge” alludes to the great Flood in the time of Noah, Nimrod’s great-grandfather (OED 2; Gen. 10).
Line number 5

 Gloss note

The people of Babel, by the direction of Nimrod, worked to build “a tower with its top in the heavens”, using brick and slime, or “bitumen” (OED 1: a mortar found in Babylon). See Gen. 11.
Line number 7

 Critical note

relating to earth as opposed to heaven; earthly, mundane (OED 1). Nimrod believes that reaching Heaven will endorse his “greatness”. “Terrestrial” emphasizes the mundaneness of the tower and thus Nimrod’s own mortality.
Line number 8

 Critical note

spatially refers to that place in the heavens and beyond (OED 1) but it also can refer to the nature or character of someone as more than heavenly; this is the acknowledgement Nimrod seeks by building the tower (OED 2).
Line number 8

 Gloss note

idealised abodes (OED 1b)
Line number 9

 Critical note

Pulter draws on the ineffability topos: the idea that the light of God cannot be looked at directly, nor can it be described accurately by humans. God is described as “dwelling in unapproachable light” in which “no man has ever seen or ever can see him” (1 Tim. 16). See the invocation at the opening of Milton’s Paradise Lost, Book 3, where he appeals for a “celestial Light” to shine inwards so he “may see and tell / Of things invisible to mortal sight” (3.51-5). Aemilia Lanyer also uses the topos in Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, exhorting that “in these Lines I may no further stray, / Than his most holy Spirit shall giue me Light: / That blindest Weakenesse be not over-bold” (Susanne Woods [ed.], Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum [New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993], lines 301-304).
Line number 11

 Critical note

Pulter invokes a parallel between Gen. 11 and a story in Greek mythology regarding the ancient creatures’ gigantomachy, meaning struggle with the gods. Ovid’s Metamorphoses recounts the event, in which the giants piled Mount Pelion on top of Mount Olympus in an attempt to reach heaven. Pulter’s following lines retell Jove’s “tear[ing]” down of these mountains “with thunder” (see note to line 13). Pulter compares the actions of Nimrod to those of the giants (see Headnote); this comparison fuses and reconciles classical and biblical sources to confirm the lesson of the poem regarding impious ambition. See Sandys, Ovid’s Metamorphoses Englished [New York: Garland, 1976], 4, 27-8.
Line number 12

 Gloss note

the twelve gods of the Greek Pantheon
Line number 13

 Critical note

Pulter is likely referring here to the Greek giant Aegaeon, or Briareus, as outlined by Eardley (Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda [Toronto; Iter and Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014], 365). Aegaeon was a part of the gigantomachy (see note on “giants”).
Line number 13

 Gloss note

the Roman God also known as Jupiter; the God of thunder and lightning, considered the equivalent to Zeus in Greek mythology
Line number 13

 Gloss note

Pulter’s neologism for “thunder stroke”; one usage of the word “stock” was to describe the act of thrusting a pointed weapon, possibly working figuratively to describe the act of a lightning bolt (OED n.3, 1, 2); alternatively, Pulter could be implying the “stock” of lightning bolts Jove has (OED 55a).
Line number 15

 Physical note

“Mount” has been written in the main scribal hand and “taine” inserted in the space above by a hand likely to be Pulter’s own. This is likely for metrical purposes.
Line number 18

 Critical note

Pulter addresses the act of usurpation throughout her emblem collection to contextualise the events leading up the period of the English republic; for example, see Ambitious Apes (Emblem 26) [Poem 91], which details numerous examples of ambition throughout history. Pulter warns that Nemesis, goddess of retribution, “will look down / On all usurpers”, and concludes that “all confusion from ambition springs,” so “’Tis best for everyone to keep his sphere” (lines 19-20, 40, 43).
Line number 21

 Critical note

Pulter’s emblem concludes with self-reflection, turning inwards as opposed to expanding outwards to encompass the audience in a larger moral truth. She addresses God in direct colloquy, asking Him to “preserve” her soul from “presumption”. Rachel Dunn writes that the effect of this is a “psalmic inwardness” which contrasts with the traditional emblem’s “exegetical unfolding” (“Breaking a Tradition: Hester Pulter and the English Emblem Book”, The Seventeenth Century, 30.1 [2015], 64). This is a notable contrast from Milton’s appeal in Paradise Lost, a text which, although certainly not an emblem itself, draws on the emblematic quality of seeking to unfold a greater truth to readers, encouraging their spiritual edification (Dunn 63-4). For comparison with Milton, see also note to “dim mortal sight”.
Line number 22

