On Those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas, Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester

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On Those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas, Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester

Poem 7

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 Frances E. Dolan.

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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Index of Poems

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X (Close panel)Notes: Transcription
Title note

 Physical note

in different hand from main scribe

 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 26

 Physical note

“e,” blurred, appears written over earlier letter
Line number 31

 Physical note

final “o” appears written over “a”
Line number 33

 Physical note

double strike-through; to left, in margin, is “Shee” with superscript “x” in different hand from main scribe
Line number 34

 Physical note

“e” appears in place of earlier “d,” with imperfectly erased ascender visible
Line number 37

 Physical note

"v” written over other letter (perhaps “n”)
Line number 44

 Physical note

“i” replaces earlier “e”
Line number 45

 Physical note

colon might be penmarks
Line number 51

 Physical note

“u” appears to correct earlier letter; superscript “e” may be flourish
Line number 52

 Physical note

"e" appears written over "a"
Line number 54

 Physical note

inserted in different hand from main scribe
Line number 54

 Physical note

last three letters written over previous ones
Line number 70

 Physical note

final “e” erased
Line number 75

 Physical note

corrected, possibly from “ffree”
Line number 84

 Physical note

double strike-through
Line number 84

 Physical note

directly above struck-through “Triumph,” in different hand from main scribe
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Transcription
Transcription

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On those two unparraleled friends, S:r G: Lisle and S:r C: Lucas.
Physical Note
in different hand from main scribe
Who were Shott to Death at Colchester
On those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas,
Physical Note
not in hand of main scribe
Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester
On Those Two Unparalleled friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas, Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester
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 “amplified” editions seek to make the poems as accessible as possible by modernizing spelling and punctuation and providing only brief definitions for words, while discursive notes and the materials I gather for the “curations” section place Pulter’s poems into conversations. As I build the curations for a given poem—provisional and quirky as they are—I keep returning to the poem, re-reading, rethinking, and adding layers to the notes. I hope to show that Pulter was intellectually and politically embedded rather than isolated, taking up issues, genres, and tropes that also interested her contemporaries and that sometimes accrue unpredictable salience in later periods. Rather than focusing only on possible sources or influences, I cast a wide net both within the seventeenth century and outside it, trying to catch cultural materials Pulter might have engaged, some she excludes or ignores, and even some she probably could never have imagined. Curations don’t precede the poems nor are they implied by the poems—as if the poem gathers them to itself (although it can sometimes feel that way) or hales them forth. Instead, as a curator I weave the poem into a web of relations, seeking to open out rather than close down interpretive possibilities. This extends to including extracts that are long enough that readers might find things therein that I do not anticipate. I also look for a multi-vectored traffic among Pulter’s poetry and the other materials. What might the materials I’ve gathered help readers see in the poems—or notice is not there? But also, how do the poems bring fresh perspectives into the conversations into which I draw them? The more one reads the poems as participants in wider ranging conversations, the more fascinatingly twisty Pulter appears. Often, I don’t grasp how she upends or comes at conventions aslant until I have mucked about composting my “curations.”

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Death by firing squad, without trial: this is not an uncommon fate for political actors in the centuries since England’s civil wars in the 1640s. This poem laments an early example of such a fate in George Lisle and Charles Lucas, friends and royalist commanders who failed to defend the besieged town of Colchester against the parliamentary army. On the same day as their surrender, they were found guilty of treason by that army’s commander and promptly executed. Pulter, a staunch royalist, deplores the injustice of that sentence and those who appointed themselves jury and judge of the two men she idealizes here. She embeds this recent and evidently shocking turn of events (in a war which was likely ongoing when she wrote) in an ennobling mythological framework by suggesting that the coordination of Lisle’s and Lucas’s deaths arose from the admiration of their “constant love” by the Parcae or Fates. The poem ends by lambasting the opponents of the royalists as bloodthirsty monsters whose behaviour will, in the end, be its own curse; Pulter thus eagerly anticipates the oblivion of her political enemies in contrast to the endless fame and glory she at once prophesies for Lisle and Lucas and enacts within this poem.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Pulter here responds to a controversial recent event. But she does so by writing in the long tradition of elegaic poetry, combining classical allusion and the charged language of Royalist polemic. Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle were Royalist commanders who were arrested and executed at Colchester on August 28, 1648, at the end of a protracted siege on the town by Parliamentary forces that had begun June 12th. That siege, which starved residents, driving them to desperate extremes, has been called “a central event of the second civil war and a focus of national attention in private letters and public print” (Barbara Donegan, War in England, 1642-49 [Oxford UP, 2008], 313). In Pulter’s manuscript, the phrase in the title, “who were shot to death at Colchester,” was added in a different hand, perhaps suggesting that a later reviewer of the manuscript felt that other readers might need a bit more information to understand the poem’s occasion. At the time Pulter wrote, however, everyone was talking about the execution of Lucas and Lisle. It prompted controversy and outrage from the start; that controversy extended into the nineteenth century, when a monument to the two was erected. Was this a murder or an execution? What are the rules of war? Were Lucas and Lisle shot simply for being Royalists? (Margaret Lucas Cavendish later wrote that her brother, Charles, was “shot to death for his loyal service.”) Or were they court-martialed for a military offence, breach of parole? Commander Thomas Fairfax, who ordered the shooting, had previously captured and released both Lucas and Lisle on two separate occasions, each time securing a pledge that they would not again take up arms against Parliamentary forces. They had clearly broken that promise. Was Fairfax justified or not? Fairfax and his supporters struggled to defend his action, especially because he did not try Lucas and Lisle. Fairfax emphasized that they had not yet been granted “fair quarter” (the promise of clothes, food, and immunity from violence while prisoners) but had surrendered themselves to his mercy, meaning not that they were guaranteed mercy but that they were at his mercy. Fairfax justified the action as “some satisfaction to Military Justice, and in part of avenge for the innocent blood they have caused to be spilt” in the course of the siege (A Letter from Lord Fairfax Concerning the Surrender of Colchester [1648]). While Royalists like Pulter viewed Lucas and Lisle as martyrs, accounts of the siege and execution more sympathetic to the Parliamentary cause blamed Lucas for attracting the army to Colchester in the first place (Colchester was the site of the Lucas family home, St. John’s, a former abbey), and for instigating the siege and abusing the residents. Pulter’s subject, then, is one that had inspired many other writers. In her poem on the execution of Charles I, “Let none sigh more for Lucas or for Lisle” (Poem 15), Pulter demonstrates how quickly the target of mourning had shifted. Just months after the shooting of Lisle and Lucas, in January 1649, the regicide eclipsed that earlier outrage. Andrea Brady argues that the two men’s deaths were widely depicted as “sacrificial prologues to the king’s execution” (“Dying with Honour: Literary Propaganda and the Second English Civil War,” The Journal of Military History 70.1 [2006]: 9-30, p. 11). Pulter presents them as soldiers and heroes, yes, but also as friends and even lovers.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Is Lisle and Lucas Slaine? Oh Say not ſoe
Is
Critical Note
George Lisle and Charles Lucas were Royalist commanders in the siege of Colchester during the English civil war; they were executed by firing squad without trial after their defeat and capture at Colchester in 1648. Christian dates the poem to 1648, “before both the King’s death and [Pulter’s husband’s cousin] Arthur Capel’s death in 1649, since they are not mentioned.”
Lisle and Lucas
slain? O say not so!
Critical Note
That Pulter begins with a question conveys the incredible and unacceptable nature of the news, especially since the speaker follows the question by rebuffing the answer (“Oh say not so”). The question also advises us of the uncertain status of news at this time. The poem’s account of the deaths and the language it uses to describe the Parliamentary forces suggest that Pulter had access to popular print accounts. But the opening question also conveys a sense of doubt about what one hears through rumor and cheap print. The unstable tenses—it happened and is happening—make the incredible news newly traumatic. Pulter’s use of questions may also signal her debt to Milton’s elegy Lycidas (1638).
Is Lisle and Lucas slain?
Oh say not so.
2
Who could Kill loue and valour at a blow?
Who could kill Love and Valor at a blow?
Who could kill
Critical Note
An Elegy on the Death of Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle calls them “twins of valour” and “friends.” They were shot, buried, and subsequently commemorated together. Pulter places them in the tradition of idealized male friends, using this tradition to recast death as a kind of union. In her “Of a Young Lady at Oxford, 1646” (Poem 43), a tale of a woman who killed herself when her fiancé died fighting for the king, Pulter again refers to Lucas and Lisle as models of true love between men in the tradition of Damon and Pythias, Castor and Pollux, Patroclus and Achilles: “When lovely Lisle saw Lucas bleeding lie, / He on his trembling bosom straight did die. / Thus do these stories and these fables teach / And show to us how far our love may reach” (lines 65-66). See “Curations” for other contemporary sources of this vision of the two men. If civil war was often depicted as a form of fratricide, this idealization of male friendship exalts Royalists as fratriphilic. Pulter’s use of heroic couplets throughout the poem reinforces her coupling of the two heroes.
love and valor
at a blow?
3
Just as Minervas darling clos’d his eyes
Critical Note
Minerva, goddess of wisdom and warfare, is portrayed allegorically as the lover of Valor, identified with Lucas; Love is identified with Lisle, who was able to kiss Lucas before he died (Eardley).
Just as Minerva’s darling closed his eyes,
Just as
Critical Note
Eardley interprets “Minerva’s darling” as Lucas, who died first, and “Love” as Lisle who was able to kiss him as he died. These identifications follow from the Royalist accounts of the execution included in “Curations.” Regarding Lucas’s association with Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, his sister, Margaret Cavendish, emphasizes that Charles “naturally . . . had a practick Genius to the Warlike Arts, or Arts in War, as Natural Poets have to Poesy but his life was cut off before he could arrive to the perfection thereof” (“A True Relation of My Birth, Breeding, and Life,” in Natures Picture Drawn by Fancies Pencil [London, 1656], sig. Bbb2).
Minerva’s darling
closed his eyes,
4
Loue Kiſſing wept and on his boſome dies
Love, kissing, wept and on his bosom dies.
Love kissing wept and on his bosom dies.
5
Ah me what horrid Hidra had the hart
Ah me, what horrid
Critical Note
in classical myth, a many-headed monster whose heads grow back after being cut off; often used figuratively, i.e. for opponents to royalists in England’s civil wars
Hydra
had the heart
Ah me, what horrid
Critical Note
The hydra, or many-headed monster, was often used to describe an unruly mob and to disparage and dehumanize collectivity. For example, Royalists described their opposition (made up of collectives including Parliament, the Army, and religious sects) as a Hydra. Since one of the labors of Hercules was slaying the Hydra, calling one’s opposition a Hydra suggested that it would be admirable, even heroic, to destroy the monster. Here, the Hydra has but one heart even if it has many heads, a heartless heart determined to kill Lucas and Lisle. Hydra is the subject governing and linking the two verbs “unite and part” in a kind of zeugma or syllepsis.
Hydra
had the heart
6
Them in theire Deaths thus to unite and part
Them in their deaths thus to unite and part?
Them in their deaths thus to unite and part?
7
Mars on the Areopagie once was tried
Gloss Note
Roman god of war
Mars
, on the
Gloss Note
a hill in Athens, the site of an ancient judicial court and, in legend, a trial for a murder charge against Mars
Areopagus
, once was tried;
Critical Note
Even Mars, the god of war, was tried on the Areopagus, a hill in Athens where trials were held, rather than summarily executed. Lucas and Lisle, in contrast, were not granted a trial. Some stories about Mars (Ares in Greek mythology) claim that he was the first to be put on trial for shedding blood. He killed Poseidon’s son Halirrhothius for raping his daughter; Poseidon had him tried before a jury of the twelve gods, the “best of gods” as opposed to those who judged Lucas and Lisle. The fragmentary accounts that survive suggest that it was the justice of his cause, as well as his history of “valor,” that led to his acquittal. One print account refers to Lisle and Lucas as “sons of Mars” (Another Bloudy Fight at Colchester [London, 1648], 2).
Mars on the Areopagus once was tried;
8
His vallour ſav’d him or he elce had died
His valor saved him, or he else had died.
His valor saved him or he else had died.
9
His Judg and Jurie were the best of Gods
His judge and jury were the best of gods;
His judge and jury were the best of gods;
10
Theſe worst of Men, Ô me what ods
These, worst of men: O me, what odds!
These worst of men. Oh me, what odds
11
Had Joues ^three Sons of Everlasting fame
Had
Gloss Note
Jove, king of the Roman gods; his sons—Rhadamanthus, Minos, and Aeacus (each born of a mortal mother)—judge those entering the underworld
Jove’s three sons
of everlasting fame
Had
Critical Note
Jove/Jupiter/Zeus had numerous sons but many critics assume that this refers to three of Zeus’s sons who were judges in the underworld: Rhadamanthus, Minos, and Aeacus. Had they been present, the poem suggests, maybe this would have been a fair trial.
Jove’s three sons
of everlasting fame,
12
Borne of A mortall and Celestiall flame
(Born of a mortal and celestial flame),
Born of a mortal and celestial flame,
13
Had they bin here this buſines to deſide
Had they been here, this business to decide,
Had they been here this business to decide?
14
Then these too Noble Gallants had not died
Then these
Physical Note
manuscript has “too,” which could signal “two”
too
noble gallants had not died.
Then these
Critical Note
While “two” and “too” were frequently used interchangeably, the homophone too/two captures the ways the execution doubles martyrs and demonstrates that they were too noble for this earth.
too
noble gallants had not died.
15
Or had Astreus (lover of the Morn
Or had
Gloss Note
Greek god of dusk, who married Eos, goddess of dawn (the Roman Aurora)
Astraeus
(lover of the Morn,
Or had
Critical Note
Pulter frequently refers to Astreus, the god of dusk in Greek mythology, his wife, Eos, the goddess of dawn or the morning, whom Pulter calls by her Roman name, Aurora, and their daughter Astrea. These lines refer to Eos as the morn from whose bright womb the brighter babe, Astrea, was born. Astrea was associated with innocence, purity, and justice. These lines suggest that Astreus would have delighted in saving the lives of Lucas and Lisle because they fought for his daughter, that is, for justice.
Astreus
, lover of the morn,
16
Of whoſe bright ^womb her brighter babe was born
Of whose bright womb her
Gloss Note
Astraea, classical goddess associated with justice, identified with the constellation Virgo; the last deity to leave Earth, she lived among humans in the Golden Age, then fled in the Bronze Age
brighter babe
was born)
Of whose bright womb her
Critical Note
Pulter frequently refers to Astreus, the god of dusk in Greek mythology, his wife, Eos, the goddess of dawn or the morning, whom Pulter calls by her Roman name, Aurora, and their daughter Astrea. These lines refer to Eos as the morn from whose bright womb the brighter babe, Astrea, was born. Astrea was associated with innocence, purity, and justice. These lines suggest that Astreus would have delighted in saving the lives of Lucas and Lisle because they fought for his daughter, that is, for justice.
brighter babe was born
,
17
Had hee bin here hee would have took delight
Had he been here, he would have took delight
Had he been here he would have took delight
18
To Saue theire lives that for his Child did fight
To save their lives, that for his child did fight.
To save their lives that for his child did fight.
then

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19
Then had theire Judges bin the Gods Eternall
Then, had their judges been the gods eternal,
Then had their judges been the gods eternal
20
Or upright Men, nay or the powers Infernall
Or upright men—nay, or the
Gloss Note
The implication is that, unlike their human judges, even Satan’s forces would not have been so evil as to execute Lisle and Lucas.
powers infernal
Or upright men, nay or the powers infernal,
21
This unambiguous buſines to deſide
This unambiguous business to decide,
This unambiguous business to decide.
22
Then this unparaleld friendship had not died
Then this unparalleled friendship had not died.
Then this unparalleled friendship had not died.
23
But Jewes, Turks, Atheists Independents all
But
Critical Note
groups perceived or acting as religious and political opponents of royalists in England’s civil war
Jews, Turks, atheists, Independents
: all
But Jews, Turks, Atheists, Independents, all
24
That Curſſed Rabble, made theſe gallants fall
That curséd rabble made these gallants fall.
Critical Note
Pulter here shows her connections to other Royalist polemic, which routinely linked Protestant “Independents” to other religious and ethnic groups, disparaging them all by association. While “Independents” referred to a distinct group with a very particular religious and political agenda, Pulter uses the term to lump together all who presume to set their own course. Similarly, Philocrates, in The Loyal Sacrifice: Presented in the Lives and Deaths of those two eminent-heroic patterns, for valor, discipline, and fidelity, the generally beloved and bemoaned, Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle, Knights (n.p., 1648) refers to the “sundry Jewish Anarchial Synagogue rooks” supporting the Army and Parliament (11). It also refers to the Turks to emphasize the barbarity of the killing of Lucas and Lisle: “But never did any savage nation, were it Turkish or any other heathen, execute the like tyranny and cruelty upon such frivolous pretenses (as is well observed) in cold blood” (68). A dedicatory epistle to Sir John Lucas, Charles’s brother, begins with the claim that many Englishmen “are degenerated into the very faith, or rather perfidiousness of the Jew” (Demophilus Philanactos, Two Epitaphs, Occasioned by the Death of Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle, basely assassinated at Colchester [1648], sig. DA2r). In Pulter’s poem here, the “horrid Hydra,” “Cursed Rabble,” “black army,” and “sacrilegious rout” all link the Parliamentary cause, the New Model Army, and their supporters as a disorderly mob.
That cursed rabble
, made these gallants fall.
25
How could they doe it were they not Amazed
How could
Gloss Note
the “curséd rabble”
they
do it? Were they not
Gloss Note
stunned; bewildered; terrified; astonished
amazed
How could they do it? Were they not
Critical Note
“Amazed” connotes not only being astonished or surprised, as it still does today, but also having lost one’s mind or way, being bewildered or terrified. This may refer to being lost as in a maze or labyrinth, paralyzed or trapped.
amazed
26
When as the cruell
Physical Note
“e,” blurred, appears written over earlier letter
Parcie
ſat and Gazed
Gloss Note
when
Whenas
the cruel
Gloss Note
in Greek myth, three female Fates named (as below) Lachesis, Clotho, and Atropos, who determine the length of human lives, represented as threads
Parcae
sat and gazed
When as the cruel
Critical Note
As the Golden Book of Leaden Gods, included in “Curations,” explains: “the Parcae were three sisters of destiny, whereof Clotho was figured holding the distaff, Lachesis drawing out the thread [of life], and Atropos cutting it off.” When Atropos cuts the thread of life with her “fatal scissors” (line 42 below), she brings that life to an end. Pulter also refers to the Parcie or Parcae, the three fates of Greek myth, in “The Eclipse” (Poem 1), where she describes them as “impartial” rather than “cruel.”
Parcae
sat and gazed
27
On theire perfections as Lachis drew the thred
On
Gloss Note
Lisle and Lucas’s
their
perfections? As Lachesis drew the thread,
On their perfections? As Lachesis drew the thread,
28
What wont you part a ſunder then ſhee ſe’d
“What, won’t
Gloss Note
Lisle and Lucas
you
part asunder then?” she said.
“What, won’t you part asunder?,” then she said.
29
They Striving in theire lives to imbrace each other
They, striving in their lives to embrace each other,
They striving in their lives to embrace each other,
30
Shee twirl’d and twisted both of them together
She twirled and twisted both of them together.
She twirled and twisted both of them together.
31
Then
Physical Note
final “o” appears written over “a”
Clotho
at theire constant loue did wonder
Then Clotho at their constant love did wonder,
Then Clotho at their constant love did wonder,
32
And in meere pitty ^pul’d them not a ſunder
And, in mere pity, pulled them not asunder;
And in mere pity, pulled them not asunder.
33
Physical Note
double strike-through; to left, in margin, is “Shee” with superscript “x” in different hand from main scribe
Andx
being it Seems the Tenderst hearted Laſs
She being, it seems, the tend’rest-hearted lass,
And being, it seems, the tenderest-hearted lass,
34
Goe Noble
Physical Note
“e” appears in place of earlier “d,” with imperfectly erased ascender visible
Soules
Shee Said, and let them paſs
“Go, noble souls,” she said, and let them pass.
“Go, noble souls,” she said, and let them pass.
35
But Atropas inrag’d began to chide
But Atropos, enraged, began to chide,
But Atropas, enraged, began to chide,
36
Saying these trew loves knots must be untied
Saying, “These true love’s knots must be untied.”
Saying “these true love’s knots must be untied!”
37
But Seeing theire
Physical Note
"v” written over other letter (perhaps “n”)
Lives
Shee could not stay to ^untwist
But seeing their lives she could not stay t’untwist,
But seeing their lives, she could not stay t’untwist,
38
Let those Sit Idleing here (Shee ſaid) that list
“Let those sit idling here” (she said) “that
Gloss Note
like, choose
list
;
“Let those sit idling here,” she said, “that list.
39
How can wee give account unto thoſe powers
How can we give account unto those powers
How can we give account unto those powers
40
That us imploy, in trifeling out our howres
That us employ, in trifling out our hours?”
That us employ, in trifling out our hours?”
41
Then Scolding at her Sisters for theire Sloth
Then, scolding at her sisters for their sloth,
Then scolding at her sisters for their sloth,
42
Shee with her fatall Cizers Snipt them both
She with her fatal scissors snipped them both.
She with her fatal scissors snipped them both.
Shee

