The Center

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The Center

Poem 30

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 Elizabeth Scott-Baumann.

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
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  • Project sponsored by Northwestern University, Brock University, and University of Leeds
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X (Close panel)Notes: Transcription

 Editorial note

In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.
Line number 2

 Physical note

“various” above “triple” in different hand from main scribe or central editing hand; inverted caret below “triple”
Line number 9

 Physical note

blot after “r” suggests “o” revised to “i” or “i” to “o”
Line number 16

 Physical note

“B” appears written over earlier letter (“S” or “ſ”), and “e” o have “l” beneath
Line number 22

 Physical note

“nd” written over two illegible letters
Line number 27

 Physical note

first “r” nearly indiscernible
Line number 28

 Physical note

“guid” above “Light” in different hand from main scribe and lighter ink; inverted caret below “Light”
Line number 32

 Physical note

imperfectly erased comma or insertion mark between these two words
Line number 39

 Physical note

“b” written over imperfectly erased “d” with “e” over lower part of same
Line number 47

 Physical note

“e” written over other letter, likely “a”
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Transcription
Transcription

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The Center
The Center
The Center
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
With an undergraduate and graduate student audience in mind, this poem has been modernised in spelling and punctuation. Where modernisation would affect form, priority has been given to the integrity of the poem’s formal features (so, for instance, verb endings -est and -eth have been retained unmodernised; where the meter requires it, the verb ending -ed is accented, e.g., “Then shall thy blessèd influence”). Nouns have been capitalized only when there is clear personification. The notes provide information essential to understanding the poem, while the Headnote aims to stimulate readers’ own interpretations through suggesting literary or historical contexts, possible influences, comparable poems (by Pulter and by her predecessors and peers) and relevant critical arguments.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
“The Center” is one of many poems in which Pulter structures a spiritual meditation on contemporary astronomy. Here she grapples with the fundamental issue of how God, like the sun, can be at the epicenter of mortal existence when his eternal being remains necessarily elusive and confounding. Charting a dizzying series of upward and downward motions, the speaker imagines traversing and remapping the Copernican universe: the flickering stars seem to light her ascension to God, but the orbit of the Earth invisibly draws a boundary preventing her from contemplating God’s glory. She urges her soul toward the nucleus of heavenly light, then colloquially yells for her thoughts to descend to their native dust. The speaker fantasizes that the fiery sun might embrace the Earth so as to halt the revolutions that distinguish day from night, relieving humans of anxious awareness of a mortality that she depicts in eroticized terms: “Death, triumphant, doth perform his lust / Grinding (in spite) our very bones to dust.” In keeping with the vertical play in the poem, death’s pulverization quickly is reversed, as the elements of the body are raised to produce eternal praise. In fact, this conversion anticipates the speaker’s final, comforting spatial realignment. Recognizing God in the details of his animate creations, she forges a way to bridge the gap between the heavens and earth, and she uses this inspiration to create her own revolving cosmos of praise with God enthroned at its center.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
In this poem, Pulter articulates a fairly recent scientific argument, that the planets rotate around the sun. This heliocentric world view, propounded by Copernicus and developed by Galileo, had shocked many Christians by decentering the human world. Pulter adopts this avant-garde astronomy, and elegantly harnesses it to a poem that places God—like the sun—firmly at its center. She Christianizes heliocentrism by asserting that the planets rotate around the sun “[a]ccording to the great Creator’s pleasure”. As often in Pulter’s poems, she uses contemporary scientific thought to explore spiritual states and experiences. Here the speaker wishes that the sun would not only be the focal point around which earth and the planets rotate, as it is, but that it would shine constantly on earth, enabling perpetual day and banishing night’s spiritual crises. The sun’s authority in this poem is somewhat monarchical with the opening scene of a “throne[d]” (l. 5) figure receiving planets like dancers performing “according to [his] pleasure”.
As in Margaret Cavendish’s ‘Of Stars’, Pulter’s speaker here reins in cosmological conjecture in order to refocus on God: “Halloo, my thoughts! To native earth descend; / For thy ambition in the dust must end”. Also like Cavendish, though, Pulter enjoys exploring astronomical ideas along the way: her ideas are influenced by Galileo’s Starry Messenger (Sidereus nuncius), published in 1610 and still controversial when she was writing, and Copernicus’s account of the three rotations made by the earth. Without knowing more of Pulter’s education, we do not know whether she was able to read Galileo in Italian or Latin (Sidereus nuncius did not appear in English for over two centuries), or whether she gained her knowledge through English writers such as Henry More, whose Philosophical Poems (1647) explicitly engaged with Galileo’s theories. On Pulter’s familiarity with the “most modern and most coherent cosmological theory of the time” (p. 4), see also Sarah Hutton, ‘Hester Pulter (c. 1596-1678): A Woman Poet and the New Astronomy’, Études Epistèmes,14 (2008): 77-87 and Alice Eardley, ed. Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2014). On “dust”, see Curations for ‘The Circle [1]’ and ‘The Hope’.
The poem’s structure and syntax are also elliptical. Pulter circles around the central subject—God—in several ways, including her syntax (the action wished-for in the opening lines is not reached until line 7, “Would clasp this globe”), and her focus on His earthly creation (cedar, daisy, elephant, whale), concluding that we can only conceive of God’s glory through the beauty of His creation (ll. 39-40). In this way, her poem enacts the instruction she gives to herself—“To native earth descend”—to explore God through more humble and indirect means.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Oh that the Splendent & Illustrious Sun
O that the
Gloss Note
shining brightly
splendent
and illustrious sun,
Oh that the
Gloss Note
shining brightly
splendent
and
Gloss Note
eminent or renowned, and also literally, shining
illustrious
sun
2
Round whom the Planets
Physical Note
“various” above “triple” in different hand from main scribe or central editing hand; inverted caret below “triple”
triplevarious
motions Run
Round whom the planets’
Gloss Note
Over “triple” the word “various” is written, as if a correction were being debated; “triple” motions indicates a Copernican heliocentrism comprised of the planet’s three motions (daily rotation, annual orbit, and tilting of the axis).
triple motions
run,
Round whom the planets
Physical Note
in the manuscript, “various” has been written above “triple”, as if a possible alternative
triple
Critical Note
Diurnal, annual, trepidation: around whom the planets run in three different kinds of motion: diurnal (daily; the earth’s own rotation), annual (yearly; its course around the sun) and trepidation (the tilt and oscillation of the earth on its axis), see Paradise Lost: John Milton, ed. Alastair Fowler (Harlow, Essex: Longman, 1998), p. 436 and Introduction.
motions run
:
3
Diurnall, Annuall, Trepedation
Gloss Note
daily
Diurnal
, annual,
Gloss Note
shaky movement of the spheres, sometimes associated with the classical Ptolemaic view of the universe.
trepidation
,
Diurnal, annual, trepidation;
4
Yet that all Quickning Orb keeps Still his Station,
(
Gloss Note
still
Yet
that
Gloss Note
all-animating sun
all-quickening orb
keeps still his station,
Yet that
Gloss Note
all quick’ning: which quickens, gives life to, all
all quick’ning
orb keeps still his station,
5
Whilst they about his Throne Dance each his^measure
Whilst they about his throne dance each his
Gloss Note
dance; rhythmical movement, as in poetry; course of action
measure
,
Whilst they about his throne dance each his
Gloss Note
a slow and stately dance
measure
6
According to the Great Creators pleaſure,
According to the Great Creator’s pleasure):
According to the great Creator’s pleasure;
7
Oh that his Influence, his Heat, his Light,
O that his influence, his heat, his light
Oh that His
Gloss Note
as well as its modern meaning of an unseen effect, this term had a more specific astrological meaning, of an ethereal fluid flowing from the stars and acting upon humankind.
influence
, His heat, His light,
8
Would clasp this Globe, that theſe Sad Shades^of Night
Would clasp this
Gloss Note
Earth
globe
,
Gloss Note
so that
that
these sad shades of night
Would clasp this globe, that these sad shades of night
9
Might this our
Physical Note
blot after “r” suggests “o” revised to “i” or “i” to “o”
Horiscope
involve noe more
Might this
Gloss Note
The speaker wishes the sun would embrace or hold still the Earth (“clasp this globe”) to prevent night from influencing events on Earth.
our horoscope involve no more
,
Might this our
Gloss Note
configurations of the planets in the sky at a given moment
horoscope
Gloss Note
envelop
involve
no more;
10
Nor mee the loſs of Day, Soe oft deplore,
Nor me the loss of day so oft deplore.
Nor me the loss of day, so oft deplore.
11
Now half our time in horrid Night is lost,
Now half our time in horrid night is lost;
Now half our time in horrid night is lost,
12
The other halfe twixt hope and feare is tost,
The other half, ’twixt hope and fear, is tossed
The other half ’twixt hope and fear is tossed,
13
Till paine and Griefe (oh curst comunian
Till pain and grief (O cursed
Critical Note
mutual participation; the yoking of body and soul through emotion trades on more specific meanings of this word: of church fellowship and the sacrament of the Eucharist (eating the body and blood of Jesus).
communion
Till pain and grief (oh cursed
Gloss Note
union (a “cursed Communion” because pain affects the body, grief the mind)
communion
14
Twixt Soule and body) doth diſſolv ye Union,
Twixt soul and body) doth dissolve the union.
’Twixt soul and body) doth dissolve the union.
15
Then Death Triumphant doth perform his lust
Then Death, triumphant, doth perform his
Gloss Note
desire, appetite
lust
,
Then Death, triumphant, doth perform his
Gloss Note
what he wishes
lust
,
16
Grindeing in (Spight) our very
Physical Note
“B” appears written over earlier letter (“S” or “ſ”), and “e” o have “l” beneath
Bones
to dust,
Grinding, in spite, our very bones to
Gloss Note
primal material elements
dust
,
Grinding (in spite) our very bones to dust,
17
Then shuts us in Oblivions Sable Womb
Then shuts us in Oblivion’s
Gloss Note
black
sable
womb,
Then shuts us in Oblivion’s
Gloss Note
black (this sense originates in heraldry, OED)
sable
womb,
18
Our infant Cradle, now our Ages Tomb,
Gloss Note
the primal and obscure nothingness of the material world as compared to heavenly eternity
Our infant cradle, now our age’s tomb,
Our infant cradle, now our age’s tomb,
19
Till infinite Power and Love o:r dust Shall raiſe
Till infinite power and love our dust shall raise,
Till infinite power and love our dust shall raise
20
To Sing in Joys his everlasting Praiſe,
To sing, in
Gloss Note
expressions of joy
joys
, His everlasting praise.
To sing in joys His everlasting praise.
but

