The Turtle (Emblem 8)

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The Turtle (Emblem 8)

Poem #74

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 Millie Godfery and Sarah C. E. Ross.

How to cite these versions

Conventions for these editions

The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making

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X (Close panel)Notes: Transcription

 Editorial note

In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.
Line number 3

 Physical note

“w” written over imperfectly erased “h”
Line number 6

 Physical note

line appears inserted later than next, in slightly smaller script, slightly overlapping lines immediately above and below
Line number 15

 Physical note

light mark following may be poorly formed comma
Line number 22

 Gloss note

final “s” appears blotted out
Line number 23

 Physical note

first “s” crowded in, in darker link
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Transcription
Transcription

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
[Emblem 8]
The Turtle
(Emblem 8)
The Turtle
(Emblem 8)
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
Our priority in editing these poems has been to modernise, and to achieve interpretative and visual clarity, in order to make the poems as accessible as possible to as wide a modern audience as is possible. Spelling is modernised, as is punctuation. Modernising the latter, in particular, often involves a significant act of editorial interpretation, but in our view this is one of the most productive areas of editorial intervention, particularly for a manuscript text such as Pulter’s where the punctuation is erratic compared to modern usage (and, indeed, compared to early modern printed texts).
1. See Alice Eardley, “‘I haue not time to point yr booke … which I desire you yourselfe to doe’: Editing the Form of Early Modern Manuscript Verse”, in The Work of Form: Poetics and Materiality in Early Modern Culture, ed. Ben Burton and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 162-178.
1
All biblical references are to the King James Version (1612).

