My God, I Thee (and Only Thee) Adore

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My God, I Thee (and Only Thee) Adore

Poem 50

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 Helen Smith.

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.
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Transcription

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[Untitled]
My God, I Thee (and Only Thee) Adore
My God I thee (and onely thee) Adore
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
My approach to editing is broadly conservative, in the sense that I modernise only very lightly. I have regularised u/v and i/j, which were interchangeable in the period during which Pulter was writing, and have also regularised ‘ff’ to F. Otherwise, I have generally preserved Pulter’s spelling, punctuation and capitalisation, and have attempted to represent some of Pulter’s characteristic uses of space (especially her lines and flourishes at the beginnings and ends of poems). My annotations focus primarily on understanding the idiosyncratic ideas and densely-packed meanings of Pulter’s poems, though I also draw attention to questions of form, especially where I feel this contributes to or reinforces the complex arguments of Pulter’s poems.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
In this devotional poem, the speaker pleads with God to render her sinful and mortal life into oblivion by infusing her with divine light and spirit. The anguish of her pleas is conveyed by a compulsive halting and intensifying cycling of her own words: “Leave not (O, leave not),” she cries, and later assures, “I Thee (and only Thee) adore.” In promising her exclusive and undying devotion to God, the speaker also deploys a fairly new (and Latinate) lexicon: she asks to be irradiated, obliviated, and inanimated (this last word inflecting the process of animating—or enlivening—as a resuscitating infusion into her being). Drawing on the biblical account of God as breathing life into the humans he formed from dirt is telling, given that Pulter’s own collection is titled as “Poems Breathed Forth by the Noble Hadassas.” The fact that she experiments metrically in this poem by writing iambic pentameter quatrains with an unusual rhyme scheme (ABBA) complements her decision to praise God as a creator, even as she suffers in distress at the prospect of being abandoned or unworthy.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Like many of Pulter’s poems, the untitled poem 50 dwells on mortality, and on the relationship between the body and soul, and the soul and God. Each stanza is punctuated with parentheses, which pick up and amplify the preceding word or words, functioning like embedded prayers or pleas, and giving a lively sense of the internal debates animating the speaker. Though the poem is presented as an urgent and personal devotional expression, there is a tension between Pulter’s plea that her memory should be expunged (‘obliviated’) from the world and her desire to recreate her conversation with God in a carefully structured, and formally experimental, poem.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
My God I thee (and onely thee) Adore
My God, I Thee (and only Thee) adore,
My God I thee (and onely thee)
Gloss Note
worship, venerate
Adore
2
Which did’st my outward ffabrick mak of earth
Critical Note
in Genesis, God molds humans out of the dust or earth; “fabric” is body or skin, with connotations of something constructed.
Which didst my outward fabric make of earth,
Which did’st my outward
Critical Note
The word ‘fabric’ in this period referred to products of skilled workmanship, particularly buildings, and was frequently used to refer to the human body, as a complex structure crafted by God, as in the title of Andreas Vesalius’s De humanis corporis fabric (‘On the fabric of the human body’; 1543). An anonymous medical dictionary from 1657 defines ‘Fabrick’ as ‘the whole composition or frame of the body’ (A Physical dictionary (London, 1657)). In 1654, the medical doctor John Anthony reflected: ‘IF we see a fair and stately Building, we will commend the Builder, and presently conclude that he built it for his own habitation, or for some honourable use and service. If we look upon our selves, we shall see an admirable fabrick of body, which is richly beautified and adorned, both within and without, and we cannot but magnifie our Omnipotent Creator, and presently conclude, that surely God did make us such excellent creatures, and did inrich us with such spirituall gifts and graces for some speciall end and purpose’ (The comfort of the soul (London, 1654), I4v). See also George Abbot’s paraphrase of the Book of Job, in ‘Curations’.
fabrick
Gloss Note
make
mak
of earth
3
Inanimated with Celestiall Breath
Gloss Note
infused life into
Inanimated
with celestial breath;
Gloss Note
made animate by
Inanimated
with
Critical Note
In Christian tradition, it is God’s breath that transforms man from a senseless body to a living creature: ‘And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul’ (Genesis 2.7, KJV). Pulter’s use of the verb ‘inanimate’ might have called to mind, for her readers, the Latin title of Aristotle’s influential treatise on the soul, De anima. It is also a word used frequently in this sense by John Donne. In sermon XV, for example, Donne scolds the sinner: ‘Thou hast made thy sin, thy soule, thy life; inanimated all thy actions, all thy purposes with that sin’ (LXXX sermons preached by that learned and reverend divine, John Donne (London, 1640), O5r). Confusingly, the term was also used, during this period, in our modern sense of ‘inanimate’ or lifeless, and this was probably the dominant sense for most readers. The poem seems to play with this flickering ambiguity, with ‘inanimated’ appearing momentarily to refer back to the senseless earth of line two, before the meaning resolves itself into the life-giving action of line three. The ancient Greek psyche originally meant ‘life’ in the sense of ‘breath’, but also, by derivation, referred to the spirit or soul. Philosophers debated the nature of the soul and the moment at which it entered the body, and these debates continued into the early modern period. In Deaths duell, Donne engages with the question of precisely when this ‘quickening’ or becoming animate, happens, reflecting ‘Therefore as soone as wee are men, (that is, inanimated) quickned in the womb) thogh [sic] we cannot our selves, our parents have to say in our behalf, wretched man that he is, who shall deliver him from this body of death?’ (London, 1632, B4r-v). Note also Abbot’s use of ‘inanimated’ (‘Curations’).
Celestiall Breath
4
Therefore I thee and onely thee implore
Therefore, I Thee, and only Thee, implore:
Therefore I thee and onely thee implore
5
Leave not (oh leave not) my dejected Soul
Leave not (O, leave not) my dejected soul,
Leave not (oh leave not) my
Gloss Note
cast down, disheartened
dejected
Soul
6
Thoug I have wickedly deſerted thee
Though I have wickedly deserted Thee,
Thoug I have wickedly deserted thee
7
Though I (Ay mee) the most ungratefull bee
Though I (ay me!) the most ungrateful be;
Though I
Critical Note
The parenthetical ‘Ay mee’ represents a sigh, a technique that Pulter uses repeatedly in her poems and that invokes both the title of her collection (Poems breathed forth by the Nobel Hadassas) and its internal title, ‘The Sighes of a Sad Soule Emblimatically breath’d forth by the noble Haddassah’. Here, in a stanza packed with parentheses, Pulter cleverly retains her technique of redoubling the word prior to the brackets, punning on ‘I’ and ‘Aye’, so that the bracketed words reinforce the self-identification and self-mortification of the speaker (‘I (I me)’). The repeated ‘I’ sound might also suggest a cry of lamentation or dejection.
(Ay mee)
the most ungratefull bee
8
Yet let not (let not) mee in Sorrow Rowl
Yet let not (let not) me in sorrow
Gloss Note
rotate, revolve, trust in God
roll
.
Yet let not (let not) mee in Sorrow
Critical Note
Cf. poems 24 (‘How long Shall my dejected Soul’) [Poem 24] which asks ‘How long Shall my dejected Soul, / (Deare God) in dust and Darknes Rowl’ (ll. 1-2); 28 (‘O my aflicted Solitary Soul’) [Poem 28], which asks ‘Why dost thou still in dust and Ashes Rowl’ (l. 2); and 41 (‘The invocation of the Elements’) [Poem 41], where the speaker promises her soul ‘Thou Shalt not Long in Darknes Rowl’ (l. 2). The word ‘roll’ might here mean something like to wallow or grovel, but it also carries connotations of a ship tossed by the waves (OED, ‘roll’, v.2 def. I.1.a; an image whose overtones of wandering and danger possessed significant theological and devotional power in this period), and, as a translation of the Hebrew gālal, the biblical meaning of trusting or relying on God (OED, ‘roll’, v.2 def. 11.a). Thus in 1656, Robert Sanderson told his readers to ‘Roll thy self then upon his providence, and repose thy self with assured confidence upon his promises: and Contentment will follow’ (Twenty sermons, S1r). In this context’ to ‘roll’ in dust, darkness or sorrow is not simply to grovel among earthly things, but to trust in them over the saving power of God.
Rowl
9
But Send (Oh Send thy) Spirit from above
But send (O, send) Thy spirit from above
But Send (Oh Send thy)
Critical Note
The ‘spirit’ of God refers to the active or essential power of the Deity (in Trinitarian theology, though not necessarily here, separated out as the Holy Ghost). In the Bible, the term ‘spirit’ is frequently used to translate the Hebrew ru’ach and the Greek pneuma, both of which also mean ‘breath’: the animating force in living creatures. These associations link God’s spirit back to the ‘Celestiall breath’ of line 3.
Spirit
from above
10
Tiradiate my Soul e’ne with one Raie
Gloss Note
illuminate, brighten spiritually
T’irradiate
my soul e’en with one ray.
Critical Note
i.e. ‘to irradiate’, meaning to illuminate or shed light upon, frequently with a spiritual dimension. In 1642, William Price warned sermon-listeners of the dangers of turning away from God: ‘The Devill Jaylour-like, is more cruell upon a recovery then ever hee was in his first surprizall, he is more vigilant over an Apostate, blocking up all passages, that not a beame of divine grace should through the least cranny irradiate on his soule; plying him with fresh successions of temptations, filling his fancy and conscience with paroxysmes and impressions of horrour’ (A sermon preached at St Maries Spittle (London, 1642), D1r). Reflecting on the book of Job in 1661, Joseph Caryl observed, ‘We may also make the inference from the 8th verse; There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth understanding. Therefore I said hearken to me; As if he had said, … If the Lord will make use of me, and inspire me, if he please to breath [sic] his truths into me, and irradiate my soule with divine light, I may be able to doe and say some thing in this matter’ (An exposition with practicall observations continued upon … the booke of Job (London, 1661), K3v).
Tiradiate
my Soul e’ne with one
Critical Note
The iconography of God as a ray of light was well-known. Philippe de Champaigne’s portrait of St Augustine at the moment of his conversion, for example, shows the rays of God’s truth reaching towards the saint, who holds in his hand a heart, with its flames drawn towards the heavenly light (‘Curations’). Portraits of the Virgin Mary at the moment of her annunciation sometimes depict the Holy Spirit as a dove, entering Mary as a ray of light (see Van Eyck’s Annunciation in ‘Curations’). 1 John 1.5 tells readers: ‘This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all’ (KJV).
Raie
11
It will create in mee Eternall Day
It will create in me eternal day,
It will create in mee eternall Day
12
ffor thee and onely thee my God I Love
For Thee, and only Thee, my God, I Iove.
For thee and onely thee my God I Love
13
Obliviate (oh Obliviate) my Story
Gloss Note
render unknown, forget
Obliviate
(O, obliviate) my
Gloss Note
life, narrative
story
,
Critical Note
From the Latin oblivium, ‘obliviate’ literally means to commit to oblivion. It is a rarely-used term, and appears to have been brand new at the moment Pulter was writing. The OED dates its first use to the astrologer John Gadbury’s Britains royal star of 1661; Gadbury also used the word some seven years earlier, in his Animal cornutum, or The horn’d beast (1654), a beginner’s guide to astronomy, and again in his Dies novissimus, or, Dooms-day not so near as dreaded in 1664. Pulter evidently relishes this word, which ties her work (directly or indirectly) to the writing of a popular but controversial figure who sought to establish astrology as a crucial part of natural philosophical thought, even as it declined in popularity from the 1660s onwards. Gadbury’s early political views were almost diametrically opposed to Pulter’s, but Britains royal star may well have appealed to her, since its long title promised ‘An Astrological Demonstration of ENGLANDS future FELICITY; Deduced From the HEAVENS as they beheld the earth in the Meridian of London, at the first proclaiming of his Sacred Majesty Charles the Second’. The celebration of Charles II’s recent restoration to the throne is likely to have found an appreciative reader in the royalist Pulter.
Obliviate
(oh Obliviate) my Story
14
Nor let none dare of mee to think or Say
Nor let none dare of me to think or say
Nor let none
Gloss Note
be so bold as to
dare
of mee to think or Say
15
In thy bright Manſion another day
In thy bright
Critical Note
heaven; see John 14:2: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
mansion
another day,
In thy bright
Critical Note
i.e. the body; see first note. In lively prose, Thomas Wallington reflected ‘The cunningst swimmer that euer was, Delius himselfe could not shew his art, nor his equal stroke in the mud: a candle in the lanterne can yeld but a glimmering light through an impure and darksome horne: the warelike Steed cannot fet[ch] his friskes, take his carreers, and shew his curvets being pent up in a narrow room, so it is with the princely soule, while the bodie is her mansion’ (The optick glasse of humours (London, 1607), C4r-v), whilst Juan Luis Vives, in an influential commentary upon Augustine, argued that ‘The corruptible body suppresseth the soule, and the earthly mansion keepeth down the minde that is much occupied’ (St. Augustine, Of the citie of God with the learned comments of Io. Lod. Vives (London, 1610), Qq4v). In sonnet 146, Shakespeare laments the effort the soul expends on its ‘fading mansion’ (see ‘Curations’).
Mansion
another day
16
This Soul was Black though now Shee Shines in ^Glory
“This soul was black, though now she shines in glory.”
This Soul was Black though now Shee shines in
Critical Note
‘Glory’ is inserted above the rest of the line, the copyist having run out of space. The ideas animating this stanza are characteristically complex: Pulter asks God to obliterate her history, so that the blackness of her soul, prior to its purification upon her death and reconciliation with God, will not be remembered. The stanza’s drive towards effacement is at odds with the energies of its rhyme scheme, which propel the reader from ‘story’ to the poem’s (and Pulter’s) concluding ‘Glory’.
Glory
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

