O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul

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O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul

Poem #28

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 Andrea Crow.

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 2

 Physical note

“di” scribbled out
Line number 5

 Physical note

“e” written over “l”
Line number 31

 Physical note

remaining half-page blank
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
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Transcription

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
[Untitled]
O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul
Critical Note
The lack of a title in the manuscript encourages the reader to see a continuity of thought between this poem and the previous poem, On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]. The previous poem’s image of the transformation of Charles I and Henrietta Maria into celestial bodies becomes, in this poem, the assumption of the speaker’s soul into heaven following the dissolution of the body. The implicit connections between these two poems exemplify how Pulter treats the personal trauma of obscure people as equivalent to the rise and fall of monarchs. This equivalence has both feminist and anti-autocratic implications in the significance it places on the domestic sphere and on the individual.
O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul
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 editions aim to make Pulter’s poetry accessible in two ways. First, I facilitate basic legibility through modernizing spelling and punctuation according to standard American usage and through glossing unfamiliar words, points of intertexuality, and relevant historical contexts. Second, I want to help readers perceive Pulter’s nuanced approach to form and image, both within individual poems and in the extended patterns and ideas that take shape over the course of the manuscript. With this in mind, I have incorporated interpretive readings of the poems into my notes to provide insight into how Pulter’s poetics work and to spur readers to participate in the value-adding work of bringing Pulter’s writing the attentive level of interpretation it deserves.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Beginning and ending with questions, the speaker in this poem grapples emotionally with the quandary of being both immaterial soul and mortal flesh. What begins as the speaker’s encouragement to her soul to ambitiously look past the ephemeral pleasures of the natural and finite world turns, by the end of this verse, into a desperate longing to be reunited with her loved ones and with God in heaven. Between these two rhetorical stances, the speaker belies her attraction to the sensual beauty of the landscape, as if trying to convince herself to disavow the joys she occasionally feels (“Then what’s this world we keep ado about?”). She also abruptly disrupts her wise self-counsel to confess a deep fear of death, of transforming into mere dust and ashes. Pulter’s inventive staging of the conventional Renaissance poetic debate between body and soul contrasts the transience and filth of the “dunghill earth” with the expansive flight of the soul into a paradisal heaven vividly imagined as celestial, sovereign and musical.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
The first part of this carefully-constructed poem finds the speaker stridently urging her
Critical Note
The lack of a title in the manuscript encourages the reader to see a continuity of thought between this poem and the previous poem, On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]. The previous poem’s image of the transformation of Charles I and Henrietta Maria into celestial bodies becomes, in this poem, the assumption of the speaker’s soul into heaven following the dissolution of the body. The implicit connections between these two poems exemplify how Pulter treats the personal trauma of obscure people as equivalent to the rise and fall of monarchs. This equivalence has both feminist and anti-autocratic implications in the significance it places on the domestic sphere and on the individual.
1
soul to accept her inevitable mortality. In neatly-organized quatrains, the speaker introduces a series of arguments and metaphors, some of which appear to rework similarly-themed poems by George Herbert, encouraging this externalized version of herself to look forward to its transcendence of what she calls “this dunghill earth.”
Gloss Note
On Pulter’s frequent use of the dunghill as metaphor, see Frances E. Dolan, What is a Dunghill? (Curation for The Pismire [Poem 35]) in The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making, edited by Leah Knight and Wendy Wall (2018).
2
This pose of confidence is underscored by the poem’s regular meter and rhyme scheme, its clear argumentative structure, and the speaker’s use of rhetorical devices such as anaphora and rhetorical questions. Following the fifth quatrain, this certainty abruptly collapses, along with both the division between the speaker and her soul and the poem’s organizational structures. The final line of the poem restates the very reassurance that the speaker had offered to her soul—that it will someday leave her body—as a form of suicidal ideation arising from grief over the deaths of her children and fear in the face of the fact that she, like her children, must also “turn to dust and ashes” (22). This poem thematically connects to the previous poem in the manuscript, On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27] , which imagines Charles I and Henrietta Maria, like Pulter’s children in this poem, transformed into celestial bodies. Through the juxtaposition of these two poems, Pulter makes her personal losses as significant to the lyric history recorded by her manuscript as the political conflicts facing the nation. See also the proximity of Upon the Death of my Dear and Lovely Daughter, Jane Pulter [Poem 10] and Tell Me No More [On the Same] [Poem 11] with On the Horrid Murder of that Incomparable Prince [Poem 14] and Let None Sigh More for Lucas or for Lisle [On the Same (2)] [Poem 15].

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Oh my aflicted Solitary Soul
O my afflicted solitary soul,
O my afflicted solitary soul,
2
Why
Physical Note
“di” scribbled out
did^ost
thou Still In dust and Ashes Rowl
Why dost thou still in dust and ashes
Gloss Note
move in cycles; move in an unsteady manner; rotate, turn, or pivot around; trust in God; wallow
roll
,
Why
Critical Note
The main scribe’s “didst” is corrected in the manuscript to “dost” here, which both lends a mood of dramatic immediacy to the speaker’s dialogue with her soul and punningly connects her enquiring “dost” to the “dust” introduced later in this line: the future decay of the body that her soul fears.
dost
thou still
Critical Note
I.e., “Why are you, my soul, still in my body?” The speaker’s assertion is at once an affirmation of faith in the security of the afterlife and a form of suicidal ideation, which gradually becomes explicit over the course of the poem. In the manuscript, aside from at the break at line 21 and in the final line, Pulter’s couplets in this poem are not endstopped, though she uses endstops frequently elsewhere. This open-endedness is in tension with the desire to impose order expressed in the first five quatrains.
in dust and ashes roll
,
3
As if thou were not of Celestiall Birth
As if thou were not of celestial birth,
As if thou were not of celestial birth,
4
Or thy beginning and thy end were earth
Or thy beginning and thy end were earth?
Gloss Note
“And as if.”
Or
thy beginning and thy end were earth?
5
Physical Note
“e” written over “l”
Beleev’t
thou Art a Sparkle of that light
Believ’t, thou art a sparkle of that
Gloss Note
Christian deity; see John 8:12: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
light
Believ’t thou art a
Gloss Note
“Sparkle” refers both to a spark of fire and to a creative animating force, an image that places the soul in a liminal space between the material and immaterial world (OED). Cf. Pardon Me, My Dearest Love [Poem 42]: “My soul remembers still her birth. / She being a sparkle of that light, / Which ne’er shall set in death or night” (8-9).
sparkle
of that light
6
Which is inviſible to our Mortall Sight
Which is invisible to our mortal sight;
Which is
Critical Note
Cf. Milton’s address to light in the opening of book 3 of Paradise Lost, esp. 3-5, “since God is light, / And never but in unapproached light / Dwelt from eternity.” John Milton, Paradise Lost, ed. Stephen Orgel and Jonathan Goldberg (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008). Like Milton, Pulter raises questions, but does not come to definitive conclusions, about light as the substance that constitutes God’s form, a concept that similarly was called upon by writers who attempted to reckon with the indeterminate space between the material and immaterial worlds.
invisible to our mortal sight
;
7
And thou Art capable of endles Bliſs
And thou art capable of endless bliss;
And thou art capable of endless bliss;
8
Thou knowest nothing if thou knowest not this
Thou knowest nothing, if thou knowest not this.
Critical Note
Pulter’s use of anaphora, repeating a word or words at the beginning of successive clauses, underscores the axiomatic certainty of the first five quatrains of the poem, which gives way in the latter portion of the poem to anxiety and doubt as the speaker’s effort to externalize her inner fears through the dialogue form begins to break down.
Thou knowest nothing, if thou knowest not this
.
9
Inlarge thy hopes (poor Soul) then reaſume
Enlarge thy hopes (poor soul), then reassume
Enlarge thy hopes
Critical Note
Through enclosing the “(poor soul)” in parentheses, the speaker ironically contains it even as she urges it to enlarge itself and transcend the material world.
(poor soul)
, then reassume
10
Thy Ancient right, thou needs noe borrow’d Plume
Thy ancient right; thou needs no borrowed
Gloss Note
feather
plume
,
Thy ancient right; thou needs no
Critical Note
The image Pulter evokes here is similar to the conceit George Herbert uses in his poem “Easter-Wings,” in which the speaker imagines his soul grafted onto the Lord’s wing in order to better transcend the earthly world; see lines 19-20, “For, if I imp my wing on thine / Affliction shall advance the flight in me.” In Pulter’s poem, affliction too serves as a catalyst for the speaker’s future transcendence of the material world. However, she asserts that the soul is already fully equipped to make this departure.
borrowed plume
,
11
For thou hast noble Wings to take thy ffleight
For thou hast noble wings to take thy flight.
For thou hast noble wings to take thy flight.
12
Why dost thou in this dunghill earth delight
Why dost thou in this
Gloss Note
pile of excrement
dunghill
earth delight?
Why dost thou in this dunghill earth delight?
13
Wee talk of Sumers, and Delicious Spri^ngs
We talk of summers and delicious springs;
We talk of
Critical Note
Pulter here evokes another traditional answer to the problem of mortality in the early modern English lyric tradition: the carpe diem poem, of which Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” is exemplary. Pulter’s speaker here asserts that poetic descriptions of the immediate beauty of the natural world do not reflect the reality of what she reframes as the “dunghill earth.”
summers and delicious springs
;
14
I am Resolv’d here are noe Such things
I am
Gloss Note
convinced
resolvéd
here are no such things.
I am resolvéd here are no such things.
15
Of fflowery valleys and Salubrus Hills
Of flowery valleys and
Gloss Note
health-giving
salubrious
hills,
Of flowery valleys and
Gloss Note
Health-giving.
salubrious
hills,
16
Of Shadey Groves, and Purling Cristall Rills
Of shady groves, and
Gloss Note
rippling
purling
crystal
Gloss Note
streams
rills
,
Of shady groves, and purling
Critical Note
In lines 13-16, Pulter echoes language introduced earlier in her collection, in The Invitation into the Country [Poem 2]: “Here’s flow’ry vales, and crystal springs, / Here’s shady groves” (37-38). The idea of Pulter’s country house as a locus amoenus, protected from a corrupted world, has become, in this poem, an empty “dream.” As in the fourth quatrain, Pulter’s lines here, too, closely mirror George Herbert’s work. Cf. “Jordan (1),” “Is it no verse, except enchanted groves / And sudden arbour shadow coarse-spun lines? / Must purling streams refresh a lover’s loves? / Must all be veil’d, while he that reads, divines?” (6-9). While Herbert wrestles with how devotional verse substitutes human inventions for God’s creation, Pulter transposes the groves and purling streams that Herbert associates with poetic artifice onto the natural world itself, going one step beyond Herbert by treating the material world too as insubstantial and artificial.
crystal
Gloss Note
Small streams.
rills
,
17
Wee doe but Dream, in them wee laugh or weep
We do but dream: in them, we laugh or weep,
Critical Note
In this final quatrain of the first section of the poem, Pulter shifts from a dialogue form, in which the speaker addresses her soul in the second person, to the first-person plural, before collapsing this internal division in the final eleven lines. Thus, the speaker goes from reassuring an externalized version of herself to succumbing to personal anxiety.
We
do but dream: in them, we laugh or
Critical Note
The centrality of sorrow in human life as the speaker imagines it is emphasized by the aural connection between the dominant pronoun in this quatrain, “we,” and the repeated word “weep”/“weeping.” See also ln. 20, “we weeping enter.”
weep
,
18
And never wake untill in Death wee Sleep
And never wake until in death we sleep.
And never wake until in death we sleep.
19
Then whats this World wee keep a doo about
Then what’s this world we keep
Gloss Note
fussing
ado
about?
Then what’s this world we keep ado about?
20
Wee weeping enter and goe Sighing out
We weeping enter, and go, sighing, out.
We weeping enter, and go, sighing, out.