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21
But though the Sun bee Center unto all
But though the sun be center unto all,
But though the sun be center unto all
22
And our earths motion makes him Riſe
Physical Note
“nd” written over two illegible letters
and
fall
And our earth’s motion makes him
Gloss Note
The Earth’s turning creates the appearance of the sun’s movement.
rise and fall
,
And our earth’s motion makes him rise and fall
23
Yet! Must his Orb confine my thoughts alsoe
Yet must his
Gloss Note
the sun and the circular sphere around it subject to its influence
orb
confine my thoughts also?
Yet must his orb confine my thoughts also,
24
Must they (aye! mee) must they noe higher goe,
Must they (ay me!), must they no higher go?
Must they (ay me) must they no higher go?
25
Since first I saw a Glimps of Heavenly Joy
Since first I saw a glimpse of heavenly joy,
Since first I saw a glimpse of heavenly joy,
26
Mee thinks this World is but a trundleing toy
Methinks this world is but a trundling
Gloss Note
trivial amusement
toy
;
Methinks this world is but a
Gloss Note
with wheels, rolling along a surface
trundling
Gloss Note
a child’s plaything; a trifle, of little importance; a curiosity
toy
27
And all those Glittring Globes that shine like
Physical Note
first “r” nearly indiscernible
fier^r
And all those glitt’ring
Gloss Note
stars
globes
that shine like fire
And all those glitt’ring
Gloss Note
stars
globes
that shine like fire
28
Are Lights hung out to
Physical Note
“guid” above “Light” in different hand from main scribe and lighter ink; inverted caret below “Light”
Lightguid
my thoughts up higher,
Are lights hung out to
Physical Note
The word “guide” is written above “light,” as if a possible correction.
light
my thoughts up higher,
Are lights hung out to
Physical Note
n the manuscript, “guide” has been written above “light” , as if a possible alternative (perhaps to avoid repetition)
light
my thoughts up higher
29
To him that doth the Univerſ involve
To Him that doth the universe
Gloss Note
encircle, entangle
involve
,
To Him that doth the universe
Gloss Note
envelop, include
involve
,
30
Whose word creates, whoſe breath doe all diſſolv,
Critical Note
See John 1:1-3: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God ... All things were made by him.”
Whose Word creates, whose breath do all dissolve,
Whose word creates, whose breath do all dissolve,
31
Even him that totall Nature doth surround
Even Him that total nature doth surround,
Critical Note
here, and in the previous lines, there is some ambiguity about what is enveloped by what, playing to the poem’s wider exploration of heliocentric and geocentric models of the universe and God’s place in (or above) these models
Even Him that total nature doth surround,
32
The thought of whom doth my poor
Physical Note
imperfectly erased comma or insertion mark between these two words
Soul confound
The thought of whom doth my poor soul confound.
The thought of whom doth my poor soul confound,
33
Ay mee! who can inviſable light behould
Ay me! Who can invisible light behold,
Ay me! who can invisible light behold,
34
Or can Eternity his Age be told
Or can eternity’s age be told?
Or can eternity His age be told?
35
If I to contemplate his Glory venter
If I, to contemplate His glory, venture,
If I to contemplate His glory venture,
36
Rottennes into my bones doth enter
Rottenness into my bones doth enter.
Rottenness into my bones doth enter.
37
Holoo my thoughts to native earth deſcend
Gloss Note
a loud shout to get attention; the speaker is insisting that her thoughts return to earth.
Hollo
! my thoughts, to native earth descend;
Gloss Note
shout, holler, call for attention; here the speaker is summoning her thoughts
Halloo
, my thoughts! To native earth descend;
38
ffor thy Ambition in the dust must end
For thy ambition in the
Gloss Note
See Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
dust
must end.
For thy ambition in the dust must end.
39
Yet wee may by the
Physical Note
“b” written over imperfectly erased “d” with “e” over lower part of same
beuty
of the Creature
Gloss Note
still
Yet
we may, by the beauty of the creature,
Yet we may, by the beauty of the creature,
40
Conceive the Glory of the Great Creator
Conceive the glory of the Great Creator,
Conceive the glory of the great Creator,
41
He whoſe incomprehenſible power
He whose incomprehensible power
He whose incomprehensible power
42
Did make the Talest ^Tree and Smalest fflower
Did make the tallest tree and smallest flower,
Did make the tallest tree and smallest flower,
even

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43
Even lofty Cœdars that on Mountains Grow
Even lofty cedars that on mountains grow
Even lofty cedars that on mountains grow
44
And humble Daiſies which in valleys blow
And humble daisies which in valleys blow.
And humble daisies which in valleys blow.
45
The Elaphant and Whale, hee doth diſſect
The elephant and whale, He doth
Gloss Note
examine minutely
dissect
,
The elephant and whale,
Gloss Note
cut up in order to understand; analyse closely; anatomise. God scrutinises the whole scale of animalkind from the elephant and whale to the lowliest reptile and insect
He doth dissect
,
46
The Deſpecablest Reptell or incect
Gloss Note
And the
The
despicablest reptile or insect.
The despicablest reptile or insect.
47
Then will I
Physical Note
“e” written over other letter, likely “a”
heere
my few and evill dayes
Then will I here, my few and evil days,
Gloss Note
that is, “Then I will, while I am here on earth for few and evil days.” The latter phrase referring to Jacob: “And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou? And Jacob said unto Pharaoh … few and evil have the days of the years of my life been” (Genesis 47: 8-9)
Then will I here my few and evil days
48
Make him the Summe and Center of my ^Praiſe.
Make Him the sum and center of my praise.
Make Him the sum and center of my praise.
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X (Close panel)Notes: Elemental Edition

 Editorial note

The aim of the elemental edition is to make the poems accessible to the largest variety of readers, which involves modernizing spelling and punctuation as well as adding basic glosses. Spelling and punctuation reflect current standard American usage; punctuation highlights syntax which might otherwise be obscure. Outmoded but still familiar word forms (“thou,” “‘tis,” “hold’st”) are not modernized, and we do not modernize grammar when the sense remains legible. After a brief headnote aimed at offering a “way in” to the poem’s unique qualities and connections with other verse by Pulter or her contemporaries, the edition features a minimum of notes and interpretative framing to allow more immediate engagement with the poem. Glosses clarify synonyms or showcase various possible meanings in Pulter’s time. Other notes identify named people and places or clarify obscure material. We rely (without citation) primarily on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the Oxford Reference database, and the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. When we rely on Alice Eardley’s edition of Pulter’s work, we cite her text generally (“Eardley”); other sources are cited in full. The result is an edition we consider a springboard for further work on Pulter’s poetry. See full conventions for this edition here.