 Critical note

Noted in Eardley’s edition as meaning to “be enveloped”, and in Wall and Knight’s elemental edition as meaning “revolve or flow; proceed; curl up; be enveloped”. We would also add the theological meaning “to trust in”, specifically God or Christ (OED 11a, b).
Line number 23

 Critical note

the stone which consolidates a building; forms the quoin of a wall (OED 1). This is appropriate given that this is also a biblical term used in reference to Christ as “the chief cornerstone” supporting the house of God (Ephesians 2.20).
Line number 24

 Critical note

This final line introduces the last couplet’s thematic image of godly steps that is pursued throughout Pulter’s emblem collection, as she embarks on a didactic expression of virtue to criticise of the lack thereof in her contemporary English political landscape. It also refers directly to the next (second) emblem’s listing of virtues, which culminate a similar image of godly steps. The image of climbing stairs also resonates with her “stairs of revolution”, an idea she associates in Immense Fount of Truth [Poem 48] with the transformation of body and soul after death (line 6).
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X (Close panel)Amplified Edition
Amplified Edition

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
[Emblem 1]
Mighty Nimrod
(Emblem 1)
Mighty Nimrod (Emblem 1)
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.

— Millie Godfery and Sarah C. E. Ross
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.

— Millie Godfery and Sarah C. E. Ross
Our priority in editing these poems has been to modernise, and to achieve interpretative and visual clarity, in order to make the poems as accessible as possible to as wide a modern audience as is possible. Spelling is modernised, as is punctuation. Modernising the latter, in particular, often involves a significant act of editorial interpretation, but in our view this is one of the most productive areas of editorial intervention, particularly for a manuscript text such as Pulter’s where the punctuation is erratic compared to modern usage (and, indeed, compared to early modern printed texts).
1. See Alice Eardley, “‘I haue not time to point yr booke … which I desire you yourselfe to doe’: Editing the Form of Early Modern Manuscript Verse”, in The Work of Form: Poetics and Materiality in Early Modern Culture, ed. Ben Burton and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 162-178.
1
All biblical references are to the King James Version (1612).

— Millie Godfery and Sarah C. E. Ross
Pulter’s first emblem canvasses the vain ambition of the builder of the biblical Tower of Babel, who famously sought by “terrestrial towers” to attain the heights of “super-celestial bowers”; she then associates this biblical parable with the Greek myth of the giants who similarly overreached in seeking heaven. But how different, really, was Pulter’s ambitious poetic project? Even as she lambasted Nimrod, might she have seen herself as “foolishly dreaming” that her own “mortal sight / Could view invisible, inaccessible light”? It seems so, since this poem eventually takes a sharp turn away from cursing the presumption of Nimrod and other pre-Christian usurpers—in what might well have been a glance at rebels against the English throne—to a self-abasing prayer for preservation against being found in their company. What she hopes might save her from that fate is her adherence to Christ’s alternative spiritual architecture: not a monolithic tower, but more modest “steps.”

— Millie Godfery and Sarah C. E. Ross
This is the first poem in Pulter’s emblem series titled “The Sighs of a Sad Soul Emblematically Breathed Forth by the Noble Hadassah”. Comprised of fifty-three emblems, this poetic project constitutes a unique contribution to the tradition of English emblem poems, as Pulter revises the traditional tripartite format of the emblem, consisting of inscriptio (a motto), pictura (visual image), and subscriptio (a short epigrammatic verse). Pulter removes the visual image (pictura) to form what are known as “naked” emblems, in doing so placing the emphasis on the visual qualities of her writing (Alice Eardley, Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda / Lady Hester Pulter [Toronto; Iter and Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014], 28). By utilising the didactic affordances of the emblem genre, Pulter continues to address the personal and political concerns of her earlier occasional and devotional lyrics, attending to her experiences as a woman, mother, and royalist during the 1650s, in which the poems are believed to have been written.
Pulter begins her emblem collection here by asserting a political persona in contrast with the biblical Nimrod, the infamous conspirator behind the construction of the Tower of Babel. Nimrod’s ambitious project resulted in the division of language, God’s punishment for the vain aspirations which possessed Nimrod to seek beyond the “supercelestial bowers” of Heaven (line 8). Likening this to the gigantomachy (struggle between the gods and giants) detailed in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in which the earthly giants similarly sought a heavenly position, Pulter compares the ambition of the giants and Nimrod. She invokes the suggestion of Ovid’s English translator, George Sandys, that in each story, their ambition results merely in confusion, “one [being] confounded with lighting, and the other by the confusion of languages” (George Sandys, Ovid’s Metamorphoses Englished [New York: Garland, 1976], 27).
Pulter’s first emblem embodies the strongly visual evocations of “naked” emblems, while its account of vain impious ambition suggests the politicised role the collection will proceed to take in its criticism of the current political landscape in England, as the “usurping Nimrods” (line 18) here pertain to the republican parliamentarians (Eardley 28). Pulter elicits an image of humble godly steps to contrast with the Tower of Babel’s “huge fabric” (line 2), imparting to her readers that, by following in God’s footsteps – namely the steps of virtue that are then presented in Pulter’s second emblem – one can be “preserve[d]” from this ambitious folly (lines 2, 21). This message, confirmed in the final two couplets via Pulter’s own turn inward to a meditational prayer, encompasses the direction her following fifty-two emblems will take, as Pulter explores her own relationship to God in relation to the political and personal contexts emerging out of the Civil War. Thus, this emblem establishes her poetic devotion as a political response to the events of the 1650s, as she establishes a moral superiority throughout the collection as a model for her readers to follow.


