My Soul’s Sole Desire

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My Soul’s Sole Desire

Poem 29

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 Sarah C. E. Ross.

How to cite these versions

Conventions for these editions

The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making

  • Created by Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
  • Encoded by Katherine Poland, Matthew Taylor, Elizabeth Chou, and Emily Andrey, Northwestern University
  • Website designed by Sergei Kalugin, Northwestern University
  • IT project consultation by Josh Honn, Northwestern University
  • Project sponsored by Northwestern University, Brock University, and University of Leeds
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X (Close panel)Notes: Transcription

 Editorial note

In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.
Line number 13

 Physical note

“L” and possibly “a” written over earlier letter(s)
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Transcription
Transcription



My Souls Sole deſire
My Soul’s Sole Desire
My Soul’s Sole Desire
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 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 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 my 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).
Critical Note
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


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
In this poetic prayer to God, the speaker seeks illumination of her dark soul, with a promise that in the afterlife the speaker will sing songs of praise to God. The title interestingly claims that her soul renounces all other desires, except the wish to join in the plenitude of heavenly light that the speaker associates with the moment of creation. The poem is self-conscious about its own status as a created work and is markedly experimental in its form: its structure, unusual for Pulter, consists of six three-line stanzas, the first two lines of rhymed iambic pentameter and the third a differently rhymed dimeter, with dimeter lines rhyming in sequential stanzas (AAB CCB and so on). The claim to offer simple adoration—to “my God and king”—is complicated by the intricate structure.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This is one of several poems in Pulter’s manuscript articulating her soul’s desire for divine love, and looking beyond the “sad shades” of earthly life to the promise of its continuation “above”. For a close comparison, see see "Must I Thus Ever Interdicted Be" (Poem 55), and see also ʺDear God, from Thy High Throne Look Down" (Poem 63). These devotional lyrics are personal colloquies with God, and they are simple and delicately rendered, of a kind likely to be broadly influenced by the plain style of George Herbert. Herbert’s The Temple (1633) was widely read and widely imitated by women writers of devotional verse in the seventeenth century. See extracts from Helen Wilcox, “Entering The Temple”, in Curations.
The Herbertian qualities of the poem are evident in its combination of apparent simplicity with actual intricacy. It follows a consistent three-line stanza form with a shortened, dimeter, third line, creating an emphasis that serves well the final “My God and king”. These dimeter lines rhyme in pairs across stanzas. Pulter uses the same form (with the slight variation of dimeter lines rhyming in threes across stanzas) in ʺDear God, from Thy High Throne Look Down" (Poem 63); and a similar form is used in “Made When My Spirits Were Sunk Very Low” (Poem 66). In the case of the lyric to hand, the consistent rhyme and meter give a sense of the poem as a song, approximating the “celestial lays” to which the speaker looks forward. These celestial songs are literally “unknown” to her, and so the songs she sings on earth can only ever be poor approximations; however, Pulter’s sense of continuity between her own devotional lyrics and these heavenly lays is intimated in her poem “This Was Written in 1648”: “I’ll such lays here begin, shall end above” (Poem 45, line 68).