 Headnote

“The Center” is one of many poems in which Pulter structures a spiritual meditation on contemporary astronomy. Here she grapples with the fundamental issue of how God, like the sun, can be at the epicenter of mortal existence when his eternal being remains necessarily elusive and confounding. Charting a dizzying series of upward and downward motions, the speaker imagines traversing and remapping the Copernican universe: the flickering stars seem to light her ascension to God, but the orbit of the Earth invisibly draws a boundary preventing her from contemplating God’s glory. She urges her soul toward the nucleus of heavenly light, then colloquially yells for her thoughts to descend to their native dust. The speaker fantasizes that the fiery sun might embrace the Earth so as to halt the revolutions that distinguish day from night, relieving humans of anxious awareness of a mortality that she depicts in eroticized terms: “Death, triumphant, doth perform his lust / Grinding (in spite) our very bones to dust.” In keeping with the vertical play in the poem, death’s pulverization quickly is reversed, as the elements of the body are raised to produce eternal praise. In fact, this conversion anticipates the speaker’s final, comforting spatial realignment. Recognizing God in the details of his animate creations, she forges a way to bridge the gap between the heavens and earth, and she uses this inspiration to create her own revolving cosmos of praise with God enthroned at its center.
Line number 1

 Gloss note

shining brightly
Line number 2

 Gloss note

Over “triple” the word “various” is written, as if a correction were being debated; “triple” motions indicates a Copernican heliocentrism comprised of the planet’s three motions (daily rotation, annual orbit, and tilting of the axis).
Line number 3

 Gloss note

daily
Line number 3

 Gloss note

shaky movement of the spheres, sometimes associated with the classical Ptolemaic view of the universe.
Line number 4

 Gloss note

still
Line number 4

 Gloss note

all-animating sun
Line number 5

 Gloss note

dance; rhythmical movement, as in poetry; course of action
Line number 8

 Gloss note

Earth
Line number 8

 Gloss note

so that
Line number 9

 Gloss note

The speaker wishes the sun would embrace or hold still the Earth (“clasp this globe”) to prevent night from influencing events on Earth.
Line number 13

 Critical note

mutual participation; the yoking of body and soul through emotion trades on more specific meanings of this word: of church fellowship and the sacrament of the Eucharist (eating the body and blood of Jesus).
Line number 15

 Gloss note

desire, appetite
Line number 16

 Gloss note

primal material elements
Line number 17

 Gloss note

black
Line number 18

 Gloss note

the primal and obscure nothingness of the material world as compared to heavenly eternity
Line number 20

 Gloss note

expressions of joy
Line number 22

 Gloss note

The Earth’s turning creates the appearance of the sun’s movement.
Line number 23

 Gloss note

the sun and the circular sphere around it subject to its influence
Line number 26

 Gloss note

trivial amusement
Line number 27

 Gloss note

stars
Line number 28

 Physical note

The word “guide” is written above “light,” as if a possible correction.
Line number 29

 Gloss note

encircle, entangle
Line number 30

 Critical note

See John 1:1-3: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God ... All things were made by him.”
Line number 37

 Gloss note

a loud shout to get attention; the speaker is insisting that her thoughts return to earth.
Line number 38

 Gloss note

See Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
Line number 39

 Gloss note

still
Line number 45

 Gloss note

examine minutely
Line number 46

 Gloss note

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

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The Center
The Center
The Center
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
With an undergraduate and graduate student audience in mind, this poem has been modernised in spelling and punctuation. Where modernisation would affect form, priority has been given to the integrity of the poem’s formal features (so, for instance, verb endings -est and -eth have been retained unmodernised; where the meter requires it, the verb ending -ed is accented, e.g., “Then shall thy blessèd influence”). Nouns have been capitalized only when there is clear personification. The notes provide information essential to understanding the poem, while the Headnote aims to stimulate readers’ own interpretations through suggesting literary or historical contexts, possible influences, comparable poems (by Pulter and by her predecessors and peers) and relevant critical arguments.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
“The Center” is one of many poems in which Pulter structures a spiritual meditation on contemporary astronomy. Here she grapples with the fundamental issue of how God, like the sun, can be at the epicenter of mortal existence when his eternal being remains necessarily elusive and confounding. Charting a dizzying series of upward and downward motions, the speaker imagines traversing and remapping the Copernican universe: the flickering stars seem to light her ascension to God, but the orbit of the Earth invisibly draws a boundary preventing her from contemplating God’s glory. She urges her soul toward the nucleus of heavenly light, then colloquially yells for her thoughts to descend to their native dust. The speaker fantasizes that the fiery sun might embrace the Earth so as to halt the revolutions that distinguish day from night, relieving humans of anxious awareness of a mortality that she depicts in eroticized terms: “Death, triumphant, doth perform his lust / Grinding (in spite) our very bones to dust.” In keeping with the vertical play in the poem, death’s pulverization quickly is reversed, as the elements of the body are raised to produce eternal praise. In fact, this conversion anticipates the speaker’s final, comforting spatial realignment. Recognizing God in the details of his animate creations, she forges a way to bridge the gap between the heavens and earth, and she uses this inspiration to create her own revolving cosmos of praise with God enthroned at its center.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
In this poem, Pulter articulates a fairly recent scientific argument, that the planets rotate around the sun. This heliocentric world view, propounded by Copernicus and developed by Galileo, had shocked many Christians by decentering the human world. Pulter adopts this avant-garde astronomy, and elegantly harnesses it to a poem that places God—like the sun—firmly at its center. She Christianizes heliocentrism by asserting that the planets rotate around the sun “[a]ccording to the great Creator’s pleasure”. As often in Pulter’s poems, she uses contemporary scientific thought to explore spiritual states and experiences. Here the speaker wishes that the sun would not only be the focal point around which earth and the planets rotate, as it is, but that it would shine constantly on earth, enabling perpetual day and banishing night’s spiritual crises. The sun’s authority in this poem is somewhat monarchical with the opening scene of a “throne[d]” (l. 5) figure receiving planets like dancers performing “according to [his] pleasure”.
As in Margaret Cavendish’s ‘Of Stars’, Pulter’s speaker here reins in cosmological conjecture in order to refocus on God: “Halloo, my thoughts! To native earth descend; / For thy ambition in the dust must end”. Also like Cavendish, though, Pulter enjoys exploring astronomical ideas along the way: her ideas are influenced by Galileo’s Starry Messenger (Sidereus nuncius), published in 1610 and still controversial when she was writing, and Copernicus’s account of the three rotations made by the earth. Without knowing more of Pulter’s education, we do not know whether she was able to read Galileo in Italian or Latin (Sidereus nuncius did not appear in English for over two centuries), or whether she gained her knowledge through English writers such as Henry More, whose Philosophical Poems (1647) explicitly engaged with Galileo’s theories. On Pulter’s familiarity with the “most modern and most coherent cosmological theory of the time” (p. 4), see also Sarah Hutton, ‘Hester Pulter (c. 1596-1678): A Woman Poet and the New Astronomy’, Études Epistèmes,14 (2008): 77-87 and Alice Eardley, ed. Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2014). On “dust”, see Curations for ‘The Circle [1]’ and ‘The Hope’.
The poem’s structure and syntax are also elliptical. Pulter circles around the central subject—God—in several ways, including her syntax (the action wished-for in the opening lines is not reached until line 7, “Would clasp this globe”), and her focus on His earthly creation (cedar, daisy, elephant, whale), concluding that we can only conceive of God’s glory through the beauty of His creation (ll. 39-40). In this way, her poem enacts the instruction she gives to herself—“To native earth descend”—to explore God through more humble and indirect means.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Oh that the Splendent & Illustrious Sun
O that the
Gloss Note
shining brightly
splendent
and illustrious sun,
Oh that the
Gloss Note
shining brightly
splendent
and
Gloss Note
eminent or renowned, and also literally, shining
illustrious
sun
2
Round whom the Planets
Physical Note
“various” above “triple” in different hand from main scribe or central editing hand; inverted caret below “triple”
triplevarious
motions Run
Round whom the planets’
Gloss Note
Over “triple” the word “various” is written, as if a correction were being debated; “triple” motions indicates a Copernican heliocentrism comprised of the planet’s three motions (daily rotation, annual orbit, and tilting of the axis).
triple motions
run,
Round whom the planets
Physical Note
in the manuscript, “various” has been written above “triple”, as if a possible alternative
triple
Critical Note
Diurnal, annual, trepidation: around whom the planets run in three different kinds of motion: diurnal (daily; the earth’s own rotation), annual (yearly; its course around the sun) and trepidation (the tilt and oscillation of the earth on its axis), see Paradise Lost: John Milton, ed. Alastair Fowler (Harlow, Essex: Longman, 1998), p. 436 and Introduction.
motions run
:
3
Diurnall, Annuall, Trepedation
Gloss Note
daily
Diurnal
, annual,
Gloss Note
shaky movement of the spheres, sometimes associated with the classical Ptolemaic view of the universe.
trepidation
,
Diurnal, annual, trepidation;
4
Yet that all Quickning Orb keeps Still his Station,
(
Gloss Note
still
Yet
that
Gloss Note
all-animating sun
all-quickening orb
keeps still his station,
Yet that
Gloss Note
all quick’ning: which quickens, gives life to, all
all quick’ning
orb keeps still his station,
5
Whilst they about his Throne Dance each his^measure
Whilst they about his throne dance each his
Gloss Note
dance; rhythmical movement, as in poetry; course of action
measure
,
Whilst they about his throne dance each his
Gloss Note
a slow and stately dance
measure
6
According to the Great Creators pleaſure,
According to the Great Creator’s pleasure):
According to the great Creator’s pleasure;
7
Oh that his Influence, his Heat, his Light,
O that his influence, his heat, his light
Oh that His
Gloss Note
as well as its modern meaning of an unseen effect, this term had a more specific astrological meaning, of an ethereal fluid flowing from the stars and acting upon humankind.
influence
, His heat, His light,
8
Would clasp this Globe, that theſe Sad Shades^of Night
Would clasp this
Gloss Note
Earth
globe
,
Gloss Note
so that
that
these sad shades of night
Would clasp this globe, that these sad shades of night
9
Might this our
Physical Note
blot after “r” suggests “o” revised to “i” or “i” to “o”
Horiscope
involve noe more
Might this
Gloss Note
The speaker wishes the sun would embrace or hold still the Earth (“clasp this globe”) to prevent night from influencing events on Earth.
our horoscope involve no more
,
Might this our
Gloss Note
configurations of the planets in the sky at a given moment
horoscope
Gloss Note
envelop
involve
no more;
10
Nor mee the loſs of Day, Soe oft deplore,
Nor me the loss of day so oft deplore.
Nor me the loss of day, so oft deplore.
11
Now half our time in horrid Night is lost,
Now half our time in horrid night is lost;
Now half our time in horrid night is lost,
12
The other halfe twixt hope and feare is tost,
The other half, ’twixt hope and fear, is tossed
The other half ’twixt hope and fear is tossed,
13
Till paine and Griefe (oh curst comunian
Till pain and grief (O cursed
Critical Note
mutual participation; the yoking of body and soul through emotion trades on more specific meanings of this word: of church fellowship and the sacrament of the Eucharist (eating the body and blood of Jesus).
communion
Till pain and grief (oh cursed
Gloss Note
union (a “cursed Communion” because pain affects the body, grief the mind)
communion
14
Twixt Soule and body) doth diſſolv ye Union,
Twixt soul and body) doth dissolve the union.
’Twixt soul and body) doth dissolve the union.
15
Then Death Triumphant doth perform his lust
Then Death, triumphant, doth perform his
Gloss Note
desire, appetite
lust
,
Then Death, triumphant, doth perform his
Gloss Note
what he wishes
lust
,
16
Grindeing in (Spight) our very
Physical Note
“B” appears written over earlier letter (“S” or “ſ”), and “e” o have “l” beneath
Bones
to dust,
Grinding, in spite, our very bones to
Gloss Note
primal material elements
dust
,
Grinding (in spite) our very bones to dust,
17
Then shuts us in Oblivions Sable Womb
Then shuts us in Oblivion’s
Gloss Note
black
sable
womb,
Then shuts us in Oblivion’s
Gloss Note
black (this sense originates in heraldry, OED)
sable
womb,
18
Our infant Cradle, now our Ages Tomb,
Gloss Note
the primal and obscure nothingness of the material world as compared to heavenly eternity
Our infant cradle, now our age’s tomb,
Our infant cradle, now our age’s tomb,
19
Till infinite Power and Love o:r dust Shall raiſe
Till infinite power and love our dust shall raise,
Till infinite power and love our dust shall raise
20
To Sing in Joys his everlasting Praiſe,
To sing, in
Gloss Note
expressions of joy
joys
, His everlasting praise.
To sing in joys His everlasting praise.
but