— Millie Godfery and Sarah C. E. Ross
1
1 When Mighty Nimrode Hunting after fame
When mighty
Gloss Note
In the biblical book of Genesis, the ruler of vast tracts of Mesopotamia, remembered as the builder of the tower of Babel.
Nimrod
, hunting after fame,
When mighty
Critical Note
In Genesis 11, Nimrod is the leader of those who, in seeking to build the Tower of Babel to reach the Heavens, are motivated by their desire to surpass their mortal position and make “a name” for themselves (KJV Gen. 11.4). God punished this ambitious action by replacing the ubiquitous language of all people on Earth with multiple languages, halting the construction of the Tower by destroying the ability to communicate. Note that in her account, Pulter diverges from the Bible’s emphasis from the collective aim of the Babylonian people, focusing on Nimrod as the sole perpetrator of this ambitious desire. See Gen. 10-11. See also Paradise Lost 12.24-78 for Milton’s description of Nimrod’s “proud ambitious heart”. Sarah Ross compares these two depictions in “‘This Kingdoms Loss’: Hester Pulter’s Elegies and Emblems” (in Women, Poetry, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century Britain [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015], 135–73 [160]).
Nimrod
, hunting after fame,
2
Built this huge ffabrick to get him a Name
Built this huge
Gloss Note
building; here, the tower of Babel; but in general, any product of skilled workmanship or construction (“fabrication”)
fabric
to get him a
Gloss Note
obtain a distinguished reputation or fame
name
Built this huge
Gloss Note
the Tower of Babel
fabric
to get him a name
3
ffearing another Deluge might o’re flow
(Fearing another
Gloss Note
the flood described in the biblical book of Genesis
deluge
might o’erflow,
(Fearing another
Critical Note
a great flood; a destructive overflowing of water (OED 1). Here, “another deluge” alludes to the great Flood in the time of Noah, Nimrod’s great-grandfather (OED 2; Gen. 10).
deluge
might o’erflow,
4
And all Mans petty Projects overthrow
And all man’s petty projects overthrow),
And all man’s petty projects overthrow),
5
With Slime and Brick,
Physical Note
“e” crowded between surrounding words, in darker ink and possibly different hand from main scribe
inſtede
of Lime and Stone
Critical Note
Nimrod and the other “families of the sons of Noah” (Gen. 10:32) decide to “build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven” (Gen. 11:4); their building materials are those Pulter specifies: “they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter” (Gen. 11:3).
With slime and brick, instead of lime and stone,
Gloss Note
The people of Babel, by the direction of Nimrod, worked to build “a tower with its top in the heavens”, using brick and slime, or “bitumen” (OED 1: a mortar found in Babylon). See Gen. 11.
With slime and brick, instead of lime and stone,
6
Hee meant to Reach Unto Gods glorious Throne
He meant to reach unto God’s glorious throne.
He meant to reach unto God’s glorious throne.
7
Oh vain! To think by thoſe terrestriall Towers
O, vain! To think by those terrestrial towers
Oh vain! To think by those
Critical Note
relating to earth as opposed to heaven; earthly, mundane (OED 1). Nimrod believes that reaching Heaven will endorse his “greatness”. “Terrestrial” emphasizes the mundaneness of the tower and thus Nimrod’s own mortality.
terrestrial
towers
8
They could Ascend Super celestiall Bowers
Gloss Note
Nimrod and the other builders of the tower of Babel
They
could ascend
Gloss Note
above the skies, heavenly
super-celestial
Gloss Note
idealized dwellings
bowers
,
They could ascend
Critical Note
spatially refers to that place in the heavens and beyond (OED 1) but it also can refer to the nature or character of someone as more than heavenly; this is the acknowledgement Nimrod seeks by building the tower (OED 2).
supercelestial
Gloss Note
idealised abodes (OED 1b)
bowers
,
9
ffoolishly dreaming their dim Mortall Sight
Foolishly dreaming their dim mortal sight
Foolishly dreaming their
Critical Note
Pulter draws on the ineffability topos: the idea that the light of God cannot be looked at directly, nor can it be described accurately by humans. God is described as “dwelling in unapproachable light” in which “no man has ever seen or ever can see him” (1 Tim. 16). See the invocation at the opening of Milton’s Paradise Lost, Book 3, where he appeals for a “celestial Light” to shine inwards so he “may see and tell / Of things invisible to mortal sight” (3.51-5). Aemilia Lanyer also uses the topos in Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, exhorting that “in these Lines I may no further stray, / Than his most holy Spirit shall giue me Light: / That blindest Weakenesse be not over-bold” (Susanne Woods [ed.], Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum [New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993], lines 301-304).
dim mortal sight
10
Could view inviſible inacceſible Light
Could view invisible, inaccessible light!
Could view invisible, inaccessible light!
11
ffrom this the ffiction of the Gyants Roſe
From this the
Gloss Note
the Greek myth of ancient giant creatures including Briareus or “Egeous,” named below
fiction of the giants
rose,
From this, the fiction of the
Critical Note
Pulter invokes a parallel between Gen. 11 and a story in Greek mythology regarding the ancient creatures’ gigantomachy, meaning struggle with the gods. Ovid’s Metamorphoses recounts the event, in which the giants piled Mount Pelion on top of Mount Olympus in an attempt to reach heaven. Pulter’s following lines retell Jove’s “tear[ing]” down of these mountains “with thunder” (see note to line 13). Pulter compares the actions of Nimrod to those of the giants (see Headnote); this comparison fuses and reconciles classical and biblical sources to confirm the lesson of the poem regarding impious ambition. See Sandys, Ovid’s Metamorphoses Englished [New York: Garland, 1976], 4, 27-8.
giants
rose,
12
When they the Olympick Dieties oppoſe
When they th’Olympic deities oppose;
When they the
Gloss Note
the twelve gods of the Greek Pantheon
Olympic deities
oppose;
13
Then ffierce Egeous Scornd Joves Thunderstocks
Then fierce
Critical Note
Eardley notes that “Egeous” appears to be Pulter’s Aegaeon, or Briareus, a giant in Greek myth who was understood to have fought against the Olympian gods (led by Zeus or Jove, as he is called in the next line).