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Thou that didst on the Chaos move,
Thou that didst on the
Gloss Note
formless void believed to have existed before the creation of the universe
chaos
move,
Thou that didst on the
Critical Note
the void, or primordial matter, that existed before the creation of the universe. See Genesis 1:2: “And the earth was without form, and void ... And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters”.
chaos
move,
2
Illustrious Spirit of life and Love:
Critical Note
See Genesis 1:2, KJV: “And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
Illustrious Spirit
of life and love:
Illustrious spirit of life and love,
3
Oh pitty mee.
O, pity me,
O pity me
4
And on my dark Soul dein to Shine,
And on my dark soul
Gloss Note
condescend
deign
to shine;
And on my dark soul deign to shine:
5
Sin, Death, and Hell, will all Resign;
Sin, Death, and Hell, will all resign
Sin, Death, and Hell, will all resign
6
Theire place to thee.
Their place to Thee.
Their place to thee.
7
Then Shall my Souls Sad Shades of Night,
Then shall my soul’s sad shades of night,
Then shall my soul’s sad shades of night
8
Bee turnd into Miridian Light;
Be turned into
Gloss Note
midday
meridian
light,
Be turned into
Critical Note
of or relating to midday (when the sun is at its highest point); also, of supreme excellence (OED adj. 1a and b). Lines 7-8 may also refer to the earth undergoing a temporary eclipse of the sun on the death of Christ; see Mark 15:33, “At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon”.
meridian
light
9
Untill my Story:
Until my story
Until my
Compare the remainder of this poem with "Must I Thus Ever Interdicted Be" (Poem 55), lines 14-18.
story,
10
Begun below, goes on aboue
Begun below, goes on above
Begun below, goes on above
11
In Joy, and Life, being Crown’d by Love:
In joy, and life, being crowned by love
In joy and life, being crowned by
Critical Note
alluding to the biblical “God is love” (see, for example, 1 John 4:16)
love
,
12
With endles Glory.
With endless glory.
With endless glory.
13
Then thoſe unknown Celestiall
Physical Note
“L” and possibly “a” written over earlier letter(s)
Layes
,
Then those unknown celestial
Gloss Note
short songs
lays
,
Then those unknown celestial
Gloss Note
songs
lays
,
14
Thoſe Hallelujahs to thy praiſe,
Those hallelujahs to Thy praise,
Those hallelujahs to thy praise,
15
I’le ever Sing:
I’ll ever sing;
I’ll ever sing
16
And thine Imenſity implore,
And Thine immensity implore,
And thine
Gloss Note
boundlessness, infinity (OED n.1)
immensity
implore,
17
Thy Majesty alone Adore;
Thy majesty alone adore:
Thy majesty alone adore:
18
My God and King.
My God and King.
Critical Note
a biblical phrase commonly invoked in praise of God, including in devotional poetry. See Psalms 145:1 “I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever”; and for poetic uses, see Pulter, "Must I Thus Ever Interdicted Be" (Poem 55), line 18; and George Herbert, “Jordan (I)”, which ends with the simple, emphatic “My God, My King”.
My God and king.
X (Close panel)Notes: Elemental Edition

 Editorial note

The aim of the elemental edition 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 poetic prayer to God, the speaker seeks illumination of her dark soul, with a promise that in the afterlife the speaker will sing songs of praise to God. The title interestingly claims that her soul renounces all other desires, except the wish to join in the plenitude of heavenly light that the speaker associates with the moment of creation. The poem is self-conscious about its own status as a created work and is markedly experimental in its form: its structure, unusual for Pulter, consists of six three-line stanzas, the first two lines of rhymed iambic pentameter and the third a differently rhymed dimeter, with dimeter lines rhyming in sequential stanzas (AAB CCB and so on). The claim to offer simple adoration—to “my God and king”—is complicated by the intricate structure.
Line number 1

 Gloss note

formless void believed to have existed before the creation of the universe
Line number 2

 Critical note

See Genesis 1:2, KJV: “And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
Line number 4

 Gloss note

condescend
Line number 8

 Gloss note

midday
Line number 13

 Gloss note

short songs
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Elemental Edition
Elemental Edition



My Souls Sole deſire
My Soul’s Sole Desire
My Soul’s Sole Desire
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 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 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 my 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).
Critical Note
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