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21
But though the Sun bee Center unto all
But though the sun be center unto all,
But though the sun be center unto all
22
And our earths motion makes him Riſe
Physical Note
“nd” written over two illegible letters
and
fall
And our earth’s motion makes him
Gloss Note
The Earth’s turning creates the appearance of the sun’s movement.
rise and fall
,
And our earth’s motion makes him rise and fall
23
Yet! Must his Orb confine my thoughts alsoe
Yet must his
Gloss Note
the sun and the circular sphere around it subject to its influence
orb
confine my thoughts also?
Yet must his orb confine my thoughts also,
24
Must they (aye! mee) must they noe higher goe,
Must they (ay me!), must they no higher go?
Must they (ay me) must they no higher go?
25
Since first I saw a Glimps of Heavenly Joy
Since first I saw a glimpse of heavenly joy,
Since first I saw a glimpse of heavenly joy,
26
Mee thinks this World is but a trundleing toy
Methinks this world is but a trundling
Gloss Note
trivial amusement
toy
;
Methinks this world is but a
Gloss Note
with wheels, rolling along a surface
trundling
Gloss Note
a child’s plaything; a trifle, of little importance; a curiosity
toy
27
And all those Glittring Globes that shine like
Physical Note
first “r” nearly indiscernible
fier^r
And all those glitt’ring
Gloss Note
stars
globes
that shine like fire
And all those glitt’ring
Gloss Note
stars
globes
that shine like fire
28
Are Lights hung out to
Physical Note
“guid” above “Light” in different hand from main scribe and lighter ink; inverted caret below “Light”
Lightguid
my thoughts up higher,
Are lights hung out to
Physical Note
The word “guide” is written above “light,” as if a possible correction.
light
my thoughts up higher,
Are lights hung out to
Physical Note
n the manuscript, “guide” has been written above “light” , as if a possible alternative (perhaps to avoid repetition)
light
my thoughts up higher
29
To him that doth the Univerſ involve
To Him that doth the universe
Gloss Note
encircle, entangle
involve
,
To Him that doth the universe
Gloss Note
envelop, include
involve
,
30
Whose word creates, whoſe breath doe all diſſolv,
Critical Note
See John 1:1-3: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God ... All things were made by him.”
Whose Word creates, whose breath do all dissolve,
Whose word creates, whose breath do all dissolve,
31
Even him that totall Nature doth surround
Even Him that total nature doth surround,
Critical Note
here, and in the previous lines, there is some ambiguity about what is enveloped by what, playing to the poem’s wider exploration of heliocentric and geocentric models of the universe and God’s place in (or above) these models
Even Him that total nature doth surround,
32
The thought of whom doth my poor
Physical Note
imperfectly erased comma or insertion mark between these two words
Soul confound
The thought of whom doth my poor soul confound.
The thought of whom doth my poor soul confound,
33
Ay mee! who can inviſable light behould
Ay me! Who can invisible light behold,
Ay me! who can invisible light behold,
34
Or can Eternity his Age be told
Or can eternity’s age be told?
Or can eternity His age be told?
35
If I to contemplate his Glory venter
If I, to contemplate His glory, venture,
If I to contemplate His glory venture,
36
Rottennes into my bones doth enter
Rottenness into my bones doth enter.
Rottenness into my bones doth enter.
37
Holoo my thoughts to native earth deſcend
Gloss Note
a loud shout to get attention; the speaker is insisting that her thoughts return to earth.
Hollo
! my thoughts, to native earth descend;
Gloss Note
shout, holler, call for attention; here the speaker is summoning her thoughts
Halloo
, my thoughts! To native earth descend;
38
ffor thy Ambition in the dust must end
For thy ambition in the
Gloss Note
See Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
dust
must end.
For thy ambition in the dust must end.
39
Yet wee may by the
Physical Note
“b” written over imperfectly erased “d” with “e” over lower part of same
beuty
of the Creature
Gloss Note
still
Yet
we may, by the beauty of the creature,
Yet we may, by the beauty of the creature,
40
Conceive the Glory of the Great Creator
Conceive the glory of the Great Creator,
Conceive the glory of the great Creator,
41
He whoſe incomprehenſible power
He whose incomprehensible power
He whose incomprehensible power
42
Did make the Talest ^Tree and Smalest fflower
Did make the tallest tree and smallest flower,
Did make the tallest tree and smallest flower,
even