Egeous
scorned Jove’s
Critical Note
i.e., lightning bolts: Pulter’s neologism, or a transcription error for “thunderstroke”; a “stock” can be a stake, which works figuratively to describe lightning; “stock” here could also refer to Jove’s store of such bolts
thunderstocks
,
Then fierce
Critical Note
Pulter is likely referring here to the Greek giant Aegaeon, or Briareus, as outlined by Eardley (Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda [Toronto; Iter and Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014], 365). Aegaeon was a part of the gigantomachy (see note on “giants”).
Egeous
scorned
Gloss Note
the Roman God also known as Jupiter; the God of thunder and lightning, considered the equivalent to Zeus in Greek mythology
Jove’s
Gloss Note
Pulter’s neologism for “thunder stroke”; one usage of the word “stock” was to describe the act of thrusting a pointed weapon, possibly working figuratively to describe the act of a lightning bolt (OED n.3, 1, 2); alternatively, Pulter could be implying the “stock” of lightning bolts Jove has (OED 55a).
thunderstocks
,
14
When at his Head hee threw a Hundred Rocks
When at his head he threw a hundred rocks;
When at his head he threw a hundred rocks;
15
Like Mole Hills Mount\taine \ upon Mountains Haild
Like molehills, mountain upon mountains hailed.
Like molehills,
Physical Note
“Mount” has been written in the main scribal hand and “taine” inserted in the space above by a hand likely to be Pulter’s own. This is likely for metrical purposes.
mountain
upon mountains hailed.
16
Thus most preſumptiously they Heaven Scaild
Thus, most presumptuously,
Gloss Note
the “tyrants”
they
Heaven scaled,
Thus, most presumptuously, they Heaven scaled,
17
Till Thunder Rowted this Rebellioous Crew
Till thunder
Gloss Note
hurled, struck, beat; eradicated, destroyed; of thunder: roared, howled
routed
this rebellious crew.
Till thunder routed this rebellious crew.
18
Soe let Uſurping Nimrod’s have their due
So let usurping Nimrods have their due:
So let
Critical Note
Pulter addresses the act of usurpation throughout her emblem collection to contextualise the events leading up the period of the English republic; for example, see Ambitious Apes (Emblem 26) [Poem 91], which details numerous examples of ambition throughout history. Pulter warns that Nemesis, goddess of retribution, “will look down / On all usurpers”, and concludes that “all confusion from ambition springs,” so “’Tis best for everyone to keep his sphere” (lines 19-20, 40, 43).
usurping
Nimrods have their due,
19
Let their Accurſed plots prove their deluſion
Let their accurséd plots prove their delusion;
Let their accursed plots prove their delusion,
20
ffor ffanci’d Glory let them find confuſion
Critical Note
By choosing to punctuate this line and the one above it so as to divide these lines evenly, we emphasize the parallelism of the prayer. In each line, one thing begets another version of and return for itself, which is in keeping with the poem’s general investment in substituting one condition for another (Christ’s for Nimrod’s). Yet these lines could be punctuated differently. If read “Let their accurséd plots prove their delusion / For fancied glory; let them find confusion,” the reader understands the object of delusion (“glory”) and experiences the rhetorically powerful command in the prayer: “let them find confusion.” At this time, “confusion” meant not only mental discomfort but also ruin, destruction, and perdition.
For fancied glory, let them find confusion.
For fancied glory, let them find confusion.
21
But from preſumption Lord preſerve my Soul
But from presumption, Lord preserve my soul,
Critical Note
Pulter’s emblem concludes with self-reflection, turning inwards as opposed to expanding outwards to encompass the audience in a larger moral truth. She addresses God in direct colloquy, asking Him to “preserve” her soul from “presumption”. Rachel Dunn writes that the effect of this is a “psalmic inwardness” which contrasts with the traditional emblem’s “exegetical unfolding” (“Breaking a Tradition: Hester Pulter and the English Emblem Book”, The Seventeenth Century, 30.1 [2015], 64). This is a notable contrast from Milton’s appeal in Paradise Lost, a text which, although certainly not an emblem itself, draws on the emblematic quality of seeking to unfold a greater truth to readers, encouraging their spiritual edification (Dunn 63-4). For comparison with Milton, see also note to “dim mortal sight”.
But from presumption, Lord, preserve my soul,
22
That in thy Mercy I may Safely Rowl
Gloss Note
So that
That
in thy mercy I may safely
Gloss Note
revolve or flow; proceed; curl up; be enveloped
roll
,
That in thy mercy I may safely
Critical Note
Noted in Eardley’s edition as meaning to “be enveloped”, and in Wall and Knight’s elemental edition as meaning “revolve or flow; proceed; curl up; be enveloped”. We would also add the theological meaning “to trust in”, specifically God or Christ (OED 11a, b).
roll
,
23
Resting in Christ that Bleſſed corner Stone
Resting in Christ, that blesséd
Gloss Note
a stone used to hold together the others in a building
cornerstone
;
Resting in Christ, that blessed
Critical Note
the stone which consolidates a building; forms the quoin of a wall (OED 1). This is appropriate given that this is also a biblical term used in reference to Christ as “the chief cornerstone” supporting the house of God (Ephesians 2.20).
corner-stone
,
24
Then by his steps I’le mount his Glorious Throne
Then by his steps I’ll mount his glorious throne.
Critical Note
This final line introduces the last couplet’s thematic image of godly steps that is pursued throughout Pulter’s emblem collection, as she embarks on a didactic expression of virtue to criticise of the lack thereof in her contemporary English political landscape. It also refers directly to the next (second) emblem’s listing of virtues, which culminate a similar image of godly steps. The image of climbing stairs also resonates with her “stairs of revolution”, an idea she associates in Immense Fount of Truth [Poem 48] with the transformation of body and soul after death (line 6).
Then by his steps I’ll mount his glorious throne.
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