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Why do people obstinately cling to bad ways, even when facing death? In this emblem, Pulter assumes the persona of the wise counsellor who warns young people about the follies and vanities that can lead a person to damnation. She stacks example upon example of how animals and humans stubbornly refuse to give up immoral behaviors: from the “simple creature” of the title who revels in the earth and oceans, to mythical minute dragons who can exist only in burning fire, to misers who sink their investments in money. The speaker reserves the bulk of her reprimand for the frivolous gallants and ladies of her age who like to gamble, drink, indulge in fashions, and have sex. Calling these folks “ranters” connects the general riotous and noisy partiers to religious radicals in mid-seventeenth-century England who rejected religious authority. What seems to irritate the speaker is their complete immersion in their chosen worlds: as if earthbound pleasures have become the air they breathe. Being removed from sin and entertainment leaves these impassioned fools without the divine life support they need, much like a blubbering turtle gasping for breath or a fish washed ashore.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
In this emblem, Pulter turns her attention to earthly pleasures and the immorality of indulgence in them. She begins with the turtle as an emblem, describing the enjoyment the creature takes in running and swimming on the earth, which illustrates her “ignoble” nature. The turtle dislikes being inverted “to the skies”, which Pulter construes as an unwillingness to face God (line 5). She proceeds to highlight instances of such unwillingness in the human world, criticising the “gallants”, “wanton[s]”, and “ranters” who choose to overindulge in base, earthly things like money, drink, and unchaste love rather than devote themselves to God (lines 12, 16, 20). For related emblems, see The Elephant (Emblem 19) [Poem 84] and This Poor Turtle Dove (Emblem 20) [Poem 85], which use similar language to criticise overindulgence and folly. Pulter exposes these people who disobey God’s wishes, criticising intemperate behaviour for its ungratefulness.
Key to unveiling this message is a subtle but striking use of form. While the emblem is, for the most part, in Pulter’s typical rhyming couplets, she uses two tercets at lines 5-7 and 24-6 to encapsulate her message: that “wantons”, like the turtle, indulge excessively in the pleasures of the world. These two tercets not only summarise the fate of the turtle and “rant[ing]” humans respectively, but link them together, as Pulter interrupts the overall rhyme scheme of the poem in each case. The repetition of the words “lie” and “die” across the two tercets further affirms the connection and emphasises the moral Pulter wishes to impart: that the pleasures of the world are vain, and those who overindulge in worldly things die in despair.
Notably, the emblem’s moral message acquires political connotations: both Eardley and Christian point out that “ranter” was a derogatory term given to religious and political radicals, including those in the Antinomian sect arising in England around the time Pulter was composing her emblem collection (Alice Eardley, “An Edition of Lady Hester Pulter’s Book of ‘Emblemes’.” PhD diss. [University of Warwick, 2008], 29 n. 20; and Stefan Christian, “The Poems of Lady Hester Pulter (1605?–1678): An Annotated Edition.” PhD diss. [University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2012], 289). As she does in many of her emblems, Pulter embeds her criticism of the social and political upheaval caused by the republican government in the wider religious instruction directed at her readers. The images of these indulgent ranters, gallants, and wantons remind us that in giving way to impulsive desires, we forget God and the service we owe Him while on earth. Using the two tercets to emphasise these consequences, she then begins her explicit address in the final four lines of the poem, as she implores: “hear a friend that tells you but the truth”, indicating the authorial role she possesses as she mediates the devotional message of servitude to God (line 32). Drawing on Ecclesiastes 12.1, Pulter urges her readers to “Remember thy creator in thy youth”, instructing against the careless indulgences she presents earlier and warning that otherwise “Hell will have its due” (lines 28, 30). Instead, she offers her expostulation: be God’s humble and devoted servant on earth and be safe from the earthly distractions which incur judgement.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
8How fast this Creature Runs upon ye Earth
Critical Note
“Fast” here means firmly fixed in its place; not easily moved or shaken. “Runs upon” refers to the action of pushing violently; driving its head fruitlessly against the earth. The line seems to invite the reader to see the creature as moving swiftly, but when l. 5 reveals that the creature is a turtle, it forces a return and reinterpretation of these initial lines.
How fast this creature runs upon the earth
;
How fast this creature runs upon the earth;
2
Her Loving it Shews her Ignoble Birth
Gloss Note
The turtle’s passion for the earth (ground) displays her “ignoble birth,” meaning her base, sordid, lowly and dishonourable character.
Her loving it shows her ignoble birth.
Her loving it shows her
Gloss Note
base, especially when comparing animals and humans (OED 1b and 2).
ignoble
birth.
3
How
Physical Note
“w” written over imperfectly erased “h”
Swift
Shee Swims within the Tamed Seas
How swift she swims within the
Critical Note
Eardley sees this word as a scribal mistake for “tumid,” meaning swollen, puffed out with the wind,” but taméd also fits the turtle’s luxurious swimming in the calm oceans.
taméd
seas;
How swift she swims within the
Critical Note
Eardley proposes this as a scribal error actually meaning “tumid”, defining the swollen seas. Both our edition and the Elemental Edition retain it as it appears in the manuscript, however, as “tamed” evokes a fitting image of the turtle indulgently swimming in calm seas.
tamed
seas;
4
Let her but Grov’ling bee Shee is in Peas
Let her but
Gloss Note
lying prone. According to Pliny, turtles found it pleasant to float facing downwards with their shells out of the water. Pulter reads their discomfort with being turned upside down as a refusal to look to God in Heaven.
grov’lling
be, she is in peace.
Let her but grovelling be, she is in
Physical Note
manuscript= Peas
peace
.
5
But doe but turn this Turtle to the Skies
But do but turn this turtle to the skies:
But do but
Gloss Note
Pulter criticizes the turtle’s unhappiness at being turned upwards, suggesting that this is a refusal to look to the heavens: see Headnote.
turn this turtle to the skies
;
6
Physical Note
line appears inserted later than next, in slightly smaller script, slightly overlapping lines immediately above and below
Shee Sighs and Sobs and diſcontented lies
Physical Note
The scribe added this line between two existing lines, thus correcting a couplet into a rhyming triplet.
She sighs and sobs and discontented lies,
Critical Note
This line is inserted into the space between lines 5 and 7, possibly at a later date, as the inserted line overlaps and is written in smaller handwriting likely to be Pulter’s own. It is an important addition, given that it has the effect of creating a tercet, which marks the end of the description of the poem's opening image, the turtle. The tercet encapsulates the moralistic description of what happens if the turtle is inverted, the central moral of the poem, to which Pulter returns, in another tercet, at lines 24-6.
She sighs and sobs and discontented lies,
7
And in this Paſsion bath’d in Tears Shee Dies
And in this passion, bathed in tears, she dies.
And in this passion bathed in tears she dies.
8
Soe let a Miſer ffear the loſs of’s Gold
So let a miser fear the loss
Gloss Note
of his
of’s
gold;
So let a miser fear the loss
Gloss Note
of his
of’s
gold;
9
His Heart Like Nabals inſtantly is cold
His heart like
Gloss Note
In the Bible, Nabal is a rich man whose heart is turned to stone when he rejects the peace offering and request for resources that David sends to him. The story features Nabal’s wife, Abigail, who defies her husband so as to prevent war and negotiate a political truce. See 1 Sam 25: 2-42.
Nabal’s
instantly is cold.
Gloss Note
In the Bible, Nabal is a parsimonious farmer and landowner who lives in the city of Maon. When David, who is later the King of Israel and Judah, sends men down to pay their respects to Nabal, his “surly and mean” qualities are revealed as he rejects the greetings extended to him. David retaliates, preparing four hundred men to attack; however, Nabal’s wife Abigail appeases his anger by offering him a bounty of gifts. When Abigail later tells Nabal of the peace she has made, his heart turns to “stone” at the gifts she has given and he has a heart attack, a punishment by God for his ungenerous nature; see 1 Sam 25:3-38.
His heart, like Nabal’s, instantly is cold.
10
Tel him that Death is come to take his due
Tell
Gloss Note
the miser
him
that Death is come to take his due,
Tell him that Death is come to take his due;
11
Hee’l call for Int’rest, or your Bonds Renew
He’ll call for interest or your bonds renew.
He’ll call for int’rest or your bonds renew.
12
Bid Gallants leave their Dames, their Drink, their Dice
Bid gallants leave their dames, their drink, their dice;
Critical Note
Pulter uses the word “gallant” in a derogatory sense, referring to vain men who are merely concerned with appearance, indulgence, and courting women (OED b1, 3). Stefan Christian suggests that she may also use the word in reference to “failed Royalists, the so-called Cavaliers, whose military failure Pulter might well have connected to their moral failures” (“The Poems of Lady Hester Pulter (1605?–1678): An Annotated Edition.” PhD diss., University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2012. 289). Pulter uses similar language in “The Elephant” (Emblem 19) [Poem 84], esp. lines 16, 36-9; and “This Poor Turtle Dove” (Emblem 20) [Poem 85], esp. lines 23-4, emblems which are also concerned with irreligious behaviour.
Bid gallants leave their dames, their drink, their dice;
13
Not they (the’le Swear) for preſent Paradiſe
Not they, they’ll swear, for present paradise.
Not they (they’ll swear) for
Gloss Note
Pulter criticises those who won’t give up their irreligious behaviours based on the instant gratification – “present paradise” – they receive from them (line 13). Our place on earth, she indicates, should be dedicated to God, who will then reward the diligent with a space in heaven, the true place of paradise.
present paradise
.
14
Tel them (in Love) the’r at the Abiſſis Brink
Tell them in love they’re at
Gloss Note
The abyss was infernal Hell, a seemingly bottomless gulf beneath the earth, or a general negative condition from which recovery was impossible or unlikely.
th’abyss’s
brink;
Tell them (in love) they’re at the
Gloss Note
the edge of the great deep or bottomless gulf believed in old cosmogonies to lie beneath the earth; the infernal pit, the abode of the dead, hell (OED 1c). In the Bible, the earth, prior to its creation by God, is described as “without form, and void, and darkness upon the face of the deep” (Gen 1:1-3).
abyss’s brink
;
15
Thel’e Yaul, and Baul ffor
Physical Note
light mark following may be poorly formed comma
Wenches
or more Drink
They’ll
Gloss Note
cry out loudly
yawl and bawl
for
Gloss Note
wanton women in this context, though sometimes just meaning girls or lower-class servants
wenches
or more drink.
They’ll
Gloss Note
manuscript= Yaul and Baul. “yawl” meaning to shout, yell (OED)
yawl and bawl
for
Gloss Note
wanton women; mistresses (OED 2)
wenches
or more drink.
16
Bid a Lite Lady Leave her Wanton Love
Bid a
Gloss Note
frivolous; unchaste; immodest
light
lady leave her wanton love;
Bid a
Gloss Note
wanton, unchaste; frivolous, unthinking (OED 14)
light
lady leave her wanton love;
17
Not Shee Shee Vows, for all the Joys Above
Not she, she vows, for all the joys above.
Not she, she vows, for all the
Gloss Note
heaven
joys above
.
18
Tell her, er’e long her Paint wont hide her Clay
Tell her, ere long
Critical Note
Her cosmetics cannot cover over her mortality. Numerous Renaissance texts hold up women’s use of cosmetics as a futile and deceptive attempt to stay corruption and decay. See Hamlet’s meditations on Yorick’s skull (5.1) and Bosola’s hectoring of the Old Lady in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi (2.1)
her paint won’t hide her clay
;
Tell her, ere long,
Critical Note
Anti-cosmetic discourses gained traction in the sixteenth century, arguing that the art of painting a face was a blasphemous usurpation of God’s power (Farah Karim-Cooper. “‘This Alters Not Thy Beauty’: Face-Paint, Gender, and Race in The English Moor.” Early Theatre, vol. 10, no. 2, 2014, pp. 140-1). See, for example, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 127, in which cosmetics are “Fairing the foul with Art’s false borrowed face” (line 6).
her paint won’t hide her clay
;
19
What doth Shee Care, Shel’e doe it while Shee may
What doth she care, she’ll do it while she may.
What doth she care, she’ll do it while she may.
20
Put but Theſe Ranters where they cannot Rore
Put but these
Gloss Note
people who declaim noisily; riotous, dissolute people; religious radicals in mid-seventeenth-century England who rejected religious authority and formal worship, and gained a reputation for ostentatiously promiscuous, drunken, or blasphemous behaviour.
ranters
where they cannot
Gloss Note
behave in a lively and noisy manner
roar
,
Put but these
Critical Note
noisy, riotous, dissolute people (OED 3). Pulter employs this appellation frequently in criticisms of worldly indulgence; see This Poor Turtle Dove (Emblem 20) [Poem 85] line 23, which criticizes husbands who “rant it high and game”, and The Elephant (Emblem 19) [Poem 84] line 36, for the speaker’s reproach towards those who “drink, rant, throw the die”. Also see the Headnote for a discussion of the political meaning of the word “ranter”.
ranters
where they cannot roar,
21
They lye like ffish on the forſaken Shore
Gloss Note
fish washed ashore and stranded on land, a figure for people out of their environment
They lie like fish on the forsaken shore.
They lie like fish on the forsaken shore;
22
Or Curb theſe Gallants of their vain
Gloss Note
final “s” appears blotted out
desires
Or curb these
Gloss Note
fashionable gentlemen
gallants
of their vain desire,
Or curb these gallants of their vain desire,
23
Their like
Physical Note
first “s” crowded in, in darker link
Piraustys
kept out of the ffire
They’re like
Gloss Note
The pyrausta was a “mythical moth-size dragon that, like the salamander, lives in fire” (Eardley). If removed from fire, the creature dies.
pyraustas
kept out of the fire.
They’re like
Critical Note
a mythical creature from Cyprus, described by Pliny as “a kind of four-footed creature, and yet winged (as big as the greater kind of flies)” which “so long as it remaines in the fire” lives (The Historie of the World: Commonly Called, the Naturall Historie of C. Plinius Secundus. Trans. Philemon Holland. Vol. 1 [1635], 330). Pulter’s simile in this line compares “gallants” without “their vain desire” to these mythical creatures, who, without fire, literally perish; both, she observes, thrive off that which is typically destructive (line 22, 23).
pyraustas
kept out of the fire;
Or