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43
Even lofty Cœdars that on Mountains Grow
Even lofty cedars that on mountains grow
Even lofty cedars that on mountains grow
44
And humble Daiſies which in valleys blow
And humble daisies which in valleys blow.
And humble daisies which in valleys blow.
45
The Elaphant and Whale, hee doth diſſect
The elephant and whale, He doth
Gloss Note
examine minutely
dissect
,
The elephant and whale,
Gloss Note
cut up in order to understand; analyse closely; anatomise. God scrutinises the whole scale of animalkind from the elephant and whale to the lowliest reptile and insect
He doth dissect
,
46
The Deſpecablest Reptell or incect
Gloss Note
And the
The
despicablest reptile or insect.
The despicablest reptile or insect.
47
Then will I
Physical Note
“e” written over other letter, likely “a”
heere
my few and evill dayes
Then will I here, my few and evil days,
Gloss Note
that is, “Then I will, while I am here on earth for few and evil days.” The latter phrase referring to Jacob: “And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou? And Jacob said unto Pharaoh … few and evil have the days of the years of my life been” (Genesis 47: 8-9)
Then will I here my few and evil days
48
Make him the Summe and Center of my ^Praiſe.
Make Him the sum and center of my praise.
Make Him the sum and center of my praise.
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X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition

 Editorial note

With an undergraduate and graduate student audience in mind, this poem has been modernised in spelling and punctuation. Where modernisation would affect form, priority has been given to the integrity of the poem’s formal features (so, for instance, verb endings -est and -eth have been retained unmodernised; where the meter requires it, the verb ending -ed is accented, e.g., “Then shall thy blessèd influence”). Nouns have been capitalized only when there is clear personification. The notes provide information essential to understanding the poem, while the Headnote aims to stimulate readers’ own interpretations through suggesting literary or historical contexts, possible influences, comparable poems (by Pulter and by her predecessors and peers) and relevant critical arguments.

 Headnote

In this poem, Pulter articulates a fairly recent scientific argument, that the planets rotate around the sun. This heliocentric world view, propounded by Copernicus and developed by Galileo, had shocked many Christians by decentering the human world. Pulter adopts this avant-garde astronomy, and elegantly harnesses it to a poem that places God—like the sun—firmly at its center. She Christianizes heliocentrism by asserting that the planets rotate around the sun “[a]ccording to the great Creator’s pleasure”. As often in Pulter’s poems, she uses contemporary scientific thought to explore spiritual states and experiences. Here the speaker wishes that the sun would not only be the focal point around which earth and the planets rotate, as it is, but that it would shine constantly on earth, enabling perpetual day and banishing night’s spiritual crises. The sun’s authority in this poem is somewhat monarchical with the opening scene of a “throne[d]” (l. 5) figure receiving planets like dancers performing “according to [his] pleasure”.
As in Margaret Cavendish’s ‘Of Stars’, Pulter’s speaker here reins in cosmological conjecture in order to refocus on God: “Halloo, my thoughts! To native earth descend; / For thy ambition in the dust must end”. Also like Cavendish, though, Pulter enjoys exploring astronomical ideas along the way: her ideas are influenced by Galileo’s Starry Messenger (Sidereus nuncius), published in 1610 and still controversial when she was writing, and Copernicus’s account of the three rotations made by the earth. Without knowing more of Pulter’s education, we do not know whether she was able to read Galileo in Italian or Latin (Sidereus nuncius did not appear in English for over two centuries), or whether she gained her knowledge through English writers such as Henry More, whose Philosophical Poems (1647) explicitly engaged with Galileo’s theories. On Pulter’s familiarity with the “most modern and most coherent cosmological theory of the time” (p. 4), see also Sarah Hutton, ‘Hester Pulter (c. 1596-1678): A Woman Poet and the New Astronomy’, Études Epistèmes,14 (2008): 77-87 and Alice Eardley, ed. Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2014). On “dust”, see Curations for ‘The Circle [1]’ and ‘The Hope’.
The poem’s structure and syntax are also elliptical. Pulter circles around the central subject—God—in several ways, including her syntax (the action wished-for in the opening lines is not reached until line 7, “Would clasp this globe”), and her focus on His earthly creation (cedar, daisy, elephant, whale), concluding that we can only conceive of God’s glory through the beauty of His creation (ll. 39-40). In this way, her poem enacts the instruction she gives to herself—“To native earth descend”—to explore God through more humble and indirect means.
Line number 1

 Gloss note

shining brightly
Line number 1

 Gloss note

eminent or renowned, and also literally, shining
Line number 2

 Physical note

in the manuscript, “various” has been written above “triple”, as if a possible alternative
Line number 2

 Critical note

Diurnal, annual, trepidation: around whom the planets run in three different kinds of motion: diurnal (daily; the earth’s own rotation), annual (yearly; its course around the sun) and trepidation (the tilt and oscillation of the earth on its axis), see Paradise Lost: John Milton, ed. Alastair Fowler (Harlow, Essex: Longman, 1998), p. 436 and Introduction.
Line number 4

 Gloss note

all quick’ning: which quickens, gives life to, all
Line number 5

 Gloss note

a slow and stately dance
Line number 7

 Gloss note

as well as its modern meaning of an unseen effect, this term had a more specific astrological meaning, of an ethereal fluid flowing from the stars and acting upon humankind.
Line number 9

 Gloss note

configurations of the planets in the sky at a given moment
Line number 9

 Gloss note

envelop
Line number 13

 Gloss note

union (a “cursed Communion” because pain affects the body, grief the mind)
Line number 15

 Gloss note

what he wishes
Line number 17

 Gloss note

black (this sense originates in heraldry, OED)
Line number 26

 Gloss note

with wheels, rolling along a surface
Line number 26

 Gloss note

a child’s plaything; a trifle, of little importance; a curiosity
Line number 27

 Gloss note

stars
Line number 28

 Physical note

n the manuscript, “guide” has been written above “light” , as if a possible alternative (perhaps to avoid repetition)
Line number 29

 Gloss note

envelop, include
Line number 31

 Critical note

here, and in the previous lines, there is some ambiguity about what is enveloped by what, playing to the poem’s wider exploration of heliocentric and geocentric models of the universe and God’s place in (or above) these models
Line number 37

 Gloss note

shout, holler, call for attention; here the speaker is summoning her thoughts
Line number 45

 Gloss note

cut up in order to understand; analyse closely; anatomise. God scrutinises the whole scale of animalkind from the elephant and whale to the lowliest reptile and insect
Line number 47

 Gloss note

that is, “Then I will, while I am here on earth for few and evil days.” The latter phrase referring to Jacob: “And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou? And Jacob said unto Pharaoh … few and evil have the days of the years of my life been” (Genesis 47: 8-9)
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X (Close panel)Amplified Edition
Amplified Edition

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The Center
The Center
The Center
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.

— Elizabeth Scott-Baumann
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.

— Elizabeth Scott-Baumann
With an undergraduate and graduate student audience in mind, this poem has been modernised in spelling and punctuation. Where modernisation would affect form, priority has been given to the integrity of the poem’s formal features (so, for instance, verb endings -est and -eth have been retained unmodernised; where the meter requires it, the verb ending -ed is accented, e.g., “Then shall thy blessèd influence”). Nouns have been capitalized only when there is clear personification. The notes provide information essential to understanding the poem, while the Headnote aims to stimulate readers’ own interpretations through suggesting literary or historical contexts, possible influences, comparable poems (by Pulter and by her predecessors and peers) and relevant critical arguments.