In this devotional poem, the speaker pleads with God to render her sinful and mortal life into oblivion by infusing her with divine light and spirit. The anguish of her pleas is conveyed by a compulsive halting and intensifying cycling of her own words: “Leave not (O, leave not),” she cries, and later assures, “I Thee (and only Thee) adore.” In promising her exclusive and undying devotion to God, the speaker also deploys a fairly new (and Latinate) lexicon: she asks to be irradiated, obliviated, and inanimated (this last word inflecting the process of animating—or enlivening—as a resuscitating infusion into her being). Drawing on the biblical account of God as breathing life into the humans he formed from dirt is telling, given that Pulter’s own collection is titled as “Poems Breathed Forth by the Noble Hadassas.” The fact that she experiments metrically in this poem by writing iambic pentameter quatrains with an unusual rhyme scheme (ABBA) complements her decision to praise God as a creator, even as she suffers in distress at the prospect of being abandoned or unworthy.
Line number 2

 Critical note

in Genesis, God molds humans out of the dust or earth; “fabric” is body or skin, with connotations of something constructed.
Line number 3

 Gloss note

infused life into
Line number 8

 Gloss note

rotate, revolve, trust in God
Line number 10

 Gloss note

illuminate, brighten spiritually
Line number 13

 Gloss note

render unknown, forget
Line number 13

 Gloss note

life, narrative
Line number 15

 Critical note

heaven; see John 14:2: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
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
[Untitled]
My God, I Thee (and Only Thee) Adore
My God I thee (and onely thee) Adore
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
My approach to editing is broadly conservative, in the sense that I modernise only very lightly. I have regularised u/v and i/j, which were interchangeable in the period during which Pulter was writing, and have also regularised ‘ff’ to F. Otherwise, I have generally preserved Pulter’s spelling, punctuation and capitalisation, and have attempted to represent some of Pulter’s characteristic uses of space (especially her lines and flourishes at the beginnings and ends of poems). My annotations focus primarily on understanding the idiosyncratic ideas and densely-packed meanings of Pulter’s poems, though I also draw attention to questions of form, especially where I feel this contributes to or reinforces the complex arguments of Pulter’s poems.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
In this devotional poem, the speaker pleads with God to render her sinful and mortal life into oblivion by infusing her with divine light and spirit. The anguish of her pleas is conveyed by a compulsive halting and intensifying cycling of her own words: “Leave not (O, leave not),” she cries, and later assures, “I Thee (and only Thee) adore.” In promising her exclusive and undying devotion to God, the speaker also deploys a fairly new (and Latinate) lexicon: she asks to be irradiated, obliviated, and inanimated (this last word inflecting the process of animating—or enlivening—as a resuscitating infusion into her being). Drawing on the biblical account of God as breathing life into the humans he formed from dirt is telling, given that Pulter’s own collection is titled as “Poems Breathed Forth by the Noble Hadassas.” The fact that she experiments metrically in this poem by writing iambic pentameter quatrains with an unusual rhyme scheme (ABBA) complements her decision to praise God as a creator, even as she suffers in distress at the prospect of being abandoned or unworthy.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Like many of Pulter’s poems, the untitled poem 50 dwells on mortality, and on the relationship between the body and soul, and the soul and God. Each stanza is punctuated with parentheses, which pick up and amplify the preceding word or words, functioning like embedded prayers or pleas, and giving a lively sense of the internal debates animating the speaker. Though the poem is presented as an urgent and personal devotional expression, there is a tension between Pulter’s plea that her memory should be expunged (‘obliviated’) from the world and her desire to recreate her conversation with God in a carefully structured, and formally experimental, poem.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
My God I thee (and onely thee) Adore
My God, I Thee (and only Thee) adore,
My God I thee (and onely thee)
Gloss Note
worship, venerate
Adore
2
Which did’st my outward ffabrick mak of earth
Critical Note
in Genesis, God molds humans out of the dust or earth; “fabric” is body or skin, with connotations of something constructed.
Which didst my outward fabric make of earth,
Which did’st my outward
Critical Note
The word ‘fabric’ in this period referred to products of skilled workmanship, particularly buildings, and was frequently used to refer to the human body, as a complex structure crafted by God, as in the title of Andreas Vesalius’s De humanis corporis fabric (‘On the fabric of the human body’; 1543). An anonymous medical dictionary from 1657 defines ‘Fabrick’ as ‘the whole composition or frame of the body’ (A Physical dictionary (London, 1657)). In 1654, the medical doctor John Anthony reflected: ‘IF we see a fair and stately Building, we will commend the Builder, and presently conclude that he built it for his own habitation, or for some honourable use and service. If we look upon our selves, we shall see an admirable fabrick of body, which is richly beautified and adorned, both within and without, and we cannot but magnifie our Omnipotent Creator, and presently conclude, that surely God did make us such excellent creatures, and did inrich us with such spirituall gifts and graces for some speciall end and purpose’ (The comfort of the soul (London, 1654), I4v). See also George Abbot’s paraphrase of the Book of Job, in ‘Curations’.
fabrick
Gloss Note
make
mak
of earth
3
Inanimated with Celestiall Breath
Gloss Note
infused life into
Inanimated
with celestial breath;
Gloss Note
made animate by
Inanimated
with
Critical Note
In Christian tradition, it is God’s breath that transforms man from a senseless body to a living creature: ‘And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul’ (Genesis 2.7, KJV). Pulter’s use of the verb ‘inanimate’ might have called to mind, for her readers, the Latin title of Aristotle’s influential treatise on the soul, De anima. It is also a word used frequently in this sense by John Donne. In sermon XV, for example, Donne scolds the sinner: ‘Thou hast made thy sin, thy soule, thy life; inanimated all thy actions, all thy purposes with that sin’ (LXXX sermons preached by that learned and reverend divine, John Donne (London, 1640), O5r). Confusingly, the term was also used, during this period, in our modern sense of ‘inanimate’ or lifeless, and this was probably the dominant sense for most readers. The poem seems to play with this flickering ambiguity, with ‘inanimated’ appearing momentarily to refer back to the senseless earth of line two, before the meaning resolves itself into the life-giving action of line three. The ancient Greek psyche originally meant ‘life’ in the sense of ‘breath’, but also, by derivation, referred to the spirit or soul. Philosophers debated the nature of the soul and the moment at which it entered the body, and these debates continued into the early modern period. In Deaths duell, Donne engages with the question of precisely when this ‘quickening’ or becoming animate, happens, reflecting ‘Therefore as soone as wee are men, (that is, inanimated) quickned in the womb) thogh [sic] we cannot our selves, our parents have to say in our behalf, wretched man that he is, who shall deliver him from this body of death?’ (London, 1632, B4r-v). Note also Abbot’s use of ‘inanimated’ (‘Curations’).
Celestiall Breath
4
Therefore I thee and onely thee implore
Therefore, I Thee, and only Thee, implore:
Therefore I thee and onely thee implore
5
Leave not (oh leave not) my dejected Soul
Leave not (O, leave not) my dejected soul,
Leave not (oh leave not) my
Gloss Note
cast down, disheartened
dejected
Soul
6
Thoug I have wickedly deſerted thee
Though I have wickedly deserted Thee,