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21
(Aye mee) this thought of Death my courage,^dashes
(Ay me!) this thought of death my courage dashes;
(
Critical Note
The aural similarity of “Ay” to “I” underscores the sharp transition at this moment of the poem from the second-person reassurances the speaker offers to her soul to the collapse of both this internal division and the speaker’s sense of confidence in the face of her own mortality.
Ay me!
) this thought of death my courage dashes;
22
Must I and mine turn all to dust and Ashes
Must I and mine turn all to dust and ashes?
Must I and mine turn all to dust and ashes?
23
Death hath already from my weeping vine
Death hath already from my weeping vine
Death hath already from my weeping vine
24
Torn Seaven faire Branches, ye grief & loſs is mine
Gloss Note
Seven of Pulter’s children had died by 1655.
Torn seven fair branches
; the grief and loss is mine,
Torn
Critical Note
Eardley notes that seven of Pulter’s children had died by 1655. The horticultural metaphors in these lines extends the speaker’s rejection of the image of the locus amoenus and carpe diem rhetoric above. In place of a paradiscal space of immediate natural pleasures, Pulter depicts a garden that is slowly dying. This line also echoes the Duchess of Gloucester’s speech in Richard II, “Edward’s seven sons, whereof thyself art one / Were as seven vials of his sacred blood, / Or seven fair branches springing from one root” (1.2.11-13). Thank you to Frances Dolan for pointing out this allusion.
seven fair branches
; the grief and loss is mine,
25
The Joy is theirs who now in Glory Shine
The joy is theirs, who now in glory shine,
The joy is theirs, who now in glory
Critical Note
Like Charles I and Henrietta Maria in the previous poem, Pulter imagines her deceased children transfigured into celestial lights. As the speaker’s assurance breaks down, so too does the organizational structure of her poem: here, her strict couplet form is disrupted by an irregular three-line rhyme.
shine
,
26
And as they were to mee of infinite priſe
And as they were to me of infinite price,
And as they were to me of infinite price,
27
Soe now they planted are in Paradice
So now they planted are in paradise
So now they
Gloss Note
Pulter completes the horticultural metaphor introduced at line 12, rejecting stock poetic images of the natural world in favor of heavenly paradise. See notes 14 and 18.
planted are in paradise
28
Where their imaculate pure Virgin Souls
Where their immaculate, pure,
Gloss Note
unsullied, chaste
virgin
souls
Where their immaculate, pure, virgin souls
29
Are now inthron’d aboue the Stares or Poles
Are now enthroned above the stars or
Gloss Note
places where the Earth’s axes meet the celestial sphere
poles
,
Are now enthroned above the stars or
Gloss Note
The celestial poles are the points above each of earth’s poles that intersect with the imagined celestial sphere encircling the earth.
poles
,
30
Where they injoy all ffulnes of deſire
Gloss Note
her children’s desires have been met in heaven
Where they enjoy all fullness of desire
.
Where they enjoy all fullness of desire.
31
Oh when Shall I increase that Heavenly
Physical Note
remaining half-page blank
Quire
.
O when shall I increase that heavenly choir?
O when shall I increase that heavenly
Critical Note
In Pulter’s manuscript, the final word of this poem is spelled “quire,” a pun that links the speaker’s future lyric voice in the heavenly “choir” to its current manifestation in the “quires,” i.e. gatherings of folded leaves, of her manuscript.
choir
?
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

Beginning and ending with questions, the speaker in this poem grapples emotionally with the quandary of being both immaterial soul and mortal flesh. What begins as the speaker’s encouragement to her soul to ambitiously look past the ephemeral pleasures of the natural and finite world turns, by the end of this verse, into a desperate longing to be reunited with her loved ones and with God in heaven. Between these two rhetorical stances, the speaker belies her attraction to the sensual beauty of the landscape, as if trying to convince herself to disavow the joys she occasionally feels (“Then what’s this world we keep ado about?”). She also abruptly disrupts her wise self-counsel to confess a deep fear of death, of transforming into mere dust and ashes. Pulter’s inventive staging of the conventional Renaissance poetic debate between body and soul contrasts the transience and filth of the “dunghill earth” with the expansive flight of the soul into a paradisal heaven vividly imagined as celestial, sovereign and musical.
Line number 2

 Gloss note

move in cycles; move in an unsteady manner; rotate, turn, or pivot around; trust in God; wallow
Line number 5

 Gloss note

Christian deity; see John 8:12: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
Line number 10