— Elizabeth Scott-Baumann
“The Center” is one of many poems in which Pulter structures a spiritual meditation on contemporary astronomy. Here she grapples with the fundamental issue of how God, like the sun, can be at the epicenter of mortal existence when his eternal being remains necessarily elusive and confounding. Charting a dizzying series of upward and downward motions, the speaker imagines traversing and remapping the Copernican universe: the flickering stars seem to light her ascension to God, but the orbit of the Earth invisibly draws a boundary preventing her from contemplating God’s glory. She urges her soul toward the nucleus of heavenly light, then colloquially yells for her thoughts to descend to their native dust. The speaker fantasizes that the fiery sun might embrace the Earth so as to halt the revolutions that distinguish day from night, relieving humans of anxious awareness of a mortality that she depicts in eroticized terms: “Death, triumphant, doth perform his lust / Grinding (in spite) our very bones to dust.” In keeping with the vertical play in the poem, death’s pulverization quickly is reversed, as the elements of the body are raised to produce eternal praise. In fact, this conversion anticipates the speaker’s final, comforting spatial realignment. Recognizing God in the details of his animate creations, she forges a way to bridge the gap between the heavens and earth, and she uses this inspiration to create her own revolving cosmos of praise with God enthroned at its center.

— Elizabeth Scott-Baumann
In this poem, Pulter articulates a fairly recent scientific argument, that the planets rotate around the sun. This heliocentric world view, propounded by Copernicus and developed by Galileo, had shocked many Christians by decentering the human world. Pulter adopts this avant-garde astronomy, and elegantly harnesses it to a poem that places God—like the sun—firmly at its center. She Christianizes heliocentrism by asserting that the planets rotate around the sun “[a]ccording to the great Creator’s pleasure”. As often in Pulter’s poems, she uses contemporary scientific thought to explore spiritual states and experiences. Here the speaker wishes that the sun would not only be the focal point around which earth and the planets rotate, as it is, but that it would shine constantly on earth, enabling perpetual day and banishing night’s spiritual crises. The sun’s authority in this poem is somewhat monarchical with the opening scene of a “throne[d]” (l. 5) figure receiving planets like dancers performing “according to [his] pleasure”.
As in Margaret Cavendish’s ‘Of Stars’, Pulter’s speaker here reins in cosmological conjecture in order to refocus on God: “Halloo, my thoughts! To native earth descend; / For thy ambition in the dust must end”. Also like Cavendish, though, Pulter enjoys exploring astronomical ideas along the way: her ideas are influenced by Galileo’s Starry Messenger (Sidereus nuncius), published in 1610 and still controversial when she was writing, and Copernicus’s account of the three rotations made by the earth. Without knowing more of Pulter’s education, we do not know whether she was able to read Galileo in Italian or Latin (Sidereus nuncius did not appear in English for over two centuries), or whether she gained her knowledge through English writers such as Henry More, whose Philosophical Poems (1647) explicitly engaged with Galileo’s theories. On Pulter’s familiarity with the “most modern and most coherent cosmological theory of the time” (p. 4), see also Sarah Hutton, ‘Hester Pulter (c. 1596-1678): A Woman Poet and the New Astronomy’, Études Epistèmes,14 (2008): 77-87 and Alice Eardley, ed. Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2014). On “dust”, see Curations for ‘The Circle [1]’ and ‘The Hope’.
The poem’s structure and syntax are also elliptical. Pulter circles around the central subject—God—in several ways, including her syntax (the action wished-for in the opening lines is not reached until line 7, “Would clasp this globe”), and her focus on His earthly creation (cedar, daisy, elephant, whale), concluding that we can only conceive of God’s glory through the beauty of His creation (ll. 39-40). In this way, her poem enacts the instruction she gives to herself—“To native earth descend”—to explore God through more humble and indirect means.


— Elizabeth Scott-Baumann
1
Oh that the Splendent & Illustrious Sun
O that the
Gloss Note
shining brightly
splendent
and illustrious sun,
Oh that the
Gloss Note
shining brightly
splendent
and
Gloss Note
eminent or renowned, and also literally, shining
illustrious
sun
2
Round whom the Planets
Physical Note
“various” above “triple” in different hand from main scribe or central editing hand; inverted caret below “triple”
triplevarious
motions Run
Round whom the planets’
Gloss Note
Over “triple” the word “various” is written, as if a correction were being debated; “triple” motions indicates a Copernican heliocentrism comprised of the planet’s three motions (daily rotation, annual orbit, and tilting of the axis).
triple motions
run,
Round whom the planets
Physical Note
in the manuscript, “various” has been written above “triple”, as if a possible alternative
triple
Critical Note
Diurnal, annual, trepidation: around whom the planets run in three different kinds of motion: diurnal (daily; the earth’s own rotation), annual (yearly; its course around the sun) and trepidation (the tilt and oscillation of the earth on its axis), see Paradise Lost: John Milton, ed. Alastair Fowler (Harlow, Essex: Longman, 1998), p. 436 and Introduction.
motions run
:
3
Diurnall, Annuall, Trepedation
Gloss Note
daily
Diurnal
, annual,
Gloss Note
shaky movement of the spheres, sometimes associated with the classical Ptolemaic view of the universe.
trepidation
,
Diurnal, annual, trepidation;
4
Yet that all Quickning Orb keeps Still his Station,
(
Gloss Note
still
Yet
that
Gloss Note
all-animating sun
all-quickening orb
keeps still his station,
Yet that
Gloss Note
all quick’ning: which quickens, gives life to, all
all quick’ning
orb keeps still his station,
5
Whilst they about his Throne Dance each his^measure
Whilst they about his throne dance each his
Gloss Note
dance; rhythmical movement, as in poetry; course of action
measure
,
Whilst they about his throne dance each his
Gloss Note
a slow and stately dance
measure
6
According to the Great Creators pleaſure,
According to the Great Creator’s pleasure):
According to the great Creator’s pleasure;
7
Oh that his Influence, his Heat, his Light,
O that his influence, his heat, his light
Oh that His
Gloss Note
as well as its modern meaning of an unseen effect, this term had a more specific astrological meaning, of an ethereal fluid flowing from the stars and acting upon humankind.
influence
, His heat, His light,
8
Would clasp this Globe, that theſe Sad Shades^of Night
Would clasp this
Gloss Note
Earth
globe
,
Gloss Note
so that
that
these sad shades of night
Would clasp this globe, that these sad shades of night
9
Might this our
Physical Note
blot after “r” suggests “o” revised to “i” or “i” to “o”
Horiscope
involve noe more
Might this
Gloss Note
The speaker wishes the sun would embrace or hold still the Earth (“clasp this globe”) to prevent night from influencing events on Earth.
our horoscope involve no more
,
Might this our
Gloss Note
configurations of the planets in the sky at a given moment
horoscope
Gloss Note
envelop
involve
no more;
10
Nor mee the loſs of Day, Soe oft deplore,
Nor me the loss of day so oft deplore.
Nor me the loss of day, so oft deplore.
11
Now half our time in horrid Night is lost,
Now half our time in horrid night is lost;
Now half our time in horrid night is lost,
12
The other halfe twixt hope and feare is tost,
The other half, ’twixt hope and fear, is tossed
The other half ’twixt hope and fear is tossed,
13
Till paine and Griefe (oh curst comunian
Till pain and grief (O cursed
Critical Note
mutual participation; the yoking of body and soul through emotion trades on more specific meanings of this word: of church fellowship and the sacrament of the Eucharist (eating the body and blood of Jesus).
communion
Till pain and grief (oh cursed
Gloss Note
union (a “cursed Communion” because pain affects the body, grief the mind)
communion
14
Twixt Soule and body) doth diſſolv ye Union,
Twixt soul and body) doth dissolve the union.
’Twixt soul and body) doth dissolve the union.
15
Then Death Triumphant doth perform his lust
Then Death, triumphant, doth perform his
Gloss Note
desire, appetite
lust
,
Then Death, triumphant, doth perform his
Gloss Note
what he wishes
lust
,
16
Grindeing in (Spight) our very
Physical Note
“B” appears written over earlier letter (“S” or “ſ”), and “e” o have “l” beneath
Bones
to dust,
Grinding, in spite, our very bones to
Gloss Note
primal material elements
dust
,
Grinding (in spite) our very bones to dust,
17
Then shuts us in Oblivions Sable Womb
Then shuts us in Oblivion’s
Gloss Note
black
sable
womb,
Then shuts us in Oblivion’s
Gloss Note
black (this sense originates in heraldry, OED)
sable
womb,
18
Our infant Cradle, now our Ages Tomb,
Gloss Note
the primal and obscure nothingness of the material world as compared to heavenly eternity
Our infant cradle, now our age’s tomb,
Our infant cradle, now our age’s tomb,
19
Till infinite Power and Love o:r dust Shall raiſe
Till infinite power and love our dust shall raise,
Till infinite power and love our dust shall raise
20
To Sing in Joys his everlasting Praiſe,
To sing, in
Gloss Note
expressions of joy
joys
, His everlasting praise.
To sing in joys His everlasting praise.
but