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24
Or take theſe Wantons from their Vanity
Or take these wantons from their vanity;
Or take these wantons from their vanity,
25
Thele like this Simple Creature blubling Lie
They’ll like this simple creature
Critical Note
The creature is the turtle; “blubb’ring” is corrected from “blubling” in the manuscript, since it seems to refer to the turtle’s sobbing in l. 5.
blubb’ring
lie,
These like
Gloss Note
the turtle
this simple creature
blubb'ring lie,
26
And in diſpaire most comonly they Die
And in despair most commonly they die.
And in despair most commonly they die.
27
Then hear a ffreind that Tels you but the Truth
Then hear a friend that tells you but the truth:
Critical Note
The emblem reaffirms the didactic message that is revealed in the tercets of lines 5-7 and 24-6: that our job is to serve God and avoid being distracted with temporary indulgences. In this direct address, Pulter assumes the role of a “friend” who is offering a moral exegesis as directed by God. For a discussion of Pulter’s poetic address to her “friends”, see Sarah Ross’s Women, Poetry, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century Britain [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015], 169-173.
Then hear a friend
that tells you but the truth:
28
Remember thy Creator in thy Youth
Remember thy Creator in thy youth.
Gloss Note
Pulter almost directly quotes Ecclesiastes 12.1 here: “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them”. She concludes her emblem by reminding readers always to pay God his due respects during youth, as the body and mind is, at this age, most able to serve God.
Remember thy Creator in thy youth,
29
And leave thoſe ffollyes e’re they doe leave you
And leave those follies ere they do leave you,
And leave those follies ere they do leave you,
30
Or elce expect that Hell will have its Due.
Or else expect that Hell will have its due.
Or else expect that Hell will have its due.
ascending straight line
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

Why do people obstinately cling to bad ways, even when facing death? In this emblem, Pulter assumes the persona of the wise counsellor who warns young people about the follies and vanities that can lead a person to damnation. She stacks example upon example of how animals and humans stubbornly refuse to give up immoral behaviors: from the “simple creature” of the title who revels in the earth and oceans, to mythical minute dragons who can exist only in burning fire, to misers who sink their investments in money. The speaker reserves the bulk of her reprimand for the frivolous gallants and ladies of her age who like to gamble, drink, indulge in fashions, and have sex. Calling these folks “ranters” connects the general riotous and noisy partiers to religious radicals in mid-seventeenth-century England who rejected religious authority. What seems to irritate the speaker is their complete immersion in their chosen worlds: as if earthbound pleasures have become the air they breathe. Being removed from sin and entertainment leaves these impassioned fools without the divine life support they need, much like a blubbering turtle gasping for breath or a fish washed ashore.
Line number 1

 Critical note

“Fast” here means firmly fixed in its place; not easily moved or shaken. “Runs upon” refers to the action of pushing violently; driving its head fruitlessly against the earth. The line seems to invite the reader to see the creature as moving swiftly, but when l. 5 reveals that the creature is a turtle, it forces a return and reinterpretation of these initial lines.
Line number 2

 Gloss note

The turtle’s passion for the earth (ground) displays her “ignoble birth,” meaning her base, sordid, lowly and dishonourable character.
Line number 3

 Critical note

Eardley sees this word as a scribal mistake for “tumid,” meaning swollen, puffed out with the wind,” but taméd also fits the turtle’s luxurious swimming in the calm oceans.
Line number 4

 Gloss note

lying prone. According to Pliny, turtles found it pleasant to float facing downwards with their shells out of the water. Pulter reads their discomfort with being turned upside down as a refusal to look to God in Heaven.
Line number 6

 Physical note

The scribe added this line between two existing lines, thus correcting a couplet into a rhyming triplet.
Line number 8

 Gloss note

of his
Line number 9

 Gloss note

In the Bible, Nabal is a rich man whose heart is turned to stone when he rejects the peace offering and request for resources that David sends to him. The story features Nabal’s wife, Abigail, who defies her husband so as to prevent war and negotiate a political truce. See 1 Sam 25: 2-42.
Line number 10

 Gloss note

the miser
Line number 14

 Gloss note

The abyss was infernal Hell, a seemingly bottomless gulf beneath the earth, or a general negative condition from which recovery was impossible or unlikely.
Line number 15

 Gloss note

cry out loudly
Line number 15

 Gloss note

wanton women in this context, though sometimes just meaning girls or lower-class servants
Line number 16

 Gloss note

frivolous; unchaste; immodest
Line number 18

 Critical note

Her cosmetics cannot cover over her mortality. Numerous Renaissance texts hold up women’s use of cosmetics as a futile and deceptive attempt to stay corruption and decay. See Hamlet’s meditations on Yorick’s skull (5.1) and Bosola’s hectoring of the Old Lady in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi (2.1)
Line number 20

 Gloss note

people who declaim noisily; riotous, dissolute people; religious radicals in mid-seventeenth-century England who rejected religious authority and formal worship, and gained a reputation for ostentatiously promiscuous, drunken, or blasphemous behaviour.
Line number 20

 Gloss note

behave in a lively and noisy manner
Line number 21

 Gloss note

fish washed ashore and stranded on land, a figure for people out of their environment
Line number 22

 Gloss note

fashionable gentlemen
Line number 23

 Gloss note

The pyrausta was a “mythical moth-size dragon that, like the salamander, lives in fire” (Eardley). If removed from fire, the creature dies.
Line number 25

 Critical note

The creature is the turtle; “blubb’ring” is corrected from “blubling” in the manuscript, since it seems to refer to the turtle’s sobbing in l. 5.
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Elemental Edition
Elemental Edition

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[Emblem 8]
The Turtle
(Emblem 8)
The Turtle
(Emblem 8)
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
Our priority in editing these poems has been to modernise, and to achieve interpretative and visual clarity, in order to make the poems as accessible as possible to as wide a modern audience as is possible. Spelling is modernised, as is punctuation. Modernising the latter, in particular, often involves a significant act of editorial interpretation, but in our view this is one of the most productive areas of editorial intervention, particularly for a manuscript text such as Pulter’s where the punctuation is erratic compared to modern usage (and, indeed, compared to early modern printed texts).
1. See Alice Eardley, “‘I haue not time to point yr booke … which I desire you yourselfe to doe’: Editing the Form of Early Modern Manuscript Verse”, in The Work of Form: Poetics and Materiality in Early Modern Culture, ed. Ben Burton and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 162-178.
1
All biblical references are to the King James Version (1612).