 Gloss note

feather
Line number 12

 Gloss note

pile of excrement
Line number 14

 Gloss note

convinced
Line number 15

 Gloss note

health-giving
Line number 16

 Gloss note

rippling
Line number 16

 Gloss note

streams
Line number 19

 Gloss note

fussing
Line number 24

 Gloss note

Seven of Pulter’s children had died by 1655.
Line number 28

 Gloss note

unsullied, chaste
Line number 29

 Gloss note

places where the Earth’s axes meet the celestial sphere
Line number 30

 Gloss note

her children’s desires have been met in heaven
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]
O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul
Critical Note
The lack of a title in the manuscript encourages the reader to see a continuity of thought between this poem and the previous poem, On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]. The previous poem’s image of the transformation of Charles I and Henrietta Maria into celestial bodies becomes, in this poem, the assumption of the speaker’s soul into heaven following the dissolution of the body. The implicit connections between these two poems exemplify how Pulter treats the personal trauma of obscure people as equivalent to the rise and fall of monarchs. This equivalence has both feminist and anti-autocratic implications in the significance it places on the domestic sphere and on the individual.
O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul
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 editions aim to make Pulter’s poetry accessible in two ways. First, I facilitate basic legibility through modernizing spelling and punctuation according to standard American usage and through glossing unfamiliar words, points of intertexuality, and relevant historical contexts. Second, I want to help readers perceive Pulter’s nuanced approach to form and image, both within individual poems and in the extended patterns and ideas that take shape over the course of the manuscript. With this in mind, I have incorporated interpretive readings of the poems into my notes to provide insight into how Pulter’s poetics work and to spur readers to participate in the value-adding work of bringing Pulter’s writing the attentive level of interpretation it deserves.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Beginning and ending with questions, the speaker in this poem grapples emotionally with the quandary of being both immaterial soul and mortal flesh. What begins as the speaker’s encouragement to her soul to ambitiously look past the ephemeral pleasures of the natural and finite world turns, by the end of this verse, into a desperate longing to be reunited with her loved ones and with God in heaven. Between these two rhetorical stances, the speaker belies her attraction to the sensual beauty of the landscape, as if trying to convince herself to disavow the joys she occasionally feels (“Then what’s this world we keep ado about?”). She also abruptly disrupts her wise self-counsel to confess a deep fear of death, of transforming into mere dust and ashes. Pulter’s inventive staging of the conventional Renaissance poetic debate between body and soul contrasts the transience and filth of the “dunghill earth” with the expansive flight of the soul into a paradisal heaven vividly imagined as celestial, sovereign and musical.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
The first part of this carefully-constructed poem finds the speaker stridently urging her
Critical Note
The lack of a title in the manuscript encourages the reader to see a continuity of thought between this poem and the previous poem, On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]. The previous poem’s image of the transformation of Charles I and Henrietta Maria into celestial bodies becomes, in this poem, the assumption of the speaker’s soul into heaven following the dissolution of the body. The implicit connections between these two poems exemplify how Pulter treats the personal trauma of obscure people as equivalent to the rise and fall of monarchs. This equivalence has both feminist and anti-autocratic implications in the significance it places on the domestic sphere and on the individual.
1
soul to accept her inevitable mortality. In neatly-organized quatrains, the speaker introduces a series of arguments and metaphors, some of which appear to rework similarly-themed poems by George Herbert, encouraging this externalized version of herself to look forward to its transcendence of what she calls “this dunghill earth.”
Gloss Note
On Pulter’s frequent use of the dunghill as metaphor, see Frances E. Dolan, What is a Dunghill? (Curation for The Pismire [Poem 35]) in The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making, edited by Leah Knight and Wendy Wall (2018).
2
This pose of confidence is underscored by the poem’s regular meter and rhyme scheme, its clear argumentative structure, and the speaker’s use of rhetorical devices such as anaphora and rhetorical questions. Following the fifth quatrain, this certainty abruptly collapses, along with both the division between the speaker and her soul and the poem’s organizational structures. The final line of the poem restates the very reassurance that the speaker had offered to her soul—that it will someday leave her body—as a form of suicidal ideation arising from grief over the deaths of her children and fear in the face of the fact that she, like her children, must also “turn to dust and ashes” (22). This poem thematically connects to the previous poem in the manuscript, On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27] , which imagines Charles I and Henrietta Maria, like Pulter’s children in this poem, transformed into celestial bodies. Through the juxtaposition of these two poems, Pulter makes her personal losses as significant to the lyric history recorded by her manuscript as the political conflicts facing the nation. See also the proximity of Upon the Death of my Dear and Lovely Daughter, Jane Pulter [Poem 10] and Tell Me No More [On the Same] [Poem 11] with On the Horrid Murder of that Incomparable Prince [Poem 14] and Let None Sigh More for Lucas or for Lisle [On the Same (2)] [Poem 15].

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Oh my aflicted Solitary Soul
O my afflicted solitary soul,
O my afflicted solitary soul,
2
Why
Physical Note
“di” scribbled out
did^ost
thou Still In dust and Ashes Rowl
Why dost thou still in dust and ashes
Gloss Note
move in cycles; move in an unsteady manner; rotate, turn, or pivot around; trust in God; wallow
roll
,
Why
Critical Note
The main scribe’s “didst” is corrected in the manuscript to “dost” here, which both lends a mood of dramatic immediacy to the speaker’s dialogue with her soul and punningly connects her enquiring “dost” to the “dust” introduced later in this line: the future decay of the body that her soul fears.
dost
thou still
Critical Note
I.e., “Why are you, my soul, still in my body?” The speaker’s assertion is at once an affirmation of faith in the security of the afterlife and a form of suicidal ideation, which gradually becomes explicit over the course of the poem. In the manuscript, aside from at the break at line 21 and in the final line, Pulter’s couplets in this poem are not endstopped, though she uses endstops frequently elsewhere. This open-endedness is in tension with the desire to impose order expressed in the first five quatrains.
in dust and ashes roll
,
3
As if thou were not of Celestiall Birth
As if thou were not of celestial birth,
As if thou were not of celestial birth,
4
Or thy beginning and thy end were earth
Or thy beginning and thy end were earth?
Gloss Note
“And as if.”
Or
thy beginning and thy end were earth?
5
Physical Note
“e” written over “l”
Beleev’t
thou Art a Sparkle of that light
Believ’t, thou art a sparkle of that
Gloss Note
Christian deity; see John 8:12: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
light
Believ’t thou art a
Gloss Note
“Sparkle” refers both to a spark of fire and to a creative animating force, an image that places the soul in a liminal space between the material and immaterial world (OED). Cf. Pardon Me, My Dearest Love [Poem 42]: “My soul remembers still her birth. / She being a sparkle of that light, / Which ne’er shall set in death or night” (8-9).
sparkle
of that light
6
Which is inviſible to our Mortall Sight
Which is invisible to our mortal sight;
Which is
Critical Note
Cf. Milton’s address to light in the opening of book 3 of Paradise Lost, esp. 3-5, “since God is light, / And never but in unapproached light / Dwelt from eternity.” John Milton, Paradise Lost, ed. Stephen Orgel and Jonathan Goldberg (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008). Like Milton, Pulter raises questions, but does not come to definitive conclusions, about light as the substance that constitutes God’s form, a concept that similarly was called upon by writers who attempted to reckon with the indeterminate space between the material and immaterial worlds.
invisible to our mortal sight
;
7
And thou Art capable of endles Bliſs
And thou art capable of endless bliss;
And thou art capable of endless bliss;
8
Thou knowest nothing if thou knowest not this
Thou knowest nothing, if thou knowest not this.
Critical Note
Pulter’s use of anaphora, repeating a word or words at the beginning of successive clauses, underscores the axiomatic certainty of the first five quatrains of the poem, which gives way in the latter portion of the poem to anxiety and doubt as the speaker’s effort to externalize her inner fears through the dialogue form begins to break down.
Thou knowest nothing, if thou knowest not this
.
9
Inlarge thy hopes (poor Soul) then reaſume
Enlarge thy hopes (poor soul), then reassume
Enlarge thy hopes
Critical Note
Through enclosing the “(poor soul)” in parentheses, the speaker ironically contains it even as she urges it to enlarge itself and transcend the material world.
(poor soul)
, then reassume
10
Thy Ancient right, thou needs noe borrow’d Plume
Thy ancient right; thou needs no borrowed
Gloss Note
feather
plume
,
Thy ancient right; thou needs no
Critical Note
The image Pulter evokes here is similar to the conceit George Herbert uses in his poem “Easter-Wings,” in which the speaker imagines his soul grafted onto the Lord’s wing in order to better transcend the earthly world; see lines 19-20, “For, if I imp my wing on thine / Affliction shall advance the flight in me.” In Pulter’s poem, affliction too serves as a catalyst for the speaker’s future transcendence of the material world. However, she asserts that the soul is already fully equipped to make this departure.
borrowed plume
,
11
For thou hast noble Wings to take thy ffleight
For thou hast noble wings to take thy flight.
For thou hast noble wings to take thy flight.
12
Why dost thou in this dunghill earth delight
Why dost thou in this
Gloss Note
pile of excrement
dunghill
earth delight?
Why dost thou in this dunghill earth delight?
13
Wee talk of Sumers, and Delicious Spri^ngs
We talk of summers and delicious springs;
We talk of
Critical Note
Pulter here evokes another traditional answer to the problem of mortality in the early modern English lyric tradition: the carpe diem poem, of which Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” is exemplary. Pulter’s speaker here asserts that poetic descriptions of the immediate beauty of the natural world do not reflect the reality of what she reframes as the “dunghill earth.”
summers and delicious springs
;
14
I am Resolv’d here are noe Such things
I am
Gloss Note
convinced
resolvéd
here are no such things.
I am resolvéd here are no such things.
15
Of fflowery valleys and Salubrus Hills
Of flowery valleys and
Gloss Note
health-giving
salubrious
hills,
Of flowery valleys and
Gloss Note
Health-giving.
salubrious
hills,
16
Of Shadey Groves, and Purling Cristall Rills
Of shady groves, and
Gloss Note
rippling
purling
crystal
Gloss Note
streams
rills
,
Of shady groves, and purling
Critical Note
In lines 13-16, Pulter echoes language introduced earlier in her collection, in The Invitation into the Country [Poem 2]: “Here’s flow’ry vales, and crystal springs, / Here’s shady groves” (37-38). The idea of Pulter’s country house as a locus amoenus, protected from a corrupted world, has become, in this poem, an empty “dream.” As in the fourth quatrain, Pulter’s lines here, too, closely mirror George Herbert’s work. Cf. “Jordan (1),” “Is it no verse, except enchanted groves / And sudden arbour shadow coarse-spun lines? / Must purling streams refresh a lover’s loves? / Must all be veil’d, while he that reads, divines?” (6-9). While Herbert wrestles with how devotional verse substitutes human inventions for God’s creation, Pulter transposes the groves and purling streams that Herbert associates with poetic artifice onto the natural world itself, going one step beyond Herbert by treating the material world too as insubstantial and artificial.
crystal
Gloss Note
Small streams.
rills
,
17
Wee doe but Dream, in them wee laugh or weep
We do but dream: in them, we laugh or weep,
Critical Note
In this final quatrain of the first section of the poem, Pulter shifts from a dialogue form, in which the speaker addresses her soul in the second person, to the first-person plural, before collapsing this internal division in the final eleven lines. Thus, the speaker goes from reassuring an externalized version of herself to succumbing to personal anxiety.
We
do but dream: in them, we laugh or
Critical Note
The centrality of sorrow in human life as the speaker imagines it is emphasized by the aural connection between the dominant pronoun in this quatrain, “we,” and the repeated word “weep”/“weeping.” See also ln. 20, “we weeping enter.”
weep
,
18
And never wake untill in Death wee Sleep
And never wake until in death we sleep.
And never wake until in death we sleep.
19
Then whats this World wee keep a doo about
Then what’s this world we keep
Gloss Note
fussing
ado
about?
Then what’s this world we keep ado about?
20
Wee weeping enter and goe Sighing out
We weeping enter, and go, sighing, out.
We weeping enter, and go, sighing, out.