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43
Shee then cryed out, alaſs but hurring fate
She then cried out “Alas!”; but
Gloss Note
obsolete term for snarling; possibly, scribal error for “hurrying”
hurring
fate
She then cried out, “Alas!” but
Gloss Note
snarling like a dog (obsolete) or possibly hurr[y]ing
hurring fate
44
fforced her poore Girle, her
Physical Note
“i” replaces earlier “e”
pitty
came too late
Forced her, poor girl: her pity came too late.
Forced her, poor girl;
Critical Note
Pulter’s Atropas is first angry at the tender-heartedness and delay of her sisters and then, after she snips the two heroes’ intertwined threads of life, regretful of her own hasty action. While the Parcae are themselves called Fates, who control the lives and destinies of humans, here Atropas is herself “forced” by a “hurring” fate that drives her to act and act fast. Pulter here captures the urgency of war in which events move too fast and pity comes too late. Fairfax had Lucas and Lisle shot in the evening of the same day the Royalists had surrendered to him.
her pity came too late
.
45
Licaon
Physical Note
colon might be penmarks
Tantall:
tender to this brood
Gloss Note
In Greek myth, Lycaon and Tantalus (separately) feed their sons to gods; “tender to this brood” refers to the tender feelings of “the cursed rabble” (“this brood”) for these murderers.
Lycaon, Tantal, tender to this brood,
Critical Note
Pulter seems to invoke and link two figures from Greek mythology here, Lycaon and Tantalus, both of whom killed their children. Lycaon served one of his many sons to Zeus, testing whether the god could tell that he was eating human flesh. Tantalus served his son Pelops to the gods. Both serve here as figures for the cannibalism of civil war as well as for ruthlessness. “Tender to this brood” may mean that Lycaon and Tantalus are both tender compared to “this brood,” the Parliamentary forces, or that the Parliamentary forces feel tenderly toward Lycaon and Tantalus. But the phrasing may also sarcastically remind us that Lycaon and Tantalus were far from tender to their own broods or offspring.
Lycaon, Tantal
, tender to this brood
46
Who fed on Hostagis and Infants blood
Who fed on hostages and infants’ blood:
Who fed on hostages’ and infants’ blood:
47
Why are they now more cruell then at first
Why are
Gloss Note
the “curséd rabble”
they
now more cruel than at first?
Why are they now more cruel than at first?
48
They’r Drunk with Christian blood yet still they^ thirst
They’re drunk with Christian blood, yet still they thirst.
They’re drunk with Christian blood, yet still they thirst.
49
Doth that ould Vulture and his preying brood
Doth that
Critical Note
likely, Oliver Cromwell: “his long nose incited royalist pamphleteers to describe him as a vulture” (Eardley)
old vulture
and his preying brood
Doth
Critical Note
“That old vulture” might refer to Oliver Cromwell, one of the principal commanders of the New Model Army and, later, the Lord Protector or leader of the Commonwealth, or to Thomas Fairfax, who ordered the shootings. Neither was especially old. Cromwell was forty nine years old at the time of the shooting, and Fairfax thirty six. One Royalist pamphlet describes “the ravenous and gripping claws of these Cannibal Cuckoos (the Parliament and Army) that are now devouring [the people], after they have pulled and polished them to the bare skins, [and] are now feeding upon their flesh, and picking their very bones, killing, destroying, and robbing them” (A2r). It specifies that the Parliamentary forces are all “vultures, harpies” and “such like ominous and unclean birds, that with their huge bodies and baleful wings have obscured our king, our peace, our happiness.” Such carrion birds conspire against the eagle, the phoenix, and other birds figuring royalty and royalism. See Mercurius Melancholicus, The Cuckoo’s-nest at Westminster, or the Parliament between the two Lady-Birds, Quean Fairfax, and Lady Cromwell, concerning Negotiations of Estate (London, 1648).
that old vulture
and his preying brood
50
Think to grow young w:th ſucking ſprit^ely blood
Think to grow young with
Critical Note
the blood of still-living beings; alluding to a myth about (not vultures but) eagles, whose beaks are said to grow too long to allow them to eat flesh, so they suck blood instead (Eardley)
sucking sprightly blood
?
Think to grow young with sucking sprightly blood?
51
Oh let them next ſuck
Physical Note
“u” appears to correct earlier letter; superscript “e” may be flourish
Neſſues’s
poys’nd gore
Oh, let them next suck
Gloss Note
centaur with poisoned blood
Nessus’s
poisoned gore;
Oh, let them next suck Nessus’s poisoned gore;
52
Like mad
Physical Note
"e" appears written over "a"
Alcides
let them Rave and Rore
Like mad
Gloss Note
Hercules, poisoned by Nessus
Alcides
, let them rave and roar;
Critical Note
Nessus (l. 51) was a satyr (half man, half horse) with toxic blood. Heracles/Alcides killed him but was later poisoned by a shirt dipped in that toxic blood and begged to be killed to put him out of his pain.The result was displaced suicide—self-destroying—by the hand of another. In Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, Antony laments his humiliating retreat, following Cleopatra, by saying: “The shirt of Nessus is upon me: teach me, / Alcides, thou mine ancestor, thy rage” (4.12). The story of Alcides’s miserable end serves as a cautionary tale about revenge reaching out beyond the grave, and violence rebounding against the perpetrator.
Like mad Alcides let them rave and roar;
53
And as they haue bin three kingdooms sore ^ annoyers
And, as they have been
Gloss Note
England, Ireland, Scotland
three kingdoms’
sore annoyers,
And as they have been
Gloss Note
The supposedly united kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.
three kingdoms’
sore annoyers,
54
Let them like
Physical Note
inserted in different hand from main scribe
\him\
at
Physical Note
last three letters written over previous ones
laſt
be ſelfe destroyers
Let them, like him, at last be self-destroyers.
Let them, like him, at last be self-destroyers.
55
Had these undaunted loving Heros died
Had these undaunted loving heroes died
Had these undaunted loving heroes died
56
In former times they had bin Deified
In former times, they had been deified.
In former times, they had been deified.
57
Then theire Renown and love had ſpread as fare
Then, their renown and love had spread as far
Then their renown and love had spread as far
58
As thoſe two famous Thunderbolts of War
As those two famous
Gloss Note
Cornelius Scipio (236-183 BCE) and Cornelius Scipio (ca. 185-129 BCE), Roman commanders renowned by Virgil and followers as “Duo fulmina belli,” the “two thunderbolts of war”
thunderbolts of war
.
As those
Critical Note
Virgil referred to two Roman generals, both named Cornelius Scipio, as “twin thunderbolts of war” (duo fulmina belli, Aeneid 6.842). Aeneas encounters them in the underworld, so they are already dead, their achievements behind them. Because the first Scipio defeated the general Hannibal, despite his reputation for military strategy and his extensive human and animal forces (including elephants), he earned the nickname “Scipio Africanus.” The other Scipio was his adopted grandson. In a later war, he defeated Carthage and, famously, burned it to the ground and devastated its agricultural fields. Lucretius uses the story of these two indomitable generals to remind readers that even great warriors come to dust. “Scipio’s son, the thunderbolt of war, / Horror of Carthage, gave his bones to earth, / Like to the lowliest villein in the house” (De rerum Natura, trans. William E. Leonard [Boston: E. P. Dutton, 1916], 3.1038-40). Lucy Hutchinson’s translation of Lucretius elaborates that “in a cold bed / Of earth his bones were laid, nor in the grave / Enjoy more privilege than the meanest slave” (The Works of Lucy Hutchinson, ed. Reid Barbour and David Norbrook [Oxford University Press, 2012], 3.1117-19). One edition of this poem suggests that the two thunderbolts might refer to Castor and Pollux, to whom Pulter elsewhere compares Lucas and Lisle. See Early Modern Women Poets: An Anthology, ed. Jane Stevenson and Peter Davidson (Oxford University Press, 2001).
two famous thunderbolts of war
.
59
Effigies, Piramids, Collumns, Colloſses,
Effigies, pyramids, columns,
Gloss Note
huge statues
colosses
,
Effigies, pyramids, columns,
Gloss Note
massive statues
colosses
,
60
Had bin Erect to memoriſe our loſses
Had been erect to
Gloss Note
maintain the memory
memorize
our losses;
Had been erect to
Gloss Note
commemorate
memorize
our losses.
61
But wee are now denied our Just deſires
But we are now denied our just desires.
But we are now denied our just desires;
62
Trew gratefull loue in this our age expires
True grateful love in this, our age, expires;
True grateful love in this our age expires.
63
Yet Some Sad Swan I Know there will be found
Yet
Critical Note
an allusion (in Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso) to the story of swans in the afterlife who ferry the names of a few dead to a temple of immortal fame (Eardley)
some sad swan
, I know, there will be found
Yet some
Critical Note
The reference here to the sad swan may refer to the belief that swans sing before they die. Writers as early as Pliny called this into doubt: “Some say that the swans sing lamentably a little before their death, but untruly, I suppose: for experience in many hath showed the contrary” (The History of the World. Commonly Called the Natural History, trans. Philemon Holland [London, 1601], 10.3. sig. Bb3v). Yet the belief underpins an expression still in use, the “swan song,” or final performance. The speaker may express the hope that she herself may be this sad swan, dying after she puts her grief into verse, and achieving recognition “only” for this “one action” of commemorating the heroes.
sad swan
I know there will be found
64
That for this onely Action Shall bee Crond
That for this only action shall be crowned:
That for this only action shall be crowned,
that

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65
That Shall beare louely Lisle, and Lucas name
That shall bear lovely Lisle and Lucas’s name
That shall bear lovely Lisle’s and Lucas’s name
66
Vnto the Temple of Eternall fame
Unto the temple of eternal fame.
Unto the temple of eternal fame.
67
When that black Armie after theire Short Dreame
When that black army, after their short dream,
When that black army after their short dream
68
Shall floating bee on Stix his Sable Streame
Shall floating be on
Gloss Note
river in classical underworld
Styx’s
sable stream,
Shall floating be on
Gloss Note
river in the underworld
Styx
his sable stream,
69
They by the Angrey billowes Shall bee tost
They by the angry billows shall be tossed
They by the angry billows shall be tossed
70
Till in oblivians Horrid Womb
Physical Note
final “e” erased
ther’e
lost
Till in
Gloss Note
goddess of the river Lethe (literally: “Oblivion”) in Greek mythological underworld
Oblivion’s
horrid womb they’re lost.
Till in oblivion’s horrid womb they’re lost.
71
If hee that fired Dianas Phane for fame
If
Gloss Note
Herostratus, seeking fame, set alight the temple (“fane”) of Artemis or Diana in Ephesus, 356 BC; the Ephesians executed him and forbade mention of his name.
he that fired Diana’s fane
for fame
If he that fired Diana’s
Gloss Note
temple
fane
for fame
72
Lost both his Expectation and his name
Lost both his expectation and his name;
Gloss Note
Herostratus set fire to Diana’s temple in Ephesus “for fame” but as punishment the Ephesians forbade the mention of his name. This kind of self-defeating act fascinates Pulter in this poem.
Lost both his expectation and his name;
73
If covetous Cambices who preſum’d
If covetous
Gloss Note
Cambyses II (c. 522 BCE), a king of Persia whose force of 50,000 was buried in a sandstorm after embarking on an attack of an oracle in Egypt.
Cambyses
, who presumed
If covetous Cambyses, who presumed
74
To rob the Gods till Sand his mem conſum’d
To rob the gods till sand his men consumed;
To rob the Gods ’til sand his
Gloss Note
memory
mem
consumed,
75
Or that
Physical Note
corrected, possibly from “ffree”
ffier^ce
Gaule who Delphus ment to plunder
Or that fierce
Gloss Note
Brennus, leader of Gauls punished by gods for invading Apollo’s sanctuary of Delphi, Greece
Gaul
who Delphi meant to plunder
Or that fierce Gaul who Delphus meant to plunder
76
Till firey Phebus Routed him with Thunder
Till fiery
Gloss Note
Apollo
Phoebus
Gloss Note
defeated
routed
him with thunder:
’Til firey Phoebus
Critical Note
Herostratus, Cambyses and the fierce Gaul (Brennus) were all guilty of sacrilege and ultimately punished. See “Curations.” This series of “if” clauses builds to the “then” that this sacrilegious rout or mob, the Parliamentary forces, will ultimately be punished, too.
routed him with thunder
:
77
If these live now in Honour then noe doubt
If these live now in honor, then no doubt
If these live now in honor, then no doubt,
78
ffame Shall Attend this Sacrilegi’us rout
Fame shall attend this sacrilegious
Gloss Note
troop, crowd, mob
rout
,
Fame shall attend this sacrilegious rout,
79
Who have our ffaiths defender over powerd
Who have
Gloss Note
King Charles
our faith’s defender
overpowered,
Who have
Critical Note
“Our faith’s defender” refers to the king, Charles I. The Royalist view of the monarch as God’s representative on earth, as well as the Supreme Head of the Church of England, made opposing (and ultimately killing him) a form of sacrilege.
our faith’s defender
over-powered,
80
And Temples, Alters, Victims, all devourd
And temples, altars, victims, all devoured;
And temples, altars, victims, all devoured.
81
But theſe victorious Soules live now aboue
But these victorious souls live now above,
But these victorious souls live now above
82
And gloriously goe on in Endles loue
And gloriously go on in endless love,
And gloriously go in endless love,
83
Whil’st theire faire frames w:ch here did cloſe^theire lives
Whilst
Gloss Note
structure, physical body, constitution, arrangement; also the universe, heavens, earth, or any part of it
their fair frames
, which here did close their lives,
Whilst their fair
Gloss Note
physical body
frame
which here did close their lives,
84
Shall live in fame till they in
Physical Note
double strike-through
Triumph
Physical Note
directly above struck-through “Triumph,” in different hand from main scribe
Glory
riſe.
Shall live in fame till they in glory rise.
Shall live in fame ’til they in glory rise.
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X (Close panel)Notes: Elemental Edition
Title note

 Physical note

not in hand of main scribe

 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

Death by firing squad, without trial: this is not an uncommon fate for political actors in the centuries since England’s civil wars in the 1640s. This poem laments an early example of such a fate in George Lisle and Charles Lucas, friends and royalist commanders who failed to defend the besieged town of Colchester against the parliamentary army. On the same day as their surrender, they were found guilty of treason by that army’s commander and promptly executed. Pulter, a staunch royalist, deplores the injustice of that sentence and those who appointed themselves jury and judge of the two men she idealizes here. She embeds this recent and evidently shocking turn of events (in a war which was likely ongoing when she wrote) in an ennobling mythological framework by suggesting that the coordination of Lisle’s and Lucas’s deaths arose from the admiration of their “constant love” by the Parcae or Fates. The poem ends by lambasting the opponents of the royalists as bloodthirsty monsters whose behaviour will, in the end, be its own curse; Pulter thus eagerly anticipates the oblivion of her political enemies in contrast to the endless fame and glory she at once prophesies for Lisle and Lucas and enacts within this poem.
Line number 1

 Critical note

George Lisle and Charles Lucas were Royalist commanders in the siege of Colchester during the English civil war; they were executed by firing squad without trial after their defeat and capture at Colchester in 1648. Christian dates the poem to 1648, “before both the King’s death and [Pulter’s husband’s cousin] Arthur Capel’s death in 1649, since they are not mentioned.”
Line number 3

 Critical note

Minerva, goddess of wisdom and warfare, is portrayed allegorically as the lover of Valor, identified with Lucas; Love is identified with Lisle, who was able to kiss Lucas before he died (Eardley).
Line number 5

 Critical note

in classical myth, a many-headed monster whose heads grow back after being cut off; often used figuratively, i.e. for opponents to royalists in England’s civil wars
Line number 7

 Gloss note

Roman god of war
Line number 7

 Gloss note

a hill in Athens, the site of an ancient judicial court and, in legend, a trial for a murder charge against Mars
Line number 11

 Gloss note

Jove, king of the Roman gods; his sons—Rhadamanthus, Minos, and Aeacus (each born of a mortal mother)—judge those entering the underworld
Line number 14

 Physical note

manuscript has “too,” which could signal “two”
Line number 15

 Gloss note

Greek god of dusk, who married Eos, goddess of dawn (the Roman Aurora)
Line number 16

 Gloss note

Astraea, classical goddess associated with justice, identified with the constellation Virgo; the last deity to leave Earth, she lived among humans in the Golden Age, then fled in the Bronze Age
Line number 20

 Gloss note

The implication is that, unlike their human judges, even Satan’s forces would not have been so evil as to execute Lisle and Lucas.
Line number 23