Thoug I have wickedly deserted thee
7
Though I (Ay mee) the most ungratefull bee
Though I (ay me!) the most ungrateful be;
Though I
Critical Note
The parenthetical ‘Ay mee’ represents a sigh, a technique that Pulter uses repeatedly in her poems and that invokes both the title of her collection (Poems breathed forth by the Nobel Hadassas) and its internal title, ‘The Sighes of a Sad Soule Emblimatically breath’d forth by the noble Haddassah’. Here, in a stanza packed with parentheses, Pulter cleverly retains her technique of redoubling the word prior to the brackets, punning on ‘I’ and ‘Aye’, so that the bracketed words reinforce the self-identification and self-mortification of the speaker (‘I (I me)’). The repeated ‘I’ sound might also suggest a cry of lamentation or dejection.
(Ay mee)
the most ungratefull bee
8
Yet let not (let not) mee in Sorrow Rowl
Yet let not (let not) me in sorrow
Gloss Note
rotate, revolve, trust in God
roll
.
Yet let not (let not) mee in Sorrow
Critical Note
Cf. poems 24 (‘How long Shall my dejected Soul’) [Poem 24] which asks ‘How long Shall my dejected Soul, / (Deare God) in dust and Darknes Rowl’ (ll. 1-2); 28 (‘O my aflicted Solitary Soul’) [Poem 28], which asks ‘Why dost thou still in dust and Ashes Rowl’ (l. 2); and 41 (‘The invocation of the Elements’) [Poem 41], where the speaker promises her soul ‘Thou Shalt not Long in Darknes Rowl’ (l. 2). The word ‘roll’ might here mean something like to wallow or grovel, but it also carries connotations of a ship tossed by the waves (OED, ‘roll’, v.2 def. I.1.a; an image whose overtones of wandering and danger possessed significant theological and devotional power in this period), and, as a translation of the Hebrew gālal, the biblical meaning of trusting or relying on God (OED, ‘roll’, v.2 def. 11.a). Thus in 1656, Robert Sanderson told his readers to ‘Roll thy self then upon his providence, and repose thy self with assured confidence upon his promises: and Contentment will follow’ (Twenty sermons, S1r). In this context’ to ‘roll’ in dust, darkness or sorrow is not simply to grovel among earthly things, but to trust in them over the saving power of God.
Rowl
9
But Send (Oh Send thy) Spirit from above
But send (O, send) Thy spirit from above
But Send (Oh Send thy)
Critical Note
The ‘spirit’ of God refers to the active or essential power of the Deity (in Trinitarian theology, though not necessarily here, separated out as the Holy Ghost). In the Bible, the term ‘spirit’ is frequently used to translate the Hebrew ru’ach and the Greek pneuma, both of which also mean ‘breath’: the animating force in living creatures. These associations link God’s spirit back to the ‘Celestiall breath’ of line 3.
Spirit
from above
10
Tiradiate my Soul e’ne with one Raie
Gloss Note
illuminate, brighten spiritually
T’irradiate
my soul e’en with one ray.
Critical Note
i.e. ‘to irradiate’, meaning to illuminate or shed light upon, frequently with a spiritual dimension. In 1642, William Price warned sermon-listeners of the dangers of turning away from God: ‘The Devill Jaylour-like, is more cruell upon a recovery then ever hee was in his first surprizall, he is more vigilant over an Apostate, blocking up all passages, that not a beame of divine grace should through the least cranny irradiate on his soule; plying him with fresh successions of temptations, filling his fancy and conscience with paroxysmes and impressions of horrour’ (A sermon preached at St Maries Spittle (London, 1642), D1r). Reflecting on the book of Job in 1661, Joseph Caryl observed, ‘We may also make the inference from the 8th verse; There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth understanding. Therefore I said hearken to me; As if he had said, … If the Lord will make use of me, and inspire me, if he please to breath [sic] his truths into me, and irradiate my soule with divine light, I may be able to doe and say some thing in this matter’ (An exposition with practicall observations continued upon … the booke of Job (London, 1661), K3v).
Tiradiate
my Soul e’ne with one
Critical Note
The iconography of God as a ray of light was well-known. Philippe de Champaigne’s portrait of St Augustine at the moment of his conversion, for example, shows the rays of God’s truth reaching towards the saint, who holds in his hand a heart, with its flames drawn towards the heavenly light (‘Curations’). Portraits of the Virgin Mary at the moment of her annunciation sometimes depict the Holy Spirit as a dove, entering Mary as a ray of light (see Van Eyck’s Annunciation in ‘Curations’). 1 John 1.5 tells readers: ‘This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all’ (KJV).
Raie
11
It will create in mee Eternall Day
It will create in me eternal day,
It will create in mee eternall Day
12
ffor thee and onely thee my God I Love
For Thee, and only Thee, my God, I Iove.
For thee and onely thee my God I Love
13
Obliviate (oh Obliviate) my Story
Gloss Note
render unknown, forget
Obliviate
(O, obliviate) my
Gloss Note
life, narrative
story
,
Critical Note
From the Latin oblivium, ‘obliviate’ literally means to commit to oblivion. It is a rarely-used term, and appears to have been brand new at the moment Pulter was writing. The OED dates its first use to the astrologer John Gadbury’s Britains royal star of 1661; Gadbury also used the word some seven years earlier, in his Animal cornutum, or The horn’d beast (1654), a beginner’s guide to astronomy, and again in his Dies novissimus, or, Dooms-day not so near as dreaded in 1664. Pulter evidently relishes this word, which ties her work (directly or indirectly) to the writing of a popular but controversial figure who sought to establish astrology as a crucial part of natural philosophical thought, even as it declined in popularity from the 1660s onwards. Gadbury’s early political views were almost diametrically opposed to Pulter’s, but Britains royal star may well have appealed to her, since its long title promised ‘An Astrological Demonstration of ENGLANDS future FELICITY; Deduced From the HEAVENS as they beheld the earth in the Meridian of London, at the first proclaiming of his Sacred Majesty Charles the Second’. The celebration of Charles II’s recent restoration to the throne is likely to have found an appreciative reader in the royalist Pulter.
Obliviate
(oh Obliviate) my Story
14
Nor let none dare of mee to think or Say
Nor let none dare of me to think or say
Nor let none
Gloss Note
be so bold as to
dare
of mee to think or Say
15
In thy bright Manſion another day
In thy bright
Critical Note
heaven; see John 14:2: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
mansion
another day,
In thy bright
Critical Note
i.e. the body; see first note. In lively prose, Thomas Wallington reflected ‘The cunningst swimmer that euer was, Delius himselfe could not shew his art, nor his equal stroke in the mud: a candle in the lanterne can yeld but a glimmering light through an impure and darksome horne: the warelike Steed cannot fet[ch] his friskes, take his carreers, and shew his curvets being pent up in a narrow room, so it is with the princely soule, while the bodie is her mansion’ (The optick glasse of humours (London, 1607), C4r-v), whilst Juan Luis Vives, in an influential commentary upon Augustine, argued that ‘The corruptible body suppresseth the soule, and the earthly mansion keepeth down the minde that is much occupied’ (St. Augustine, Of the citie of God with the learned comments of Io. Lod. Vives (London, 1610), Qq4v). In sonnet 146, Shakespeare laments the effort the soul expends on its ‘fading mansion’ (see ‘Curations’).
Mansion
another day
16
This Soul was Black though now Shee Shines in ^Glory
“This soul was black, though now she shines in glory.”
This Soul was Black though now Shee shines in
Critical Note
‘Glory’ is inserted above the rest of the line, the copyist having run out of space. The ideas animating this stanza are characteristically complex: Pulter asks God to obliterate her history, so that the blackness of her soul, prior to its purification upon her death and reconciliation with God, will not be remembered. The stanza’s drive towards effacement is at odds with the energies of its rhyme scheme, which propel the reader from ‘story’ to the poem’s (and Pulter’s) concluding ‘Glory’.
Glory
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition

 Editorial note

My approach to editing is broadly conservative, in the sense that I modernise only very lightly. I have regularised u/v and i/j, which were interchangeable in the period during which Pulter was writing, and have also regularised ‘ff’ to F. Otherwise, I have generally preserved Pulter’s spelling, punctuation and capitalisation, and have attempted to represent some of Pulter’s characteristic uses of space (especially her lines and flourishes at the beginnings and ends of poems). My annotations focus primarily on understanding the idiosyncratic ideas and densely-packed meanings of Pulter’s poems, though I also draw attention to questions of form, especially where I feel this contributes to or reinforces the complex arguments of Pulter’s poems.

 Headnote

Like many of Pulter’s poems, the untitled poem 50 dwells on mortality, and on the relationship between the body and soul, and the soul and God. Each stanza is punctuated with parentheses, which pick up and amplify the preceding word or words, functioning like embedded prayers or pleas, and giving a lively sense of the internal debates animating the speaker. Though the poem is presented as an urgent and personal devotional expression, there is a tension between Pulter’s plea that her memory should be expunged (‘obliviated’) from the world and her desire to recreate her conversation with God in a carefully structured, and formally experimental, poem.
Line number 1

 Gloss note

worship, venerate
Line number 2

 Critical note

The word ‘fabric’ in this period referred to products of skilled workmanship, particularly buildings, and was frequently used to refer to the human body, as a complex structure crafted by God, as in the title of Andreas Vesalius’s De humanis corporis fabric (‘On the fabric of the human body’; 1543). An anonymous medical dictionary from 1657 defines ‘Fabrick’ as ‘the whole composition or frame of the body’ (A Physical dictionary (London, 1657)). In 1654, the medical doctor John Anthony reflected: ‘IF we see a fair and stately Building, we will commend the Builder, and presently conclude that he built it for his own habitation, or for some honourable use and service. If we look upon our selves, we shall see an admirable fabrick of body, which is richly beautified and adorned, both within and without, and we cannot but magnifie our Omnipotent Creator, and presently conclude, that surely God did make us such excellent creatures, and did inrich us with such spirituall gifts and graces for some speciall end and purpose’ (The comfort of the soul (London, 1654), I4v). See also George Abbot’s paraphrase of the Book of Job, in ‘Curations’.
Line number 2

 Gloss note

make
Line number 3

 Gloss note

made animate by
Line number 3

 Critical note

In Christian tradition, it is God’s breath that transforms man from a senseless body to a living creature: ‘And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul’ (Genesis 2.7, KJV). Pulter’s use of the verb ‘inanimate’ might have called to mind, for her readers, the Latin title of Aristotle’s influential treatise on the soul, De anima. It is also a word used frequently in this sense by John Donne. In sermon XV, for example, Donne scolds the sinner: ‘Thou hast made thy sin, thy soule, thy life; inanimated all thy actions, all thy purposes with that sin’ (LXXX sermons preached by that learned and reverend divine, John Donne (London, 1640), O5r). Confusingly, the term was also used, during this period, in our modern sense of ‘inanimate’ or lifeless, and this was probably the dominant sense for most readers. The poem seems to play with this flickering ambiguity, with ‘inanimated’ appearing momentarily to refer back to the senseless earth of line two, before the meaning resolves itself into the life-giving action of line three. The ancient Greek psyche originally meant ‘life’ in the sense of ‘breath’, but also, by derivation, referred to the spirit or soul. Philosophers debated the nature of the soul and the moment at which it entered the body, and these debates continued into the early modern period. In Deaths duell, Donne engages with the question of precisely when this ‘quickening’ or becoming animate, happens, reflecting ‘Therefore as soone as wee are men, (that is, inanimated) quickned in the womb) thogh [sic] we cannot our selves, our parents have to say in our behalf, wretched man that he is, who shall deliver him from this body of death?’ (London, 1632, B4r-v). Note also Abbot’s use of ‘inanimated’ (‘Curations’).
Line number 5