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21
(Aye mee) this thought of Death my courage,^dashes
(Ay me!) this thought of death my courage dashes;
(
Critical Note
The aural similarity of “Ay” to “I” underscores the sharp transition at this moment of the poem from the second-person reassurances the speaker offers to her soul to the collapse of both this internal division and the speaker’s sense of confidence in the face of her own mortality.
Ay me!
) this thought of death my courage dashes;
22
Must I and mine turn all to dust and Ashes
Must I and mine turn all to dust and ashes?
Must I and mine turn all to dust and ashes?
23
Death hath already from my weeping vine
Death hath already from my weeping vine
Death hath already from my weeping vine
24
Torn Seaven faire Branches, ye grief & loſs is mine
Gloss Note
Seven of Pulter’s children had died by 1655.
Torn seven fair branches
; the grief and loss is mine,
Torn
Critical Note
Eardley notes that seven of Pulter’s children had died by 1655. The horticultural metaphors in these lines extends the speaker’s rejection of the image of the locus amoenus and carpe diem rhetoric above. In place of a paradiscal space of immediate natural pleasures, Pulter depicts a garden that is slowly dying. This line also echoes the Duchess of Gloucester’s speech in Richard II, “Edward’s seven sons, whereof thyself art one / Were as seven vials of his sacred blood, / Or seven fair branches springing from one root” (1.2.11-13). Thank you to Frances Dolan for pointing out this allusion.
seven fair branches
; the grief and loss is mine,
25
The Joy is theirs who now in Glory Shine
The joy is theirs, who now in glory shine,
The joy is theirs, who now in glory
Critical Note
Like Charles I and Henrietta Maria in the previous poem, Pulter imagines her deceased children transfigured into celestial lights. As the speaker’s assurance breaks down, so too does the organizational structure of her poem: here, her strict couplet form is disrupted by an irregular three-line rhyme.
shine
,
26
And as they were to mee of infinite priſe
And as they were to me of infinite price,
And as they were to me of infinite price,
27
Soe now they planted are in Paradice
So now they planted are in paradise
So now they
Gloss Note
Pulter completes the horticultural metaphor introduced at line 12, rejecting stock poetic images of the natural world in favor of heavenly paradise. See notes 14 and 18.
planted are in paradise
28
Where their imaculate pure Virgin Souls
Where their immaculate, pure,
Gloss Note
unsullied, chaste
virgin
souls
Where their immaculate, pure, virgin souls
29
Are now inthron’d aboue the Stares or Poles
Are now enthroned above the stars or
Gloss Note
places where the Earth’s axes meet the celestial sphere
poles
,
Are now enthroned above the stars or
Gloss Note
The celestial poles are the points above each of earth’s poles that intersect with the imagined celestial sphere encircling the earth.
poles
,
30
Where they injoy all ffulnes of deſire
Gloss Note
her children’s desires have been met in heaven
Where they enjoy all fullness of desire
.
Where they enjoy all fullness of desire.
31
Oh when Shall I increase that Heavenly
Physical Note
remaining half-page blank
Quire
.
O when shall I increase that heavenly choir?
O when shall I increase that heavenly
Critical Note
In Pulter’s manuscript, the final word of this poem is spelled “quire,” a pun that links the speaker’s future lyric voice in the heavenly “choir” to its current manifestation in the “quires,” i.e. gatherings of folded leaves, of her manuscript.
choir
?
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition
Title note

 Critical note

The lack of a title in the manuscript encourages the reader to see a continuity of thought between this poem and the previous poem, On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]. The previous poem’s image of the transformation of Charles I and Henrietta Maria into celestial bodies becomes, in this poem, the assumption of the speaker’s soul into heaven following the dissolution of the body. The implicit connections between these two poems exemplify how Pulter treats the personal trauma of obscure people as equivalent to the rise and fall of monarchs. This equivalence has both feminist and anti-autocratic implications in the significance it places on the domestic sphere and on the individual.

 Editorial note

My editions aim to make Pulter’s poetry accessible in two ways. First, I facilitate basic legibility through modernizing spelling and punctuation according to standard American usage and through glossing unfamiliar words, points of intertexuality, and relevant historical contexts. Second, I want to help readers perceive Pulter’s nuanced approach to form and image, both within individual poems and in the extended patterns and ideas that take shape over the course of the manuscript. With this in mind, I have incorporated interpretive readings of the poems into my notes to provide insight into how Pulter’s poetics work and to spur readers to participate in the value-adding work of bringing Pulter’s writing the attentive level of interpretation it deserves.