Our priority in editing these poems has been to modernise, and to achieve interpretative and visual clarity, in order to make the poems as accessible as possible to as wide a modern audience as is possible. Spelling is modernised, as is punctuation. Modernising the latter, in particular, often involves a significant act of editorial interpretation, but in our view this is one of the most productive areas of editorial intervention, particularly for a manuscript text such as Pulter’s where the punctuation is erratic compared to modern usage (and, indeed, compared to early modern printed texts).
1. See Alice Eardley, “‘I haue not time to point yr booke … which I desire you yourselfe to doe’: Editing the Form of Early Modern Manuscript Verse”, in The Work of Form: Poetics and Materiality in Early Modern Culture, ed. Ben Burton and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 162-178.
1
All biblical references are to the King James Version (1612).
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

Pulter’s first emblem canvasses the vain ambition of the builder of the biblical Tower of Babel, who famously sought by “terrestrial towers” to attain the heights of “super-celestial bowers”; she then associates this biblical parable with the Greek myth of the giants who similarly overreached in seeking heaven. But how different, really, was Pulter’s ambitious poetic project? Even as she lambasted Nimrod, might she have seen herself as “foolishly dreaming” that her own “mortal sight / Could view invisible, inaccessible light”? It seems so, since this poem eventually takes a sharp turn away from cursing the presumption of Nimrod and other pre-Christian usurpers—in what might well have been a glance at rebels against the English throne—to a self-abasing prayer for preservation against being found in their company. What she hopes might save her from that fate is her adherence to Christ’s alternative spiritual architecture: not a monolithic tower, but more modest “steps.”
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