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Why do people obstinately cling to bad ways, even when facing death? In this emblem, Pulter assumes the persona of the wise counsellor who warns young people about the follies and vanities that can lead a person to damnation. She stacks example upon example of how animals and humans stubbornly refuse to give up immoral behaviors: from the “simple creature” of the title who revels in the earth and oceans, to mythical minute dragons who can exist only in burning fire, to misers who sink their investments in money. The speaker reserves the bulk of her reprimand for the frivolous gallants and ladies of her age who like to gamble, drink, indulge in fashions, and have sex. Calling these folks “ranters” connects the general riotous and noisy partiers to religious radicals in mid-seventeenth-century England who rejected religious authority. What seems to irritate the speaker is their complete immersion in their chosen worlds: as if earthbound pleasures have become the air they breathe. Being removed from sin and entertainment leaves these impassioned fools without the divine life support they need, much like a blubbering turtle gasping for breath or a fish washed ashore.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
In this emblem, Pulter turns her attention to earthly pleasures and the immorality of indulgence in them. She begins with the turtle as an emblem, describing the enjoyment the creature takes in running and swimming on the earth, which illustrates her “ignoble” nature. The turtle dislikes being inverted “to the skies”, which Pulter construes as an unwillingness to face God (line 5). She proceeds to highlight instances of such unwillingness in the human world, criticising the “gallants”, “wanton[s]”, and “ranters” who choose to overindulge in base, earthly things like money, drink, and unchaste love rather than devote themselves to God (lines 12, 16, 20). For related emblems, see The Elephant (Emblem 19) [Poem 84] and This Poor Turtle Dove (Emblem 20) [Poem 85], which use similar language to criticise overindulgence and folly. Pulter exposes these people who disobey God’s wishes, criticising intemperate behaviour for its ungratefulness.
Key to unveiling this message is a subtle but striking use of form. While the emblem is, for the most part, in Pulter’s typical rhyming couplets, she uses two tercets at lines 5-7 and 24-6 to encapsulate her message: that “wantons”, like the turtle, indulge excessively in the pleasures of the world. These two tercets not only summarise the fate of the turtle and “rant[ing]” humans respectively, but link them together, as Pulter interrupts the overall rhyme scheme of the poem in each case. The repetition of the words “lie” and “die” across the two tercets further affirms the connection and emphasises the moral Pulter wishes to impart: that the pleasures of the world are vain, and those who overindulge in worldly things die in despair.
Notably, the emblem’s moral message acquires political connotations: both Eardley and Christian point out that “ranter” was a derogatory term given to religious and political radicals, including those in the Antinomian sect arising in England around the time Pulter was composing her emblem collection (Alice Eardley, “An Edition of Lady Hester Pulter’s Book of ‘Emblemes’.” PhD diss. [University of Warwick, 2008], 29 n. 20; and Stefan Christian, “The Poems of Lady Hester Pulter (1605?–1678): An Annotated Edition.” PhD diss. [University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2012], 289). As she does in many of her emblems, Pulter embeds her criticism of the social and political upheaval caused by the republican government in the wider religious instruction directed at her readers. The images of these indulgent ranters, gallants, and wantons remind us that in giving way to impulsive desires, we forget God and the service we owe Him while on earth. Using the two tercets to emphasise these consequences, she then begins her explicit address in the final four lines of the poem, as she implores: “hear a friend that tells you but the truth”, indicating the authorial role she possesses as she mediates the devotional message of servitude to God (line 32). Drawing on Ecclesiastes 12.1, Pulter urges her readers to “Remember thy creator in thy youth”, instructing against the careless indulgences she presents earlier and warning that otherwise “Hell will have its due” (lines 28, 30). Instead, she offers her expostulation: be God’s humble and devoted servant on earth and be safe from the earthly distractions which incur judgement.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
8How fast this Creature Runs upon ye Earth
Critical Note
“Fast” here means firmly fixed in its place; not easily moved or shaken. “Runs upon” refers to the action of pushing violently; driving its head fruitlessly against the earth. The line seems to invite the reader to see the creature as moving swiftly, but when l. 5 reveals that the creature is a turtle, it forces a return and reinterpretation of these initial lines.
How fast this creature runs upon the earth
;
How fast this creature runs upon the earth;
2
Her Loving it Shews her Ignoble Birth
Gloss Note
The turtle’s passion for the earth (ground) displays her “ignoble birth,” meaning her base, sordid, lowly and dishonourable character.
Her loving it shows her ignoble birth.
Her loving it shows her
Gloss Note
base, especially when comparing animals and humans (OED 1b and 2).
ignoble
birth.
3
How
Physical Note
“w” written over imperfectly erased “h”
Swift
Shee Swims within the Tamed Seas
How swift she swims within the
Critical Note
Eardley sees this word as a scribal mistake for “tumid,” meaning swollen, puffed out with the wind,” but taméd also fits the turtle’s luxurious swimming in the calm oceans.
taméd
seas;
How swift she swims within the
Critical Note
Eardley proposes this as a scribal error actually meaning “tumid”, defining the swollen seas. Both our edition and the Elemental Edition retain it as it appears in the manuscript, however, as “tamed” evokes a fitting image of the turtle indulgently swimming in calm seas.
tamed
seas;
4
Let her but Grov’ling bee Shee is in Peas
Let her but
Gloss Note
lying prone. According to Pliny, turtles found it pleasant to float facing downwards with their shells out of the water. Pulter reads their discomfort with being turned upside down as a refusal to look to God in Heaven.
grov’lling
be, she is in peace.
Let her but grovelling be, she is in
Physical Note
manuscript= Peas
peace
.
5
But doe but turn this Turtle to the Skies
But do but turn this turtle to the skies:
But do but
Gloss Note
Pulter criticizes the turtle’s unhappiness at being turned upwards, suggesting that this is a refusal to look to the heavens: see Headnote.
turn this turtle to the skies
;
6
Physical Note
line appears inserted later than next, in slightly smaller script, slightly overlapping lines immediately above and below
Shee Sighs and Sobs and diſcontented lies
Physical Note
The scribe added this line between two existing lines, thus correcting a couplet into a rhyming triplet.
She sighs and sobs and discontented lies,
Critical Note
This line is inserted into the space between lines 5 and 7, possibly at a later date, as the inserted line overlaps and is written in smaller handwriting likely to be Pulter’s own. It is an important addition, given that it has the effect of creating a tercet, which marks the end of the description of the poem's opening image, the turtle. The tercet encapsulates the moralistic description of what happens if the turtle is inverted, the central moral of the poem, to which Pulter returns, in another tercet, at lines 24-6.
She sighs and sobs and discontented lies,
7
And in this Paſsion bath’d in Tears Shee Dies