 Headnote

The first part of this carefully-constructed poem finds the speaker stridently urging her
Critical Note
The lack of a title in the manuscript encourages the reader to see a continuity of thought between this poem and the previous poem, On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]. The previous poem’s image of the transformation of Charles I and Henrietta Maria into celestial bodies becomes, in this poem, the assumption of the speaker’s soul into heaven following the dissolution of the body. The implicit connections between these two poems exemplify how Pulter treats the personal trauma of obscure people as equivalent to the rise and fall of monarchs. This equivalence has both feminist and anti-autocratic implications in the significance it places on the domestic sphere and on the individual.
1
soul to accept her inevitable mortality. In neatly-organized quatrains, the speaker introduces a series of arguments and metaphors, some of which appear to rework similarly-themed poems by George Herbert, encouraging this externalized version of herself to look forward to its transcendence of what she calls “this dunghill earth.”
Gloss Note
On Pulter’s frequent use of the dunghill as metaphor, see Frances E. Dolan, What is a Dunghill? (Curation for The Pismire [Poem 35]) in The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making, edited by Leah Knight and Wendy Wall (2018).
2
This pose of confidence is underscored by the poem’s regular meter and rhyme scheme, its clear argumentative structure, and the speaker’s use of rhetorical devices such as anaphora and rhetorical questions. Following the fifth quatrain, this certainty abruptly collapses, along with both the division between the speaker and her soul and the poem’s organizational structures. The final line of the poem restates the very reassurance that the speaker had offered to her soul—that it will someday leave her body—as a form of suicidal ideation arising from grief over the deaths of her children and fear in the face of the fact that she, like her children, must also “turn to dust and ashes” (22). This poem thematically connects to the previous poem in the manuscript, On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27] , which imagines Charles I and Henrietta Maria, like Pulter’s children in this poem, transformed into celestial bodies. Through the juxtaposition of these two poems, Pulter makes her personal losses as significant to the lyric history recorded by her manuscript as the political conflicts facing the nation. See also the proximity of Upon the Death of my Dear and Lovely Daughter, Jane Pulter [Poem 10] and Tell Me No More [On the Same] [Poem 11] with On the Horrid Murder of that Incomparable Prince [Poem 14] and Let None Sigh More for Lucas or for Lisle [On the Same (2)] [Poem 15].
Line number 2

 Critical note

The main scribe’s “didst” is corrected in the manuscript to “dost” here, which both lends a mood of dramatic immediacy to the speaker’s dialogue with her soul and punningly connects her enquiring “dost” to the “dust” introduced later in this line: the future decay of the body that her soul fears.
Line number 2

 Critical note

I.e., “Why are you, my soul, still in my body?” The speaker’s assertion is at once an affirmation of faith in the security of the afterlife and a form of suicidal ideation, which gradually becomes explicit over the course of the poem. In the manuscript, aside from at the break at line 21 and in the final line, Pulter’s couplets in this poem are not endstopped, though she uses endstops frequently elsewhere. This open-endedness is in tension with the desire to impose order expressed in the first five quatrains.
Line number 4

 Gloss note

“And as if.”
Line number 5

 Gloss note

“Sparkle” refers both to a spark of fire and to a creative animating force, an image that places the soul in a liminal space between the material and immaterial world (OED). Cf. Pardon Me, My Dearest Love [Poem 42]: “My soul remembers still her birth. / She being a sparkle of that light, / Which ne’er shall set in death or night” (8-9).
Line number 6

 Critical note

Cf. Milton’s address to light in the opening of book 3 of Paradise Lost, esp. 3-5, “since God is light, / And never but in unapproached light / Dwelt from eternity.” John Milton, Paradise Lost, ed. Stephen Orgel and Jonathan Goldberg (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008). Like Milton, Pulter raises questions, but does not come to definitive conclusions, about light as the substance that constitutes God’s form, a concept that similarly was called upon by writers who attempted to reckon with the indeterminate space between the material and immaterial worlds.
Line number 8

 Critical note

Pulter’s use of anaphora, repeating a word or words at the beginning of successive clauses, underscores the axiomatic certainty of the first five quatrains of the poem, which gives way in the latter portion of the poem to anxiety and doubt as the speaker’s effort to externalize her inner fears through the dialogue form begins to break down.
Line number 9

 Critical note

Through enclosing the “(poor soul)” in parentheses, the speaker ironically contains it even as she urges it to enlarge itself and transcend the material world.
Line number 10

 Critical note

The image Pulter evokes here is similar to the conceit George Herbert uses in his poem “Easter-Wings,” in which the speaker imagines his soul grafted onto the Lord’s wing in order to better transcend the earthly world; see lines 19-20, “For, if I imp my wing on thine / Affliction shall advance the flight in me.” In Pulter’s poem, affliction too serves as a catalyst for the speaker’s future transcendence of the material world. However, she asserts that the soul is already fully equipped to make this departure.
Line number 13

 Critical note

Pulter here evokes another traditional answer to the problem of mortality in the early modern English lyric tradition: the carpe diem poem, of which Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” is exemplary. Pulter’s speaker here asserts that poetic descriptions of the immediate beauty of the natural world do not reflect the reality of what she reframes as the “dunghill earth.”
Line number 15

 Gloss note

Health-giving.
Line number 16

 Critical note

In lines 13-16, Pulter echoes language introduced earlier in her collection, in The Invitation into the Country [Poem 2]: “Here’s flow’ry vales, and crystal springs, / Here’s shady groves” (37-38). The idea of Pulter’s country house as a locus amoenus, protected from a corrupted world, has become, in this poem, an empty “dream.” As in the fourth quatrain, Pulter’s lines here, too, closely mirror George Herbert’s work. Cf. “Jordan (1),” “Is it no verse, except enchanted groves / And sudden arbour shadow coarse-spun lines? / Must purling streams refresh a lover’s loves? / Must all be veil’d, while he that reads, divines?” (6-9). While Herbert wrestles with how devotional verse substitutes human inventions for God’s creation, Pulter transposes the groves and purling streams that Herbert associates with poetic artifice onto the natural world itself, going one step beyond Herbert by treating the material world too as insubstantial and artificial.
Line number 16

 Gloss note

Small streams.
Line number 17

 Critical note

In this final quatrain of the first section of the poem, Pulter shifts from a dialogue form, in which the speaker addresses her soul in the second person, to the first-person plural, before collapsing this internal division in the final eleven lines. Thus, the speaker goes from reassuring an externalized version of herself to succumbing to personal anxiety.
Line number 17

 Critical note

The centrality of sorrow in human life as the speaker imagines it is emphasized by the aural connection between the dominant pronoun in this quatrain, “we,” and the repeated word “weep”/“weeping.” See also ln. 20, “we weeping enter.”
Line number 21

 Critical note

The aural similarity of “Ay” to “I” underscores the sharp transition at this moment of the poem from the second-person reassurances the speaker offers to her soul to the collapse of both this internal division and the speaker’s sense of confidence in the face of her own mortality.
Line number 24

 Critical note

Eardley notes that seven of Pulter’s children had died by 1655. The horticultural metaphors in these lines extends the speaker’s rejection of the image of the locus amoenus and carpe diem rhetoric above. In place of a paradiscal space of immediate natural pleasures, Pulter depicts a garden that is slowly dying. This line also echoes the Duchess of Gloucester’s speech in Richard II, “Edward’s seven sons, whereof thyself art one / Were as seven vials of his sacred blood, / Or seven fair branches springing from one root” (1.2.11-13). Thank you to Frances Dolan for pointing out this allusion.
Line number 25

 Critical note

Like Charles I and Henrietta Maria in the previous poem, Pulter imagines her deceased children transfigured into celestial lights. As the speaker’s assurance breaks down, so too does the organizational structure of her poem: here, her strict couplet form is disrupted by an irregular three-line rhyme.
Line number 27

 Gloss note

Pulter completes the horticultural metaphor introduced at line 12, rejecting stock poetic images of the natural world in favor of heavenly paradise. See notes 14 and 18.
Line number 29

 Gloss note

The celestial poles are the points above each of earth’s poles that intersect with the imagined celestial sphere encircling the earth.
Line number 31

 Critical note

In Pulter’s manuscript, the final word of this poem is spelled “quire,” a pun that links the speaker’s future lyric voice in the heavenly “choir” to its current manifestation in the “quires,” i.e. gatherings of folded leaves, of her manuscript.
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Amplified Edition

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[Untitled]
O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul
Critical Note
The lack of a title in the manuscript encourages the reader to see a continuity of thought between this poem and the previous poem, On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]. The previous poem’s image of the transformation of Charles I and Henrietta Maria into celestial bodies becomes, in this poem, the assumption of the speaker’s soul into heaven following the dissolution of the body. The implicit connections between these two poems exemplify how Pulter treats the personal trauma of obscure people as equivalent to the rise and fall of monarchs. This equivalence has both feminist and anti-autocratic implications in the significance it places on the domestic sphere and on the individual.
O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul
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.

— Andrea Crow
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.

— Andrea Crow
My editions aim to make Pulter’s poetry accessible in two ways. First, I facilitate basic legibility through modernizing spelling and punctuation according to standard American usage and through glossing unfamiliar words, points of intertexuality, and relevant historical contexts. Second, I want to help readers perceive Pulter’s nuanced approach to form and image, both within individual poems and in the extended patterns and ideas that take shape over the course of the manuscript. With this in mind, I have incorporated interpretive readings of the poems into my notes to provide insight into how Pulter’s poetics work and to spur readers to participate in the value-adding work of bringing Pulter’s writing the attentive level of interpretation it deserves.