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
In this poetic prayer to God, the speaker seeks illumination of her dark soul, with a promise that in the afterlife the speaker will sing songs of praise to God. The title interestingly claims that her soul renounces all other desires, except the wish to join in the plenitude of heavenly light that the speaker associates with the moment of creation. The poem is self-conscious about its own status as a created work and is markedly experimental in its form: its structure, unusual for Pulter, consists of six three-line stanzas, the first two lines of rhymed iambic pentameter and the third a differently rhymed dimeter, with dimeter lines rhyming in sequential stanzas (AAB CCB and so on). The claim to offer simple adoration—to “my God and king”—is complicated by the intricate structure.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This is one of several poems in Pulter’s manuscript articulating her soul’s desire for divine love, and looking beyond the “sad shades” of earthly life to the promise of its continuation “above”. For a close comparison, see see "Must I Thus Ever Interdicted Be" (Poem 55), and see also ʺDear God, from Thy High Throne Look Down" (Poem 63). These devotional lyrics are personal colloquies with God, and they are simple and delicately rendered, of a kind likely to be broadly influenced by the plain style of George Herbert. Herbert’s The Temple (1633) was widely read and widely imitated by women writers of devotional verse in the seventeenth century. See extracts from Helen Wilcox, “Entering The Temple”, in Curations.
The Herbertian qualities of the poem are evident in its combination of apparent simplicity with actual intricacy. It follows a consistent three-line stanza form with a shortened, dimeter, third line, creating an emphasis that serves well the final “My God and king”. These dimeter lines rhyme in pairs across stanzas. Pulter uses the same form (with the slight variation of dimeter lines rhyming in threes across stanzas) in ʺDear God, from Thy High Throne Look Down" (Poem 63); and a similar form is used in “Made When My Spirits Were Sunk Very Low” (Poem 66). In the case of the lyric to hand, the consistent rhyme and meter give a sense of the poem as a song, approximating the “celestial lays” to which the speaker looks forward. These celestial songs are literally “unknown” to her, and so the songs she sings on earth can only ever be poor approximations; however, Pulter’s sense of continuity between her own devotional lyrics and these heavenly lays is intimated in her poem “This Was Written in 1648”: “I’ll such lays here begin, shall end above” (Poem 45, line 68).


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Thou that didst on the Chaos move,
Thou that didst on the
Gloss Note
formless void believed to have existed before the creation of the universe
chaos
move,
Thou that didst on the
Critical Note
the void, or primordial matter, that existed before the creation of the universe. See Genesis 1:2: “And the earth was without form, and void ... And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters”.
chaos
move,
2
Illustrious Spirit of life and Love:
Critical Note
See Genesis 1:2, KJV: “And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
Illustrious Spirit
of life and love:
Illustrious spirit of life and love,
3
Oh pitty mee.
O, pity me,
O pity me
4
And on my dark Soul dein to Shine,
And on my dark soul
Gloss Note
condescend
deign
to shine;
And on my dark soul deign to shine:
5
Sin, Death, and Hell, will all Resign;
Sin, Death, and Hell, will all resign
Sin, Death, and Hell, will all resign
6
Theire place to thee.
Their place to Thee.
Their place to thee.
7
Then Shall my Souls Sad Shades of Night,
Then shall my soul’s sad shades of night,
Then shall my soul’s sad shades of night
8
Bee turnd into Miridian Light;
Be turned into
Gloss Note
midday
meridian
light,
Be turned into
Critical Note
of or relating to midday (when the sun is at its highest point); also, of supreme excellence (OED adj. 1a and b). Lines 7-8 may also refer to the earth undergoing a temporary eclipse of the sun on the death of Christ; see Mark 15:33, “At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon”.
meridian
light
9
Untill my Story:
Until my story
Until my
Compare the remainder of this poem with "Must I Thus Ever Interdicted Be" (Poem 55), lines 14-18.
story,
10
Begun below, goes on aboue
Begun below, goes on above
Begun below, goes on above
11
In Joy, and Life, being Crown’d by Love:
In joy, and life, being crowned by love
In joy and life, being crowned by
Critical Note
alluding to the biblical “God is love” (see, for example, 1 John 4:16)
love
,
12
With endles Glory.
With endless glory.
With endless glory.
13
Then thoſe unknown Celestiall
Physical Note
“L” and possibly “a” written over earlier letter(s)
Layes
,
Then those unknown celestial
Gloss Note
short songs
lays
,
Then those unknown celestial
Gloss Note
songs
lays
,
14
Thoſe Hallelujahs to thy praiſe,
Those hallelujahs to Thy praise,
Those hallelujahs to thy praise,
15
I’le ever Sing:
I’ll ever sing;
I’ll ever sing
16
And thine Imenſity implore,
And Thine immensity implore,
And thine
Gloss Note
boundlessness, infinity (OED n.1)
immensity
implore,
17
Thy Majesty alone Adore;
Thy majesty alone adore:
Thy majesty alone adore:
18
My God and King.
My God and King.
Critical Note
a biblical phrase commonly invoked in praise of God, including in devotional poetry. See Psalms 145:1 “I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever”; and for poetic uses, see Pulter, "Must I Thus Ever Interdicted Be" (Poem 55), line 18; and George Herbert, “Jordan (I)”, which ends with the simple, emphatic “My God, My King”.
My God and king.
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition

 Editorial note

My 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 my 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).
Critical Note
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

 Headnote

This is one of several poems in Pulter’s manuscript articulating her soul’s desire for divine love, and looking beyond the “sad shades” of earthly life to the promise of its continuation “above”. For a close comparison, see see "Must I Thus Ever Interdicted Be" (Poem 55), and see also ʺDear God, from Thy High Throne Look Down" (Poem 63). These devotional lyrics are personal colloquies with God, and they are simple and delicately rendered, of a kind likely to be broadly influenced by the plain style of George Herbert. Herbert’s The Temple (1633) was widely read and widely imitated by women writers of devotional verse in the seventeenth century. See extracts from Helen Wilcox, “Entering The Temple”, in Curations.
The Herbertian qualities of the poem are evident in its combination of apparent simplicity with actual intricacy. It follows a consistent three-line stanza form with a shortened, dimeter, third line, creating an emphasis that serves well the final “My God and king”. These dimeter lines rhyme in pairs across stanzas. Pulter uses the same form (with the slight variation of dimeter lines rhyming in threes across stanzas) in ʺDear God, from Thy High Throne Look Down" (Poem 63); and a similar form is used in “Made When My Spirits Were Sunk Very Low” (Poem 66). In the case of the lyric to hand, the consistent rhyme and meter give a sense of the poem as a song, approximating the “celestial lays” to which the speaker looks forward. These celestial songs are literally “unknown” to her, and so the songs she sings on earth can only ever be poor approximations; however, Pulter’s sense of continuity between her own devotional lyrics and these heavenly lays is intimated in her poem “This Was Written in 1648”: “I’ll such lays here begin, shall end above” (Poem 45, line 68).
Line number 1

 Critical note

the void, or primordial matter, that existed before the creation of the universe. See Genesis 1:2: “And the earth was without form, and void ... And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters”.
Line number 8

 Critical note

of or relating to midday (when the sun is at its highest point); also, of supreme excellence (OED adj. 1a and b). Lines 7-8 may also refer to the earth undergoing a temporary eclipse of the sun on the death of Christ; see Mark 15:33, “At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon”.
Line number 9
Compare the remainder of this poem with "Must I Thus Ever Interdicted Be" (Poem 55), lines 14-18.
Line number 11

 Critical note

alluding to the biblical “God is love” (see, for example, 1 John 4:16)
Line number 13

 Gloss note

songs
Line number 16

 Gloss note

boundlessness, infinity (OED n.1)
Line number 18

 Critical note

a biblical phrase commonly invoked in praise of God, including in devotional poetry. See Psalms 145:1 “I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever”; and for poetic uses, see Pulter, "Must I Thus Ever Interdicted Be" (Poem 55), line 18; and George Herbert, “Jordan (I)”, which ends with the simple, emphatic “My God, My King”.
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Amplified Edition
Amplified Edition



My Souls Sole deſire
My Soul’s Sole Desire
My Soul’s Sole Desire
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.

— Sarah C. E. Ross
The aim of the elemental edition 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.

— Sarah C. E. Ross
My 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 my 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).
Critical Note
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


— Sarah C. E. Ross
In this poetic prayer to God, the speaker seeks illumination of her dark soul, with a promise that in the afterlife the speaker will sing songs of praise to God. The title interestingly claims that her soul renounces all other desires, except the wish to join in the plenitude of heavenly light that the speaker associates with the moment of creation. The poem is self-conscious about its own status as a created work and is markedly experimental in its form: its structure, unusual for Pulter, consists of six three-line stanzas, the first two lines of rhymed iambic pentameter and the third a differently rhymed dimeter, with dimeter lines rhyming in sequential stanzas (AAB CCB and so on). The claim to offer simple adoration—to “my God and king”—is complicated by the intricate structure.