 Critical note

groups perceived or acting as religious and political opponents of royalists in England’s civil war
Line number 25

 Gloss note

the “curséd rabble”
Line number 25

 Gloss note

stunned; bewildered; terrified; astonished
Line number 26

 Gloss note

when
Line number 26

 Gloss note

in Greek myth, three female Fates named (as below) Lachesis, Clotho, and Atropos, who determine the length of human lives, represented as threads
Line number 27

 Gloss note

Lisle and Lucas’s
Line number 28

 Gloss note

Lisle and Lucas
Line number 38

 Gloss note

like, choose
Line number 43

 Gloss note

obsolete term for snarling; possibly, scribal error for “hurrying”
Line number 45

 Gloss note

In Greek myth, Lycaon and Tantalus (separately) feed their sons to gods; “tender to this brood” refers to the tender feelings of “the cursed rabble” (“this brood”) for these murderers.
Line number 47

 Gloss note

the “curséd rabble”
Line number 49

 Critical note

likely, Oliver Cromwell: “his long nose incited royalist pamphleteers to describe him as a vulture” (Eardley)
Line number 50

 Critical note

the blood of still-living beings; alluding to a myth about (not vultures but) eagles, whose beaks are said to grow too long to allow them to eat flesh, so they suck blood instead (Eardley)
Line number 51

 Gloss note

centaur with poisoned blood
Line number 52

 Gloss note

Hercules, poisoned by Nessus
Line number 53

 Gloss note

England, Ireland, Scotland
Line number 58

 Gloss note

Cornelius Scipio (236-183 BCE) and Cornelius Scipio (ca. 185-129 BCE), Roman commanders renowned by Virgil and followers as “Duo fulmina belli,” the “two thunderbolts of war”
Line number 59

 Gloss note

huge statues
Line number 60

 Gloss note

maintain the memory
Line number 63

 Critical note

an allusion (in Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso) to the story of swans in the afterlife who ferry the names of a few dead to a temple of immortal fame (Eardley)
Line number 68

 Gloss note

river in classical underworld
Line number 70

 Gloss note

goddess of the river Lethe (literally: “Oblivion”) in Greek mythological underworld
Line number 71

 Gloss note

Herostratus, seeking fame, set alight the temple (“fane”) of Artemis or Diana in Ephesus, 356 BC; the Ephesians executed him and forbade mention of his name.
Line number 73

 Gloss note

Cambyses II (c. 522 BCE), a king of Persia whose force of 50,000 was buried in a sandstorm after embarking on an attack of an oracle in Egypt.
Line number 75

 Gloss note

Brennus, leader of Gauls punished by gods for invading Apollo’s sanctuary of Delphi, Greece
Line number 76

 Gloss note

Apollo
Line number 76

 Gloss note

defeated
Line number 78

 Gloss note

troop, crowd, mob
Line number 79

 Gloss note

King Charles
Line number 83

 Gloss note

structure, physical body, constitution, arrangement; also the universe, heavens, earth, or any part of it
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X (Close panel)Elemental Edition
Elemental Edition

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On those two unparraleled friends, S:r G: Lisle and S:r C: Lucas.
Physical Note
in different hand from main scribe
Who were Shott to Death at Colchester
On those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas,
Physical Note
not in hand of main scribe
Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester
On Those Two Unparalleled friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas, Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester
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 “amplified” editions seek to make the poems as accessible as possible by modernizing spelling and punctuation and providing only brief definitions for words, while discursive notes and the materials I gather for the “curations” section place Pulter’s poems into conversations. As I build the curations for a given poem—provisional and quirky as they are—I keep returning to the poem, re-reading, rethinking, and adding layers to the notes. I hope to show that Pulter was intellectually and politically embedded rather than isolated, taking up issues, genres, and tropes that also interested her contemporaries and that sometimes accrue unpredictable salience in later periods. Rather than focusing only on possible sources or influences, I cast a wide net both within the seventeenth century and outside it, trying to catch cultural materials Pulter might have engaged, some she excludes or ignores, and even some she probably could never have imagined. Curations don’t precede the poems nor are they implied by the poems—as if the poem gathers them to itself (although it can sometimes feel that way) or hales them forth. Instead, as a curator I weave the poem into a web of relations, seeking to open out rather than close down interpretive possibilities. This extends to including extracts that are long enough that readers might find things therein that I do not anticipate. I also look for a multi-vectored traffic among Pulter’s poetry and the other materials. What might the materials I’ve gathered help readers see in the poems—or notice is not there? But also, how do the poems bring fresh perspectives into the conversations into which I draw them? The more one reads the poems as participants in wider ranging conversations, the more fascinatingly twisty Pulter appears. Often, I don’t grasp how she upends or comes at conventions aslant until I have mucked about composting my “curations.”

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Death by firing squad, without trial: this is not an uncommon fate for political actors in the centuries since England’s civil wars in the 1640s. This poem laments an early example of such a fate in George Lisle and Charles Lucas, friends and royalist commanders who failed to defend the besieged town of Colchester against the parliamentary army. On the same day as their surrender, they were found guilty of treason by that army’s commander and promptly executed. Pulter, a staunch royalist, deplores the injustice of that sentence and those who appointed themselves jury and judge of the two men she idealizes here. She embeds this recent and evidently shocking turn of events (in a war which was likely ongoing when she wrote) in an ennobling mythological framework by suggesting that the coordination of Lisle’s and Lucas’s deaths arose from the admiration of their “constant love” by the Parcae or Fates. The poem ends by lambasting the opponents of the royalists as bloodthirsty monsters whose behaviour will, in the end, be its own curse; Pulter thus eagerly anticipates the oblivion of her political enemies in contrast to the endless fame and glory she at once prophesies for Lisle and Lucas and enacts within this poem.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Pulter here responds to a controversial recent event. But she does so by writing in the long tradition of elegaic poetry, combining classical allusion and the charged language of Royalist polemic. Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle were Royalist commanders who were arrested and executed at Colchester on August 28, 1648, at the end of a protracted siege on the town by Parliamentary forces that had begun June 12th. That siege, which starved residents, driving them to desperate extremes, has been called “a central event of the second civil war and a focus of national attention in private letters and public print” (Barbara Donegan, War in England, 1642-49 [Oxford UP, 2008], 313). In Pulter’s manuscript, the phrase in the title, “who were shot to death at Colchester,” was added in a different hand, perhaps suggesting that a later reviewer of the manuscript felt that other readers might need a bit more information to understand the poem’s occasion. At the time Pulter wrote, however, everyone was talking about the execution of Lucas and Lisle. It prompted controversy and outrage from the start; that controversy extended into the nineteenth century, when a monument to the two was erected. Was this a murder or an execution? What are the rules of war? Were Lucas and Lisle shot simply for being Royalists? (Margaret Lucas Cavendish later wrote that her brother, Charles, was “shot to death for his loyal service.”) Or were they court-martialed for a military offence, breach of parole? Commander Thomas Fairfax, who ordered the shooting, had previously captured and released both Lucas and Lisle on two separate occasions, each time securing a pledge that they would not again take up arms against Parliamentary forces. They had clearly broken that promise. Was Fairfax justified or not? Fairfax and his supporters struggled to defend his action, especially because he did not try Lucas and Lisle. Fairfax emphasized that they had not yet been granted “fair quarter” (the promise of clothes, food, and immunity from violence while prisoners) but had surrendered themselves to his mercy, meaning not that they were guaranteed mercy but that they were at his mercy. Fairfax justified the action as “some satisfaction to Military Justice, and in part of avenge for the innocent blood they have caused to be spilt” in the course of the siege (A Letter from Lord Fairfax Concerning the Surrender of Colchester [1648]). While Royalists like Pulter viewed Lucas and Lisle as martyrs, accounts of the siege and execution more sympathetic to the Parliamentary cause blamed Lucas for attracting the army to Colchester in the first place (Colchester was the site of the Lucas family home, St. John’s, a former abbey), and for instigating the siege and abusing the residents. Pulter’s subject, then, is one that had inspired many other writers. In her poem on the execution of Charles I, “Let none sigh more for Lucas or for Lisle” (Poem 15), Pulter demonstrates how quickly the target of mourning had shifted. Just months after the shooting of Lisle and Lucas, in January 1649, the regicide eclipsed that earlier outrage. Andrea Brady argues that the two men’s deaths were widely depicted as “sacrificial prologues to the king’s execution” (“Dying with Honour: Literary Propaganda and the Second English Civil War,” The Journal of Military History 70.1 [2006]: 9-30, p. 11). Pulter presents them as soldiers and heroes, yes, but also as friends and even lovers.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Is Lisle and Lucas Slaine? Oh Say not ſoe
Is
Critical Note
George Lisle and Charles Lucas were Royalist commanders in the siege of Colchester during the English civil war; they were executed by firing squad without trial after their defeat and capture at Colchester in 1648. Christian dates the poem to 1648, “before both the King’s death and [Pulter’s husband’s cousin] Arthur Capel’s death in 1649, since they are not mentioned.”
Lisle and Lucas
slain? O say not so!
Critical Note
That Pulter begins with a question conveys the incredible and unacceptable nature of the news, especially since the speaker follows the question by rebuffing the answer (“Oh say not so”). The question also advises us of the uncertain status of news at this time. The poem’s account of the deaths and the language it uses to describe the Parliamentary forces suggest that Pulter had access to popular print accounts. But the opening question also conveys a sense of doubt about what one hears through rumor and cheap print. The unstable tenses—it happened and is happening—make the incredible news newly traumatic. Pulter’s use of questions may also signal her debt to Milton’s elegy Lycidas (1638).
Is Lisle and Lucas slain?
Oh say not so.
2
Who could Kill loue and valour at a blow?
Who could kill Love and Valor at a blow?
Who could kill
Critical Note
An Elegy on the Death of Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle calls them “twins of valour” and “friends.” They were shot, buried, and subsequently commemorated together. Pulter places them in the tradition of idealized male friends, using this tradition to recast death as a kind of union. In her “Of a Young Lady at Oxford, 1646” (Poem 43), a tale of a woman who killed herself when her fiancé died fighting for the king, Pulter again refers to Lucas and Lisle as models of true love between men in the tradition of Damon and Pythias, Castor and Pollux, Patroclus and Achilles: “When lovely Lisle saw Lucas bleeding lie, / He on his trembling bosom straight did die. / Thus do these stories and these fables teach / And show to us how far our love may reach” (lines 65-66). See “Curations” for other contemporary sources of this vision of the two men. If civil war was often depicted as a form of fratricide, this idealization of male friendship exalts Royalists as fratriphilic. Pulter’s use of heroic couplets throughout the poem reinforces her coupling of the two heroes.
love and valor
at a blow?
3
Just as Minervas darling clos’d his eyes
Critical Note
Minerva, goddess of wisdom and warfare, is portrayed allegorically as the lover of Valor, identified with Lucas; Love is identified with Lisle, who was able to kiss Lucas before he died (Eardley).
Just as Minerva’s darling closed his eyes,
Just as
Critical Note
Eardley interprets “Minerva’s darling” as Lucas, who died first, and “Love” as Lisle who was able to kiss him as he died. These identifications follow from the Royalist accounts of the execution included in “Curations.” Regarding Lucas’s association with Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, his sister, Margaret Cavendish, emphasizes that Charles “naturally . . . had a practick Genius to the Warlike Arts, or Arts in War, as Natural Poets have to Poesy but his life was cut off before he could arrive to the perfection thereof” (“A True Relation of My Birth, Breeding, and Life,” in Natures Picture Drawn by Fancies Pencil [London, 1656], sig. Bbb2).
Minerva’s darling
closed his eyes,
4
Loue Kiſſing wept and on his boſome dies
Love, kissing, wept and on his bosom dies.
Love kissing wept and on his bosom dies.
5
Ah me what horrid Hidra had the hart
Ah me, what horrid
Critical Note
in classical myth, a many-headed monster whose heads grow back after being cut off; often used figuratively, i.e. for opponents to royalists in England’s civil wars
Hydra
had the heart
Ah me, what horrid
Critical Note
The hydra, or many-headed monster, was often used to describe an unruly mob and to disparage and dehumanize collectivity. For example, Royalists described their opposition (made up of collectives including Parliament, the Army, and religious sects) as a Hydra. Since one of the labors of Hercules was slaying the Hydra, calling one’s opposition a Hydra suggested that it would be admirable, even heroic, to destroy the monster. Here, the Hydra has but one heart even if it has many heads, a heartless heart determined to kill Lucas and Lisle. Hydra is the subject governing and linking the two verbs “unite and part” in a kind of zeugma or syllepsis.
Hydra
had the heart
6
Them in theire Deaths thus to unite and part
Them in their deaths thus to unite and part?
Them in their deaths thus to unite and part?
7
Mars on the Areopagie once was tried
Gloss Note
Roman god of war
Mars
, on the
Gloss Note
a hill in Athens, the site of an ancient judicial court and, in legend, a trial for a murder charge against Mars
Areopagus
, once was tried;
Critical Note
Even Mars, the god of war, was tried on the Areopagus, a hill in Athens where trials were held, rather than summarily executed. Lucas and Lisle, in contrast, were not granted a trial. Some stories about Mars (Ares in Greek mythology) claim that he was the first to be put on trial for shedding blood. He killed Poseidon’s son Halirrhothius for raping his daughter; Poseidon had him tried before a jury of the twelve gods, the “best of gods” as opposed to those who judged Lucas and Lisle. The fragmentary accounts that survive suggest that it was the justice of his cause, as well as his history of “valor,” that led to his acquittal. One print account refers to Lisle and Lucas as “sons of Mars” (Another Bloudy Fight at Colchester [London, 1648], 2).
Mars on the Areopagus once was tried;
8
His vallour ſav’d him or he elce had died
His valor saved him, or he else had died.
His valor saved him or he else had died.
9
His Judg and Jurie were the best of Gods
His judge and jury were the best of gods;
His judge and jury were the best of gods;
10
Theſe worst of Men, Ô me what ods
These, worst of men: O me, what odds!
These worst of men. Oh me, what odds
11
Had Joues ^three Sons of Everlasting fame
Had
Gloss Note
Jove, king of the Roman gods; his sons—Rhadamanthus, Minos, and Aeacus (each born of a mortal mother)—judge those entering the underworld
Jove’s three sons
of everlasting fame
Had
Critical Note
Jove/Jupiter/Zeus had numerous sons but many critics assume that this refers to three of Zeus’s sons who were judges in the underworld: Rhadamanthus, Minos, and Aeacus. Had they been present, the poem suggests, maybe this would have been a fair trial.
Jove’s three sons
of everlasting fame,
12
Borne of A mortall and Celestiall flame
(Born of a mortal and celestial flame),
Born of a mortal and celestial flame,
13
Had they bin here this buſines to deſide
Had they been here, this business to decide,
Had they been here this business to decide?
14
Then these too Noble Gallants had not died
Then these
Physical Note
manuscript has “too,” which could signal “two”
too
noble gallants had not died.
Then these
Critical Note
While “two” and “too” were frequently used interchangeably, the homophone too/two captures the ways the execution doubles martyrs and demonstrates that they were too noble for this earth.
too
noble gallants had not died.
15
Or had Astreus (lover of the Morn
Or had
Gloss Note
Greek god of dusk, who married Eos, goddess of dawn (the Roman Aurora)
Astraeus
(lover of the Morn,
Or had
Critical Note
Pulter frequently refers to Astreus, the god of dusk in Greek mythology, his wife, Eos, the goddess of dawn or the morning, whom Pulter calls by her Roman name, Aurora, and their daughter Astrea. These lines refer to Eos as the morn from whose bright womb the brighter babe, Astrea, was born. Astrea was associated with innocence, purity, and justice. These lines suggest that Astreus would have delighted in saving the lives of Lucas and Lisle because they fought for his daughter, that is, for justice.
Astreus
, lover of the morn,
16
Of whoſe bright ^womb her brighter babe was born
Of whose bright womb her
Gloss Note
Astraea, classical goddess associated with justice, identified with the constellation Virgo; the last deity to leave Earth, she lived among humans in the Golden Age, then fled in the Bronze Age
brighter babe
was born)
Of whose bright womb her
Critical Note
Pulter frequently refers to Astreus, the god of dusk in Greek mythology, his wife, Eos, the goddess of dawn or the morning, whom Pulter calls by her Roman name, Aurora, and their daughter Astrea. These lines refer to Eos as the morn from whose bright womb the brighter babe, Astrea, was born. Astrea was associated with innocence, purity, and justice. These lines suggest that Astreus would have delighted in saving the lives of Lucas and Lisle because they fought for his daughter, that is, for justice.
brighter babe was born
,
17
Had hee bin here hee would have took delight
Had he been here, he would have took delight
Had he been here he would have took delight
18
To Saue theire lives that for his Child did fight
To save their lives, that for his child did fight.
To save their lives that for his child did fight.
then