— Andrea Crow
Beginning and ending with questions, the speaker in this poem grapples emotionally with the quandary of being both immaterial soul and mortal flesh. What begins as the speaker’s encouragement to her soul to ambitiously look past the ephemeral pleasures of the natural and finite world turns, by the end of this verse, into a desperate longing to be reunited with her loved ones and with God in heaven. Between these two rhetorical stances, the speaker belies her attraction to the sensual beauty of the landscape, as if trying to convince herself to disavow the joys she occasionally feels (“Then what’s this world we keep ado about?”). She also abruptly disrupts her wise self-counsel to confess a deep fear of death, of transforming into mere dust and ashes. Pulter’s inventive staging of the conventional Renaissance poetic debate between body and soul contrasts the transience and filth of the “dunghill earth” with the expansive flight of the soul into a paradisal heaven vividly imagined as celestial, sovereign and musical.

— Andrea Crow
The first part of this carefully-constructed poem finds the speaker stridently urging her
Critical Note
The lack of a title in the manuscript encourages the reader to see a continuity of thought between this poem and the previous poem, On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]. The previous poem’s image of the transformation of Charles I and Henrietta Maria into celestial bodies becomes, in this poem, the assumption of the speaker’s soul into heaven following the dissolution of the body. The implicit connections between these two poems exemplify how Pulter treats the personal trauma of obscure people as equivalent to the rise and fall of monarchs. This equivalence has both feminist and anti-autocratic implications in the significance it places on the domestic sphere and on the individual.
1
soul to accept her inevitable mortality. In neatly-organized quatrains, the speaker introduces a series of arguments and metaphors, some of which appear to rework similarly-themed poems by George Herbert, encouraging this externalized version of herself to look forward to its transcendence of what she calls “this dunghill earth.”
Gloss Note
On Pulter’s frequent use of the dunghill as metaphor, see Frances E. Dolan, What is a Dunghill? (Curation for The Pismire [Poem 35]) in The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making, edited by Leah Knight and Wendy Wall (2018).
2
This pose of confidence is underscored by the poem’s regular meter and rhyme scheme, its clear argumentative structure, and the speaker’s use of rhetorical devices such as anaphora and rhetorical questions. Following the fifth quatrain, this certainty abruptly collapses, along with both the division between the speaker and her soul and the poem’s organizational structures. The final line of the poem restates the very reassurance that the speaker had offered to her soul—that it will someday leave her body—as a form of suicidal ideation arising from grief over the deaths of her children and fear in the face of the fact that she, like her children, must also “turn to dust and ashes” (22). This poem thematically connects to the previous poem in the manuscript, On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27] , which imagines Charles I and Henrietta Maria, like Pulter’s children in this poem, transformed into celestial bodies. Through the juxtaposition of these two poems, Pulter makes her personal losses as significant to the lyric history recorded by her manuscript as the political conflicts facing the nation. See also the proximity of Upon the Death of my Dear and Lovely Daughter, Jane Pulter [Poem 10] and Tell Me No More [On the Same] [Poem 11] with On the Horrid Murder of that Incomparable Prince [Poem 14] and Let None Sigh More for Lucas or for Lisle [On the Same (2)] [Poem 15].

— Andrea Crow
1
Oh my aflicted Solitary Soul
O my afflicted solitary soul,
O my afflicted solitary soul,
2
Why
Physical Note
“di” scribbled out
did^ost
thou Still In dust and Ashes Rowl
Why dost thou still in dust and ashes
Gloss Note
move in cycles; move in an unsteady manner; rotate, turn, or pivot around; trust in God; wallow
roll
,
Why
Critical Note
The main scribe’s “didst” is corrected in the manuscript to “dost” here, which both lends a mood of dramatic immediacy to the speaker’s dialogue with her soul and punningly connects her enquiring “dost” to the “dust” introduced later in this line: the future decay of the body that her soul fears.
dost
thou still
Critical Note
I.e., “Why are you, my soul, still in my body?” The speaker’s assertion is at once an affirmation of faith in the security of the afterlife and a form of suicidal ideation, which gradually becomes explicit over the course of the poem. In the manuscript, aside from at the break at line 21 and in the final line, Pulter’s couplets in this poem are not endstopped, though she uses endstops frequently elsewhere. This open-endedness is in tension with the desire to impose order expressed in the first five quatrains.
in dust and ashes roll
,
3
As if thou were not of Celestiall Birth
As if thou were not of celestial birth,
As if thou were not of celestial birth,
4
Or thy beginning and thy end were earth
Or thy beginning and thy end were earth?
Gloss Note
“And as if.”
Or
thy beginning and thy end were earth?
5
Physical Note
“e” written over “l”
Beleev’t
thou Art a Sparkle of that light
Believ’t, thou art a sparkle of that
Gloss Note
Christian deity; see John 8:12: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
light
Believ’t thou art a
Gloss Note
“Sparkle” refers both to a spark of fire and to a creative animating force, an image that places the soul in a liminal space between the material and immaterial world (OED). Cf. Pardon Me, My Dearest Love [Poem 42]: “My soul remembers still her birth. / She being a sparkle of that light, / Which ne’er shall set in death or night” (8-9).
sparkle
of that light
6
Which is inviſible to our Mortall Sight
Which is invisible to our mortal sight;
Which is
Critical Note
Cf. Milton’s address to light in the opening of book 3 of Paradise Lost, esp. 3-5, “since God is light, / And never but in unapproached light / Dwelt from eternity.” John Milton, Paradise Lost, ed. Stephen Orgel and Jonathan Goldberg (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008). Like Milton, Pulter raises questions, but does not come to definitive conclusions, about light as the substance that constitutes God’s form, a concept that similarly was called upon by writers who attempted to reckon with the indeterminate space between the material and immaterial worlds.
invisible to our mortal sight
;
7
And thou Art capable of endles Bliſs
And thou art capable of endless bliss;
And thou art capable of endless bliss;
8
Thou knowest nothing if thou knowest not this
Thou knowest nothing, if thou knowest not this.
Critical Note
Pulter’s use of anaphora, repeating a word or words at the beginning of successive clauses, underscores the axiomatic certainty of the first five quatrains of the poem, which gives way in the latter portion of the poem to anxiety and doubt as the speaker’s effort to externalize her inner fears through the dialogue form begins to break down.
Thou knowest nothing, if thou knowest not this
.
9
Inlarge thy hopes (poor Soul) then reaſume
Enlarge thy hopes (poor soul), then reassume
Enlarge thy hopes
Critical Note
Through enclosing the “(poor soul)” in parentheses, the speaker ironically contains it even as she urges it to enlarge itself and transcend the material world.
(poor soul)
, then reassume
10
Thy Ancient right, thou needs noe borrow’d Plume
Thy ancient right; thou needs no borrowed
Gloss Note
feather
plume
,
Thy ancient right; thou needs no
Critical Note
The image Pulter evokes here is similar to the conceit George Herbert uses in his poem “Easter-Wings,” in which the speaker imagines his soul grafted onto the Lord’s wing in order to better transcend the earthly world; see lines 19-20, “For, if I imp my wing on thine / Affliction shall advance the flight in me.” In Pulter’s poem, affliction too serves as a catalyst for the speaker’s future transcendence of the material world. However, she asserts that the soul is already fully equipped to make this departure.
borrowed plume
,
11
For thou hast noble Wings to take thy ffleight
For thou hast noble wings to take thy flight.
For thou hast noble wings to take thy flight.
12
Why dost thou in this dunghill earth delight
Why dost thou in this
Gloss Note
pile of excrement
dunghill
earth delight?
Why dost thou in this dunghill earth delight?
13
Wee talk of Sumers, and Delicious Spri^ngs
We talk of summers and delicious springs;
We talk of
Critical Note
Pulter here evokes another traditional answer to the problem of mortality in the early modern English lyric tradition: the carpe diem poem, of which Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” is exemplary. Pulter’s speaker here asserts that poetic descriptions of the immediate beauty of the natural world do not reflect the reality of what she reframes as the “dunghill earth.”
summers and delicious springs
;
14
I am Resolv’d here are noe Such things
I am
Gloss Note
convinced
resolvéd
here are no such things.
I am resolvéd here are no such things.
15
Of fflowery valleys and Salubrus Hills
Of flowery valleys and
Gloss Note
health-giving
salubrious
hills,
Of flowery valleys and
Gloss Note
Health-giving.
salubrious
hills,
16
Of Shadey Groves, and Purling Cristall Rills
Of shady groves, and
Gloss Note
rippling
purling
crystal
Gloss Note
streams
rills
,
Of shady groves, and purling
Critical Note
In lines 13-16, Pulter echoes language introduced earlier in her collection, in The Invitation into the Country [Poem 2]: “Here’s flow’ry vales, and crystal springs, / Here’s shady groves” (37-38). The idea of Pulter’s country house as a locus amoenus, protected from a corrupted world, has become, in this poem, an empty “dream.” As in the fourth quatrain, Pulter’s lines here, too, closely mirror George Herbert’s work. Cf. “Jordan (1),” “Is it no verse, except enchanted groves / And sudden arbour shadow coarse-spun lines? / Must purling streams refresh a lover’s loves? / Must all be veil’d, while he that reads, divines?” (6-9). While Herbert wrestles with how devotional verse substitutes human inventions for God’s creation, Pulter transposes the groves and purling streams that Herbert associates with poetic artifice onto the natural world itself, going one step beyond Herbert by treating the material world too as insubstantial and artificial.
crystal
Gloss Note
Small streams.
rills
,
17
Wee doe but Dream, in them wee laugh or weep
We do but dream: in them, we laugh or weep,
Critical Note
In this final quatrain of the first section of the poem, Pulter shifts from a dialogue form, in which the speaker addresses her soul in the second person, to the first-person plural, before collapsing this internal division in the final eleven lines. Thus, the speaker goes from reassuring an externalized version of herself to succumbing to personal anxiety.
We
do but dream: in them, we laugh or
Critical Note
The centrality of sorrow in human life as the speaker imagines it is emphasized by the aural connection between the dominant pronoun in this quatrain, “we,” and the repeated word “weep”/“weeping.” See also ln. 20, “we weeping enter.”
weep
,
18
And never wake untill in Death wee Sleep
And never wake until in death we sleep.
And never wake until in death we sleep.
19
Then whats this World wee keep a doo about
Then what’s this world we keep
Gloss Note
fussing
ado
about?
Then what’s this world we keep ado about?
20
Wee weeping enter and goe Sighing out
We weeping enter, and go, sighing, out.
We weeping enter, and go, sighing, out.