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21
But though the Sun bee Center unto all
But though the sun be center unto all,
But though the sun be center unto all
22
And our earths motion makes him Riſe
Physical Note
“nd” written over two illegible letters
and
fall
And our earth’s motion makes him
Gloss Note
The Earth’s turning creates the appearance of the sun’s movement.
rise and fall
,
And our earth’s motion makes him rise and fall
23
Yet! Must his Orb confine my thoughts alsoe
Yet must his
Gloss Note
the sun and the circular sphere around it subject to its influence
orb
confine my thoughts also?
Yet must his orb confine my thoughts also,
24
Must they (aye! mee) must they noe higher goe,
Must they (ay me!), must they no higher go?
Must they (ay me) must they no higher go?
25
Since first I saw a Glimps of Heavenly Joy
Since first I saw a glimpse of heavenly joy,
Since first I saw a glimpse of heavenly joy,
26
Mee thinks this World is but a trundleing toy
Methinks this world is but a trundling
Gloss Note
trivial amusement
toy
;
Methinks this world is but a
Gloss Note
with wheels, rolling along a surface
trundling
Gloss Note
a child’s plaything; a trifle, of little importance; a curiosity
toy
27
And all those Glittring Globes that shine like
Physical Note
first “r” nearly indiscernible
fier^r
And all those glitt’ring
Gloss Note
stars
globes
that shine like fire
And all those glitt’ring
Gloss Note
stars
globes
that shine like fire
28
Are Lights hung out to
Physical Note
“guid” above “Light” in different hand from main scribe and lighter ink; inverted caret below “Light”
Lightguid
my thoughts up higher,
Are lights hung out to
Physical Note
The word “guide” is written above “light,” as if a possible correction.
light
my thoughts up higher,
Are lights hung out to
Physical Note
n the manuscript, “guide” has been written above “light” , as if a possible alternative (perhaps to avoid repetition)
light
my thoughts up higher
29
To him that doth the Univerſ involve
To Him that doth the universe
Gloss Note
encircle, entangle
involve
,
To Him that doth the universe
Gloss Note
envelop, include
involve
,
30
Whose word creates, whoſe breath doe all diſſolv,
Critical Note
See John 1:1-3: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God ... All things were made by him.”
Whose Word creates, whose breath do all dissolve,
Whose word creates, whose breath do all dissolve,
31
Even him that totall Nature doth surround
Even Him that total nature doth surround,
Critical Note
here, and in the previous lines, there is some ambiguity about what is enveloped by what, playing to the poem’s wider exploration of heliocentric and geocentric models of the universe and God’s place in (or above) these models
Even Him that total nature doth surround,
32
The thought of whom doth my poor
Physical Note
imperfectly erased comma or insertion mark between these two words
Soul confound
The thought of whom doth my poor soul confound.
The thought of whom doth my poor soul confound,
33
Ay mee! who can inviſable light behould
Ay me! Who can invisible light behold,
Ay me! who can invisible light behold,
34
Or can Eternity his Age be told
Or can eternity’s age be told?
Or can eternity His age be told?
35
If I to contemplate his Glory venter
If I, to contemplate His glory, venture,
If I to contemplate His glory venture,
36
Rottennes into my bones doth enter
Rottenness into my bones doth enter.
Rottenness into my bones doth enter.
37
Holoo my thoughts to native earth deſcend
Gloss Note
a loud shout to get attention; the speaker is insisting that her thoughts return to earth.
Hollo
! my thoughts, to native earth descend;
Gloss Note
shout, holler, call for attention; here the speaker is summoning her thoughts
Halloo
, my thoughts! To native earth descend;
38
ffor thy Ambition in the dust must end
For thy ambition in the
Gloss Note
See Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
dust
must end.
For thy ambition in the dust must end.
39
Yet wee may by the
Physical Note
“b” written over imperfectly erased “d” with “e” over lower part of same
beuty
of the Creature
Gloss Note
still
Yet
we may, by the beauty of the creature,
Yet we may, by the beauty of the creature,
40
Conceive the Glory of the Great Creator
Conceive the glory of the Great Creator,
Conceive the glory of the great Creator,
41
He whoſe incomprehenſible power
He whose incomprehensible power
He whose incomprehensible power
42
Did make the Talest ^Tree and Smalest fflower
Did make the tallest tree and smallest flower,
Did make the tallest tree and smallest flower,
even

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43
Even lofty Cœdars that on Mountains Grow
Even lofty cedars that on mountains grow
Even lofty cedars that on mountains grow
44
And humble Daiſies which in valleys blow
And humble daisies which in valleys blow.
And humble daisies which in valleys blow.
45
The Elaphant and Whale, hee doth diſſect
The elephant and whale, He doth
Gloss Note
examine minutely
dissect
,
The elephant and whale,
Gloss Note
cut up in order to understand; analyse closely; anatomise. God scrutinises the whole scale of animalkind from the elephant and whale to the lowliest reptile and insect
He doth dissect
,
46
The Deſpecablest Reptell or incect
Gloss Note
And the
The
despicablest reptile or insect.
The despicablest reptile or insect.
47
Then will I
Physical Note
“e” written over other letter, likely “a”
heere
my few and evill dayes
Then will I here, my few and evil days,
Gloss Note
that is, “Then I will, while I am here on earth for few and evil days.” The latter phrase referring to Jacob: “And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou? And Jacob said unto Pharaoh … few and evil have the days of the years of my life been” (Genesis 47: 8-9)
Then will I here my few and evil days
48
Make him the Summe and Center of my ^Praiſe.
Make Him the sum and center of my praise.
Make Him the sum and center of my praise.
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Transcription

 Editorial note

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

 Editorial note

The aim of the elemental edition is to make the poems accessible to the largest variety of readers, which involves modernizing spelling and punctuation as well as adding basic glosses. Spelling and punctuation reflect current standard American usage; punctuation highlights syntax which might otherwise be obscure. Outmoded but still familiar word forms (“thou,” “‘tis,” “hold’st”) are not modernized, and we do not modernize grammar when the sense remains legible. After a brief headnote aimed at offering a “way in” to the poem’s unique qualities and connections with other verse by Pulter or her contemporaries, the edition features a minimum of notes and interpretative framing to allow more immediate engagement with the poem. Glosses clarify synonyms or showcase various possible meanings in Pulter’s time. Other notes identify named people and places or clarify obscure material. We rely (without citation) primarily on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the Oxford Reference database, and the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. When we rely on Alice Eardley’s edition of Pulter’s work, we cite her text generally (“Eardley”); other sources are cited in full. The result is an edition we consider a springboard for further work on Pulter’s poetry. See full conventions for this edition here.
Amplified Edition

 Editorial note

With an undergraduate and graduate student audience in mind, this poem has been modernised in spelling and punctuation. Where modernisation would affect form, priority has been given to the integrity of the poem’s formal features (so, for instance, verb endings -est and -eth have been retained unmodernised; where the meter requires it, the verb ending -ed is accented, e.g., “Then shall thy blessèd influence”). Nouns have been capitalized only when there is clear personification. The notes provide information essential to understanding the poem, while the Headnote aims to stimulate readers’ own interpretations through suggesting literary or historical contexts, possible influences, comparable poems (by Pulter and by her predecessors and peers) and relevant critical arguments.
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

“The Center” is one of many poems in which Pulter structures a spiritual meditation on contemporary astronomy. Here she grapples with the fundamental issue of how God, like the sun, can be at the epicenter of mortal existence when his eternal being remains necessarily elusive and confounding. Charting a dizzying series of upward and downward motions, the speaker imagines traversing and remapping the Copernican universe: the flickering stars seem to light her ascension to God, but the orbit of the Earth invisibly draws a boundary preventing her from contemplating God’s glory. She urges her soul toward the nucleus of heavenly light, then colloquially yells for her thoughts to descend to their native dust. The speaker fantasizes that the fiery sun might embrace the Earth so as to halt the revolutions that distinguish day from night, relieving humans of anxious awareness of a mortality that she depicts in eroticized terms: “Death, triumphant, doth perform his lust / Grinding (in spite) our very bones to dust.” In keeping with the vertical play in the poem, death’s pulverization quickly is reversed, as the elements of the body are raised to produce eternal praise. In fact, this conversion anticipates the speaker’s final, comforting spatial realignment. Recognizing God in the details of his animate creations, she forges a way to bridge the gap between the heavens and earth, and she uses this inspiration to create her own revolving cosmos of praise with God enthroned at its center.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