And in this passion, bathed in tears, she dies.
And in this passion bathed in tears she dies.
8
Soe let a Miſer ffear the loſs of’s Gold
So let a miser fear the loss
Gloss Note
of his
of’s
gold;
So let a miser fear the loss
Gloss Note
of his
of’s
gold;
9
His Heart Like Nabals inſtantly is cold
His heart like
Gloss Note
In the Bible, Nabal is a rich man whose heart is turned to stone when he rejects the peace offering and request for resources that David sends to him. The story features Nabal’s wife, Abigail, who defies her husband so as to prevent war and negotiate a political truce. See 1 Sam 25: 2-42.
Nabal’s
instantly is cold.
Gloss Note
In the Bible, Nabal is a parsimonious farmer and landowner who lives in the city of Maon. When David, who is later the King of Israel and Judah, sends men down to pay their respects to Nabal, his “surly and mean” qualities are revealed as he rejects the greetings extended to him. David retaliates, preparing four hundred men to attack; however, Nabal’s wife Abigail appeases his anger by offering him a bounty of gifts. When Abigail later tells Nabal of the peace she has made, his heart turns to “stone” at the gifts she has given and he has a heart attack, a punishment by God for his ungenerous nature; see 1 Sam 25:3-38.
His heart, like Nabal’s, instantly is cold.
10
Tel him that Death is come to take his due
Tell
Gloss Note
the miser
him
that Death is come to take his due,
Tell him that Death is come to take his due;
11
Hee’l call for Int’rest, or your Bonds Renew
He’ll call for interest or your bonds renew.
He’ll call for int’rest or your bonds renew.
12
Bid Gallants leave their Dames, their Drink, their Dice
Bid gallants leave their dames, their drink, their dice;
Critical Note
Pulter uses the word “gallant” in a derogatory sense, referring to vain men who are merely concerned with appearance, indulgence, and courting women (OED b1, 3). Stefan Christian suggests that she may also use the word in reference to “failed Royalists, the so-called Cavaliers, whose military failure Pulter might well have connected to their moral failures” (“The Poems of Lady Hester Pulter (1605?–1678): An Annotated Edition.” PhD diss., University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2012. 289). Pulter uses similar language in “The Elephant” (Emblem 19) [Poem 84], esp. lines 16, 36-9; and “This Poor Turtle Dove” (Emblem 20) [Poem 85], esp. lines 23-4, emblems which are also concerned with irreligious behaviour.
Bid gallants leave their dames, their drink, their dice;
13
Not they (the’le Swear) for preſent Paradiſe
Not they, they’ll swear, for present paradise.
Not they (they’ll swear) for
Gloss Note
Pulter criticises those who won’t give up their irreligious behaviours based on the instant gratification – “present paradise” – they receive from them (line 13). Our place on earth, she indicates, should be dedicated to God, who will then reward the diligent with a space in heaven, the true place of paradise.
present paradise
.
14
Tel them (in Love) the’r at the Abiſſis Brink
Tell them in love they’re at
Gloss Note
The abyss was infernal Hell, a seemingly bottomless gulf beneath the earth, or a general negative condition from which recovery was impossible or unlikely.
th’abyss’s
brink;
Tell them (in love) they’re at the
Gloss Note
the edge of the great deep or bottomless gulf believed in old cosmogonies to lie beneath the earth; the infernal pit, the abode of the dead, hell (OED 1c). In the Bible, the earth, prior to its creation by God, is described as “without form, and void, and darkness upon the face of the deep” (Gen 1:1-3).
abyss’s brink
;
15
Thel’e Yaul, and Baul ffor
Physical Note
light mark following may be poorly formed comma
Wenches
or more Drink
They’ll
Gloss Note
cry out loudly
yawl and bawl
for
Gloss Note
wanton women in this context, though sometimes just meaning girls or lower-class servants
wenches
or more drink.
They’ll
Gloss Note
manuscript= Yaul and Baul. “yawl” meaning to shout, yell (OED)
yawl and bawl
for
Gloss Note
wanton women; mistresses (OED 2)
wenches
or more drink.
16
Bid a Lite Lady Leave her Wanton Love
Bid a
Gloss Note
frivolous; unchaste; immodest
light
lady leave her wanton love;
Bid a
Gloss Note
wanton, unchaste; frivolous, unthinking (OED 14)
light
lady leave her wanton love;
17
Not Shee Shee Vows, for all the Joys Above
Not she, she vows, for all the joys above.
Not she, she vows, for all the
Gloss Note
heaven
joys above
.
18
Tell her, er’e long her Paint wont hide her Clay
Tell her, ere long
Critical Note
Her cosmetics cannot cover over her mortality. Numerous Renaissance texts hold up women’s use of cosmetics as a futile and deceptive attempt to stay corruption and decay. See Hamlet’s meditations on Yorick’s skull (5.1) and Bosola’s hectoring of the Old Lady in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi (2.1)
her paint won’t hide her clay
;
Tell her, ere long,
Critical Note
Anti-cosmetic discourses gained traction in the sixteenth century, arguing that the art of painting a face was a blasphemous usurpation of God’s power (Farah Karim-Cooper. “‘This Alters Not Thy Beauty’: Face-Paint, Gender, and Race in The English Moor.” Early Theatre, vol. 10, no. 2, 2014, pp. 140-1). See, for example, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 127, in which cosmetics are “Fairing the foul with Art’s false borrowed face” (line 6).
her paint won’t hide her clay
;
19
What doth Shee Care, Shel’e doe it while Shee may
What doth she care, she’ll do it while she may.
What doth she care, she’ll do it while she may.
20
Put but Theſe Ranters where they cannot Rore
Put but these
Gloss Note
people who declaim noisily; riotous, dissolute people; religious radicals in mid-seventeenth-century England who rejected religious authority and formal worship, and gained a reputation for ostentatiously promiscuous, drunken, or blasphemous behaviour.
ranters
where they cannot
Gloss Note
behave in a lively and noisy manner
roar
,
Put but these
Critical Note
noisy, riotous, dissolute people (OED 3). Pulter employs this appellation frequently in criticisms of worldly indulgence; see This Poor Turtle Dove (Emblem 20) [Poem 85] line 23, which criticizes husbands who “rant it high and game”, and The Elephant (Emblem 19) [Poem 84] line 36, for the speaker’s reproach towards those who “drink, rant, throw the die”. Also see the Headnote for a discussion of the political meaning of the word “ranter”.
ranters
where they cannot roar,
21
They lye like ffish on the forſaken Shore
Gloss Note
fish washed ashore and stranded on land, a figure for people out of their environment
They lie like fish on the forsaken shore.
They lie like fish on the forsaken shore;
22
Or Curb theſe Gallants of their vain
Gloss Note
final “s” appears blotted out
desires
Or curb these
Gloss Note
fashionable gentlemen
gallants
of their vain desire,
Or curb these gallants of their vain desire,
23
Their like
Physical Note
first “s” crowded in, in darker link
Piraustys
kept out of the ffire
They’re like
Gloss Note
The pyrausta was a “mythical moth-size dragon that, like the salamander, lives in fire” (Eardley). If removed from fire, the creature dies.
pyraustas
kept out of the fire.
They’re like
Critical Note
a mythical creature from Cyprus, described by Pliny as “a kind of four-footed creature, and yet winged (as big as the greater kind of flies)” which “so long as it remaines in the fire” lives (The Historie of the World: Commonly Called, the Naturall Historie of C. Plinius Secundus. Trans. Philemon Holland. Vol. 1 [1635], 330). Pulter’s simile in this line compares “gallants” without “their vain desire” to these mythical creatures, who, without fire, literally perish; both, she observes, thrive off that which is typically destructive (line 22, 23).
pyraustas
kept out of the fire;
Or