 Gloss note

cast down, disheartened
Line number 7

 Critical note

The parenthetical ‘Ay mee’ represents a sigh, a technique that Pulter uses repeatedly in her poems and that invokes both the title of her collection (Poems breathed forth by the Nobel Hadassas) and its internal title, ‘The Sighes of a Sad Soule Emblimatically breath’d forth by the noble Haddassah’. Here, in a stanza packed with parentheses, Pulter cleverly retains her technique of redoubling the word prior to the brackets, punning on ‘I’ and ‘Aye’, so that the bracketed words reinforce the self-identification and self-mortification of the speaker (‘I (I me)’). The repeated ‘I’ sound might also suggest a cry of lamentation or dejection.
Line number 8

 Critical note

Cf. poems 24 (‘How long Shall my dejected Soul’) [Poem 24] which asks ‘How long Shall my dejected Soul, / (Deare God) in dust and Darknes Rowl’ (ll. 1-2); 28 (‘O my aflicted Solitary Soul’) [Poem 28], which asks ‘Why dost thou still in dust and Ashes Rowl’ (l. 2); and 41 (‘The invocation of the Elements’) [Poem 41], where the speaker promises her soul ‘Thou Shalt not Long in Darknes Rowl’ (l. 2). The word ‘roll’ might here mean something like to wallow or grovel, but it also carries connotations of a ship tossed by the waves (OED, ‘roll’, v.2 def. I.1.a; an image whose overtones of wandering and danger possessed significant theological and devotional power in this period), and, as a translation of the Hebrew gālal, the biblical meaning of trusting or relying on God (OED, ‘roll’, v.2 def. 11.a). Thus in 1656, Robert Sanderson told his readers to ‘Roll thy self then upon his providence, and repose thy self with assured confidence upon his promises: and Contentment will follow’ (Twenty sermons, S1r). In this context’ to ‘roll’ in dust, darkness or sorrow is not simply to grovel among earthly things, but to trust in them over the saving power of God.
Line number 9

 Critical note

The ‘spirit’ of God refers to the active or essential power of the Deity (in Trinitarian theology, though not necessarily here, separated out as the Holy Ghost). In the Bible, the term ‘spirit’ is frequently used to translate the Hebrew ru’ach and the Greek pneuma, both of which also mean ‘breath’: the animating force in living creatures. These associations link God’s spirit back to the ‘Celestiall breath’ of line 3.
Line number 10

 Critical note

i.e. ‘to irradiate’, meaning to illuminate or shed light upon, frequently with a spiritual dimension. In 1642, William Price warned sermon-listeners of the dangers of turning away from God: ‘The Devill Jaylour-like, is more cruell upon a recovery then ever hee was in his first surprizall, he is more vigilant over an Apostate, blocking up all passages, that not a beame of divine grace should through the least cranny irradiate on his soule; plying him with fresh successions of temptations, filling his fancy and conscience with paroxysmes and impressions of horrour’ (A sermon preached at St Maries Spittle (London, 1642), D1r). Reflecting on the book of Job in 1661, Joseph Caryl observed, ‘We may also make the inference from the 8th verse; There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth understanding. Therefore I said hearken to me; As if he had said, … If the Lord will make use of me, and inspire me, if he please to breath [sic] his truths into me, and irradiate my soule with divine light, I may be able to doe and say some thing in this matter’ (An exposition with practicall observations continued upon … the booke of Job (London, 1661), K3v).
Line number 10

 Critical note

The iconography of God as a ray of light was well-known. Philippe de Champaigne’s portrait of St Augustine at the moment of his conversion, for example, shows the rays of God’s truth reaching towards the saint, who holds in his hand a heart, with its flames drawn towards the heavenly light (‘Curations’). Portraits of the Virgin Mary at the moment of her annunciation sometimes depict the Holy Spirit as a dove, entering Mary as a ray of light (see Van Eyck’s Annunciation in ‘Curations’). 1 John 1.5 tells readers: ‘This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all’ (KJV).
Line number 13

 Critical note

From the Latin oblivium, ‘obliviate’ literally means to commit to oblivion. It is a rarely-used term, and appears to have been brand new at the moment Pulter was writing. The OED dates its first use to the astrologer John Gadbury’s Britains royal star of 1661; Gadbury also used the word some seven years earlier, in his Animal cornutum, or The horn’d beast (1654), a beginner’s guide to astronomy, and again in his Dies novissimus, or, Dooms-day not so near as dreaded in 1664. Pulter evidently relishes this word, which ties her work (directly or indirectly) to the writing of a popular but controversial figure who sought to establish astrology as a crucial part of natural philosophical thought, even as it declined in popularity from the 1660s onwards. Gadbury’s early political views were almost diametrically opposed to Pulter’s, but Britains royal star may well have appealed to her, since its long title promised ‘An Astrological Demonstration of ENGLANDS future FELICITY; Deduced From the HEAVENS as they beheld the earth in the Meridian of London, at the first proclaiming of his Sacred Majesty Charles the Second’. The celebration of Charles II’s recent restoration to the throne is likely to have found an appreciative reader in the royalist Pulter.
Line number 14

 Gloss note

be so bold as to
Line number 15

 Critical note

i.e. the body; see first note. In lively prose, Thomas Wallington reflected ‘The cunningst swimmer that euer was, Delius himselfe could not shew his art, nor his equal stroke in the mud: a candle in the lanterne can yeld but a glimmering light through an impure and darksome horne: the warelike Steed cannot fet[ch] his friskes, take his carreers, and shew his curvets being pent up in a narrow room, so it is with the princely soule, while the bodie is her mansion’ (The optick glasse of humours (London, 1607), C4r-v), whilst Juan Luis Vives, in an influential commentary upon Augustine, argued that ‘The corruptible body suppresseth the soule, and the earthly mansion keepeth down the minde that is much occupied’ (St. Augustine, Of the citie of God with the learned comments of Io. Lod. Vives (London, 1610), Qq4v). In sonnet 146, Shakespeare laments the effort the soul expends on its ‘fading mansion’ (see ‘Curations’).
Line number 16

 Critical note

‘Glory’ is inserted above the rest of the line, the copyist having run out of space. The ideas animating this stanza are characteristically complex: Pulter asks God to obliterate her history, so that the blackness of her soul, prior to its purification upon her death and reconciliation with God, will not be remembered. The stanza’s drive towards effacement is at odds with the energies of its rhyme scheme, which propel the reader from ‘story’ to the poem’s (and Pulter’s) concluding ‘Glory’.
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X (Close panel)Amplified Edition
Amplified Edition

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[Untitled]
My God, I Thee (and Only Thee) Adore
My God I thee (and onely thee) Adore
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.

— Helen Smith
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.

— Helen Smith
My approach to editing is broadly conservative, in the sense that I modernise only very lightly. I have regularised u/v and i/j, which were interchangeable in the period during which Pulter was writing, and have also regularised ‘ff’ to F. Otherwise, I have generally preserved Pulter’s spelling, punctuation and capitalisation, and have attempted to represent some of Pulter’s characteristic uses of space (especially her lines and flourishes at the beginnings and ends of poems). My annotations focus primarily on understanding the idiosyncratic ideas and densely-packed meanings of Pulter’s poems, though I also draw attention to questions of form, especially where I feel this contributes to or reinforces the complex arguments of Pulter’s poems.

— Helen Smith
In this devotional poem, the speaker pleads with God to render her sinful and mortal life into oblivion by infusing her with divine light and spirit. The anguish of her pleas is conveyed by a compulsive halting and intensifying cycling of her own words: “Leave not (O, leave not),” she cries, and later assures, “I Thee (and only Thee) adore.” In promising her exclusive and undying devotion to God, the speaker also deploys a fairly new (and Latinate) lexicon: she asks to be irradiated, obliviated, and inanimated (this last word inflecting the process of animating—or enlivening—as a resuscitating infusion into her being). Drawing on the biblical account of God as breathing life into the humans he formed from dirt is telling, given that Pulter’s own collection is titled as “Poems Breathed Forth by the Noble Hadassas.” The fact that she experiments metrically in this poem by writing iambic pentameter quatrains with an unusual rhyme scheme (ABBA) complements her decision to praise God as a creator, even as she suffers in distress at the prospect of being abandoned or unworthy.