— Sarah C. E. Ross
This is one of several poems in Pulter’s manuscript articulating her soul’s desire for divine love, and looking beyond the “sad shades” of earthly life to the promise of its continuation “above”. For a close comparison, see see "Must I Thus Ever Interdicted Be" (Poem 55), and see also ʺDear God, from Thy High Throne Look Down" (Poem 63). These devotional lyrics are personal colloquies with God, and they are simple and delicately rendered, of a kind likely to be broadly influenced by the plain style of George Herbert. Herbert’s The Temple (1633) was widely read and widely imitated by women writers of devotional verse in the seventeenth century. See extracts from Helen Wilcox, “Entering The Temple”, in Curations.
The Herbertian qualities of the poem are evident in its combination of apparent simplicity with actual intricacy. It follows a consistent three-line stanza form with a shortened, dimeter, third line, creating an emphasis that serves well the final “My God and king”. These dimeter lines rhyme in pairs across stanzas. Pulter uses the same form (with the slight variation of dimeter lines rhyming in threes across stanzas) in ʺDear God, from Thy High Throne Look Down" (Poem 63); and a similar form is used in “Made When My Spirits Were Sunk Very Low” (Poem 66). In the case of the lyric to hand, the consistent rhyme and meter give a sense of the poem as a song, approximating the “celestial lays” to which the speaker looks forward. These celestial songs are literally “unknown” to her, and so the songs she sings on earth can only ever be poor approximations; however, Pulter’s sense of continuity between her own devotional lyrics and these heavenly lays is intimated in her poem “This Was Written in 1648”: “I’ll such lays here begin, shall end above” (Poem 45, line 68).


— Sarah C. E. Ross
1
Thou that didst on the Chaos move,
Thou that didst on the
Gloss Note
formless void believed to have existed before the creation of the universe
chaos
move,
Thou that didst on the
Critical Note
the void, or primordial matter, that existed before the creation of the universe. See Genesis 1:2: “And the earth was without form, and void ... And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters”.
chaos
move,
2
Illustrious Spirit of life and Love:
Critical Note
See Genesis 1:2, KJV: “And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
Illustrious Spirit
of life and love:
Illustrious spirit of life and love,
3
Oh pitty mee.
O, pity me,
O pity me
4
And on my dark Soul dein to Shine,
And on my dark soul
Gloss Note
condescend
deign
to shine;
And on my dark soul deign to shine:
5
Sin, Death, and Hell, will all Resign;
Sin, Death, and Hell, will all resign
Sin, Death, and Hell, will all resign
6
Theire place to thee.
Their place to Thee.
Their place to thee.
7
Then Shall my Souls Sad Shades of Night,
Then shall my soul’s sad shades of night,
Then shall my soul’s sad shades of night
8
Bee turnd into Miridian Light;
Be turned into
Gloss Note
midday
meridian
light,
Be turned into
Critical Note
of or relating to midday (when the sun is at its highest point); also, of supreme excellence (OED adj. 1a and b). Lines 7-8 may also refer to the earth undergoing a temporary eclipse of the sun on the death of Christ; see Mark 15:33, “At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon”.
meridian
light
9
Untill my Story:
Until my story
Until my
Compare the remainder of this poem with "Must I Thus Ever Interdicted Be" (Poem 55), lines 14-18.
story,
10
Begun below, goes on aboue
Begun below, goes on above
Begun below, goes on above
11
In Joy, and Life, being Crown’d by Love:
In joy, and life, being crowned by love
In joy and life, being crowned by
Critical Note
alluding to the biblical “God is love” (see, for example, 1 John 4:16)
love
,
12
With endles Glory.
With endless glory.
With endless glory.
13
Then thoſe unknown Celestiall
Physical Note
“L” and possibly “a” written over earlier letter(s)
Layes
,
Then those unknown celestial
Gloss Note
short songs
lays
,
Then those unknown celestial
Gloss Note
songs
lays
,
14
Thoſe Hallelujahs to thy praiſe,
Those hallelujahs to Thy praise,
Those hallelujahs to thy praise,
15
I’le ever Sing:
I’ll ever sing;
I’ll ever sing
16
And thine Imenſity implore,
And Thine immensity implore,
And thine
Gloss Note
boundlessness, infinity (OED n.1)
immensity
implore,
17
Thy Majesty alone Adore;
Thy majesty alone adore:
Thy majesty alone adore:
18
My God and King.
My God and King.
Critical Note
a biblical phrase commonly invoked in praise of God, including in devotional poetry. See Psalms 145:1 “I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever”; and for poetic uses, see Pulter, "Must I Thus Ever Interdicted Be" (Poem 55), line 18; and George Herbert, “Jordan (I)”, which ends with the simple, emphatic “My God, My King”.
My God and king.
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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 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 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 my 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).
Critical Note
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
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