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21
(Aye mee) this thought of Death my courage,^dashes
(Ay me!) this thought of death my courage dashes;
(
Critical Note
The aural similarity of “Ay” to “I” underscores the sharp transition at this moment of the poem from the second-person reassurances the speaker offers to her soul to the collapse of both this internal division and the speaker’s sense of confidence in the face of her own mortality.
Ay me!
) this thought of death my courage dashes;
22
Must I and mine turn all to dust and Ashes
Must I and mine turn all to dust and ashes?
Must I and mine turn all to dust and ashes?
23
Death hath already from my weeping vine
Death hath already from my weeping vine
Death hath already from my weeping vine
24
Torn Seaven faire Branches, ye grief & loſs is mine
Gloss Note
Seven of Pulter’s children had died by 1655.
Torn seven fair branches
; the grief and loss is mine,
Torn
Critical Note
Eardley notes that seven of Pulter’s children had died by 1655. The horticultural metaphors in these lines extends the speaker’s rejection of the image of the locus amoenus and carpe diem rhetoric above. In place of a paradiscal space of immediate natural pleasures, Pulter depicts a garden that is slowly dying. This line also echoes the Duchess of Gloucester’s speech in Richard II, “Edward’s seven sons, whereof thyself art one / Were as seven vials of his sacred blood, / Or seven fair branches springing from one root” (1.2.11-13). Thank you to Frances Dolan for pointing out this allusion.
seven fair branches
; the grief and loss is mine,
25
The Joy is theirs who now in Glory Shine
The joy is theirs, who now in glory shine,
The joy is theirs, who now in glory
Critical Note
Like Charles I and Henrietta Maria in the previous poem, Pulter imagines her deceased children transfigured into celestial lights. As the speaker’s assurance breaks down, so too does the organizational structure of her poem: here, her strict couplet form is disrupted by an irregular three-line rhyme.
shine
,
26
And as they were to mee of infinite priſe
And as they were to me of infinite price,
And as they were to me of infinite price,
27
Soe now they planted are in Paradice
So now they planted are in paradise
So now they
Gloss Note
Pulter completes the horticultural metaphor introduced at line 12, rejecting stock poetic images of the natural world in favor of heavenly paradise. See notes 14 and 18.
planted are in paradise
28
Where their imaculate pure Virgin Souls
Where their immaculate, pure,
Gloss Note
unsullied, chaste
virgin
souls
Where their immaculate, pure, virgin souls
29
Are now inthron’d aboue the Stares or Poles
Are now enthroned above the stars or
Gloss Note
places where the Earth’s axes meet the celestial sphere
poles
,
Are now enthroned above the stars or
Gloss Note
The celestial poles are the points above each of earth’s poles that intersect with the imagined celestial sphere encircling the earth.
poles
,
30
Where they injoy all ffulnes of deſire
Gloss Note
her children’s desires have been met in heaven
Where they enjoy all fullness of desire
.
Where they enjoy all fullness of desire.
31
Oh when Shall I increase that Heavenly
Physical Note
remaining half-page blank
Quire
.
O when shall I increase that heavenly choir?
O when shall I increase that heavenly
Critical Note
In Pulter’s manuscript, the final word of this poem is spelled “quire,” a pun that links the speaker’s future lyric voice in the heavenly “choir” to its current manifestation in the “quires,” i.e. gatherings of folded leaves, of her manuscript.
choir
?
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Amplified Edition
Title note

 Critical note

The lack of a title in the manuscript encourages the reader to see a continuity of thought between this poem and the previous poem, On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]. The previous poem’s image of the transformation of Charles I and Henrietta Maria into celestial bodies becomes, in this poem, the assumption of the speaker’s soul into heaven following the dissolution of the body. The implicit connections between these two poems exemplify how Pulter treats the personal trauma of obscure people as equivalent to the rise and fall of monarchs. This equivalence has both feminist and anti-autocratic implications in the significance it places on the domestic sphere and on the individual.
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 editions aim to make Pulter’s poetry accessible in two ways. First, I facilitate basic legibility through modernizing spelling and punctuation according to standard American usage and through glossing unfamiliar words, points of intertexuality, and relevant historical contexts. Second, I want to help readers perceive Pulter’s nuanced approach to form and image, both within individual poems and in the extended patterns and ideas that take shape over the course of the manuscript. With this in mind, I have incorporated interpretive readings of the poems into my notes to provide insight into how Pulter’s poetics work and to spur readers to participate in the value-adding work of bringing Pulter’s writing the attentive level of interpretation it deserves.
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

Beginning and ending with questions, the speaker in this poem grapples emotionally with the quandary of being both immaterial soul and mortal flesh. What begins as the speaker’s encouragement to her soul to ambitiously look past the ephemeral pleasures of the natural and finite world turns, by the end of this verse, into a desperate longing to be reunited with her loved ones and with God in heaven. Between these two rhetorical stances, the speaker belies her attraction to the sensual beauty of the landscape, as if trying to convince herself to disavow the joys she occasionally feels (“Then what’s this world we keep ado about?”). She also abruptly disrupts her wise self-counsel to confess a deep fear of death, of transforming into mere dust and ashes. Pulter’s inventive staging of the conventional Renaissance poetic debate between body and soul contrasts the transience and filth of the “dunghill earth” with the expansive flight of the soul into a paradisal heaven vividly imagined as celestial, sovereign and musical.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

The first part of this carefully-constructed poem finds the speaker stridently urging her
Critical Note
The lack of a title in the manuscript encourages the reader to see a continuity of thought between this poem and the previous poem, On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27]. The previous poem’s image of the transformation of Charles I and Henrietta Maria into celestial bodies becomes, in this poem, the assumption of the speaker’s soul into heaven following the dissolution of the body. The implicit connections between these two poems exemplify how Pulter treats the personal trauma of obscure people as equivalent to the rise and fall of monarchs. This equivalence has both feminist and anti-autocratic implications in the significance it places on the domestic sphere and on the individual.
1
soul to accept her inevitable mortality. In neatly-organized quatrains, the speaker introduces a series of arguments and metaphors, some of which appear to rework similarly-themed poems by George Herbert, encouraging this externalized version of herself to look forward to its transcendence of what she calls “this dunghill earth.”
Gloss Note
On Pulter’s frequent use of the dunghill as metaphor, see Frances E. Dolan, What is a Dunghill? (Curation for The Pismire [Poem 35]) in The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making, edited by Leah Knight and Wendy Wall (2018).
2
This pose of confidence is underscored by the poem’s regular meter and rhyme scheme, its clear argumentative structure, and the speaker’s use of rhetorical devices such as anaphora and rhetorical questions. Following the fifth quatrain, this certainty abruptly collapses, along with both the division between the speaker and her soul and the poem’s organizational structures. The final line of the poem restates the very reassurance that the speaker had offered to her soul—that it will someday leave her body—as a form of suicidal ideation arising from grief over the deaths of her children and fear in the face of the fact that she, like her children, must also “turn to dust and ashes” (22). This poem thematically connects to the previous poem in the manuscript, On the King’s Most Excellent Majesty [Poem 27] , which imagines Charles I and Henrietta Maria, like Pulter’s children in this poem, transformed into celestial bodies. Through the juxtaposition of these two poems, Pulter makes her personal losses as significant to the lyric history recorded by her manuscript as the political conflicts facing the nation. See also the proximity of Upon the Death of my Dear and Lovely Daughter, Jane Pulter [Poem 10] and Tell Me No More [On the Same] [Poem 11] with On the Horrid Murder of that Incomparable Prince [Poem 14] and Let None Sigh More for Lucas or for Lisle [On the Same (2)] [Poem 15].
Transcription
Line number 2