Facsimile Image Placeholder

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24
Or take theſe Wantons from their Vanity
Or take these wantons from their vanity;
Or take these wantons from their vanity,
25
Thele like this Simple Creature blubling Lie
They’ll like this simple creature
Critical Note
The creature is the turtle; “blubb’ring” is corrected from “blubling” in the manuscript, since it seems to refer to the turtle’s sobbing in l. 5.
blubb’ring
lie,
These like
Gloss Note
the turtle
this simple creature
blubb'ring lie,
26
And in diſpaire most comonly they Die
And in despair most commonly they die.
And in despair most commonly they die.
27
Then hear a ffreind that Tels you but the Truth
Then hear a friend that tells you but the truth:
Critical Note
The emblem reaffirms the didactic message that is revealed in the tercets of lines 5-7 and 24-6: that our job is to serve God and avoid being distracted with temporary indulgences. In this direct address, Pulter assumes the role of a “friend” who is offering a moral exegesis as directed by God. For a discussion of Pulter’s poetic address to her “friends”, see Sarah Ross’s Women, Poetry, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century Britain [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015], 169-173.
Then hear a friend
that tells you but the truth:
28
Remember thy Creator in thy Youth
Remember thy Creator in thy youth.
Gloss Note
Pulter almost directly quotes Ecclesiastes 12.1 here: “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them”. She concludes her emblem by reminding readers always to pay God his due respects during youth, as the body and mind is, at this age, most able to serve God.
Remember thy Creator in thy youth,
29
And leave thoſe ffollyes e’re they doe leave you
And leave those follies ere they do leave you,
And leave those follies ere they do leave you,
30
Or elce expect that Hell will have its Due.
Or else expect that Hell will have its due.
Or else expect that Hell will have its due.
ascending straight line
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition

 Editorial note

Our priority in editing these poems has been to modernise, and to achieve interpretative and visual clarity, in order to make the poems as accessible as possible to as wide a modern audience as is possible. Spelling is modernised, as is punctuation. Modernising the latter, in particular, often involves a significant act of editorial interpretation, but in our view this is one of the most productive areas of editorial intervention, particularly for a manuscript text such as Pulter’s where the punctuation is erratic compared to modern usage (and, indeed, compared to early modern printed texts).
1. See Alice Eardley, “‘I haue not time to point yr booke … which I desire you yourselfe to doe’: Editing the Form of Early Modern Manuscript Verse”, in The Work of Form: Poetics and Materiality in Early Modern Culture, ed. Ben Burton and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 162-178.
1
All biblical references are to the King James Version (1612).

 Headnote

In this emblem, Pulter turns her attention to earthly pleasures and the immorality of indulgence in them. She begins with the turtle as an emblem, describing the enjoyment the creature takes in running and swimming on the earth, which illustrates her “ignoble” nature. The turtle dislikes being inverted “to the skies”, which Pulter construes as an unwillingness to face God (line 5). She proceeds to highlight instances of such unwillingness in the human world, criticising the “gallants”, “wanton[s]”, and “ranters” who choose to overindulge in base, earthly things like money, drink, and unchaste love rather than devote themselves to God (lines 12, 16, 20). For related emblems, see The Elephant (Emblem 19) [Poem 84] and This Poor Turtle Dove (Emblem 20) [Poem 85], which use similar language to criticise overindulgence and folly. Pulter exposes these people who disobey God’s wishes, criticising intemperate behaviour for its ungratefulness.
Key to unveiling this message is a subtle but striking use of form. While the emblem is, for the most part, in Pulter’s typical rhyming couplets, she uses two tercets at lines 5-7 and 24-6 to encapsulate her message: that “wantons”, like the turtle, indulge excessively in the pleasures of the world. These two tercets not only summarise the fate of the turtle and “rant[ing]” humans respectively, but link them together, as Pulter interrupts the overall rhyme scheme of the poem in each case. The repetition of the words “lie” and “die” across the two tercets further affirms the connection and emphasises the moral Pulter wishes to impart: that the pleasures of the world are vain, and those who overindulge in worldly things die in despair.
Notably, the emblem’s moral message acquires political connotations: both Eardley and Christian point out that “ranter” was a derogatory term given to religious and political radicals, including those in the Antinomian sect arising in England around the time Pulter was composing her emblem collection (Alice Eardley, “An Edition of Lady Hester Pulter’s Book of ‘Emblemes’.” PhD diss. [University of Warwick, 2008], 29 n. 20; and Stefan Christian, “The Poems of Lady Hester Pulter (1605?–1678): An Annotated Edition.” PhD diss. [University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2012], 289). As she does in many of her emblems, Pulter embeds her criticism of the social and political upheaval caused by the republican government in the wider religious instruction directed at her readers. The images of these indulgent ranters, gallants, and wantons remind us that in giving way to impulsive desires, we forget God and the service we owe Him while on earth. Using the two tercets to emphasise these consequences, she then begins her explicit address in the final four lines of the poem, as she implores: “hear a friend that tells you but the truth”, indicating the authorial role she possesses as she mediates the devotional message of servitude to God (line 32). Drawing on Ecclesiastes 12.1, Pulter urges her readers to “Remember thy creator in thy youth”, instructing against the careless indulgences she presents earlier and warning that otherwise “Hell will have its due” (lines 28, 30). Instead, she offers her expostulation: be God’s humble and devoted servant on earth and be safe from the earthly distractions which incur judgement.
Line number 2

 Gloss note

base, especially when comparing animals and humans (OED 1b and 2).
Line number 3

 Critical note

Eardley proposes this as a scribal error actually meaning “tumid”, defining the swollen seas. Both our edition and the Elemental Edition retain it as it appears in the manuscript, however, as “tamed” evokes a fitting image of the turtle indulgently swimming in calm seas.
Line number 4

 Physical note

manuscript= Peas
Line number 5

 Gloss note

Pulter criticizes the turtle’s unhappiness at being turned upwards, suggesting that this is a refusal to look to the heavens: see Headnote.
Line number 6

 Critical note

This line is inserted into the space between lines 5 and 7, possibly at a later date, as the inserted line overlaps and is written in smaller handwriting likely to be Pulter’s own. It is an important addition, given that it has the effect of creating a tercet, which marks the end of the description of the poem's opening image, the turtle. The tercet encapsulates the moralistic description of what happens if the turtle is inverted, the central moral of the poem, to which Pulter returns, in another tercet, at lines 24-6.
Line number 8