This is the first poem in Pulter’s emblem series titled “The Sighs of a Sad Soul Emblematically Breathed Forth by the Noble Hadassah”. Comprised of fifty-three emblems, this poetic project constitutes a unique contribution to the tradition of English emblem poems, as Pulter revises the traditional tripartite format of the emblem, consisting of inscriptio (a motto), pictura (visual image), and subscriptio (a short epigrammatic verse). Pulter removes the visual image (pictura) to form what are known as “naked” emblems, in doing so placing the emphasis on the visual qualities of her writing (Alice Eardley, Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda / Lady Hester Pulter [Toronto; Iter and Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014], 28). By utilising the didactic affordances of the emblem genre, Pulter continues to address the personal and political concerns of her earlier occasional and devotional lyrics, attending to her experiences as a woman, mother, and royalist during the 1650s, in which the poems are believed to have been written.
Pulter begins her emblem collection here by asserting a political persona in contrast with the biblical Nimrod, the infamous conspirator behind the construction of the Tower of Babel. Nimrod’s ambitious project resulted in the division of language, God’s punishment for the vain aspirations which possessed Nimrod to seek beyond the “supercelestial bowers” of Heaven (line 8). Likening this to the gigantomachy (struggle between the gods and giants) detailed in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in which the earthly giants similarly sought a heavenly position, Pulter compares the ambition of the giants and Nimrod. She invokes the suggestion of Ovid’s English translator, George Sandys, that in each story, their ambition results merely in confusion, “one [being] confounded with lighting, and the other by the confusion of languages” (George Sandys, Ovid’s Metamorphoses Englished [New York: Garland, 1976], 27).
Pulter’s first emblem embodies the strongly visual evocations of “naked” emblems, while its account of vain impious ambition suggests the politicised role the collection will proceed to take in its criticism of the current political landscape in England, as the “usurping Nimrods” (line 18) here pertain to the republican parliamentarians (Eardley 28). Pulter elicits an image of humble godly steps to contrast with the Tower of Babel’s “huge fabric” (line 2), imparting to her readers that, by following in God’s footsteps – namely the steps of virtue that are then presented in Pulter’s second emblem – one can be “preserve[d]” from this ambitious folly (lines 2, 21). This message, confirmed in the final two couplets via Pulter’s own turn inward to a meditational prayer, encompasses the direction her following fifty-two emblems will take, as Pulter explores her own relationship to God in relation to the political and personal contexts emerging out of the Civil War. Thus, this emblem establishes her poetic devotion as a political response to the events of the 1650s, as she establishes a moral superiority throughout the collection as a model for her readers to follow.
Elemental Edition
Line number 1

 Gloss note

In the biblical book of Genesis, the ruler of vast tracts of Mesopotamia, remembered as the builder of the tower of Babel.
Amplified Edition
Line number 1