— Helen Smith
Like many of Pulter’s poems, the untitled poem 50 dwells on mortality, and on the relationship between the body and soul, and the soul and God. Each stanza is punctuated with parentheses, which pick up and amplify the preceding word or words, functioning like embedded prayers or pleas, and giving a lively sense of the internal debates animating the speaker. Though the poem is presented as an urgent and personal devotional expression, there is a tension between Pulter’s plea that her memory should be expunged (‘obliviated’) from the world and her desire to recreate her conversation with God in a carefully structured, and formally experimental, poem.

— Helen Smith
1
My God I thee (and onely thee) Adore
My God, I Thee (and only Thee) adore,
My God I thee (and onely thee)
Gloss Note
worship, venerate
Adore
2
Which did’st my outward ffabrick mak of earth
Critical Note
in Genesis, God molds humans out of the dust or earth; “fabric” is body or skin, with connotations of something constructed.
Which didst my outward fabric make of earth,
Which did’st my outward
Critical Note
The word ‘fabric’ in this period referred to products of skilled workmanship, particularly buildings, and was frequently used to refer to the human body, as a complex structure crafted by God, as in the title of Andreas Vesalius’s De humanis corporis fabric (‘On the fabric of the human body’; 1543). An anonymous medical dictionary from 1657 defines ‘Fabrick’ as ‘the whole composition or frame of the body’ (A Physical dictionary (London, 1657)). In 1654, the medical doctor John Anthony reflected: ‘IF we see a fair and stately Building, we will commend the Builder, and presently conclude that he built it for his own habitation, or for some honourable use and service. If we look upon our selves, we shall see an admirable fabrick of body, which is richly beautified and adorned, both within and without, and we cannot but magnifie our Omnipotent Creator, and presently conclude, that surely God did make us such excellent creatures, and did inrich us with such spirituall gifts and graces for some speciall end and purpose’ (The comfort of the soul (London, 1654), I4v). See also George Abbot’s paraphrase of the Book of Job, in ‘Curations’.
fabrick
Gloss Note
make
mak
of earth
3
Inanimated with Celestiall Breath
Gloss Note
infused life into
Inanimated
with celestial breath;
Gloss Note
made animate by
Inanimated
with
Critical Note
In Christian tradition, it is God’s breath that transforms man from a senseless body to a living creature: ‘And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul’ (Genesis 2.7, KJV). Pulter’s use of the verb ‘inanimate’ might have called to mind, for her readers, the Latin title of Aristotle’s influential treatise on the soul, De anima. It is also a word used frequently in this sense by John Donne. In sermon XV, for example, Donne scolds the sinner: ‘Thou hast made thy sin, thy soule, thy life; inanimated all thy actions, all thy purposes with that sin’ (LXXX sermons preached by that learned and reverend divine, John Donne (London, 1640), O5r). Confusingly, the term was also used, during this period, in our modern sense of ‘inanimate’ or lifeless, and this was probably the dominant sense for most readers. The poem seems to play with this flickering ambiguity, with ‘inanimated’ appearing momentarily to refer back to the senseless earth of line two, before the meaning resolves itself into the life-giving action of line three. The ancient Greek psyche originally meant ‘life’ in the sense of ‘breath’, but also, by derivation, referred to the spirit or soul. Philosophers debated the nature of the soul and the moment at which it entered the body, and these debates continued into the early modern period. In Deaths duell, Donne engages with the question of precisely when this ‘quickening’ or becoming animate, happens, reflecting ‘Therefore as soone as wee are men, (that is, inanimated) quickned in the womb) thogh [sic] we cannot our selves, our parents have to say in our behalf, wretched man that he is, who shall deliver him from this body of death?’ (London, 1632, B4r-v). Note also Abbot’s use of ‘inanimated’ (‘Curations’).
Celestiall Breath
4
Therefore I thee and onely thee implore
Therefore, I Thee, and only Thee, implore:
Therefore I thee and onely thee implore
5
Leave not (oh leave not) my dejected Soul
Leave not (O, leave not) my dejected soul,
Leave not (oh leave not) my
Gloss Note
cast down, disheartened
dejected
Soul
6
Thoug I have wickedly deſerted thee
Though I have wickedly deserted Thee,
Thoug I have wickedly deserted thee
7
Though I (Ay mee) the most ungratefull bee
Though I (ay me!) the most ungrateful be;
Though I
Critical Note
The parenthetical ‘Ay mee’ represents a sigh, a technique that Pulter uses repeatedly in her poems and that invokes both the title of her collection (Poems breathed forth by the Nobel Hadassas) and its internal title, ‘The Sighes of a Sad Soule Emblimatically breath’d forth by the noble Haddassah’. Here, in a stanza packed with parentheses, Pulter cleverly retains her technique of redoubling the word prior to the brackets, punning on ‘I’ and ‘Aye’, so that the bracketed words reinforce the self-identification and self-mortification of the speaker (‘I (I me)’). The repeated ‘I’ sound might also suggest a cry of lamentation or dejection.
(Ay mee)
the most ungratefull bee
8
Yet let not (let not) mee in Sorrow Rowl
Yet let not (let not) me in sorrow
Gloss Note
rotate, revolve, trust in God
roll
.
Yet let not (let not) mee in Sorrow
Critical Note
Cf. poems 24 (‘How long Shall my dejected Soul’) [Poem 24] which asks ‘How long Shall my dejected Soul, / (Deare God) in dust and Darknes Rowl’ (ll. 1-2); 28 (‘O my aflicted Solitary Soul’) [Poem 28], which asks ‘Why dost thou still in dust and Ashes Rowl’ (l. 2); and 41 (‘The invocation of the Elements’) [Poem 41], where the speaker promises her soul ‘Thou Shalt not Long in Darknes Rowl’ (l. 2). The word ‘roll’ might here mean something like to wallow or grovel, but it also carries connotations of a ship tossed by the waves (OED, ‘roll’, v.2 def. I.1.a; an image whose overtones of wandering and danger possessed significant theological and devotional power in this period), and, as a translation of the Hebrew gālal, the biblical meaning of trusting or relying on God (OED, ‘roll’, v.2 def. 11.a). Thus in 1656, Robert Sanderson told his readers to ‘Roll thy self then upon his providence, and repose thy self with assured confidence upon his promises: and Contentment will follow’ (Twenty sermons, S1r). In this context’ to ‘roll’ in dust, darkness or sorrow is not simply to grovel among earthly things, but to trust in them over the saving power of God.
Rowl
9
But Send (Oh Send thy) Spirit from above
But send (O, send) Thy spirit from above
But Send (Oh Send thy)
Critical Note
The ‘spirit’ of God refers to the active or essential power of the Deity (in Trinitarian theology, though not necessarily here, separated out as the Holy Ghost). In the Bible, the term ‘spirit’ is frequently used to translate the Hebrew ru’ach and the Greek pneuma, both of which also mean ‘breath’: the animating force in living creatures. These associations link God’s spirit back to the ‘Celestiall breath’ of line 3.
Spirit
from above
10
Tiradiate my Soul e’ne with one Raie
Gloss Note
illuminate, brighten spiritually
T’irradiate
my soul e’en with one ray.
Critical Note
i.e. ‘to irradiate’, meaning to illuminate or shed light upon, frequently with a spiritual dimension. In 1642, William Price warned sermon-listeners of the dangers of turning away from God: ‘The Devill Jaylour-like, is more cruell upon a recovery then ever hee was in his first surprizall, he is more vigilant over an Apostate, blocking up all passages, that not a beame of divine grace should through the least cranny irradiate on his soule; plying him with fresh successions of temptations, filling his fancy and conscience with paroxysmes and impressions of horrour’ (A sermon preached at St Maries Spittle (London, 1642), D1r). Reflecting on the book of Job in 1661, Joseph Caryl observed, ‘We may also make the inference from the 8th verse; There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth understanding. Therefore I said hearken to me; As if he had said, … If the Lord will make use of me, and inspire me, if he please to breath [sic] his truths into me, and irradiate my soule with divine light, I may be able to doe and say some thing in this matter’ (An exposition with practicall observations continued upon … the booke of Job (London, 1661), K3v).
Tiradiate
my Soul e’ne with one
Critical Note
The iconography of God as a ray of light was well-known. Philippe de Champaigne’s portrait of St Augustine at the moment of his conversion, for example, shows the rays of God’s truth reaching towards the saint, who holds in his hand a heart, with its flames drawn towards the heavenly light (‘Curations’). Portraits of the Virgin Mary at the moment of her annunciation sometimes depict the Holy Spirit as a dove, entering Mary as a ray of light (see Van Eyck’s Annunciation in ‘Curations’). 1 John 1.5 tells readers: ‘This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all’ (KJV).
Raie
11
It will create in mee Eternall Day
It will create in me eternal day,
It will create in mee eternall Day
12
ffor thee and onely thee my God I Love
For Thee, and only Thee, my God, I Iove.
For thee and onely thee my God I Love
13
Obliviate (oh Obliviate) my Story
Gloss Note
render unknown, forget
Obliviate
(O, obliviate) my
Gloss Note
life, narrative
story
,
Critical Note
From the Latin oblivium, ‘obliviate’ literally means to commit to oblivion. It is a rarely-used term, and appears to have been brand new at the moment Pulter was writing. The OED dates its first use to the astrologer John Gadbury’s Britains royal star of 1661; Gadbury also used the word some seven years earlier, in his Animal cornutum, or The horn’d beast (1654), a beginner’s guide to astronomy, and again in his Dies novissimus, or, Dooms-day not so near as dreaded in 1664. Pulter evidently relishes this word, which ties her work (directly or indirectly) to the writing of a popular but controversial figure who sought to establish astrology as a crucial part of natural philosophical thought, even as it declined in popularity from the 1660s onwards. Gadbury’s early political views were almost diametrically opposed to Pulter’s, but Britains royal star may well have appealed to her, since its long title promised ‘An Astrological Demonstration of ENGLANDS future FELICITY; Deduced From the HEAVENS as they beheld the earth in the Meridian of London, at the first proclaiming of his Sacred Majesty Charles the Second’. The celebration of Charles II’s recent restoration to the throne is likely to have found an appreciative reader in the royalist Pulter.
Obliviate
(oh Obliviate) my Story
14
Nor let none dare of mee to think or Say
Nor let none dare of me to think or say
Nor let none
Gloss Note
be so bold as to
dare
of mee to think or Say
15
In thy bright Manſion another day
In thy bright
Critical Note
heaven; see John 14:2: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
mansion
another day,
In thy bright
Critical Note
i.e. the body; see first note. In lively prose, Thomas Wallington reflected ‘The cunningst swimmer that euer was, Delius himselfe could not shew his art, nor his equal stroke in the mud: a candle in the lanterne can yeld but a glimmering light through an impure and darksome horne: the warelike Steed cannot fet[ch] his friskes, take his carreers, and shew his curvets being pent up in a narrow room, so it is with the princely soule, while the bodie is her mansion’ (The optick glasse of humours (London, 1607), C4r-v), whilst Juan Luis Vives, in an influential commentary upon Augustine, argued that ‘The corruptible body suppresseth the soule, and the earthly mansion keepeth down the minde that is much occupied’ (St. Augustine, Of the citie of God with the learned comments of Io. Lod. Vives (London, 1610), Qq4v). In sonnet 146, Shakespeare laments the effort the soul expends on its ‘fading mansion’ (see ‘Curations’).
Mansion
another day
16
This Soul was Black though now Shee Shines in ^Glory
“This soul was black, though now she shines in glory.”
This Soul was Black though now Shee shines in
Critical Note
‘Glory’ is inserted above the rest of the line, the copyist having run out of space. The ideas animating this stanza are characteristically complex: Pulter asks God to obliterate her history, so that the blackness of her soul, prior to its purification upon her death and reconciliation with God, will not be remembered. The stanza’s drive towards effacement is at odds with the energies of its rhyme scheme, which propel the reader from ‘story’ to the poem’s (and Pulter’s) concluding ‘Glory’.
Glory
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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