 Gloss note

of his
Line number 9

 Gloss note

In the Bible, Nabal is a parsimonious farmer and landowner who lives in the city of Maon. When David, who is later the King of Israel and Judah, sends men down to pay their respects to Nabal, his “surly and mean” qualities are revealed as he rejects the greetings extended to him. David retaliates, preparing four hundred men to attack; however, Nabal’s wife Abigail appeases his anger by offering him a bounty of gifts. When Abigail later tells Nabal of the peace she has made, his heart turns to “stone” at the gifts she has given and he has a heart attack, a punishment by God for his ungenerous nature; see 1 Sam 25:3-38.
Line number 12

 Critical note

Pulter uses the word “gallant” in a derogatory sense, referring to vain men who are merely concerned with appearance, indulgence, and courting women (OED b1, 3). Stefan Christian suggests that she may also use the word in reference to “failed Royalists, the so-called Cavaliers, whose military failure Pulter might well have connected to their moral failures” (“The Poems of Lady Hester Pulter (1605?–1678): An Annotated Edition.” PhD diss., University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2012. 289). Pulter uses similar language in “The Elephant” (Emblem 19) [Poem 84], esp. lines 16, 36-9; and “This Poor Turtle Dove” (Emblem 20) [Poem 85], esp. lines 23-4, emblems which are also concerned with irreligious behaviour.
Line number 13

 Gloss note

Pulter criticises those who won’t give up their irreligious behaviours based on the instant gratification – “present paradise” – they receive from them (line 13). Our place on earth, she indicates, should be dedicated to God, who will then reward the diligent with a space in heaven, the true place of paradise.
Line number 14

 Gloss note

the edge of the great deep or bottomless gulf believed in old cosmogonies to lie beneath the earth; the infernal pit, the abode of the dead, hell (OED 1c). In the Bible, the earth, prior to its creation by God, is described as “without form, and void, and darkness upon the face of the deep” (Gen 1:1-3).
Line number 15

 Gloss note

manuscript= Yaul and Baul. “yawl” meaning to shout, yell (OED)
Line number 15

 Gloss note

wanton women; mistresses (OED 2)
Line number 16

 Gloss note

wanton, unchaste; frivolous, unthinking (OED 14)
Line number 17

 Gloss note

heaven
Line number 18

 Critical note

Anti-cosmetic discourses gained traction in the sixteenth century, arguing that the art of painting a face was a blasphemous usurpation of God’s power (Farah Karim-Cooper. “‘This Alters Not Thy Beauty’: Face-Paint, Gender, and Race in The English Moor.” Early Theatre, vol. 10, no. 2, 2014, pp. 140-1). See, for example, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 127, in which cosmetics are “Fairing the foul with Art’s false borrowed face” (line 6).
Line number 20

 Critical note

noisy, riotous, dissolute people (OED 3). Pulter employs this appellation frequently in criticisms of worldly indulgence; see This Poor Turtle Dove (Emblem 20) [Poem 85] line 23, which criticizes husbands who “rant it high and game”, and The Elephant (Emblem 19) [Poem 84] line 36, for the speaker’s reproach towards those who “drink, rant, throw the die”. Also see the Headnote for a discussion of the political meaning of the word “ranter”.
Line number 23

 Critical note

a mythical creature from Cyprus, described by Pliny as “a kind of four-footed creature, and yet winged (as big as the greater kind of flies)” which “so long as it remaines in the fire” lives (The Historie of the World: Commonly Called, the Naturall Historie of C. Plinius Secundus. Trans. Philemon Holland. Vol. 1 [1635], 330). Pulter’s simile in this line compares “gallants” without “their vain desire” to these mythical creatures, who, without fire, literally perish; both, she observes, thrive off that which is typically destructive (line 22, 23).
Line number 25

 Gloss note

the turtle
Line number 27

 Critical note

The emblem reaffirms the didactic message that is revealed in the tercets of lines 5-7 and 24-6: that our job is to serve God and avoid being distracted with temporary indulgences. In this direct address, Pulter assumes the role of a “friend” who is offering a moral exegesis as directed by God. For a discussion of Pulter’s poetic address to her “friends”, see Sarah Ross’s Women, Poetry, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century Britain [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015], 169-173.
Line number 28

 Gloss note

Pulter almost directly quotes Ecclesiastes 12.1 here: “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them”. She concludes her emblem by reminding readers always to pay God his due respects during youth, as the body and mind is, at this age, most able to serve God.
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[Emblem 8]
The Turtle
(Emblem 8)
The Turtle
(Emblem 8)
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.

— Millie Godfery and Sarah C. E. Ross
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.

— Millie Godfery and Sarah C. E. Ross
Our priority in editing these poems has been to modernise, and to achieve interpretative and visual clarity, in order to make the poems as accessible as possible to as wide a modern audience as is possible. Spelling is modernised, as is punctuation. Modernising the latter, in particular, often involves a significant act of editorial interpretation, but in our view this is one of the most productive areas of editorial intervention, particularly for a manuscript text such as Pulter’s where the punctuation is erratic compared to modern usage (and, indeed, compared to early modern printed texts).
1. See Alice Eardley, “‘I haue not time to point yr booke … which I desire you yourselfe to doe’: Editing the Form of Early Modern Manuscript Verse”, in The Work of Form: Poetics and Materiality in Early Modern Culture, ed. Ben Burton and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 162-178.
1
All biblical references are to the King James Version (1612).

— Millie Godfery and Sarah C. E. Ross
Why do people obstinately cling to bad ways, even when facing death? In this emblem, Pulter assumes the persona of the wise counsellor who warns young people about the follies and vanities that can lead a person to damnation. She stacks example upon example of how animals and humans stubbornly refuse to give up immoral behaviors: from the “simple creature” of the title who revels in the earth and oceans, to mythical minute dragons who can exist only in burning fire, to misers who sink their investments in money. The speaker reserves the bulk of her reprimand for the frivolous gallants and ladies of her age who like to gamble, drink, indulge in fashions, and have sex. Calling these folks “ranters” connects the general riotous and noisy partiers to religious radicals in mid-seventeenth-century England who rejected religious authority. What seems to irritate the speaker is their complete immersion in their chosen worlds: as if earthbound pleasures have become the air they breathe. Being removed from sin and entertainment leaves these impassioned fools without the divine life support they need, much like a blubbering turtle gasping for breath or a fish washed ashore.