In this poetic prayer to God, the speaker seeks illumination of her dark soul, with a promise that in the afterlife the speaker will sing songs of praise to God. The title interestingly claims that her soul renounces all other desires, except the wish to join in the plenitude of heavenly light that the speaker associates with the moment of creation. The poem is self-conscious about its own status as a created work and is markedly experimental in its form: its structure, unusual for Pulter, consists of six three-line stanzas, the first two lines of rhymed iambic pentameter and the third a differently rhymed dimeter, with dimeter lines rhyming in sequential stanzas (AAB CCB and so on). The claim to offer simple adoration—to “my God and king”—is complicated by the intricate structure.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

This is one of several poems in Pulter’s manuscript articulating her soul’s desire for divine love, and looking beyond the “sad shades” of earthly life to the promise of its continuation “above”. For a close comparison, see see "Must I Thus Ever Interdicted Be" (Poem 55), and see also ʺDear God, from Thy High Throne Look Down" (Poem 63). These devotional lyrics are personal colloquies with God, and they are simple and delicately rendered, of a kind likely to be broadly influenced by the plain style of George Herbert. Herbert’s The Temple (1633) was widely read and widely imitated by women writers of devotional verse in the seventeenth century. See extracts from Helen Wilcox, “Entering The Temple”, in Curations.
The Herbertian qualities of the poem are evident in its combination of apparent simplicity with actual intricacy. It follows a consistent three-line stanza form with a shortened, dimeter, third line, creating an emphasis that serves well the final “My God and king”. These dimeter lines rhyme in pairs across stanzas. Pulter uses the same form (with the slight variation of dimeter lines rhyming in threes across stanzas) in ʺDear God, from Thy High Throne Look Down" (Poem 63); and a similar form is used in “Made When My Spirits Were Sunk Very Low” (Poem 66). In the case of the lyric to hand, the consistent rhyme and meter give a sense of the poem as a song, approximating the “celestial lays” to which the speaker looks forward. These celestial songs are literally “unknown” to her, and so the songs she sings on earth can only ever be poor approximations; however, Pulter’s sense of continuity between her own devotional lyrics and these heavenly lays is intimated in her poem “This Was Written in 1648”: “I’ll such lays here begin, shall end above” (Poem 45, line 68).
Elemental Edition
Line number 1

 Gloss note

formless void believed to have existed before the creation of the universe
Amplified Edition
Line number 1

 Critical note

the void, or primordial matter, that existed before the creation of the universe. See Genesis 1:2: “And the earth was without form, and void ... And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters”.
Elemental Edition
Line number 2

 Critical note

See Genesis 1:2, KJV: “And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
Elemental Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

condescend
Elemental Edition
Line number 8

 Gloss note

midday
Amplified Edition
Line number 8

 Critical note

of or relating to midday (when the sun is at its highest point); also, of supreme excellence (OED adj. 1a and b). Lines 7-8 may also refer to the earth undergoing a temporary eclipse of the sun on the death of Christ; see Mark 15:33, “At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon”.
Amplified Edition
Line number 9
Compare the remainder of this poem with "Must I Thus Ever Interdicted Be" (Poem 55), lines 14-18.
Amplified Edition
Line number 11

 Critical note

alluding to the biblical “God is love” (see, for example, 1 John 4:16)
Transcription
Line number 13

 Physical note

“L” and possibly “a” written over earlier letter(s)
Elemental Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

short songs
Amplified Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

songs
Amplified Edition
Line number 16

 Gloss note

boundlessness, infinity (OED n.1)
Amplified Edition
Line number 18

 Critical note

a biblical phrase commonly invoked in praise of God, including in devotional poetry. See Psalms 145:1 “I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever”; and for poetic uses, see Pulter, "Must I Thus Ever Interdicted Be" (Poem 55), line 18; and George Herbert, “Jordan (I)”, which ends with the simple, emphatic “My God, My King”.
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