My approach to editing is broadly conservative, in the sense that I modernise only very lightly. I have regularised u/v and i/j, which were interchangeable in the period during which Pulter was writing, and have also regularised ‘ff’ to F. Otherwise, I have generally preserved Pulter’s spelling, punctuation and capitalisation, and have attempted to represent some of Pulter’s characteristic uses of space (especially her lines and flourishes at the beginnings and ends of poems). My annotations focus primarily on understanding the idiosyncratic ideas and densely-packed meanings of Pulter’s poems, though I also draw attention to questions of form, especially where I feel this contributes to or reinforces the complex arguments of Pulter’s poems.
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

In this devotional poem, the speaker pleads with God to render her sinful and mortal life into oblivion by infusing her with divine light and spirit. The anguish of her pleas is conveyed by a compulsive halting and intensifying cycling of her own words: “Leave not (O, leave not),” she cries, and later assures, “I Thee (and only Thee) adore.” In promising her exclusive and undying devotion to God, the speaker also deploys a fairly new (and Latinate) lexicon: she asks to be irradiated, obliviated, and inanimated (this last word inflecting the process of animating—or enlivening—as a resuscitating infusion into her being). Drawing on the biblical account of God as breathing life into the humans he formed from dirt is telling, given that Pulter’s own collection is titled as “Poems Breathed Forth by the Noble Hadassas.” The fact that she experiments metrically in this poem by writing iambic pentameter quatrains with an unusual rhyme scheme (ABBA) complements her decision to praise God as a creator, even as she suffers in distress at the prospect of being abandoned or unworthy.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

Like many of Pulter’s poems, the untitled poem 50 dwells on mortality, and on the relationship between the body and soul, and the soul and God. Each stanza is punctuated with parentheses, which pick up and amplify the preceding word or words, functioning like embedded prayers or pleas, and giving a lively sense of the internal debates animating the speaker. Though the poem is presented as an urgent and personal devotional expression, there is a tension between Pulter’s plea that her memory should be expunged (‘obliviated’) from the world and her desire to recreate her conversation with God in a carefully structured, and formally experimental, poem.
Amplified Edition
Line number 1

 Gloss note

worship, venerate
Elemental Edition
Line number 2

 Critical note

in Genesis, God molds humans out of the dust or earth; “fabric” is body or skin, with connotations of something constructed.
Amplified Edition
Line number 2

 Critical note

The word ‘fabric’ in this period referred to products of skilled workmanship, particularly buildings, and was frequently used to refer to the human body, as a complex structure crafted by God, as in the title of Andreas Vesalius’s De humanis corporis fabric (‘On the fabric of the human body’; 1543). An anonymous medical dictionary from 1657 defines ‘Fabrick’ as ‘the whole composition or frame of the body’ (A Physical dictionary (London, 1657)). In 1654, the medical doctor John Anthony reflected: ‘IF we see a fair and stately Building, we will commend the Builder, and presently conclude that he built it for his own habitation, or for some honourable use and service. If we look upon our selves, we shall see an admirable fabrick of body, which is richly beautified and adorned, both within and without, and we cannot but magnifie our Omnipotent Creator, and presently conclude, that surely God did make us such excellent creatures, and did inrich us with such spirituall gifts and graces for some speciall end and purpose’ (The comfort of the soul (London, 1654), I4v). See also George Abbot’s paraphrase of the Book of Job, in ‘Curations’.
Amplified Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

make
Elemental Edition
Line number 3

 Gloss note

infused life into
Amplified Edition
Line number 3

 Gloss note

made animate by
Amplified Edition
Line number 3

 Critical note

In Christian tradition, it is God’s breath that transforms man from a senseless body to a living creature: ‘And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul’ (Genesis 2.7, KJV). Pulter’s use of the verb ‘inanimate’ might have called to mind, for her readers, the Latin title of Aristotle’s influential treatise on the soul, De anima. It is also a word used frequently in this sense by John Donne. In sermon XV, for example, Donne scolds the sinner: ‘Thou hast made thy sin, thy soule, thy life; inanimated all thy actions, all thy purposes with that sin’ (LXXX sermons preached by that learned and reverend divine, John Donne (London, 1640), O5r). Confusingly, the term was also used, during this period, in our modern sense of ‘inanimate’ or lifeless, and this was probably the dominant sense for most readers. The poem seems to play with this flickering ambiguity, with ‘inanimated’ appearing momentarily to refer back to the senseless earth of line two, before the meaning resolves itself into the life-giving action of line three. The ancient Greek psyche originally meant ‘life’ in the sense of ‘breath’, but also, by derivation, referred to the spirit or soul. Philosophers debated the nature of the soul and the moment at which it entered the body, and these debates continued into the early modern period. In Deaths duell, Donne engages with the question of precisely when this ‘quickening’ or becoming animate, happens, reflecting ‘Therefore as soone as wee are men, (that is, inanimated) quickned in the womb) thogh [sic] we cannot our selves, our parents have to say in our behalf, wretched man that he is, who shall deliver him from this body of death?’ (London, 1632, B4r-v). Note also Abbot’s use of ‘inanimated’ (‘Curations’).
Amplified Edition
Line number 5