 Critical note

In Genesis 11, Nimrod is the leader of those who, in seeking to build the Tower of Babel to reach the Heavens, are motivated by their desire to surpass their mortal position and make “a name” for themselves (KJV Gen. 11.4). God punished this ambitious action by replacing the ubiquitous language of all people on Earth with multiple languages, halting the construction of the Tower by destroying the ability to communicate. Note that in her account, Pulter diverges from the Bible’s emphasis from the collective aim of the Babylonian people, focusing on Nimrod as the sole perpetrator of this ambitious desire. See Gen. 10-11. See also Paradise Lost 12.24-78 for Milton’s description of Nimrod’s “proud ambitious heart”. Sarah Ross compares these two depictions in “‘This Kingdoms Loss’: Hester Pulter’s Elegies and Emblems” (in Women, Poetry, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century Britain [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015], 135–73 [160]).
Elemental Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

building; here, the tower of Babel; but in general, any product of skilled workmanship or construction (“fabrication”)
Elemental Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

obtain a distinguished reputation or fame
Amplified Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

the Tower of Babel
Elemental Edition
Line number 3

 Gloss note

the flood described in the biblical book of Genesis
Amplified Edition
Line number 3

 Critical note

a great flood; a destructive overflowing of water (OED 1). Here, “another deluge” alludes to the great Flood in the time of Noah, Nimrod’s great-grandfather (OED 2; Gen. 10).
Transcription
Line number 5

 Physical note

“e” crowded between surrounding words, in darker ink and possibly different hand from main scribe
Elemental Edition
Line number 5

 Critical note

Nimrod and the other “families of the sons of Noah” (Gen. 10:32) decide to “build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven” (Gen. 11:4); their building materials are those Pulter specifies: “they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter” (Gen. 11:3).
Amplified Edition
Line number 5

 Gloss note

The people of Babel, by the direction of Nimrod, worked to build “a tower with its top in the heavens”, using brick and slime, or “bitumen” (OED 1: a mortar found in Babylon). See Gen. 11.
Amplified Edition
Line number 7

 Critical note

relating to earth as opposed to heaven; earthly, mundane (OED 1). Nimrod believes that reaching Heaven will endorse his “greatness”. “Terrestrial” emphasizes the mundaneness of the tower and thus Nimrod’s own mortality.
Elemental Edition
Line number 8

 Gloss note

Nimrod and the other builders of the tower of Babel
Elemental Edition
Line number 8

 Gloss note

above the skies, heavenly
Elemental Edition
Line number 8

 Gloss note

idealized dwellings
Amplified Edition
Line number 8

 Critical note

spatially refers to that place in the heavens and beyond (OED 1) but it also can refer to the nature or character of someone as more than heavenly; this is the acknowledgement Nimrod seeks by building the tower (OED 2).
Amplified Edition
Line number 8

 Gloss note

idealised abodes (OED 1b)
Amplified Edition
Line number 9

 Critical note

Pulter draws on the ineffability topos: the idea that the light of God cannot be looked at directly, nor can it be described accurately by humans. God is described as “dwelling in unapproachable light” in which “no man has ever seen or ever can see him” (1 Tim. 16). See the invocation at the opening of Milton’s Paradise Lost, Book 3, where he appeals for a “celestial Light” to shine inwards so he “may see and tell / Of things invisible to mortal sight” (3.51-5). Aemilia Lanyer also uses the topos in Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, exhorting that “in these Lines I may no further stray, / Than his most holy Spirit shall giue me Light: / That blindest Weakenesse be not over-bold” (Susanne Woods [ed.], Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum [New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993], lines 301-304).
Elemental Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

the Greek myth of ancient giant creatures including Briareus or “Egeous,” named below
Amplified Edition
Line number 11

 Critical note

Pulter invokes a parallel between Gen. 11 and a story in Greek mythology regarding the ancient creatures’ gigantomachy, meaning struggle with the gods. Ovid’s Metamorphoses recounts the event, in which the giants piled Mount Pelion on top of Mount Olympus in an attempt to reach heaven. Pulter’s following lines retell Jove’s “tear[ing]” down of these mountains “with thunder” (see note to line 13). Pulter compares the actions of Nimrod to those of the giants (see Headnote); this comparison fuses and reconciles classical and biblical sources to confirm the lesson of the poem regarding impious ambition. See Sandys, Ovid’s Metamorphoses Englished [New York: Garland, 1976], 4, 27-8.
Amplified Edition
Line number 12

 Gloss note

the twelve gods of the Greek Pantheon
Elemental Edition
Line number 13

 Critical note

Eardley notes that “Egeous” appears to be Pulter’s Aegaeon, or Briareus, a giant in Greek myth who was understood to have fought against the Olympian gods (led by Zeus or Jove, as he is called in the next line).
Elemental Edition
Line number 13