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19
Then had theire Judges bin the Gods Eternall
Then, had their judges been the gods eternal,
Then had their judges been the gods eternal
20
Or upright Men, nay or the powers Infernall
Or upright men—nay, or the
Gloss Note
The implication is that, unlike their human judges, even Satan’s forces would not have been so evil as to execute Lisle and Lucas.
powers infernal
Or upright men, nay or the powers infernal,
21
This unambiguous buſines to deſide
This unambiguous business to decide,
This unambiguous business to decide.
22
Then this unparaleld friendship had not died
Then this unparalleled friendship had not died.
Then this unparalleled friendship had not died.
23
But Jewes, Turks, Atheists Independents all
But
Critical Note
groups perceived or acting as religious and political opponents of royalists in England’s civil war
Jews, Turks, atheists, Independents
: all
But Jews, Turks, Atheists, Independents, all
24
That Curſſed Rabble, made theſe gallants fall
That curséd rabble made these gallants fall.
Critical Note
Pulter here shows her connections to other Royalist polemic, which routinely linked Protestant “Independents” to other religious and ethnic groups, disparaging them all by association. While “Independents” referred to a distinct group with a very particular religious and political agenda, Pulter uses the term to lump together all who presume to set their own course. Similarly, Philocrates, in The Loyal Sacrifice: Presented in the Lives and Deaths of those two eminent-heroic patterns, for valor, discipline, and fidelity, the generally beloved and bemoaned, Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle, Knights (n.p., 1648) refers to the “sundry Jewish Anarchial Synagogue rooks” supporting the Army and Parliament (11). It also refers to the Turks to emphasize the barbarity of the killing of Lucas and Lisle: “But never did any savage nation, were it Turkish or any other heathen, execute the like tyranny and cruelty upon such frivolous pretenses (as is well observed) in cold blood” (68). A dedicatory epistle to Sir John Lucas, Charles’s brother, begins with the claim that many Englishmen “are degenerated into the very faith, or rather perfidiousness of the Jew” (Demophilus Philanactos, Two Epitaphs, Occasioned by the Death of Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle, basely assassinated at Colchester [1648], sig. DA2r). In Pulter’s poem here, the “horrid Hydra,” “Cursed Rabble,” “black army,” and “sacrilegious rout” all link the Parliamentary cause, the New Model Army, and their supporters as a disorderly mob.
That cursed rabble
, made these gallants fall.
25
How could they doe it were they not Amazed
How could
Gloss Note
the “curséd rabble”
they
do it? Were they not
Gloss Note
stunned; bewildered; terrified; astonished
amazed
How could they do it? Were they not
Critical Note
“Amazed” connotes not only being astonished or surprised, as it still does today, but also having lost one’s mind or way, being bewildered or terrified. This may refer to being lost as in a maze or labyrinth, paralyzed or trapped.
amazed
26
When as the cruell
Physical Note
“e,” blurred, appears written over earlier letter
Parcie
ſat and Gazed
Gloss Note
when
Whenas
the cruel
Gloss Note
in Greek myth, three female Fates named (as below) Lachesis, Clotho, and Atropos, who determine the length of human lives, represented as threads
Parcae
sat and gazed
When as the cruel
Critical Note
As the Golden Book of Leaden Gods, included in “Curations,” explains: “the Parcae were three sisters of destiny, whereof Clotho was figured holding the distaff, Lachesis drawing out the thread [of life], and Atropos cutting it off.” When Atropos cuts the thread of life with her “fatal scissors” (line 42 below), she brings that life to an end. Pulter also refers to the Parcie or Parcae, the three fates of Greek myth, in “The Eclipse” (Poem 1), where she describes them as “impartial” rather than “cruel.”
Parcae
sat and gazed
27
On theire perfections as Lachis drew the thred
On
Gloss Note
Lisle and Lucas’s
their
perfections? As Lachesis drew the thread,
On their perfections? As Lachesis drew the thread,
28
What wont you part a ſunder then ſhee ſe’d
“What, won’t
Gloss Note
Lisle and Lucas
you
part asunder then?” she said.
“What, won’t you part asunder?,” then she said.
29
They Striving in theire lives to imbrace each other
They, striving in their lives to embrace each other,
They striving in their lives to embrace each other,
30
Shee twirl’d and twisted both of them together
She twirled and twisted both of them together.
She twirled and twisted both of them together.
31
Then
Physical Note
final “o” appears written over “a”
Clotho
at theire constant loue did wonder
Then Clotho at their constant love did wonder,
Then Clotho at their constant love did wonder,
32
And in meere pitty ^pul’d them not a ſunder
And, in mere pity, pulled them not asunder;
And in mere pity, pulled them not asunder.
33
Physical Note
double strike-through; to left, in margin, is “Shee” with superscript “x” in different hand from main scribe
Andx
being it Seems the Tenderst hearted Laſs
She being, it seems, the tend’rest-hearted lass,
And being, it seems, the tenderest-hearted lass,
34
Goe Noble
Physical Note
“e” appears in place of earlier “d,” with imperfectly erased ascender visible
Soules
Shee Said, and let them paſs
“Go, noble souls,” she said, and let them pass.
“Go, noble souls,” she said, and let them pass.
35
But Atropas inrag’d began to chide
But Atropos, enraged, began to chide,
But Atropas, enraged, began to chide,
36
Saying these trew loves knots must be untied
Saying, “These true love’s knots must be untied.”
Saying “these true love’s knots must be untied!”
37
But Seeing theire
Physical Note
"v” written over other letter (perhaps “n”)
Lives
Shee could not stay to ^untwist
But seeing their lives she could not stay t’untwist,
But seeing their lives, she could not stay t’untwist,
38
Let those Sit Idleing here (Shee ſaid) that list
“Let those sit idling here” (she said) “that
Gloss Note
like, choose
list
;
“Let those sit idling here,” she said, “that list.
39
How can wee give account unto thoſe powers
How can we give account unto those powers
How can we give account unto those powers
40
That us imploy, in trifeling out our howres
That us employ, in trifling out our hours?”
That us employ, in trifling out our hours?”
41
Then Scolding at her Sisters for theire Sloth
Then, scolding at her sisters for their sloth,
Then scolding at her sisters for their sloth,
42
Shee with her fatall Cizers Snipt them both
She with her fatal scissors snipped them both.
She with her fatal scissors snipped them both.
Shee

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43
Shee then cryed out, alaſs but hurring fate
She then cried out “Alas!”; but
Gloss Note
obsolete term for snarling; possibly, scribal error for “hurrying”
hurring
fate
She then cried out, “Alas!” but
Gloss Note
snarling like a dog (obsolete) or possibly hurr[y]ing
hurring fate
44
fforced her poore Girle, her
Physical Note
“i” replaces earlier “e”
pitty
came too late
Forced her, poor girl: her pity came too late.
Forced her, poor girl;
Critical Note
Pulter’s Atropas is first angry at the tender-heartedness and delay of her sisters and then, after she snips the two heroes’ intertwined threads of life, regretful of her own hasty action. While the Parcae are themselves called Fates, who control the lives and destinies of humans, here Atropas is herself “forced” by a “hurring” fate that drives her to act and act fast. Pulter here captures the urgency of war in which events move too fast and pity comes too late. Fairfax had Lucas and Lisle shot in the evening of the same day the Royalists had surrendered to him.
her pity came too late
.
45
Licaon
Physical Note
colon might be penmarks
Tantall:
tender to this brood
Gloss Note
In Greek myth, Lycaon and Tantalus (separately) feed their sons to gods; “tender to this brood” refers to the tender feelings of “the cursed rabble” (“this brood”) for these murderers.
Lycaon, Tantal, tender to this brood,
Critical Note
Pulter seems to invoke and link two figures from Greek mythology here, Lycaon and Tantalus, both of whom killed their children. Lycaon served one of his many sons to Zeus, testing whether the god could tell that he was eating human flesh. Tantalus served his son Pelops to the gods. Both serve here as figures for the cannibalism of civil war as well as for ruthlessness. “Tender to this brood” may mean that Lycaon and Tantalus are both tender compared to “this brood,” the Parliamentary forces, or that the Parliamentary forces feel tenderly toward Lycaon and Tantalus. But the phrasing may also sarcastically remind us that Lycaon and Tantalus were far from tender to their own broods or offspring.
Lycaon, Tantal
, tender to this brood
46
Who fed on Hostagis and Infants blood
Who fed on hostages and infants’ blood:
Who fed on hostages’ and infants’ blood:
47
Why are they now more cruell then at first
Why are
Gloss Note
the “curséd rabble”
they
now more cruel than at first?
Why are they now more cruel than at first?
48
They’r Drunk with Christian blood yet still they^ thirst
They’re drunk with Christian blood, yet still they thirst.
They’re drunk with Christian blood, yet still they thirst.
49
Doth that ould Vulture and his preying brood
Doth that
Critical Note
likely, Oliver Cromwell: “his long nose incited royalist pamphleteers to describe him as a vulture” (Eardley)
old vulture
and his preying brood
Doth
Critical Note
“That old vulture” might refer to Oliver Cromwell, one of the principal commanders of the New Model Army and, later, the Lord Protector or leader of the Commonwealth, or to Thomas Fairfax, who ordered the shootings. Neither was especially old. Cromwell was forty nine years old at the time of the shooting, and Fairfax thirty six. One Royalist pamphlet describes “the ravenous and gripping claws of these Cannibal Cuckoos (the Parliament and Army) that are now devouring [the people], after they have pulled and polished them to the bare skins, [and] are now feeding upon their flesh, and picking their very bones, killing, destroying, and robbing them” (A2r). It specifies that the Parliamentary forces are all “vultures, harpies” and “such like ominous and unclean birds, that with their huge bodies and baleful wings have obscured our king, our peace, our happiness.” Such carrion birds conspire against the eagle, the phoenix, and other birds figuring royalty and royalism. See Mercurius Melancholicus, The Cuckoo’s-nest at Westminster, or the Parliament between the two Lady-Birds, Quean Fairfax, and Lady Cromwell, concerning Negotiations of Estate (London, 1648).
that old vulture
and his preying brood
50
Think to grow young w:th ſucking ſprit^ely blood
Think to grow young with
Critical Note
the blood of still-living beings; alluding to a myth about (not vultures but) eagles, whose beaks are said to grow too long to allow them to eat flesh, so they suck blood instead (Eardley)
sucking sprightly blood
?
Think to grow young with sucking sprightly blood?
51
Oh let them next ſuck
Physical Note
“u” appears to correct earlier letter; superscript “e” may be flourish
Neſſues’s
poys’nd gore
Oh, let them next suck
Gloss Note
centaur with poisoned blood
Nessus’s
poisoned gore;
Oh, let them next suck Nessus’s poisoned gore;
52
Like mad
Physical Note
"e" appears written over "a"
Alcides
let them Rave and Rore
Like mad
Gloss Note
Hercules, poisoned by Nessus
Alcides
, let them rave and roar;
Critical Note
Nessus (l. 51) was a satyr (half man, half horse) with toxic blood. Heracles/Alcides killed him but was later poisoned by a shirt dipped in that toxic blood and begged to be killed to put him out of his pain.The result was displaced suicide—self-destroying—by the hand of another. In Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, Antony laments his humiliating retreat, following Cleopatra, by saying: “The shirt of Nessus is upon me: teach me, / Alcides, thou mine ancestor, thy rage” (4.12). The story of Alcides’s miserable end serves as a cautionary tale about revenge reaching out beyond the grave, and violence rebounding against the perpetrator.
Like mad Alcides let them rave and roar;
53
And as they haue bin three kingdooms sore ^ annoyers
And, as they have been
Gloss Note
England, Ireland, Scotland
three kingdoms’
sore annoyers,
And as they have been
Gloss Note
The supposedly united kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.
three kingdoms’
sore annoyers,
54
Let them like
Physical Note
inserted in different hand from main scribe
\him\
at
Physical Note
last three letters written over previous ones
laſt
be ſelfe destroyers
Let them, like him, at last be self-destroyers.
Let them, like him, at last be self-destroyers.
55
Had these undaunted loving Heros died
Had these undaunted loving heroes died
Had these undaunted loving heroes died
56
In former times they had bin Deified
In former times, they had been deified.
In former times, they had been deified.
57
Then theire Renown and love had ſpread as fare
Then, their renown and love had spread as far
Then their renown and love had spread as far
58
As thoſe two famous Thunderbolts of War
As those two famous
Gloss Note
Cornelius Scipio (236-183 BCE) and Cornelius Scipio (ca. 185-129 BCE), Roman commanders renowned by Virgil and followers as “Duo fulmina belli,” the “two thunderbolts of war”
thunderbolts of war
.
As those
Critical Note
Virgil referred to two Roman generals, both named Cornelius Scipio, as “twin thunderbolts of war” (duo fulmina belli, Aeneid 6.842). Aeneas encounters them in the underworld, so they are already dead, their achievements behind them. Because the first Scipio defeated the general Hannibal, despite his reputation for military strategy and his extensive human and animal forces (including elephants), he earned the nickname “Scipio Africanus.” The other Scipio was his adopted grandson. In a later war, he defeated Carthage and, famously, burned it to the ground and devastated its agricultural fields. Lucretius uses the story of these two indomitable generals to remind readers that even great warriors come to dust. “Scipio’s son, the thunderbolt of war, / Horror of Carthage, gave his bones to earth, / Like to the lowliest villein in the house” (De rerum Natura, trans. William E. Leonard [Boston: E. P. Dutton, 1916], 3.1038-40). Lucy Hutchinson’s translation of Lucretius elaborates that “in a cold bed / Of earth his bones were laid, nor in the grave / Enjoy more privilege than the meanest slave” (The Works of Lucy Hutchinson, ed. Reid Barbour and David Norbrook [Oxford University Press, 2012], 3.1117-19). One edition of this poem suggests that the two thunderbolts might refer to Castor and Pollux, to whom Pulter elsewhere compares Lucas and Lisle. See Early Modern Women Poets: An Anthology, ed. Jane Stevenson and Peter Davidson (Oxford University Press, 2001).
two famous thunderbolts of war
.
59
Effigies, Piramids, Collumns, Colloſses,
Effigies, pyramids, columns,
Gloss Note
huge statues
colosses
,
Effigies, pyramids, columns,
Gloss Note
massive statues
colosses
,
60
Had bin Erect to memoriſe our loſses
Had been erect to
Gloss Note
maintain the memory
memorize
our losses;
Had been erect to
Gloss Note
commemorate
memorize
our losses.
61
But wee are now denied our Just deſires
But we are now denied our just desires.
But we are now denied our just desires;
62
Trew gratefull loue in this our age expires
True grateful love in this, our age, expires;
True grateful love in this our age expires.
63
Yet Some Sad Swan I Know there will be found
Yet
Critical Note
an allusion (in Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso) to the story of swans in the afterlife who ferry the names of a few dead to a temple of immortal fame (Eardley)
some sad swan
, I know, there will be found
Yet some
Critical Note
The reference here to the sad swan may refer to the belief that swans sing before they die. Writers as early as Pliny called this into doubt: “Some say that the swans sing lamentably a little before their death, but untruly, I suppose: for experience in many hath showed the contrary” (The History of the World. Commonly Called the Natural History, trans. Philemon Holland [London, 1601], 10.3. sig. Bb3v). Yet the belief underpins an expression still in use, the “swan song,” or final performance. The speaker may express the hope that she herself may be this sad swan, dying after she puts her grief into verse, and achieving recognition “only” for this “one action” of commemorating the heroes.
sad swan
I know there will be found
64
That for this onely Action Shall bee Crond
That for this only action shall be crowned:
That for this only action shall be crowned,
that

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65
That Shall beare louely Lisle, and Lucas name
That shall bear lovely Lisle and Lucas’s name
That shall bear lovely Lisle’s and Lucas’s name
66
Vnto the Temple of Eternall fame
Unto the temple of eternal fame.
Unto the temple of eternal fame.
67
When that black Armie after theire Short Dreame
When that black army, after their short dream,
When that black army after their short dream
68
Shall floating bee on Stix his Sable Streame
Shall floating be on
Gloss Note
river in classical underworld
Styx’s
sable stream,
Shall floating be on
Gloss Note
river in the underworld
Styx
his sable stream,
69
They by the Angrey billowes Shall bee tost
They by the angry billows shall be tossed
They by the angry billows shall be tossed
70
Till in oblivians Horrid Womb
Physical Note
final “e” erased
ther’e
lost
Till in
Gloss Note
goddess of the river Lethe (literally: “Oblivion”) in Greek mythological underworld
Oblivion’s
horrid womb they’re lost.
Till in oblivion’s horrid womb they’re lost.
71
If hee that fired Dianas Phane for fame
If
Gloss Note
Herostratus, seeking fame, set alight the temple (“fane”) of Artemis or Diana in Ephesus, 356 BC; the Ephesians executed him and forbade mention of his name.
he that fired Diana’s fane
for fame
If he that fired Diana’s
Gloss Note
temple
fane
for fame
72
Lost both his Expectation and his name
Lost both his expectation and his name;
Gloss Note
Herostratus set fire to Diana’s temple in Ephesus “for fame” but as punishment the Ephesians forbade the mention of his name. This kind of self-defeating act fascinates Pulter in this poem.
Lost both his expectation and his name;
73
If covetous Cambices who preſum’d
If covetous
Gloss Note
Cambyses II (c. 522 BCE), a king of Persia whose force of 50,000 was buried in a sandstorm after embarking on an attack of an oracle in Egypt.
Cambyses
, who presumed
If covetous Cambyses, who presumed
74
To rob the Gods till Sand his mem conſum’d
To rob the gods till sand his men consumed;
To rob the Gods ’til sand his
Gloss Note
memory
mem
consumed,
75
Or that
Physical Note
corrected, possibly from “ffree”
ffier^ce
Gaule who Delphus ment to plunder
Or that fierce
Gloss Note
Brennus, leader of Gauls punished by gods for invading Apollo’s sanctuary of Delphi, Greece
Gaul
who Delphi meant to plunder
Or that fierce Gaul who Delphus meant to plunder
76
Till firey Phebus Routed him with Thunder
Till fiery
Gloss Note
Apollo
Phoebus
Gloss Note
defeated
routed
him with thunder:
’Til firey Phoebus
Critical Note
Herostratus, Cambyses and the fierce Gaul (Brennus) were all guilty of sacrilege and ultimately punished. See “Curations.” This series of “if” clauses builds to the “then” that this sacrilegious rout or mob, the Parliamentary forces, will ultimately be punished, too.
routed him with thunder
:
77
If these live now in Honour then noe doubt
If these live now in honor, then no doubt
If these live now in honor, then no doubt,
78
ffame Shall Attend this Sacrilegi’us rout
Fame shall attend this sacrilegious
Gloss Note
troop, crowd, mob
rout
,
Fame shall attend this sacrilegious rout,
79
Who have our ffaiths defender over powerd
Who have
Gloss Note
King Charles
our faith’s defender
overpowered,
Who have
Critical Note
“Our faith’s defender” refers to the king, Charles I. The Royalist view of the monarch as God’s representative on earth, as well as the Supreme Head of the Church of England, made opposing (and ultimately killing him) a form of sacrilege.
our faith’s defender
over-powered,
80
And Temples, Alters, Victims, all devourd
And temples, altars, victims, all devoured;
And temples, altars, victims, all devoured.
81
But theſe victorious Soules live now aboue
But these victorious souls live now above,
But these victorious souls live now above
82
And gloriously goe on in Endles loue
And gloriously go on in endless love,
And gloriously go in endless love,
83
Whil’st theire faire frames w:ch here did cloſe^theire lives
Whilst
Gloss Note
structure, physical body, constitution, arrangement; also the universe, heavens, earth, or any part of it
their fair frames
, which here did close their lives,
Whilst their fair
Gloss Note
physical body
frame
which here did close their lives,
84
Shall live in fame till they in
Physical Note
double strike-through
Triumph
Physical Note
directly above struck-through “Triumph,” in different hand from main scribe
Glory
riſe.
Shall live in fame till they in glory rise.
Shall live in fame ’til they in glory rise.
horizontal straight line
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition

 Editorial note

My “amplified” editions seek to make the poems as accessible as possible by modernizing spelling and punctuation and providing only brief definitions for words, while discursive notes and the materials I gather for the “curations” section place Pulter’s poems into conversations. As I build the curations for a given poem—provisional and quirky as they are—I keep returning to the poem, re-reading, rethinking, and adding layers to the notes. I hope to show that Pulter was intellectually and politically embedded rather than isolated, taking up issues, genres, and tropes that also interested her contemporaries and that sometimes accrue unpredictable salience in later periods. Rather than focusing only on possible sources or influences, I cast a wide net both within the seventeenth century and outside it, trying to catch cultural materials Pulter might have engaged, some she excludes or ignores, and even some she probably could never have imagined. Curations don’t precede the poems nor are they implied by the poems—as if the poem gathers them to itself (although it can sometimes feel that way) or hales them forth. Instead, as a curator I weave the poem into a web of relations, seeking to open out rather than close down interpretive possibilities. This extends to including extracts that are long enough that readers might find things therein that I do not anticipate. I also look for a multi-vectored traffic among Pulter’s poetry and the other materials. What might the materials I’ve gathered help readers see in the poems—or notice is not there? But also, how do the poems bring fresh perspectives into the conversations into which I draw them? The more one reads the poems as participants in wider ranging conversations, the more fascinatingly twisty Pulter appears. Often, I don’t grasp how she upends or comes at conventions aslant until I have mucked about composting my “curations.”