 Gloss note

cast down, disheartened
Amplified Edition
Line number 7

 Critical note

The parenthetical ‘Ay mee’ represents a sigh, a technique that Pulter uses repeatedly in her poems and that invokes both the title of her collection (Poems breathed forth by the Nobel Hadassas) and its internal title, ‘The Sighes of a Sad Soule Emblimatically breath’d forth by the noble Haddassah’. Here, in a stanza packed with parentheses, Pulter cleverly retains her technique of redoubling the word prior to the brackets, punning on ‘I’ and ‘Aye’, so that the bracketed words reinforce the self-identification and self-mortification of the speaker (‘I (I me)’). The repeated ‘I’ sound might also suggest a cry of lamentation or dejection.
Elemental Edition
Line number 8

 Gloss note

rotate, revolve, trust in God
Amplified Edition
Line number 8

 Critical note

Cf. poems 24 (‘How long Shall my dejected Soul’) [Poem 24] which asks ‘How long Shall my dejected Soul, / (Deare God) in dust and Darknes Rowl’ (ll. 1-2); 28 (‘O my aflicted Solitary Soul’) [Poem 28], which asks ‘Why dost thou still in dust and Ashes Rowl’ (l. 2); and 41 (‘The invocation of the Elements’) [Poem 41], where the speaker promises her soul ‘Thou Shalt not Long in Darknes Rowl’ (l. 2). The word ‘roll’ might here mean something like to wallow or grovel, but it also carries connotations of a ship tossed by the waves (OED, ‘roll’, v.2 def. I.1.a; an image whose overtones of wandering and danger possessed significant theological and devotional power in this period), and, as a translation of the Hebrew gālal, the biblical meaning of trusting or relying on God (OED, ‘roll’, v.2 def. 11.a). Thus in 1656, Robert Sanderson told his readers to ‘Roll thy self then upon his providence, and repose thy self with assured confidence upon his promises: and Contentment will follow’ (Twenty sermons, S1r). In this context’ to ‘roll’ in dust, darkness or sorrow is not simply to grovel among earthly things, but to trust in them over the saving power of God.
Amplified Edition
Line number 9

 Critical note

The ‘spirit’ of God refers to the active or essential power of the Deity (in Trinitarian theology, though not necessarily here, separated out as the Holy Ghost). In the Bible, the term ‘spirit’ is frequently used to translate the Hebrew ru’ach and the Greek pneuma, both of which also mean ‘breath’: the animating force in living creatures. These associations link God’s spirit back to the ‘Celestiall breath’ of line 3.
Elemental Edition
Line number 10

 Gloss note

illuminate, brighten spiritually
Amplified Edition
Line number 10

 Critical note

i.e. ‘to irradiate’, meaning to illuminate or shed light upon, frequently with a spiritual dimension. In 1642, William Price warned sermon-listeners of the dangers of turning away from God: ‘The Devill Jaylour-like, is more cruell upon a recovery then ever hee was in his first surprizall, he is more vigilant over an Apostate, blocking up all passages, that not a beame of divine grace should through the least cranny irradiate on his soule; plying him with fresh successions of temptations, filling his fancy and conscience with paroxysmes and impressions of horrour’ (A sermon preached at St Maries Spittle (London, 1642), D1r). Reflecting on the book of Job in 1661, Joseph Caryl observed, ‘We may also make the inference from the 8th verse; There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth understanding. Therefore I said hearken to me; As if he had said, … If the Lord will make use of me, and inspire me, if he please to breath [sic] his truths into me, and irradiate my soule with divine light, I may be able to doe and say some thing in this matter’ (An exposition with practicall observations continued upon … the booke of Job (London, 1661), K3v).
Amplified Edition
Line number 10

 Critical note

The iconography of God as a ray of light was well-known. Philippe de Champaigne’s portrait of St Augustine at the moment of his conversion, for example, shows the rays of God’s truth reaching towards the saint, who holds in his hand a heart, with its flames drawn towards the heavenly light (‘Curations’). Portraits of the Virgin Mary at the moment of her annunciation sometimes depict the Holy Spirit as a dove, entering Mary as a ray of light (see Van Eyck’s Annunciation in ‘Curations’). 1 John 1.5 tells readers: ‘This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all’ (KJV).
Elemental Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

render unknown, forget
Elemental Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

life, narrative
Amplified Edition
Line number 13

 Critical note

From the Latin oblivium, ‘obliviate’ literally means to commit to oblivion. It is a rarely-used term, and appears to have been brand new at the moment Pulter was writing. The OED dates its first use to the astrologer John Gadbury’s Britains royal star of 1661; Gadbury also used the word some seven years earlier, in his Animal cornutum, or The horn’d beast (1654), a beginner’s guide to astronomy, and again in his Dies novissimus, or, Dooms-day not so near as dreaded in 1664. Pulter evidently relishes this word, which ties her work (directly or indirectly) to the writing of a popular but controversial figure who sought to establish astrology as a crucial part of natural philosophical thought, even as it declined in popularity from the 1660s onwards. Gadbury’s early political views were almost diametrically opposed to Pulter’s, but Britains royal star may well have appealed to her, since its long title promised ‘An Astrological Demonstration of ENGLANDS future FELICITY; Deduced From the HEAVENS as they beheld the earth in the Meridian of London, at the first proclaiming of his Sacred Majesty Charles the Second’. The celebration of Charles II’s recent restoration to the throne is likely to have found an appreciative reader in the royalist Pulter.
Amplified Edition
Line number 14

 Gloss note

be so bold as to
Elemental Edition
Line number 15

 Critical note

heaven; see John 14:2: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
Amplified Edition
Line number 15

 Critical note

i.e. the body; see first note. In lively prose, Thomas Wallington reflected ‘The cunningst swimmer that euer was, Delius himselfe could not shew his art, nor his equal stroke in the mud: a candle in the lanterne can yeld but a glimmering light through an impure and darksome horne: the warelike Steed cannot fet[ch] his friskes, take his carreers, and shew his curvets being pent up in a narrow room, so it is with the princely soule, while the bodie is her mansion’ (The optick glasse of humours (London, 1607), C4r-v), whilst Juan Luis Vives, in an influential commentary upon Augustine, argued that ‘The corruptible body suppresseth the soule, and the earthly mansion keepeth down the minde that is much occupied’ (St. Augustine, Of the citie of God with the learned comments of Io. Lod. Vives (London, 1610), Qq4v). In sonnet 146, Shakespeare laments the effort the soul expends on its ‘fading mansion’ (see ‘Curations’).
Amplified Edition
Line number 16

 Critical note

‘Glory’ is inserted above the rest of the line, the copyist having run out of space. The ideas animating this stanza are characteristically complex: Pulter asks God to obliterate her history, so that the blackness of her soul, prior to its purification upon her death and reconciliation with God, will not be remembered. The stanza’s drive towards effacement is at odds with the energies of its rhyme scheme, which propel the reader from ‘story’ to the poem’s (and Pulter’s) concluding ‘Glory’.
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