 Physical note

“di” scribbled out
Elemental Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

move in cycles; move in an unsteady manner; rotate, turn, or pivot around; trust in God; wallow
Amplified Edition
Line number 2

 Critical note

The main scribe’s “didst” is corrected in the manuscript to “dost” here, which both lends a mood of dramatic immediacy to the speaker’s dialogue with her soul and punningly connects her enquiring “dost” to the “dust” introduced later in this line: the future decay of the body that her soul fears.
Amplified Edition
Line number 2

 Critical note

I.e., “Why are you, my soul, still in my body?” The speaker’s assertion is at once an affirmation of faith in the security of the afterlife and a form of suicidal ideation, which gradually becomes explicit over the course of the poem. In the manuscript, aside from at the break at line 21 and in the final line, Pulter’s couplets in this poem are not endstopped, though she uses endstops frequently elsewhere. This open-endedness is in tension with the desire to impose order expressed in the first five quatrains.
Amplified Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

“And as if.”
Transcription
Line number 5

 Physical note

“e” written over “l”
Elemental Edition
Line number 5

 Gloss note

Christian deity; see John 8:12: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
Amplified Edition
Line number 5

 Gloss note

“Sparkle” refers both to a spark of fire and to a creative animating force, an image that places the soul in a liminal space between the material and immaterial world (OED). Cf. Pardon Me, My Dearest Love [Poem 42]: “My soul remembers still her birth. / She being a sparkle of that light, / Which ne’er shall set in death or night” (8-9).
Amplified Edition
Line number 6

 Critical note

Cf. Milton’s address to light in the opening of book 3 of Paradise Lost, esp. 3-5, “since God is light, / And never but in unapproached light / Dwelt from eternity.” John Milton, Paradise Lost, ed. Stephen Orgel and Jonathan Goldberg (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008). Like Milton, Pulter raises questions, but does not come to definitive conclusions, about light as the substance that constitutes God’s form, a concept that similarly was called upon by writers who attempted to reckon with the indeterminate space between the material and immaterial worlds.
Amplified Edition
Line number 8

 Critical note

Pulter’s use of anaphora, repeating a word or words at the beginning of successive clauses, underscores the axiomatic certainty of the first five quatrains of the poem, which gives way in the latter portion of the poem to anxiety and doubt as the speaker’s effort to externalize her inner fears through the dialogue form begins to break down.
Amplified Edition
Line number 9

 Critical note

Through enclosing the “(poor soul)” in parentheses, the speaker ironically contains it even as she urges it to enlarge itself and transcend the material world.
Elemental Edition
Line number 10

 Gloss note

feather
Amplified Edition
Line number 10

 Critical note

The image Pulter evokes here is similar to the conceit George Herbert uses in his poem “Easter-Wings,” in which the speaker imagines his soul grafted onto the Lord’s wing in order to better transcend the earthly world; see lines 19-20, “For, if I imp my wing on thine / Affliction shall advance the flight in me.” In Pulter’s poem, affliction too serves as a catalyst for the speaker’s future transcendence of the material world. However, she asserts that the soul is already fully equipped to make this departure.
Elemental Edition
Line number 12

 Gloss note

pile of excrement
Amplified Edition
Line number 13

 Critical note

Pulter here evokes another traditional answer to the problem of mortality in the early modern English lyric tradition: the carpe diem poem, of which Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” is exemplary. Pulter’s speaker here asserts that poetic descriptions of the immediate beauty of the natural world do not reflect the reality of what she reframes as the “dunghill earth.”
Elemental Edition
Line number 14

 Gloss note

convinced
Elemental Edition
Line number 15

 Gloss note

health-giving
Amplified Edition
Line number 15

 Gloss note

Health-giving.
Elemental Edition
Line number 16

 Gloss note

rippling
Elemental Edition
Line number 16

 Gloss note

streams
Amplified Edition
Line number 16

 Critical note

In lines 13-16, Pulter echoes language introduced earlier in her collection, in The Invitation into the Country [Poem 2]: “Here’s flow’ry vales, and crystal springs, / Here’s shady groves” (37-38). The idea of Pulter’s country house as a locus amoenus, protected from a corrupted world, has become, in this poem, an empty “dream.” As in the fourth quatrain, Pulter’s lines here, too, closely mirror George Herbert’s work. Cf. “Jordan (1),” “Is it no verse, except enchanted groves / And sudden arbour shadow coarse-spun lines? / Must purling streams refresh a lover’s loves? / Must all be veil’d, while he that reads, divines?” (6-9). While Herbert wrestles with how devotional verse substitutes human inventions for God’s creation, Pulter transposes the groves and purling streams that Herbert associates with poetic artifice onto the natural world itself, going one step beyond Herbert by treating the material world too as insubstantial and artificial.
Amplified Edition
Line number 16

 Gloss note

Small streams.
Amplified Edition
Line number 17

 Critical note

In this final quatrain of the first section of the poem, Pulter shifts from a dialogue form, in which the speaker addresses her soul in the second person, to the first-person plural, before collapsing this internal division in the final eleven lines. Thus, the speaker goes from reassuring an externalized version of herself to succumbing to personal anxiety.
Amplified Edition
Line number 17

 Critical note

The centrality of sorrow in human life as the speaker imagines it is emphasized by the aural connection between the dominant pronoun in this quatrain, “we,” and the repeated word “weep”/“weeping.” See also ln. 20, “we weeping enter.”
Elemental Edition
Line number 19

 Gloss note

fussing
Amplified Edition
Line number 21

 Critical note

The aural similarity of “Ay” to “I” underscores the sharp transition at this moment of the poem from the second-person reassurances the speaker offers to her soul to the collapse of both this internal division and the speaker’s sense of confidence in the face of her own mortality.
Elemental Edition
Line number 24

 Gloss note

Seven of Pulter’s children had died by 1655.
Amplified Edition
Line number 24

 Critical note

Eardley notes that seven of Pulter’s children had died by 1655. The horticultural metaphors in these lines extends the speaker’s rejection of the image of the locus amoenus and carpe diem rhetoric above. In place of a paradiscal space of immediate natural pleasures, Pulter depicts a garden that is slowly dying. This line also echoes the Duchess of Gloucester’s speech in Richard II, “Edward’s seven sons, whereof thyself art one / Were as seven vials of his sacred blood, / Or seven fair branches springing from one root” (1.2.11-13). Thank you to Frances Dolan for pointing out this allusion.
Amplified Edition
Line number 25

 Critical note

Like Charles I and Henrietta Maria in the previous poem, Pulter imagines her deceased children transfigured into celestial lights. As the speaker’s assurance breaks down, so too does the organizational structure of her poem: here, her strict couplet form is disrupted by an irregular three-line rhyme.
Amplified Edition
Line number 27

 Gloss note

Pulter completes the horticultural metaphor introduced at line 12, rejecting stock poetic images of the natural world in favor of heavenly paradise. See notes 14 and 18.
Elemental Edition
Line number 28

 Gloss note

unsullied, chaste
Elemental Edition
Line number 29

 Gloss note

places where the Earth’s axes meet the celestial sphere
Amplified Edition
Line number 29

 Gloss note

The celestial poles are the points above each of earth’s poles that intersect with the imagined celestial sphere encircling the earth.
Elemental Edition
Line number 30

 Gloss note

her children’s desires have been met in heaven
Transcription
Line number 31

 Physical note

remaining half-page blank
Amplified Edition
Line number 31

 Critical note

In Pulter’s manuscript, the final word of this poem is spelled “quire,” a pun that links the speaker’s future lyric voice in the heavenly “choir” to its current manifestation in the “quires,” i.e. gatherings of folded leaves, of her manuscript.
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