 Headnote

Pulter here responds to a controversial recent event. But she does so by writing in the long tradition of elegaic poetry, combining classical allusion and the charged language of Royalist polemic. Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle were Royalist commanders who were arrested and executed at Colchester on August 28, 1648, at the end of a protracted siege on the town by Parliamentary forces that had begun June 12th. That siege, which starved residents, driving them to desperate extremes, has been called “a central event of the second civil war and a focus of national attention in private letters and public print” (Barbara Donegan, War in England, 1642-49 [Oxford UP, 2008], 313). In Pulter’s manuscript, the phrase in the title, “who were shot to death at Colchester,” was added in a different hand, perhaps suggesting that a later reviewer of the manuscript felt that other readers might need a bit more information to understand the poem’s occasion. At the time Pulter wrote, however, everyone was talking about the execution of Lucas and Lisle. It prompted controversy and outrage from the start; that controversy extended into the nineteenth century, when a monument to the two was erected. Was this a murder or an execution? What are the rules of war? Were Lucas and Lisle shot simply for being Royalists? (Margaret Lucas Cavendish later wrote that her brother, Charles, was “shot to death for his loyal service.”) Or were they court-martialed for a military offence, breach of parole? Commander Thomas Fairfax, who ordered the shooting, had previously captured and released both Lucas and Lisle on two separate occasions, each time securing a pledge that they would not again take up arms against Parliamentary forces. They had clearly broken that promise. Was Fairfax justified or not? Fairfax and his supporters struggled to defend his action, especially because he did not try Lucas and Lisle. Fairfax emphasized that they had not yet been granted “fair quarter” (the promise of clothes, food, and immunity from violence while prisoners) but had surrendered themselves to his mercy, meaning not that they were guaranteed mercy but that they were at his mercy. Fairfax justified the action as “some satisfaction to Military Justice, and in part of avenge for the innocent blood they have caused to be spilt” in the course of the siege (A Letter from Lord Fairfax Concerning the Surrender of Colchester [1648]). While Royalists like Pulter viewed Lucas and Lisle as martyrs, accounts of the siege and execution more sympathetic to the Parliamentary cause blamed Lucas for attracting the army to Colchester in the first place (Colchester was the site of the Lucas family home, St. John’s, a former abbey), and for instigating the siege and abusing the residents. Pulter’s subject, then, is one that had inspired many other writers. In her poem on the execution of Charles I, “Let none sigh more for Lucas or for Lisle” (Poem 15), Pulter demonstrates how quickly the target of mourning had shifted. Just months after the shooting of Lisle and Lucas, in January 1649, the regicide eclipsed that earlier outrage. Andrea Brady argues that the two men’s deaths were widely depicted as “sacrificial prologues to the king’s execution” (“Dying with Honour: Literary Propaganda and the Second English Civil War,” The Journal of Military History 70.1 [2006]: 9-30, p. 11). Pulter presents them as soldiers and heroes, yes, but also as friends and even lovers.
Line number 1

 Critical note

That Pulter begins with a question conveys the incredible and unacceptable nature of the news, especially since the speaker follows the question by rebuffing the answer (“Oh say not so”). The question also advises us of the uncertain status of news at this time. The poem’s account of the deaths and the language it uses to describe the Parliamentary forces suggest that Pulter had access to popular print accounts. But the opening question also conveys a sense of doubt about what one hears through rumor and cheap print. The unstable tenses—it happened and is happening—make the incredible news newly traumatic. Pulter’s use of questions may also signal her debt to Milton’s elegy Lycidas (1638).
Line number 2

 Critical note

An Elegy on the Death of Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle calls them “twins of valour” and “friends.” They were shot, buried, and subsequently commemorated together. Pulter places them in the tradition of idealized male friends, using this tradition to recast death as a kind of union. In her “Of a Young Lady at Oxford, 1646” (Poem 43), a tale of a woman who killed herself when her fiancé died fighting for the king, Pulter again refers to Lucas and Lisle as models of true love between men in the tradition of Damon and Pythias, Castor and Pollux, Patroclus and Achilles: “When lovely Lisle saw Lucas bleeding lie, / He on his trembling bosom straight did die. / Thus do these stories and these fables teach / And show to us how far our love may reach” (lines 65-66). See “Curations” for other contemporary sources of this vision of the two men. If civil war was often depicted as a form of fratricide, this idealization of male friendship exalts Royalists as fratriphilic. Pulter’s use of heroic couplets throughout the poem reinforces her coupling of the two heroes.
Line number 3

 Critical note

Eardley interprets “Minerva’s darling” as Lucas, who died first, and “Love” as Lisle who was able to kiss him as he died. These identifications follow from the Royalist accounts of the execution included in “Curations.” Regarding Lucas’s association with Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, his sister, Margaret Cavendish, emphasizes that Charles “naturally . . . had a practick Genius to the Warlike Arts, or Arts in War, as Natural Poets have to Poesy but his life was cut off before he could arrive to the perfection thereof” (“A True Relation of My Birth, Breeding, and Life,” in Natures Picture Drawn by Fancies Pencil [London, 1656], sig. Bbb2).
Line number 5

 Critical note

The hydra, or many-headed monster, was often used to describe an unruly mob and to disparage and dehumanize collectivity. For example, Royalists described their opposition (made up of collectives including Parliament, the Army, and religious sects) as a Hydra. Since one of the labors of Hercules was slaying the Hydra, calling one’s opposition a Hydra suggested that it would be admirable, even heroic, to destroy the monster. Here, the Hydra has but one heart even if it has many heads, a heartless heart determined to kill Lucas and Lisle. Hydra is the subject governing and linking the two verbs “unite and part” in a kind of zeugma or syllepsis.
Line number 7

 Critical note

Even Mars, the god of war, was tried on the Areopagus, a hill in Athens where trials were held, rather than summarily executed. Lucas and Lisle, in contrast, were not granted a trial. Some stories about Mars (Ares in Greek mythology) claim that he was the first to be put on trial for shedding blood. He killed Poseidon’s son Halirrhothius for raping his daughter; Poseidon had him tried before a jury of the twelve gods, the “best of gods” as opposed to those who judged Lucas and Lisle. The fragmentary accounts that survive suggest that it was the justice of his cause, as well as his history of “valor,” that led to his acquittal. One print account refers to Lisle and Lucas as “sons of Mars” (Another Bloudy Fight at Colchester [London, 1648], 2).
Line number 11

 Critical note

Jove/Jupiter/Zeus had numerous sons but many critics assume that this refers to three of Zeus’s sons who were judges in the underworld: Rhadamanthus, Minos, and Aeacus. Had they been present, the poem suggests, maybe this would have been a fair trial.
Line number 14

 Critical note

While “two” and “too” were frequently used interchangeably, the homophone too/two captures the ways the execution doubles martyrs and demonstrates that they were too noble for this earth.
Line number 15

 Critical note

Pulter frequently refers to Astreus, the god of dusk in Greek mythology, his wife, Eos, the goddess of dawn or the morning, whom Pulter calls by her Roman name, Aurora, and their daughter Astrea. These lines refer to Eos as the morn from whose bright womb the brighter babe, Astrea, was born. Astrea was associated with innocence, purity, and justice. These lines suggest that Astreus would have delighted in saving the lives of Lucas and Lisle because they fought for his daughter, that is, for justice.
Line number 16

 Critical note

Pulter frequently refers to Astreus, the god of dusk in Greek mythology, his wife, Eos, the goddess of dawn or the morning, whom Pulter calls by her Roman name, Aurora, and their daughter Astrea. These lines refer to Eos as the morn from whose bright womb the brighter babe, Astrea, was born. Astrea was associated with innocence, purity, and justice. These lines suggest that Astreus would have delighted in saving the lives of Lucas and Lisle because they fought for his daughter, that is, for justice.
Line number 24

 Critical note

Pulter here shows her connections to other Royalist polemic, which routinely linked Protestant “Independents” to other religious and ethnic groups, disparaging them all by association. While “Independents” referred to a distinct group with a very particular religious and political agenda, Pulter uses the term to lump together all who presume to set their own course. Similarly, Philocrates, in The Loyal Sacrifice: Presented in the Lives and Deaths of those two eminent-heroic patterns, for valor, discipline, and fidelity, the generally beloved and bemoaned, Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle, Knights (n.p., 1648) refers to the “sundry Jewish Anarchial Synagogue rooks” supporting the Army and Parliament (11). It also refers to the Turks to emphasize the barbarity of the killing of Lucas and Lisle: “But never did any savage nation, were it Turkish or any other heathen, execute the like tyranny and cruelty upon such frivolous pretenses (as is well observed) in cold blood” (68). A dedicatory epistle to Sir John Lucas, Charles’s brother, begins with the claim that many Englishmen “are degenerated into the very faith, or rather perfidiousness of the Jew” (Demophilus Philanactos, Two Epitaphs, Occasioned by the Death of Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle, basely assassinated at Colchester [1648], sig. DA2r). In Pulter’s poem here, the “horrid Hydra,” “Cursed Rabble,” “black army,” and “sacrilegious rout” all link the Parliamentary cause, the New Model Army, and their supporters as a disorderly mob.
Line number 25

 Critical note

“Amazed” connotes not only being astonished or surprised, as it still does today, but also having lost one’s mind or way, being bewildered or terrified. This may refer to being lost as in a maze or labyrinth, paralyzed or trapped.
Line number 26

 Critical note

As the Golden Book of Leaden Gods, included in “Curations,” explains: “the Parcae were three sisters of destiny, whereof Clotho was figured holding the distaff, Lachesis drawing out the thread [of life], and Atropos cutting it off.” When Atropos cuts the thread of life with her “fatal scissors” (line 42 below), she brings that life to an end. Pulter also refers to the Parcie or Parcae, the three fates of Greek myth, in “The Eclipse” (Poem 1), where she describes them as “impartial” rather than “cruel.”
Line number 43

 Gloss note

snarling like a dog (obsolete) or possibly hurr[y]ing
Line number 44

 Critical note

Pulter’s Atropas is first angry at the tender-heartedness and delay of her sisters and then, after she snips the two heroes’ intertwined threads of life, regretful of her own hasty action. While the Parcae are themselves called Fates, who control the lives and destinies of humans, here Atropas is herself “forced” by a “hurring” fate that drives her to act and act fast. Pulter here captures the urgency of war in which events move too fast and pity comes too late. Fairfax had Lucas and Lisle shot in the evening of the same day the Royalists had surrendered to him.
Line number 45

 Critical note

Pulter seems to invoke and link two figures from Greek mythology here, Lycaon and Tantalus, both of whom killed their children. Lycaon served one of his many sons to Zeus, testing whether the god could tell that he was eating human flesh. Tantalus served his son Pelops to the gods. Both serve here as figures for the cannibalism of civil war as well as for ruthlessness. “Tender to this brood” may mean that Lycaon and Tantalus are both tender compared to “this brood,” the Parliamentary forces, or that the Parliamentary forces feel tenderly toward Lycaon and Tantalus. But the phrasing may also sarcastically remind us that Lycaon and Tantalus were far from tender to their own broods or offspring.
Line number 49

 Critical note

“That old vulture” might refer to Oliver Cromwell, one of the principal commanders of the New Model Army and, later, the Lord Protector or leader of the Commonwealth, or to Thomas Fairfax, who ordered the shootings. Neither was especially old. Cromwell was forty nine years old at the time of the shooting, and Fairfax thirty six. One Royalist pamphlet describes “the ravenous and gripping claws of these Cannibal Cuckoos (the Parliament and Army) that are now devouring [the people], after they have pulled and polished them to the bare skins, [and] are now feeding upon their flesh, and picking their very bones, killing, destroying, and robbing them” (A2r). It specifies that the Parliamentary forces are all “vultures, harpies” and “such like ominous and unclean birds, that with their huge bodies and baleful wings have obscured our king, our peace, our happiness.” Such carrion birds conspire against the eagle, the phoenix, and other birds figuring royalty and royalism. See Mercurius Melancholicus, The Cuckoo’s-nest at Westminster, or the Parliament between the two Lady-Birds, Quean Fairfax, and Lady Cromwell, concerning Negotiations of Estate (London, 1648).
Line number 52

 Critical note

Nessus (l. 51) was a satyr (half man, half horse) with toxic blood. Heracles/Alcides killed him but was later poisoned by a shirt dipped in that toxic blood and begged to be killed to put him out of his pain.The result was displaced suicide—self-destroying—by the hand of another. In Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, Antony laments his humiliating retreat, following Cleopatra, by saying: “The shirt of Nessus is upon me: teach me, / Alcides, thou mine ancestor, thy rage” (4.12). The story of Alcides’s miserable end serves as a cautionary tale about revenge reaching out beyond the grave, and violence rebounding against the perpetrator.
Line number 53

 Gloss note

The supposedly united kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.
Line number 58

 Critical note

Virgil referred to two Roman generals, both named Cornelius Scipio, as “twin thunderbolts of war” (duo fulmina belli, Aeneid 6.842). Aeneas encounters them in the underworld, so they are already dead, their achievements behind them. Because the first Scipio defeated the general Hannibal, despite his reputation for military strategy and his extensive human and animal forces (including elephants), he earned the nickname “Scipio Africanus.” The other Scipio was his adopted grandson. In a later war, he defeated Carthage and, famously, burned it to the ground and devastated its agricultural fields. Lucretius uses the story of these two indomitable generals to remind readers that even great warriors come to dust. “Scipio’s son, the thunderbolt of war, / Horror of Carthage, gave his bones to earth, / Like to the lowliest villein in the house” (De rerum Natura, trans. William E. Leonard [Boston: E. P. Dutton, 1916], 3.1038-40). Lucy Hutchinson’s translation of Lucretius elaborates that “in a cold bed / Of earth his bones were laid, nor in the grave / Enjoy more privilege than the meanest slave” (The Works of Lucy Hutchinson, ed. Reid Barbour and David Norbrook [Oxford University Press, 2012], 3.1117-19). One edition of this poem suggests that the two thunderbolts might refer to Castor and Pollux, to whom Pulter elsewhere compares Lucas and Lisle. See Early Modern Women Poets: An Anthology, ed. Jane Stevenson and Peter Davidson (Oxford University Press, 2001).
Line number 59

 Gloss note

massive statues
Line number 60

 Gloss note

commemorate
Line number 63

 Critical note

The reference here to the sad swan may refer to the belief that swans sing before they die. Writers as early as Pliny called this into doubt: “Some say that the swans sing lamentably a little before their death, but untruly, I suppose: for experience in many hath showed the contrary” (The History of the World. Commonly Called the Natural History, trans. Philemon Holland [London, 1601], 10.3. sig. Bb3v). Yet the belief underpins an expression still in use, the “swan song,” or final performance. The speaker may express the hope that she herself may be this sad swan, dying after she puts her grief into verse, and achieving recognition “only” for this “one action” of commemorating the heroes.
Line number 68

 Gloss note

river in the underworld
Line number 71

 Gloss note

temple
Line number 72

 Gloss note

Herostratus set fire to Diana’s temple in Ephesus “for fame” but as punishment the Ephesians forbade the mention of his name. This kind of self-defeating act fascinates Pulter in this poem.
Line number 74

 Gloss note

memory
Line number 76

 Critical note

Herostratus, Cambyses and the fierce Gaul (Brennus) were all guilty of sacrilege and ultimately punished. See “Curations.” This series of “if” clauses builds to the “then” that this sacrilegious rout or mob, the Parliamentary forces, will ultimately be punished, too.
Line number 79

 Critical note

“Our faith’s defender” refers to the king, Charles I. The Royalist view of the monarch as God’s representative on earth, as well as the Supreme Head of the Church of England, made opposing (and ultimately killing him) a form of sacrilege.
Line number 83

 Gloss note

physical body
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X (Close panel)Amplified Edition
Amplified Edition

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
On those two unparraleled friends, S:r G: Lisle and S:r C: Lucas.
Physical Note
in different hand from main scribe
Who were Shott to Death at Colchester
On those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas,
Physical Note
not in hand of main scribe
Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester
On Those Two Unparalleled friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas, Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester
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.

— Frances E. Dolan
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.

— Frances E. Dolan
My “amplified” editions seek to make the poems as accessible as possible by modernizing spelling and punctuation and providing only brief definitions for words, while discursive notes and the materials I gather for the “curations” section place Pulter’s poems into conversations. As I build the curations for a given poem—provisional and quirky as they are—I keep returning to the poem, re-reading, rethinking, and adding layers to the notes. I hope to show that Pulter was intellectually and politically embedded rather than isolated, taking up issues, genres, and tropes that also interested her contemporaries and that sometimes accrue unpredictable salience in later periods. Rather than focusing only on possible sources or influences, I cast a wide net both within the seventeenth century and outside it, trying to catch cultural materials Pulter might have engaged, some she excludes or ignores, and even some she probably could never have imagined. Curations don’t precede the poems nor are they implied by the poems—as if the poem gathers them to itself (although it can sometimes feel that way) or hales them forth. Instead, as a curator I weave the poem into a web of relations, seeking to open out rather than close down interpretive possibilities. This extends to including extracts that are long enough that readers might find things therein that I do not anticipate. I also look for a multi-vectored traffic among Pulter’s poetry and the other materials. What might the materials I’ve gathered help readers see in the poems—or notice is not there? But also, how do the poems bring fresh perspectives into the conversations into which I draw them? The more one reads the poems as participants in wider ranging conversations, the more fascinatingly twisty Pulter appears. Often, I don’t grasp how she upends or comes at conventions aslant until I have mucked about composting my “curations.”

— Frances E. Dolan
Death by firing squad, without trial: this is not an uncommon fate for political actors in the centuries since England’s civil wars in the 1640s. This poem laments an early example of such a fate in George Lisle and Charles Lucas, friends and royalist commanders who failed to defend the besieged town of Colchester against the parliamentary army. On the same day as their surrender, they were found guilty of treason by that army’s commander and promptly executed. Pulter, a staunch royalist, deplores the injustice of that sentence and those who appointed themselves jury and judge of the two men she idealizes here. She embeds this recent and evidently shocking turn of events (in a war which was likely ongoing when she wrote) in an ennobling mythological framework by suggesting that the coordination of Lisle’s and Lucas’s deaths arose from the admiration of their “constant love” by the Parcae or Fates. The poem ends by lambasting the opponents of the royalists as bloodthirsty monsters whose behaviour will, in the end, be its own curse; Pulter thus eagerly anticipates the oblivion of her political enemies in contrast to the endless fame and glory she at once prophesies for Lisle and Lucas and enacts within this poem.