 Critical note

i.e., lightning bolts: Pulter’s neologism, or a transcription error for “thunderstroke”; a “stock” can be a stake, which works figuratively to describe lightning; “stock” here could also refer to Jove’s store of such bolts
Amplified Edition
Line number 13

 Critical note

Pulter is likely referring here to the Greek giant Aegaeon, or Briareus, as outlined by Eardley (Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda [Toronto; Iter and Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014], 365). Aegaeon was a part of the gigantomachy (see note on “giants”).
Amplified Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

the Roman God also known as Jupiter; the God of thunder and lightning, considered the equivalent to Zeus in Greek mythology
Amplified Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

Pulter’s neologism for “thunder stroke”; one usage of the word “stock” was to describe the act of thrusting a pointed weapon, possibly working figuratively to describe the act of a lightning bolt (OED n.3, 1, 2); alternatively, Pulter could be implying the “stock” of lightning bolts Jove has (OED 55a).
Amplified Edition
Line number 15

 Physical note

“Mount” has been written in the main scribal hand and “taine” inserted in the space above by a hand likely to be Pulter’s own. This is likely for metrical purposes.
Elemental Edition
Line number 16

 Gloss note

the “tyrants”
Elemental Edition
Line number 17

 Gloss note

hurled, struck, beat; eradicated, destroyed; of thunder: roared, howled
Amplified Edition
Line number 18

 Critical note

Pulter addresses the act of usurpation throughout her emblem collection to contextualise the events leading up the period of the English republic; for example, see Ambitious Apes (Emblem 26) [Poem 91], which details numerous examples of ambition throughout history. Pulter warns that Nemesis, goddess of retribution, “will look down / On all usurpers”, and concludes that “all confusion from ambition springs,” so “’Tis best for everyone to keep his sphere” (lines 19-20, 40, 43).
Elemental Edition
Line number 20

 Critical note

By choosing to punctuate this line and the one above it so as to divide these lines evenly, we emphasize the parallelism of the prayer. In each line, one thing begets another version of and return for itself, which is in keeping with the poem’s general investment in substituting one condition for another (Christ’s for Nimrod’s). Yet these lines could be punctuated differently. If read “Let their accurséd plots prove their delusion / For fancied glory; let them find confusion,” the reader understands the object of delusion (“glory”) and experiences the rhetorically powerful command in the prayer: “let them find confusion.” At this time, “confusion” meant not only mental discomfort but also ruin, destruction, and perdition.
Amplified Edition
Line number 21

 Critical note

Pulter’s emblem concludes with self-reflection, turning inwards as opposed to expanding outwards to encompass the audience in a larger moral truth. She addresses God in direct colloquy, asking Him to “preserve” her soul from “presumption”. Rachel Dunn writes that the effect of this is a “psalmic inwardness” which contrasts with the traditional emblem’s “exegetical unfolding” (“Breaking a Tradition: Hester Pulter and the English Emblem Book”, The Seventeenth Century, 30.1 [2015], 64). This is a notable contrast from Milton’s appeal in Paradise Lost, a text which, although certainly not an emblem itself, draws on the emblematic quality of seeking to unfold a greater truth to readers, encouraging their spiritual edification (Dunn 63-4). For comparison with Milton, see also note to “dim mortal sight”.
Elemental Edition
Line number 22

 Gloss note

So that
Elemental Edition
Line number 22

 Gloss note

revolve or flow; proceed; curl up; be enveloped
Amplified Edition
Line number 22

 Critical note

Noted in Eardley’s edition as meaning to “be enveloped”, and in Wall and Knight’s elemental edition as meaning “revolve or flow; proceed; curl up; be enveloped”. We would also add the theological meaning “to trust in”, specifically God or Christ (OED 11a, b).
Elemental Edition
Line number 23

 Gloss note

a stone used to hold together the others in a building
Amplified Edition
Line number 23

 Critical note

the stone which consolidates a building; forms the quoin of a wall (OED 1). This is appropriate given that this is also a biblical term used in reference to Christ as “the chief cornerstone” supporting the house of God (Ephesians 2.20).
Amplified Edition
Line number 24

 Critical note

This final line introduces the last couplet’s thematic image of godly steps that is pursued throughout Pulter’s emblem collection, as she embarks on a didactic expression of virtue to criticise of the lack thereof in her contemporary English political landscape. It also refers directly to the next (second) emblem’s listing of virtues, which culminate a similar image of godly steps. The image of climbing stairs also resonates with her “stairs of revolution”, an idea she associates in Immense Fount of Truth [Poem 48] with the transformation of body and soul after death (line 6).
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