In this poem, Pulter articulates a fairly recent scientific argument, that the planets rotate around the sun. This heliocentric world view, propounded by Copernicus and developed by Galileo, had shocked many Christians by decentering the human world. Pulter adopts this avant-garde astronomy, and elegantly harnesses it to a poem that places God—like the sun—firmly at its center. She Christianizes heliocentrism by asserting that the planets rotate around the sun “[a]ccording to the great Creator’s pleasure”. As often in Pulter’s poems, she uses contemporary scientific thought to explore spiritual states and experiences. Here the speaker wishes that the sun would not only be the focal point around which earth and the planets rotate, as it is, but that it would shine constantly on earth, enabling perpetual day and banishing night’s spiritual crises. The sun’s authority in this poem is somewhat monarchical with the opening scene of a “throne[d]” (l. 5) figure receiving planets like dancers performing “according to [his] pleasure”.
As in Margaret Cavendish’s ‘Of Stars’, Pulter’s speaker here reins in cosmological conjecture in order to refocus on God: “Halloo, my thoughts! To native earth descend; / For thy ambition in the dust must end”. Also like Cavendish, though, Pulter enjoys exploring astronomical ideas along the way: her ideas are influenced by Galileo’s Starry Messenger (Sidereus nuncius), published in 1610 and still controversial when she was writing, and Copernicus’s account of the three rotations made by the earth. Without knowing more of Pulter’s education, we do not know whether she was able to read Galileo in Italian or Latin (Sidereus nuncius did not appear in English for over two centuries), or whether she gained her knowledge through English writers such as Henry More, whose Philosophical Poems (1647) explicitly engaged with Galileo’s theories. On Pulter’s familiarity with the “most modern and most coherent cosmological theory of the time” (p. 4), see also Sarah Hutton, ‘Hester Pulter (c. 1596-1678): A Woman Poet and the New Astronomy’, Études Epistèmes,14 (2008): 77-87 and Alice Eardley, ed. Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2014). On “dust”, see Curations for ‘The Circle [1]’ and ‘The Hope’.
The poem’s structure and syntax are also elliptical. Pulter circles around the central subject—God—in several ways, including her syntax (the action wished-for in the opening lines is not reached until line 7, “Would clasp this globe”), and her focus on His earthly creation (cedar, daisy, elephant, whale), concluding that we can only conceive of God’s glory through the beauty of His creation (ll. 39-40). In this way, her poem enacts the instruction she gives to herself—“To native earth descend”—to explore God through more humble and indirect means.
Elemental Edition
Line number 1

 Gloss note

shining brightly
Amplified Edition
Line number 1

 Gloss note

shining brightly
Amplified Edition
Line number 1

 Gloss note

eminent or renowned, and also literally, shining
Transcription
Line number 2

 Physical note

“various” above “triple” in different hand from main scribe or central editing hand; inverted caret below “triple”
Elemental Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

Over “triple” the word “various” is written, as if a correction were being debated; “triple” motions indicates a Copernican heliocentrism comprised of the planet’s three motions (daily rotation, annual orbit, and tilting of the axis).
Amplified Edition
Line number 2

 Physical note

in the manuscript, “various” has been written above “triple”, as if a possible alternative
Amplified Edition
Line number 2

 Critical note

Diurnal, annual, trepidation: around whom the planets run in three different kinds of motion: diurnal (daily; the earth’s own rotation), annual (yearly; its course around the sun) and trepidation (the tilt and oscillation of the earth on its axis), see Paradise Lost: John Milton, ed. Alastair Fowler (Harlow, Essex: Longman, 1998), p. 436 and Introduction.
Elemental Edition
Line number 3

 Gloss note

daily
Elemental Edition
Line number 3

 Gloss note

shaky movement of the spheres, sometimes associated with the classical Ptolemaic view of the universe.
Elemental Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

still
Elemental Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

all-animating sun
Amplified Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

all quick’ning: which quickens, gives life to, all
Elemental Edition
Line number 5

 Gloss note

dance; rhythmical movement, as in poetry; course of action
Amplified Edition
Line number 5

 Gloss note

a slow and stately dance
Amplified Edition
Line number 7

 Gloss note

as well as its modern meaning of an unseen effect, this term had a more specific astrological meaning, of an ethereal fluid flowing from the stars and acting upon humankind.
Elemental Edition
Line number 8

 Gloss note

Earth
Elemental Edition
Line number 8

 Gloss note

so that
Transcription
Line number 9

 Physical note

blot after “r” suggests “o” revised to “i” or “i” to “o”
Elemental Edition
Line number 9

 Gloss note

The speaker wishes the sun would embrace or hold still the Earth (“clasp this globe”) to prevent night from influencing events on Earth.
Amplified Edition
Line number 9

 Gloss note

configurations of the planets in the sky at a given moment
Amplified Edition
Line number 9

 Gloss note

envelop
Elemental Edition
Line number 13

 Critical note

mutual participation; the yoking of body and soul through emotion trades on more specific meanings of this word: of church fellowship and the sacrament of the Eucharist (eating the body and blood of Jesus).
Amplified Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

union (a “cursed Communion” because pain affects the body, grief the mind)
Elemental Edition
Line number 15

 Gloss note

desire, appetite
Amplified Edition
Line number 15

 Gloss note

what he wishes
Transcription
Line number 16

 Physical note

“B” appears written over earlier letter (“S” or “ſ”), and “e” o have “l” beneath
Elemental Edition
Line number 16

 Gloss note

primal material elements
Elemental Edition
Line number 17

 Gloss note

black
Amplified Edition
Line number 17

 Gloss note

black (this sense originates in heraldry, OED)
Elemental Edition
Line number 18

 Gloss note

the primal and obscure nothingness of the material world as compared to heavenly eternity
Elemental Edition
Line number 20

 Gloss note

expressions of joy
Transcription
Line number 22

 Physical note

“nd” written over two illegible letters
Elemental Edition
Line number 22

 Gloss note

The Earth’s turning creates the appearance of the sun’s movement.
Elemental Edition
Line number 23

 Gloss note

the sun and the circular sphere around it subject to its influence
Elemental Edition
Line number 26

 Gloss note

trivial amusement
Amplified Edition
Line number 26

 Gloss note

with wheels, rolling along a surface
Amplified Edition
Line number 26

 Gloss note

a child’s plaything; a trifle, of little importance; a curiosity
Transcription
Line number 27

 Physical note

first “r” nearly indiscernible
Elemental Edition
Line number 27

 Gloss note

stars
Amplified Edition
Line number 27

 Gloss note

stars
Transcription
Line number 28

 Physical note

“guid” above “Light” in different hand from main scribe and lighter ink; inverted caret below “Light”
Elemental Edition
Line number 28

 Physical note

The word “guide” is written above “light,” as if a possible correction.
Amplified Edition
Line number 28

 Physical note

n the manuscript, “guide” has been written above “light” , as if a possible alternative (perhaps to avoid repetition)
Elemental Edition
Line number 29

 Gloss note

encircle, entangle
Amplified Edition
Line number 29

 Gloss note

envelop, include
Elemental Edition
Line number 30

 Critical note

See John 1:1-3: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God ... All things were made by him.”
Amplified Edition
Line number 31

 Critical note

here, and in the previous lines, there is some ambiguity about what is enveloped by what, playing to the poem’s wider exploration of heliocentric and geocentric models of the universe and God’s place in (or above) these models
Transcription
Line number 32

 Physical note

imperfectly erased comma or insertion mark between these two words
Elemental Edition
Line number 37

 Gloss note

a loud shout to get attention; the speaker is insisting that her thoughts return to earth.
Amplified Edition
Line number 37

 Gloss note

shout, holler, call for attention; here the speaker is summoning her thoughts
Elemental Edition
Line number 38

 Gloss note

See Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
Transcription
Line number 39

 Physical note

“b” written over imperfectly erased “d” with “e” over lower part of same
Elemental Edition
Line number 39

 Gloss note

still
Elemental Edition
Line number 45

 Gloss note

examine minutely
Amplified Edition
Line number 45

 Gloss note

cut up in order to understand; analyse closely; anatomise. God scrutinises the whole scale of animalkind from the elephant and whale to the lowliest reptile and insect
Elemental Edition
Line number 46

 Gloss note

And the
Transcription
Line number 47

 Physical note

“e” written over other letter, likely “a”
Amplified Edition
Line number 47

 Gloss note

that is, “Then I will, while I am here on earth for few and evil days.” The latter phrase referring to Jacob: “And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou? And Jacob said unto Pharaoh … few and evil have the days of the years of my life been” (Genesis 47: 8-9)
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