— Frances E. Dolan
Pulter here responds to a controversial recent event. But she does so by writing in the long tradition of elegaic poetry, combining classical allusion and the charged language of Royalist polemic. Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle were Royalist commanders who were arrested and executed at Colchester on August 28, 1648, at the end of a protracted siege on the town by Parliamentary forces that had begun June 12th. That siege, which starved residents, driving them to desperate extremes, has been called “a central event of the second civil war and a focus of national attention in private letters and public print” (Barbara Donegan, War in England, 1642-49 [Oxford UP, 2008], 313). In Pulter’s manuscript, the phrase in the title, “who were shot to death at Colchester,” was added in a different hand, perhaps suggesting that a later reviewer of the manuscript felt that other readers might need a bit more information to understand the poem’s occasion. At the time Pulter wrote, however, everyone was talking about the execution of Lucas and Lisle. It prompted controversy and outrage from the start; that controversy extended into the nineteenth century, when a monument to the two was erected. Was this a murder or an execution? What are the rules of war? Were Lucas and Lisle shot simply for being Royalists? (Margaret Lucas Cavendish later wrote that her brother, Charles, was “shot to death for his loyal service.”) Or were they court-martialed for a military offence, breach of parole? Commander Thomas Fairfax, who ordered the shooting, had previously captured and released both Lucas and Lisle on two separate occasions, each time securing a pledge that they would not again take up arms against Parliamentary forces. They had clearly broken that promise. Was Fairfax justified or not? Fairfax and his supporters struggled to defend his action, especially because he did not try Lucas and Lisle. Fairfax emphasized that they had not yet been granted “fair quarter” (the promise of clothes, food, and immunity from violence while prisoners) but had surrendered themselves to his mercy, meaning not that they were guaranteed mercy but that they were at his mercy. Fairfax justified the action as “some satisfaction to Military Justice, and in part of avenge for the innocent blood they have caused to be spilt” in the course of the siege (A Letter from Lord Fairfax Concerning the Surrender of Colchester [1648]). While Royalists like Pulter viewed Lucas and Lisle as martyrs, accounts of the siege and execution more sympathetic to the Parliamentary cause blamed Lucas for attracting the army to Colchester in the first place (Colchester was the site of the Lucas family home, St. John’s, a former abbey), and for instigating the siege and abusing the residents. Pulter’s subject, then, is one that had inspired many other writers. In her poem on the execution of Charles I, “Let none sigh more for Lucas or for Lisle” (Poem 15), Pulter demonstrates how quickly the target of mourning had shifted. Just months after the shooting of Lisle and Lucas, in January 1649, the regicide eclipsed that earlier outrage. Andrea Brady argues that the two men’s deaths were widely depicted as “sacrificial prologues to the king’s execution” (“Dying with Honour: Literary Propaganda and the Second English Civil War,” The Journal of Military History 70.1 [2006]: 9-30, p. 11). Pulter presents them as soldiers and heroes, yes, but also as friends and even lovers.

— Frances E. Dolan
1
Is Lisle and Lucas Slaine? Oh Say not ſoe
Is
Critical Note
George Lisle and Charles Lucas were Royalist commanders in the siege of Colchester during the English civil war; they were executed by firing squad without trial after their defeat and capture at Colchester in 1648. Christian dates the poem to 1648, “before both the King’s death and [Pulter’s husband’s cousin] Arthur Capel’s death in 1649, since they are not mentioned.”
Lisle and Lucas
slain? O say not so!
Critical Note
That Pulter begins with a question conveys the incredible and unacceptable nature of the news, especially since the speaker follows the question by rebuffing the answer (“Oh say not so”). The question also advises us of the uncertain status of news at this time. The poem’s account of the deaths and the language it uses to describe the Parliamentary forces suggest that Pulter had access to popular print accounts. But the opening question also conveys a sense of doubt about what one hears through rumor and cheap print. The unstable tenses—it happened and is happening—make the incredible news newly traumatic. Pulter’s use of questions may also signal her debt to Milton’s elegy Lycidas (1638).
Is Lisle and Lucas slain?
Oh say not so.
2
Who could Kill loue and valour at a blow?
Who could kill Love and Valor at a blow?
Who could kill
Critical Note
An Elegy on the Death of Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle calls them “twins of valour” and “friends.” They were shot, buried, and subsequently commemorated together. Pulter places them in the tradition of idealized male friends, using this tradition to recast death as a kind of union. In her “Of a Young Lady at Oxford, 1646” (Poem 43), a tale of a woman who killed herself when her fiancé died fighting for the king, Pulter again refers to Lucas and Lisle as models of true love between men in the tradition of Damon and Pythias, Castor and Pollux, Patroclus and Achilles: “When lovely Lisle saw Lucas bleeding lie, / He on his trembling bosom straight did die. / Thus do these stories and these fables teach / And show to us how far our love may reach” (lines 65-66). See “Curations” for other contemporary sources of this vision of the two men. If civil war was often depicted as a form of fratricide, this idealization of male friendship exalts Royalists as fratriphilic. Pulter’s use of heroic couplets throughout the poem reinforces her coupling of the two heroes.
love and valor
at a blow?
3
Just as Minervas darling clos’d his eyes
Critical Note
Minerva, goddess of wisdom and warfare, is portrayed allegorically as the lover of Valor, identified with Lucas; Love is identified with Lisle, who was able to kiss Lucas before he died (Eardley).
Just as Minerva’s darling closed his eyes,
Just as
Critical Note
Eardley interprets “Minerva’s darling” as Lucas, who died first, and “Love” as Lisle who was able to kiss him as he died. These identifications follow from the Royalist accounts of the execution included in “Curations.” Regarding Lucas’s association with Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, his sister, Margaret Cavendish, emphasizes that Charles “naturally . . . had a practick Genius to the Warlike Arts, or Arts in War, as Natural Poets have to Poesy but his life was cut off before he could arrive to the perfection thereof” (“A True Relation of My Birth, Breeding, and Life,” in Natures Picture Drawn by Fancies Pencil [London, 1656], sig. Bbb2).
Minerva’s darling
closed his eyes,
4
Loue Kiſſing wept and on his boſome dies
Love, kissing, wept and on his bosom dies.
Love kissing wept and on his bosom dies.
5
Ah me what horrid Hidra had the hart
Ah me, what horrid
Critical Note
in classical myth, a many-headed monster whose heads grow back after being cut off; often used figuratively, i.e. for opponents to royalists in England’s civil wars
Hydra
had the heart
Ah me, what horrid
Critical Note
The hydra, or many-headed monster, was often used to describe an unruly mob and to disparage and dehumanize collectivity. For example, Royalists described their opposition (made up of collectives including Parliament, the Army, and religious sects) as a Hydra. Since one of the labors of Hercules was slaying the Hydra, calling one’s opposition a Hydra suggested that it would be admirable, even heroic, to destroy the monster. Here, the Hydra has but one heart even if it has many heads, a heartless heart determined to kill Lucas and Lisle. Hydra is the subject governing and linking the two verbs “unite and part” in a kind of zeugma or syllepsis.
Hydra
had the heart
6
Them in theire Deaths thus to unite and part
Them in their deaths thus to unite and part?
Them in their deaths thus to unite and part?
7
Mars on the Areopagie once was tried
Gloss Note
Roman god of war
Mars
, on the
Gloss Note
a hill in Athens, the site of an ancient judicial court and, in legend, a trial for a murder charge against Mars
Areopagus
, once was tried;
Critical Note
Even Mars, the god of war, was tried on the Areopagus, a hill in Athens where trials were held, rather than summarily executed. Lucas and Lisle, in contrast, were not granted a trial. Some stories about Mars (Ares in Greek mythology) claim that he was the first to be put on trial for shedding blood. He killed Poseidon’s son Halirrhothius for raping his daughter; Poseidon had him tried before a jury of the twelve gods, the “best of gods” as opposed to those who judged Lucas and Lisle. The fragmentary accounts that survive suggest that it was the justice of his cause, as well as his history of “valor,” that led to his acquittal. One print account refers to Lisle and Lucas as “sons of Mars” (Another Bloudy Fight at Colchester [London, 1648], 2).
Mars on the Areopagus once was tried;
8
His vallour ſav’d him or he elce had died
His valor saved him, or he else had died.
His valor saved him or he else had died.
9
His Judg and Jurie were the best of Gods
His judge and jury were the best of gods;
His judge and jury were the best of gods;
10
Theſe worst of Men, Ô me what ods
These, worst of men: O me, what odds!
These worst of men. Oh me, what odds
11
Had Joues ^three Sons of Everlasting fame
Had
Gloss Note
Jove, king of the Roman gods; his sons—Rhadamanthus, Minos, and Aeacus (each born of a mortal mother)—judge those entering the underworld
Jove’s three sons
of everlasting fame
Had
Critical Note
Jove/Jupiter/Zeus had numerous sons but many critics assume that this refers to three of Zeus’s sons who were judges in the underworld: Rhadamanthus, Minos, and Aeacus. Had they been present, the poem suggests, maybe this would have been a fair trial.
Jove’s three sons
of everlasting fame,
12
Borne of A mortall and Celestiall flame
(Born of a mortal and celestial flame),
Born of a mortal and celestial flame,
13
Had they bin here this buſines to deſide
Had they been here, this business to decide,
Had they been here this business to decide?
14
Then these too Noble Gallants had not died
Then these
Physical Note
manuscript has “too,” which could signal “two”
too
noble gallants had not died.
Then these
Critical Note
While “two” and “too” were frequently used interchangeably, the homophone too/two captures the ways the execution doubles martyrs and demonstrates that they were too noble for this earth.
too
noble gallants had not died.
15
Or had Astreus (lover of the Morn
Or had
Gloss Note
Greek god of dusk, who married Eos, goddess of dawn (the Roman Aurora)
Astraeus
(lover of the Morn,
Or had
Critical Note
Pulter frequently refers to Astreus, the god of dusk in Greek mythology, his wife, Eos, the goddess of dawn or the morning, whom Pulter calls by her Roman name, Aurora, and their daughter Astrea. These lines refer to Eos as the morn from whose bright womb the brighter babe, Astrea, was born. Astrea was associated with innocence, purity, and justice. These lines suggest that Astreus would have delighted in saving the lives of Lucas and Lisle because they fought for his daughter, that is, for justice.
Astreus
, lover of the morn,
16
Of whoſe bright ^womb her brighter babe was born
Of whose bright womb her
Gloss Note
Astraea, classical goddess associated with justice, identified with the constellation Virgo; the last deity to leave Earth, she lived among humans in the Golden Age, then fled in the Bronze Age
brighter babe
was born)
Of whose bright womb her
Critical Note
Pulter frequently refers to Astreus, the god of dusk in Greek mythology, his wife, Eos, the goddess of dawn or the morning, whom Pulter calls by her Roman name, Aurora, and their daughter Astrea. These lines refer to Eos as the morn from whose bright womb the brighter babe, Astrea, was born. Astrea was associated with innocence, purity, and justice. These lines suggest that Astreus would have delighted in saving the lives of Lucas and Lisle because they fought for his daughter, that is, for justice.
brighter babe was born
,
17
Had hee bin here hee would have took delight
Had he been here, he would have took delight
Had he been here he would have took delight
18
To Saue theire lives that for his Child did fight
To save their lives, that for his child did fight.
To save their lives that for his child did fight.
then

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19
Then had theire Judges bin the Gods Eternall
Then, had their judges been the gods eternal,
Then had their judges been the gods eternal
20
Or upright Men, nay or the powers Infernall
Or upright men—nay, or the
Gloss Note
The implication is that, unlike their human judges, even Satan’s forces would not have been so evil as to execute Lisle and Lucas.
powers infernal
Or upright men, nay or the powers infernal,
21
This unambiguous buſines to deſide
This unambiguous business to decide,
This unambiguous business to decide.
22
Then this unparaleld friendship had not died
Then this unparalleled friendship had not died.
Then this unparalleled friendship had not died.
23
But Jewes, Turks, Atheists Independents all
But
Critical Note
groups perceived or acting as religious and political opponents of royalists in England’s civil war
Jews, Turks, atheists, Independents
: all
But Jews, Turks, Atheists, Independents, all
24
That Curſſed Rabble, made theſe gallants fall
That curséd rabble made these gallants fall.
Critical Note
Pulter here shows her connections to other Royalist polemic, which routinely linked Protestant “Independents” to other religious and ethnic groups, disparaging them all by association. While “Independents” referred to a distinct group with a very particular religious and political agenda, Pulter uses the term to lump together all who presume to set their own course. Similarly, Philocrates, in The Loyal Sacrifice: Presented in the Lives and Deaths of those two eminent-heroic patterns, for valor, discipline, and fidelity, the generally beloved and bemoaned, Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle, Knights (n.p., 1648) refers to the “sundry Jewish Anarchial Synagogue rooks” supporting the Army and Parliament (11). It also refers to the Turks to emphasize the barbarity of the killing of Lucas and Lisle: “But never did any savage nation, were it Turkish or any other heathen, execute the like tyranny and cruelty upon such frivolous pretenses (as is well observed) in cold blood” (68). A dedicatory epistle to Sir John Lucas, Charles’s brother, begins with the claim that many Englishmen “are degenerated into the very faith, or rather perfidiousness of the Jew” (Demophilus Philanactos, Two Epitaphs, Occasioned by the Death of Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle, basely assassinated at Colchester [1648], sig. DA2r). In Pulter’s poem here, the “horrid Hydra,” “Cursed Rabble,” “black army,” and “sacrilegious rout” all link the Parliamentary cause, the New Model Army, and their supporters as a disorderly mob.
That cursed rabble
, made these gallants fall.
25
How could they doe it were they not Amazed
How could
Gloss Note
the “curséd rabble”
they
do it? Were they not
Gloss Note
stunned; bewildered; terrified; astonished
amazed
How could they do it? Were they not
Critical Note
“Amazed” connotes not only being astonished or surprised, as it still does today, but also having lost one’s mind or way, being bewildered or terrified. This may refer to being lost as in a maze or labyrinth, paralyzed or trapped.
amazed
26
When as the cruell
Physical Note
“e,” blurred, appears written over earlier letter
Parcie
ſat and Gazed
Gloss Note
when
Whenas
the cruel
Gloss Note
in Greek myth, three female Fates named (as below) Lachesis, Clotho, and Atropos, who determine the length of human lives, represented as threads
Parcae
sat and gazed
When as the cruel
Critical Note
As the Golden Book of Leaden Gods, included in “Curations,” explains: “the Parcae were three sisters of destiny, whereof Clotho was figured holding the distaff, Lachesis drawing out the thread [of life], and Atropos cutting it off.” When Atropos cuts the thread of life with her “fatal scissors” (line 42 below), she brings that life to an end. Pulter also refers to the Parcie or Parcae, the three fates of Greek myth, in “The Eclipse” (Poem 1), where she describes them as “impartial” rather than “cruel.”
Parcae
sat and gazed
27
On theire perfections as Lachis drew the thred
On
Gloss Note
Lisle and Lucas’s
their
perfections? As Lachesis drew the thread,
On their perfections? As Lachesis drew the thread,
28
What wont you part a ſunder then ſhee ſe’d
“What, won’t
Gloss Note
Lisle and Lucas
you
part asunder then?” she said.
“What, won’t you part asunder?,” then she said.
29
They Striving in theire lives to imbrace each other
They, striving in their lives to embrace each other,
They striving in their lives to embrace each other,
30
Shee twirl’d and twisted both of them together
She twirled and twisted both of them together.
She twirled and twisted both of them together.
31
Then
Physical Note
final “o” appears written over “a”
Clotho
at theire constant loue did wonder
Then Clotho at their constant love did wonder,
Then Clotho at their constant love did wonder,
32
And in meere pitty ^pul’d them not a ſunder
And, in mere pity, pulled them not asunder;
And in mere pity, pulled them not asunder.
33
Physical Note
double strike-through; to left, in margin, is “Shee” with superscript “x” in different hand from main scribe
Andx
being it Seems the Tenderst hearted Laſs
She being, it seems, the tend’rest-hearted lass,
And being, it seems, the tenderest-hearted lass,
34
Goe Noble
Physical Note
“e” appears in place of earlier “d,” with imperfectly erased ascender visible
Soules
Shee Said, and let them paſs
“Go, noble souls,” she said, and let them pass.
“Go, noble souls,” she said, and let them pass.
35
But Atropas inrag’d began to chide
But Atropos, enraged, began to chide,
But Atropas, enraged, began to chide,
36
Saying these trew loves knots must be untied
Saying, “These true love’s knots must be untied.”
Saying “these true love’s knots must be untied!”
37
But Seeing theire
Physical Note
"v” written over other letter (perhaps “n”)
Lives
Shee could not stay to ^untwist
But seeing their lives she could not stay t’untwist,
But seeing their lives, she could not stay t’untwist,
38
Let those Sit Idleing here (Shee ſaid) that list
“Let those sit idling here” (she said) “that
Gloss Note
like, choose
list
;
“Let those sit idling here,” she said, “that list.
39
How can wee give account unto thoſe powers
How can we give account unto those powers
How can we give account unto those powers
40
That us imploy, in trifeling out our howres
That us employ, in trifling out our hours?”
That us employ, in trifling out our hours?”
41
Then Scolding at her Sisters for theire Sloth
Then, scolding at her sisters for their sloth,
Then scolding at her sisters for their sloth,
42
Shee with her fatall Cizers Snipt them both
She with her fatal scissors snipped them both.
She with her fatal scissors snipped them both.
Shee

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43
Shee then cryed out, alaſs but hurring fate
She then cried out “Alas!”; but
Gloss Note
obsolete term for snarling; possibly, scribal error for “hurrying”
hurring
fate
She then cried out, “Alas!” but
Gloss Note
snarling like a dog (obsolete) or possibly hurr[y]ing
hurring fate
44
fforced her poore Girle, her
Physical Note
“i” replaces earlier “e”
pitty
came too late
Forced her, poor girl: her pity came too late.
Forced her, poor girl;
Critical Note
Pulter’s Atropas is first angry at the tender-heartedness and delay of her sisters and then, after she snips the two heroes’ intertwined threads of life, regretful of her own hasty action. While the Parcae are themselves called Fates, who control the lives and destinies of humans, here Atropas is herself “forced” by a “hurring” fate that drives her to act and act fast. Pulter here captures the urgency of war in which events move too fast and pity comes too late. Fairfax had Lucas and Lisle shot in the evening of the same day the Royalists had surrendered to him.
her pity came too late
.
45
Licaon
Physical Note
colon might be penmarks
Tantall:
tender to this brood
Gloss Note
In Greek myth, Lycaon and Tantalus (separately) feed their sons to gods; “tender to this brood” refers to the tender feelings of “the cursed rabble” (“this brood”) for these murderers.
Lycaon, Tantal, tender to this brood,
Critical Note
Pulter seems to invoke and link two figures from Greek mythology here, Lycaon and Tantalus, both of whom killed their children. Lycaon served one of his many sons to Zeus, testing whether the god could tell that he was eating human flesh. Tantalus served his son Pelops to the gods. Both serve here as figures for the cannibalism of civil war as well as for ruthlessness. “Tender to this brood” may mean that Lycaon and Tantalus are both tender compared to “this brood,” the Parliamentary forces, or that the Parliamentary forces feel tenderly toward Lycaon and Tantalus. But the phrasing may also sarcastically remind us that Lycaon and Tantalus were far from tender to their own broods or offspring.
Lycaon, Tantal
, tender to this brood
46
Who fed on Hostagis and Infants blood
Who fed on hostages and infants’ blood:
Who fed on hostages’ and infants’ blood:
47
Why are they now more cruell then at first
Why are
Gloss Note
the “curséd rabble”
they
now more cruel than at first?
Why are they now more cruel than at first?
48
They’r Drunk with Christian blood yet still they^ thirst
They’re drunk with Christian blood, yet still they thirst.
They’re drunk with Christian blood, yet still they thirst.
49
Doth that ould Vulture and his preying brood
Doth that
Critical Note
likely, Oliver Cromwell: “his long nose incited royalist pamphleteers to describe him as a vulture” (Eardley)
old vulture
and his preying brood
Doth
Critical Note
“That old vulture” might refer to Oliver Cromwell, one of the principal commanders of the New Model Army and, later, the Lord Protector or leader of the Commonwealth, or to Thomas Fairfax, who ordered the shootings. Neither was especially old. Cromwell was forty nine years old at the time of the shooting, and Fairfax thirty six. One Royalist pamphlet describes “the ravenous and gripping claws of these Cannibal Cuckoos (the Parliament and Army) that are now devouring [the people], after they have pulled and polished them to the bare skins, [and] are now feeding upon their flesh, and picking their very bones, killing, destroying, and robbing them” (A2r). It specifies that the Parliamentary forces are all “vultures, harpies” and “such like ominous and unclean birds, that with their huge bodies and baleful wings have obscured our king, our peace, our happiness.” Such carrion birds conspire against the eagle, the phoenix, and other birds figuring royalty and royalism. See Mercurius Melancholicus, The Cuckoo’s-nest at Westminster, or the Parliament between the two Lady-Birds, Quean Fairfax, and Lady Cromwell, concerning Negotiations of Estate (London, 1648).
that old vulture
and his preying brood
50
Think to grow young w:th ſucking ſprit^ely blood
Think to grow young with
Critical Note
the blood of still-living beings; alluding to a myth about (not vultures but) eagles, whose beaks are said to grow too long to allow them to eat flesh, so they suck blood instead (Eardley)
sucking sprightly blood
?
Think to grow young with sucking sprightly blood?
51
Oh let them next ſuck
Physical Note
“u” appears to correct earlier letter; superscript “e” may be flourish
Neſſues’s
poys’nd gore
Oh, let them next suck
Gloss Note
centaur with poisoned blood
Nessus’s
poisoned gore;
Oh, let them next suck Nessus’s poisoned gore;
52
Like mad
Physical Note
"e" appears written over "a"
Alcides
let them Rave and Rore
Like mad
Gloss Note
Hercules, poisoned by Nessus
Alcides
, let them rave and roar;
Critical Note
Nessus (l. 51) was a satyr (half man, half horse) with toxic blood. Heracles/Alcides killed him but was later poisoned by a shirt dipped in that toxic blood and begged to be killed to put him out of his pain.The result was displaced suicide—self-destroying—by the hand of another. In Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, Antony laments his humiliating retreat, following Cleopatra, by saying: “The shirt of Nessus is upon me: teach me, / Alcides, thou mine ancestor, thy rage” (4.12). The story of Alcides’s miserable end serves as a cautionary tale about revenge reaching out beyond the grave, and violence rebounding against the perpetrator.
Like mad Alcides let them rave and roar;
53
And as they haue bin three kingdooms sore ^ annoyers
And, as they have been
Gloss Note
England, Ireland, Scotland
three kingdoms’
sore annoyers,
And as they have been
Gloss Note
The supposedly united kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.
three kingdoms’
sore annoyers,
54
Let them like
Physical Note
inserted in different hand from main scribe
\him\
at
Physical Note
last three letters written over previous ones
laſt
be ſelfe destroyers
Let them, like him, at last be self-destroyers.
Let them, like him, at last be self-destroyers.
55
Had these undaunted loving Heros died
Had these undaunted loving heroes died
Had these undaunted loving heroes died
56
In former times they had bin Deified
In former times, they had been deified.
In former times, they had been deified.
57
Then theire Renown and love had ſpread as fare
Then, their renown and love had spread as far
Then their renown and love had spread as far
58
As thoſe two famous Thunderbolts of War
As those two famous
Gloss Note
Cornelius Scipio (236-183 BCE) and Cornelius Scipio (ca. 185-129 BCE), Roman commanders renowned by Virgil and followers as “Duo fulmina belli,” the “two thunderbolts of war”
thunderbolts of war
.
As those
Critical Note
Virgil referred to two Roman generals, both named Cornelius Scipio, as “twin thunderbolts of war” (duo fulmina belli, Aeneid 6.842). Aeneas encounters them in the underworld, so they are already dead, their achievements behind them. Because the first Scipio defeated the general Hannibal, despite his reputation for military strategy and his extensive human and animal forces (including elephants), he earned the nickname “Scipio Africanus.” The other Scipio was his adopted grandson. In a later war, he defeated Carthage and, famously, burned it to the ground and devastated its agricultural fields. Lucretius uses the story of these two indomitable generals to remind readers that even great warriors come to dust. “Scipio’s son, the thunderbolt of war, / Horror of Carthage, gave his bones to earth, / Like to the lowliest villein in the house” (De rerum Natura, trans. William E. Leonard [Boston: E. P. Dutton, 1916], 3.1038-40). Lucy Hutchinson’s translation of Lucretius elaborates that “in a cold bed / Of earth his bones were laid, nor in the grave / Enjoy more privilege than the meanest slave” (The Works of Lucy Hutchinson, ed. Reid Barbour and David Norbrook [Oxford University Press, 2012], 3.1117-19). One edition of this poem suggests that the two thunderbolts might refer to Castor and Pollux, to whom Pulter elsewhere compares Lucas and Lisle. See Early Modern Women Poets: An Anthology, ed. Jane Stevenson and Peter Davidson (Oxford University Press, 2001).
two famous thunderbolts of war
.
59
Effigies, Piramids, Collumns, Colloſses,
Effigies, pyramids, columns,
Gloss Note
huge statues
colosses
,
Effigies, pyramids, columns,
Gloss Note
massive statues
colosses
,
60
Had bin Erect to memoriſe our loſses
Had been erect to
Gloss Note
maintain the memory
memorize
our losses;
Had been erect to
Gloss Note
commemorate
memorize
our losses.
61
But wee are now denied our Just deſires
But we are now denied our just desires.
But we are now denied our just desires;
62
Trew gratefull loue in this our age expires
True grateful love in this, our age, expires;
True grateful love in this our age expires.
63
Yet Some Sad Swan I Know there will be found
Yet
Critical Note
an allusion (in Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso) to the story of swans in the afterlife who ferry the names of a few dead to a temple of immortal fame (Eardley)
some sad swan
, I know, there will be found
Yet some
Critical Note
The reference here to the sad swan may refer to the belief that swans sing before they die. Writers as early as Pliny called this into doubt: “Some say that the swans sing lamentably a little before their death, but untruly, I suppose: for experience in many hath showed the contrary” (The History of the World. Commonly Called the Natural History, trans. Philemon Holland [London, 1601], 10.3. sig. Bb3v). Yet the belief underpins an expression still in use, the “swan song,” or final performance. The speaker may express the hope that she herself may be this sad swan, dying after she puts her grief into verse, and achieving recognition “only” for this “one action” of commemorating the heroes.
sad swan
I know there will be found
64
That for this onely Action Shall bee Crond
That for this only action shall be crowned:
That for this only action shall be crowned,
that

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65
That Shall beare louely Lisle, and Lucas name
That shall bear lovely Lisle and Lucas’s name
That shall bear lovely Lisle’s and Lucas’s name
66
Vnto the Temple of Eternall fame
Unto the temple of eternal fame.
Unto the temple of eternal fame.
67
When that black Armie after theire Short Dreame
When that black army, after their short dream,
When that black army after their short dream
68
Shall floating bee on Stix his Sable Streame
Shall floating be on
Gloss Note
river in classical underworld
Styx’s
sable stream,
Shall floating be on
Gloss Note
river in the underworld
Styx
his sable stream,
69
They by the Angrey billowes Shall bee tost
They by the angry billows shall be tossed
They by the angry billows shall be tossed
70
Till in oblivians Horrid Womb
Physical Note
final “e” erased
ther’e
lost
Till in
Gloss Note
goddess of the river Lethe (literally: “Oblivion”) in Greek mythological underworld
Oblivion’s
horrid womb they’re lost.
Till in oblivion’s horrid womb they’re lost.
71
If hee that fired Dianas Phane for fame
If
Gloss Note
Herostratus, seeking fame, set alight the temple (“fane”) of Artemis or Diana in Ephesus, 356 BC; the Ephesians executed him and forbade mention of his name.
he that fired Diana’s fane
for fame
If he that fired Diana’s
Gloss Note
temple
fane
for fame
72
Lost both his Expectation and his name
Lost both his expectation and his name;
Gloss Note
Herostratus set fire to Diana’s temple in Ephesus “for fame” but as punishment the Ephesians forbade the mention of his name. This kind of self-defeating act fascinates Pulter in this poem.
Lost both his expectation and his name;
73
If covetous Cambices who preſum’d
If covetous
Gloss Note
Cambyses II (c. 522 BCE), a king of Persia whose force of 50,000 was buried in a sandstorm after embarking on an attack of an oracle in Egypt.
Cambyses
, who presumed
If covetous Cambyses, who presumed
74
To rob the Gods till Sand his mem conſum’d
To rob the gods till sand his men consumed;
To rob the Gods ’til sand his
Gloss Note
memory
mem
consumed,
75
Or that
Physical Note
corrected, possibly from “ffree”
ffier^ce
Gaule who Delphus ment to plunder
Or that fierce
Gloss Note
Brennus, leader of Gauls punished by gods for invading Apollo’s sanctuary of Delphi, Greece
Gaul
who Delphi meant to plunder
Or that fierce Gaul who Delphus meant to plunder
76
Till firey Phebus Routed him with Thunder
Till fiery
Gloss Note
Apollo
Phoebus
Gloss Note
defeated
routed
him with thunder:
’Til firey Phoebus
Critical Note
Herostratus, Cambyses and the fierce Gaul (Brennus) were all guilty of sacrilege and ultimately punished. See “Curations.” This series of “if” clauses builds to the “then” that this sacrilegious rout or mob, the Parliamentary forces, will ultimately be punished, too.
routed him with thunder
:
77
If these live now in Honour then noe doubt
If these live now in honor, then no doubt
If these live now in honor, then no doubt,
78
ffame Shall Attend this Sacrilegi’us rout
Fame shall attend this sacrilegious
Gloss Note
troop, crowd, mob
rout
,
Fame shall attend this sacrilegious rout,
79
Who have our ffaiths defender over powerd
Who have
Gloss Note
King Charles
our faith’s defender
overpowered,
Who have
Critical Note
“Our faith’s defender” refers to the king, Charles I. The Royalist view of the monarch as God’s representative on earth, as well as the Supreme Head of the Church of England, made opposing (and ultimately killing him) a form of sacrilege.
our faith’s defender
over-powered,
80
And Temples, Alters, Victims, all devourd
And temples, altars, victims, all devoured;
And temples, altars, victims, all devoured.
81
But theſe victorious Soules live now aboue
But these victorious souls live now above,
But these victorious souls live now above
82
And gloriously goe on in Endles loue
And gloriously go on in endless love,
And gloriously go in endless love,
83
Whil’st theire faire frames w:ch here did cloſe^theire lives
Whilst
Gloss Note
structure, physical body, constitution, arrangement; also the universe, heavens, earth, or any part of it
their fair frames
, which here did close their lives,
Whilst their fair
Gloss Note
physical body
frame
which here did close their lives,
84
Shall live in fame till they in
Physical Note
double strike-through
Triumph
Physical Note
directly above struck-through “Triumph,” in different hand from main scribe
Glory
riſe.
Shall live in fame till they in glory rise.
Shall live in fame ’til they in glory rise.
horizontal straight line
X (Close panel) All Notes
Transcription
Title note

 Physical note

in different hand from main scribe
Elemental Edition
Title note

 Physical note

not in hand of main scribe
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 “amplified” editions seek to make the poems as accessible as possible by modernizing spelling and punctuation and providing only brief definitions for words, while discursive notes and the materials I gather for the “curations” section place Pulter’s poems into conversations. As I build the curations for a given poem—provisional and quirky as they are—I keep returning to the poem, re-reading, rethinking, and adding layers to the notes. I hope to show that Pulter was intellectually and politically embedded rather than isolated, taking up issues, genres, and tropes that also interested her contemporaries and that sometimes accrue unpredictable salience in later periods. Rather than focusing only on possible sources or influences, I cast a wide net both within the seventeenth century and outside it, trying to catch cultural materials Pulter might have engaged, some she excludes or ignores, and even some she probably could never have imagined. Curations don’t precede the poems nor are they implied by the poems—as if the poem gathers them to itself (although it can sometimes feel that way) or hales them forth. Instead, as a curator I weave the poem into a web of relations, seeking to open out rather than close down interpretive possibilities. This extends to including extracts that are long enough that readers might find things therein that I do not anticipate. I also look for a multi-vectored traffic among Pulter’s poetry and the other materials. What might the materials I’ve gathered help readers see in the poems—or notice is not there? But also, how do the poems bring fresh perspectives into the conversations into which I draw them? The more one reads the poems as participants in wider ranging conversations, the more fascinatingly twisty Pulter appears. Often, I don’t grasp how she upends or comes at conventions aslant until I have mucked about composting my “curations.”
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

Death by firing squad, without trial: this is not an uncommon fate for political actors in the centuries since England’s civil wars in the 1640s. This poem laments an early example of such a fate in George Lisle and Charles Lucas, friends and royalist commanders who failed to defend the besieged town of Colchester against the parliamentary army. On the same day as their surrender, they were found guilty of treason by that army’s commander and promptly executed. Pulter, a staunch royalist, deplores the injustice of that sentence and those who appointed themselves jury and judge of the two men she idealizes here. She embeds this recent and evidently shocking turn of events (in a war which was likely ongoing when she wrote) in an ennobling mythological framework by suggesting that the coordination of Lisle’s and Lucas’s deaths arose from the admiration of their “constant love” by the Parcae or Fates. The poem ends by lambasting the opponents of the royalists as bloodthirsty monsters whose behaviour will, in the end, be its own curse; Pulter thus eagerly anticipates the oblivion of her political enemies in contrast to the endless fame and glory she at once prophesies for Lisle and Lucas and enacts within this poem.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

Pulter here responds to a controversial recent event. But she does so by writing in the long tradition of elegaic poetry, combining classical allusion and the charged language of Royalist polemic. Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle were Royalist commanders who were arrested and executed at Colchester on August 28, 1648, at the end of a protracted siege on the town by Parliamentary forces that had begun June 12th. That siege, which starved residents, driving them to desperate extremes, has been called “a central event of the second civil war and a focus of national attention in private letters and public print” (Barbara Donegan, War in England, 1642-49 [Oxford UP, 2008], 313). In Pulter’s manuscript, the phrase in the title, “who were shot to death at Colchester,” was added in a different hand, perhaps suggesting that a later reviewer of the manuscript felt that other readers might need a bit more information to understand the poem’s occasion. At the time Pulter wrote, however, everyone was talking about the execution of Lucas and Lisle. It prompted controversy and outrage from the start; that controversy extended into the nineteenth century, when a monument to the two was erected. Was this a murder or an execution? What are the rules of war? Were Lucas and Lisle shot simply for being Royalists? (Margaret Lucas Cavendish later wrote that her brother, Charles, was “shot to death for his loyal service.”) Or were they court-martialed for a military offence, breach of parole? Commander Thomas Fairfax, who ordered the shooting, had previously captured and released both Lucas and Lisle on two separate occasions, each time securing a pledge that they would not again take up arms against Parliamentary forces. They had clearly broken that promise. Was Fairfax justified or not? Fairfax and his supporters struggled to defend his action, especially because he did not try Lucas and Lisle. Fairfax emphasized that they had not yet been granted “fair quarter” (the promise of clothes, food, and immunity from violence while prisoners) but had surrendered themselves to his mercy, meaning not that they were guaranteed mercy but that they were at his mercy. Fairfax justified the action as “some satisfaction to Military Justice, and in part of avenge for the innocent blood they have caused to be spilt” in the course of the siege (A Letter from Lord Fairfax Concerning the Surrender of Colchester [1648]). While Royalists like Pulter viewed Lucas and Lisle as martyrs, accounts of the siege and execution more sympathetic to the Parliamentary cause blamed Lucas for attracting the army to Colchester in the first place (Colchester was the site of the Lucas family home, St. John’s, a former abbey), and for instigating the siege and abusing the residents. Pulter’s subject, then, is one that had inspired many other writers. In her poem on the execution of Charles I, “Let none sigh more for Lucas or for Lisle” (Poem 15), Pulter demonstrates how quickly the target of mourning had shifted. Just months after the shooting of Lisle and Lucas, in January 1649, the regicide eclipsed that earlier outrage. Andrea Brady argues that the two men’s deaths were widely depicted as “sacrificial prologues to the king’s execution” (“Dying with Honour: Literary Propaganda and the Second English Civil War,” The Journal of Military History 70.1 [2006]: 9-30, p. 11). Pulter presents them as soldiers and heroes, yes, but also as friends and even lovers.
Elemental Edition
Line number 1

 Critical note

George Lisle and Charles Lucas were Royalist commanders in the siege of Colchester during the English civil war; they were executed by firing squad without trial after their defeat and capture at Colchester in 1648. Christian dates the poem to 1648, “before both the King’s death and [Pulter’s husband’s cousin] Arthur Capel’s death in 1649, since they are not mentioned.”
Amplified Edition
Line number 1

 Critical note

That Pulter begins with a question conveys the incredible and unacceptable nature of the news, especially since the speaker follows the question by rebuffing the answer (“Oh say not so”). The question also advises us of the uncertain status of news at this time. The poem’s account of the deaths and the language it uses to describe the Parliamentary forces suggest that Pulter had access to popular print accounts. But the opening question also conveys a sense of doubt about what one hears through rumor and cheap print. The unstable tenses—it happened and is happening—make the incredible news newly traumatic. Pulter’s use of questions may also signal her debt to Milton’s elegy Lycidas (1638).
Amplified Edition
Line number 2

 Critical note

An Elegy on the Death of Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle calls them “twins of valour” and “friends.” They were shot, buried, and subsequently commemorated together. Pulter places them in the tradition of idealized male friends, using this tradition to recast death as a kind of union. In her “Of a Young Lady at Oxford, 1646” (Poem 43), a tale of a woman who killed herself when her fiancé died fighting for the king, Pulter again refers to Lucas and Lisle as models of true love between men in the tradition of Damon and Pythias, Castor and Pollux, Patroclus and Achilles: “When lovely Lisle saw Lucas bleeding lie, / He on his trembling bosom straight did die. / Thus do these stories and these fables teach / And show to us how far our love may reach” (lines 65-66). See “Curations” for other contemporary sources of this vision of the two men. If civil war was often depicted as a form of fratricide, this idealization of male friendship exalts Royalists as fratriphilic. Pulter’s use of heroic couplets throughout the poem reinforces her coupling of the two heroes.
Elemental Edition
Line number 3

 Critical note

Minerva, goddess of wisdom and warfare, is portrayed allegorically as the lover of Valor, identified with Lucas; Love is identified with Lisle, who was able to kiss Lucas before he died (Eardley).
Amplified Edition
Line number 3

 Critical note

Eardley interprets “Minerva’s darling” as Lucas, who died first, and “Love” as Lisle who was able to kiss him as he died. These identifications follow from the Royalist accounts of the execution included in “Curations.” Regarding Lucas’s association with Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, his sister, Margaret Cavendish, emphasizes that Charles “naturally . . . had a practick Genius to the Warlike Arts, or Arts in War, as Natural Poets have to Poesy but his life was cut off before he could arrive to the perfection thereof” (“A True Relation of My Birth, Breeding, and Life,” in Natures Picture Drawn by Fancies Pencil [London, 1656], sig. Bbb2).
Elemental Edition
Line number 5

 Critical note

in classical myth, a many-headed monster whose heads grow back after being cut off; often used figuratively, i.e. for opponents to royalists in England’s civil wars
Amplified Edition
Line number 5

 Critical note

The hydra, or many-headed monster, was often used to describe an unruly mob and to disparage and dehumanize collectivity. For example, Royalists described their opposition (made up of collectives including Parliament, the Army, and religious sects) as a Hydra. Since one of the labors of Hercules was slaying the Hydra, calling one’s opposition a Hydra suggested that it would be admirable, even heroic, to destroy the monster. Here, the Hydra has but one heart even if it has many heads, a heartless heart determined to kill Lucas and Lisle. Hydra is the subject governing and linking the two verbs “unite and part” in a kind of zeugma or syllepsis.
Elemental Edition
Line number 7

 Gloss note

Roman god of war
Elemental Edition
Line number 7

 Gloss note

a hill in Athens, the site of an ancient judicial court and, in legend, a trial for a murder charge against Mars
Amplified Edition
Line number 7

 Critical note

Even Mars, the god of war, was tried on the Areopagus, a hill in Athens where trials were held, rather than summarily executed. Lucas and Lisle, in contrast, were not granted a trial. Some stories about Mars (Ares in Greek mythology) claim that he was the first to be put on trial for shedding blood. He killed Poseidon’s son Halirrhothius for raping his daughter; Poseidon had him tried before a jury of the twelve gods, the “best of gods” as opposed to those who judged Lucas and Lisle. The fragmentary accounts that survive suggest that it was the justice of his cause, as well as his history of “valor,” that led to his acquittal. One print account refers to Lisle and Lucas as “sons of Mars” (Another Bloudy Fight at Colchester [London, 1648], 2).
Elemental Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

Jove, king of the Roman gods; his sons—Rhadamanthus, Minos, and Aeacus (each born of a mortal mother)—judge those entering the underworld
Amplified Edition
Line number 11

 Critical note

Jove/Jupiter/Zeus had numerous sons but many critics assume that this refers to three of Zeus’s sons who were judges in the underworld: Rhadamanthus, Minos, and Aeacus. Had they been present, the poem suggests, maybe this would have been a fair trial.
Elemental Edition
Line number 14

 Physical note

manuscript has “too,” which could signal “two”
Amplified Edition
Line number 14

 Critical note

While “two” and “too” were frequently used interchangeably, the homophone too/two captures the ways the execution doubles martyrs and demonstrates that they were too noble for this earth.
Elemental Edition
Line number 15

 Gloss note

Greek god of dusk, who married Eos, goddess of dawn (the Roman Aurora)
Amplified Edition
Line number 15

 Critical note

Pulter frequently refers to Astreus, the god of dusk in Greek mythology, his wife, Eos, the goddess of dawn or the morning, whom Pulter calls by her Roman name, Aurora, and their daughter Astrea. These lines refer to Eos as the morn from whose bright womb the brighter babe, Astrea, was born. Astrea was associated with innocence, purity, and justice. These lines suggest that Astreus would have delighted in saving the lives of Lucas and Lisle because they fought for his daughter, that is, for justice.
Elemental Edition
Line number 16

 Gloss note

Astraea, classical goddess associated with justice, identified with the constellation Virgo; the last deity to leave Earth, she lived among humans in the Golden Age, then fled in the Bronze Age
Amplified Edition
Line number 16

 Critical note

Pulter frequently refers to Astreus, the god of dusk in Greek mythology, his wife, Eos, the goddess of dawn or the morning, whom Pulter calls by her Roman name, Aurora, and their daughter Astrea. These lines refer to Eos as the morn from whose bright womb the brighter babe, Astrea, was born. Astrea was associated with innocence, purity, and justice. These lines suggest that Astreus would have delighted in saving the lives of Lucas and Lisle because they fought for his daughter, that is, for justice.
Elemental Edition
Line number 20

 Gloss note

The implication is that, unlike their human judges, even Satan’s forces would not have been so evil as to execute Lisle and Lucas.
Elemental Edition
Line number 23

 Critical note

groups perceived or acting as religious and political opponents of royalists in England’s civil war
Amplified Edition
Line number 24

 Critical note

Pulter here shows her connections to other Royalist polemic, which routinely linked Protestant “Independents” to other religious and ethnic groups, disparaging them all by association. While “Independents” referred to a distinct group with a very particular religious and political agenda, Pulter uses the term to lump together all who presume to set their own course. Similarly, Philocrates, in The Loyal Sacrifice: Presented in the Lives and Deaths of those two eminent-heroic patterns, for valor, discipline, and fidelity, the generally beloved and bemoaned, Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle, Knights (n.p., 1648) refers to the “sundry Jewish Anarchial Synagogue rooks” supporting the Army and Parliament (11). It also refers to the Turks to emphasize the barbarity of the killing of Lucas and Lisle: “But never did any savage nation, were it Turkish or any other heathen, execute the like tyranny and cruelty upon such frivolous pretenses (as is well observed) in cold blood” (68). A dedicatory epistle to Sir John Lucas, Charles’s brother, begins with the claim that many Englishmen “are degenerated into the very faith, or rather perfidiousness of the Jew” (Demophilus Philanactos, Two Epitaphs, Occasioned by the Death of Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle, basely assassinated at Colchester [1648], sig. DA2r). In Pulter’s poem here, the “horrid Hydra,” “Cursed Rabble,” “black army,” and “sacrilegious rout” all link the Parliamentary cause, the New Model Army, and their supporters as a disorderly mob.
Elemental Edition
Line number 25

 Gloss note

the “curséd rabble”
Elemental Edition
Line number 25

 Gloss note

stunned; bewildered; terrified; astonished
Amplified Edition
Line number 25

 Critical note

“Amazed” connotes not only being astonished or surprised, as it still does today, but also having lost one’s mind or way, being bewildered or terrified. This may refer to being lost as in a maze or labyrinth, paralyzed or trapped.
Transcription
Line number 26

 Physical note

“e,” blurred, appears written over earlier letter
Elemental Edition
Line number 26

 Gloss note

when
Elemental Edition
Line number 26

 Gloss note

in Greek myth, three female Fates named (as below) Lachesis, Clotho, and Atropos, who determine the length of human lives, represented as threads
Amplified Edition
Line number 26

 Critical note

As the Golden Book of Leaden Gods, included in “Curations,” explains: “the Parcae were three sisters of destiny, whereof Clotho was figured holding the distaff, Lachesis drawing out the thread [of life], and Atropos cutting it off.” When Atropos cuts the thread of life with her “fatal scissors” (line 42 below), she brings that life to an end. Pulter also refers to the Parcie or Parcae, the three fates of Greek myth, in “The Eclipse” (Poem 1), where she describes them as “impartial” rather than “cruel.”
Elemental Edition
Line number 27

 Gloss note

Lisle and Lucas’s
Elemental Edition
Line number 28

 Gloss note

Lisle and Lucas
Transcription
Line number 31

 Physical note

final “o” appears written over “a”
Transcription
Line number 33

 Physical note

double strike-through; to left, in margin, is “Shee” with superscript “x” in different hand from main scribe
Transcription
Line number 34

 Physical note

“e” appears in place of earlier “d,” with imperfectly erased ascender visible
Transcription
Line number 37

 Physical note

"v” written over other letter (perhaps “n”)
Elemental Edition
Line number 38

 Gloss note

like, choose
Elemental Edition
Line number 43

 Gloss note

obsolete term for snarling; possibly, scribal error for “hurrying”
Amplified Edition
Line number 43

 Gloss note

snarling like a dog (obsolete) or possibly hurr[y]ing
Transcription
Line number 44

 Physical note

“i” replaces earlier “e”
Amplified Edition
Line number 44

 Critical note

Pulter’s Atropas is first angry at the tender-heartedness and delay of her sisters and then, after she snips the two heroes’ intertwined threads of life, regretful of her own hasty action. While the Parcae are themselves called Fates, who control the lives and destinies of humans, here Atropas is herself “forced” by a “hurring” fate that drives her to act and act fast. Pulter here captures the urgency of war in which events move too fast and pity comes too late. Fairfax had Lucas and Lisle shot in the evening of the same day the Royalists had surrendered to him.
Transcription
Line number 45

 Physical note

colon might be penmarks
Elemental Edition
Line number 45

 Gloss note

In Greek myth, Lycaon and Tantalus (separately) feed their sons to gods; “tender to this brood” refers to the tender feelings of “the cursed rabble” (“this brood”) for these murderers.
Amplified Edition
Line number 45

 Critical note

Pulter seems to invoke and link two figures from Greek mythology here, Lycaon and Tantalus, both of whom killed their children. Lycaon served one of his many sons to Zeus, testing whether the god could tell that he was eating human flesh. Tantalus served his son Pelops to the gods. Both serve here as figures for the cannibalism of civil war as well as for ruthlessness. “Tender to this brood” may mean that Lycaon and Tantalus are both tender compared to “this brood,” the Parliamentary forces, or that the Parliamentary forces feel tenderly toward Lycaon and Tantalus. But the phrasing may also sarcastically remind us that Lycaon and Tantalus were far from tender to their own broods or offspring.
Elemental Edition
Line number 47

 Gloss note

the “curséd rabble”
Elemental Edition
Line number 49

 Critical note

likely, Oliver Cromwell: “his long nose incited royalist pamphleteers to describe him as a vulture” (Eardley)
Amplified Edition
Line number 49

 Critical note

“That old vulture” might refer to Oliver Cromwell, one of the principal commanders of the New Model Army and, later, the Lord Protector or leader of the Commonwealth, or to Thomas Fairfax, who ordered the shootings. Neither was especially old. Cromwell was forty nine years old at the time of the shooting, and Fairfax thirty six. One Royalist pamphlet describes “the ravenous and gripping claws of these Cannibal Cuckoos (the Parliament and Army) that are now devouring [the people], after they have pulled and polished them to the bare skins, [and] are now feeding upon their flesh, and picking their very bones, killing, destroying, and robbing them” (A2r). It specifies that the Parliamentary forces are all “vultures, harpies” and “such like ominous and unclean birds, that with their huge bodies and baleful wings have obscured our king, our peace, our happiness.” Such carrion birds conspire against the eagle, the phoenix, and other birds figuring royalty and royalism. See Mercurius Melancholicus, The Cuckoo’s-nest at Westminster, or the Parliament between the two Lady-Birds, Quean Fairfax, and Lady Cromwell, concerning Negotiations of Estate (London, 1648).
Elemental Edition
Line number 50

 Critical note

the blood of still-living beings; alluding to a myth about (not vultures but) eagles, whose beaks are said to grow too long to allow them to eat flesh, so they suck blood instead (Eardley)
Transcription
Line number 51

 Physical note

“u” appears to correct earlier letter; superscript “e” may be flourish
Elemental Edition
Line number 51

 Gloss note

centaur with poisoned blood
Transcription
Line number 52

 Physical note

"e" appears written over "a"
Elemental Edition
Line number 52

 Gloss note

Hercules, poisoned by Nessus
Amplified Edition
Line number 52

 Critical note

Nessus (l. 51) was a satyr (half man, half horse) with toxic blood. Heracles/Alcides killed him but was later poisoned by a shirt dipped in that toxic blood and begged to be killed to put him out of his pain.The result was displaced suicide—self-destroying—by the hand of another. In Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, Antony laments his humiliating retreat, following Cleopatra, by saying: “The shirt of Nessus is upon me: teach me, / Alcides, thou mine ancestor, thy rage” (4.12). The story of Alcides’s miserable end serves as a cautionary tale about revenge reaching out beyond the grave, and violence rebounding against the perpetrator.
Elemental Edition
Line number 53

 Gloss note

England, Ireland, Scotland
Amplified Edition
Line number 53

 Gloss note

The supposedly united kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.
Transcription
Line number 54

 Physical note

inserted in different hand from main scribe
Transcription
Line number 54

 Physical note

last three letters written over previous ones
Elemental Edition
Line number 58

 Gloss note

Cornelius Scipio (236-183 BCE) and Cornelius Scipio (ca. 185-129 BCE), Roman commanders renowned by Virgil and followers as “Duo fulmina belli,” the “two thunderbolts of war”
Amplified Edition
Line number 58

 Critical note

Virgil referred to two Roman generals, both named Cornelius Scipio, as “twin thunderbolts of war” (duo fulmina belli, Aeneid 6.842). Aeneas encounters them in the underworld, so they are already dead, their achievements behind them. Because the first Scipio defeated the general Hannibal, despite his reputation for military strategy and his extensive human and animal forces (including elephants), he earned the nickname “Scipio Africanus.” The other Scipio was his adopted grandson. In a later war, he defeated Carthage and, famously, burned it to the ground and devastated its agricultural fields. Lucretius uses the story of these two indomitable generals to remind readers that even great warriors come to dust. “Scipio’s son, the thunderbolt of war, / Horror of Carthage, gave his bones to earth, / Like to the lowliest villein in the house” (De rerum Natura, trans. William E. Leonard [Boston: E. P. Dutton, 1916], 3.1038-40). Lucy Hutchinson’s translation of Lucretius elaborates that “in a cold bed / Of earth his bones were laid, nor in the grave / Enjoy more privilege than the meanest slave” (The Works of Lucy Hutchinson, ed. Reid Barbour and David Norbrook [Oxford University Press, 2012], 3.1117-19). One edition of this poem suggests that the two thunderbolts might refer to Castor and Pollux, to whom Pulter elsewhere compares Lucas and Lisle. See Early Modern Women Poets: An Anthology, ed. Jane Stevenson and Peter Davidson (Oxford University Press, 2001).
Elemental Edition
Line number 59

 Gloss note

huge statues
Amplified Edition
Line number 59

 Gloss note

massive statues
Elemental Edition
Line number 60

 Gloss note

maintain the memory
Amplified Edition
Line number 60

 Gloss note

commemorate
Elemental Edition
Line number 63

 Critical note

an allusion (in Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso) to the story of swans in the afterlife who ferry the names of a few dead to a temple of immortal fame (Eardley)
Amplified Edition
Line number 63

 Critical note

The reference here to the sad swan may refer to the belief that swans sing before they die. Writers as early as Pliny called this into doubt: “Some say that the swans sing lamentably a little before their death, but untruly, I suppose: for experience in many hath showed the contrary” (The History of the World. Commonly Called the Natural History, trans. Philemon Holland [London, 1601], 10.3. sig. Bb3v). Yet the belief underpins an expression still in use, the “swan song,” or final performance. The speaker may express the hope that she herself may be this sad swan, dying after she puts her grief into verse, and achieving recognition “only” for this “one action” of commemorating the heroes.
Elemental Edition
Line number 68

 Gloss note

river in classical underworld
Amplified Edition
Line number 68

 Gloss note

river in the underworld
Transcription
Line number 70

 Physical note

final “e” erased
Elemental Edition
Line number 70

 Gloss note

goddess of the river Lethe (literally: “Oblivion”) in Greek mythological underworld
Elemental Edition
Line number 71

 Gloss note

Herostratus, seeking fame, set alight the temple (“fane”) of Artemis or Diana in Ephesus, 356 BC; the Ephesians executed him and forbade mention of his name.
Amplified Edition
Line number 71

 Gloss note

temple
Amplified Edition
Line number 72

 Gloss note

Herostratus set fire to Diana’s temple in Ephesus “for fame” but as punishment the Ephesians forbade the mention of his name. This kind of self-defeating act fascinates Pulter in this poem.
Elemental Edition
Line number 73

 Gloss note

Cambyses II (c. 522 BCE), a king of Persia whose force of 50,000 was buried in a sandstorm after embarking on an attack of an oracle in Egypt.
Amplified Edition
Line number 74

 Gloss note

memory
Transcription
Line number 75

 Physical note

corrected, possibly from “ffree”
Elemental Edition
Line number 75

 Gloss note

Brennus, leader of Gauls punished by gods for invading Apollo’s sanctuary of Delphi, Greece
Elemental Edition
Line number 76

 Gloss note

Apollo
Elemental Edition
Line number 76

 Gloss note

defeated
Amplified Edition
Line number 76

 Critical note

Herostratus, Cambyses and the fierce Gaul (Brennus) were all guilty of sacrilege and ultimately punished. See “Curations.” This series of “if” clauses builds to the “then” that this sacrilegious rout or mob, the Parliamentary forces, will ultimately be punished, too.
Elemental Edition
Line number 78

 Gloss note

troop, crowd, mob
Elemental Edition
Line number 79

 Gloss note

King Charles
Amplified Edition
Line number 79

 Critical note

“Our faith’s defender” refers to the king, Charles I. The Royalist view of the monarch as God’s representative on earth, as well as the Supreme Head of the Church of England, made opposing (and ultimately killing him) a form of sacrilege.
Elemental Edition
Line number 83

 Gloss note

structure, physical body, constitution, arrangement; also the universe, heavens, earth, or any part of it
Amplified Edition
Line number 83

 Gloss note

physical body
Transcription
Line number 84

 Physical note

double strike-through
Transcription
Line number 84

 Physical note

directly above struck-through “Triumph,” in different hand from main scribe
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