— Millie Godfery and Sarah C. E. Ross
In this emblem, Pulter turns her attention to earthly pleasures and the immorality of indulgence in them. She begins with the turtle as an emblem, describing the enjoyment the creature takes in running and swimming on the earth, which illustrates her “ignoble” nature. The turtle dislikes being inverted “to the skies”, which Pulter construes as an unwillingness to face God (line 5). She proceeds to highlight instances of such unwillingness in the human world, criticising the “gallants”, “wanton[s]”, and “ranters” who choose to overindulge in base, earthly things like money, drink, and unchaste love rather than devote themselves to God (lines 12, 16, 20). For related emblems, see The Elephant (Emblem 19) [Poem 84] and This Poor Turtle Dove (Emblem 20) [Poem 85], which use similar language to criticise overindulgence and folly. Pulter exposes these people who disobey God’s wishes, criticising intemperate behaviour for its ungratefulness.
Key to unveiling this message is a subtle but striking use of form. While the emblem is, for the most part, in Pulter’s typical rhyming couplets, she uses two tercets at lines 5-7 and 24-6 to encapsulate her message: that “wantons”, like the turtle, indulge excessively in the pleasures of the world. These two tercets not only summarise the fate of the turtle and “rant[ing]” humans respectively, but link them together, as Pulter interrupts the overall rhyme scheme of the poem in each case. The repetition of the words “lie” and “die” across the two tercets further affirms the connection and emphasises the moral Pulter wishes to impart: that the pleasures of the world are vain, and those who overindulge in worldly things die in despair.
Notably, the emblem’s moral message acquires political connotations: both Eardley and Christian point out that “ranter” was a derogatory term given to religious and political radicals, including those in the Antinomian sect arising in England around the time Pulter was composing her emblem collection (Alice Eardley, “An Edition of Lady Hester Pulter’s Book of ‘Emblemes’.” PhD diss. [University of Warwick, 2008], 29 n. 20; and Stefan Christian, “The Poems of Lady Hester Pulter (1605?–1678): An Annotated Edition.” PhD diss. [University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2012], 289). As she does in many of her emblems, Pulter embeds her criticism of the social and political upheaval caused by the republican government in the wider religious instruction directed at her readers. The images of these indulgent ranters, gallants, and wantons remind us that in giving way to impulsive desires, we forget God and the service we owe Him while on earth. Using the two tercets to emphasise these consequences, she then begins her explicit address in the final four lines of the poem, as she implores: “hear a friend that tells you but the truth”, indicating the authorial role she possesses as she mediates the devotional message of servitude to God (line 32). Drawing on Ecclesiastes 12.1, Pulter urges her readers to “Remember thy creator in thy youth”, instructing against the careless indulgences she presents earlier and warning that otherwise “Hell will have its due” (lines 28, 30). Instead, she offers her expostulation: be God’s humble and devoted servant on earth and be safe from the earthly distractions which incur judgement.


— Millie Godfery and Sarah C. E. Ross
1
8How fast this Creature Runs upon ye Earth
Critical Note
“Fast” here means firmly fixed in its place; not easily moved or shaken. “Runs upon” refers to the action of pushing violently; driving its head fruitlessly against the earth. The line seems to invite the reader to see the creature as moving swiftly, but when l. 5 reveals that the creature is a turtle, it forces a return and reinterpretation of these initial lines.
How fast this creature runs upon the earth
;
How fast this creature runs upon the earth;
2
Her Loving it Shews her Ignoble Birth
Gloss Note
The turtle’s passion for the earth (ground) displays her “ignoble birth,” meaning her base, sordid, lowly and dishonourable character.
Her loving it shows her ignoble birth.
Her loving it shows her
Gloss Note
base, especially when comparing animals and humans (OED 1b and 2).
ignoble
birth.
3
How
Physical Note
“w” written over imperfectly erased “h”
Swift
Shee Swims within the Tamed Seas
How swift she swims within the
Critical Note
Eardley sees this word as a scribal mistake for “tumid,” meaning swollen, puffed out with the wind,” but taméd also fits the turtle’s luxurious swimming in the calm oceans.
taméd
seas;
How swift she swims within the
Critical Note
Eardley proposes this as a scribal error actually meaning “tumid”, defining the swollen seas. Both our edition and the Elemental Edition retain it as it appears in the manuscript, however, as “tamed” evokes a fitting image of the turtle indulgently swimming in calm seas.
tamed
seas;
4
Let her but Grov’ling bee Shee is in Peas
Let her but
Gloss Note
lying prone. According to Pliny, turtles found it pleasant to float facing downwards with their shells out of the water. Pulter reads their discomfort with being turned upside down as a refusal to look to God in Heaven.
grov’lling
be, she is in peace.
Let her but grovelling be, she is in
Physical Note
manuscript= Peas
peace
.
5
But doe but turn this Turtle to the Skies
But do but turn this turtle to the skies:
But do but
Gloss Note
Pulter criticizes the turtle’s unhappiness at being turned upwards, suggesting that this is a refusal to look to the heavens: see Headnote.
turn this turtle to the skies
;
6
Physical Note
line appears inserted later than next, in slightly smaller script, slightly overlapping lines immediately above and below
Shee Sighs and Sobs and diſcontented lies
Physical Note
The scribe added this line between two existing lines, thus correcting a couplet into a rhyming triplet.
She sighs and sobs and discontented lies,
Critical Note
This line is inserted into the space between lines 5 and 7, possibly at a later date, as the inserted line overlaps and is written in smaller handwriting likely to be Pulter’s own. It is an important addition, given that it has the effect of creating a tercet, which marks the end of the description of the poem's opening image, the turtle. The tercet encapsulates the moralistic description of what happens if the turtle is inverted, the central moral of the poem, to which Pulter returns, in another tercet, at lines 24-6.
She sighs and sobs and discontented lies,
7
And in this Paſsion bath’d in Tears Shee Dies
And in this passion, bathed in tears, she dies.
And in this passion bathed in tears she dies.
8
Soe let a Miſer ffear the loſs of’s Gold
So let a miser fear the loss
Gloss Note
of his
of’s
gold;
So let a miser fear the loss
Gloss Note
of his
of’s
gold;
9
His Heart Like Nabals inſtantly is cold
His heart like
Gloss Note
In the Bible, Nabal is a rich man whose heart is turned to stone when he rejects the peace offering and request for resources that David sends to him. The story features Nabal’s wife, Abigail, who defies her husband so as to prevent war and negotiate a political truce. See 1 Sam 25: 2-42.
Nabal’s
instantly is cold.
Gloss Note
In the Bible, Nabal is a parsimonious farmer and landowner who lives in the city of Maon. When David, who is later the King of Israel and Judah, sends men down to pay their respects to Nabal, his “surly and mean” qualities are revealed as he rejects the greetings extended to him. David retaliates, preparing four hundred men to attack; however, Nabal’s wife Abigail appeases his anger by offering him a bounty of gifts. When Abigail later tells Nabal of the peace she has made, his heart turns to “stone” at the gifts she has given and he has a heart attack, a punishment by God for his ungenerous nature; see 1 Sam 25:3-38.
His heart, like Nabal’s, instantly is cold.
10
Tel him that Death is come to take his due
Tell
Gloss Note
the miser
him
that Death is come to take his due,
Tell him that Death is come to take his due;
11
Hee’l call for Int’rest, or your Bonds Renew
He’ll call for interest or your bonds renew.
He’ll call for int’rest or your bonds renew.
12
Bid Gallants leave their Dames, their Drink, their Dice
Bid gallants leave their dames, their drink, their dice;
Critical Note
Pulter uses the word “gallant” in a derogatory sense, referring to vain men who are merely concerned with appearance, indulgence, and courting women (OED b1, 3). Stefan Christian suggests that she may also use the word in reference to “failed Royalists, the so-called Cavaliers, whose military failure Pulter might well have connected to their moral failures” (“The Poems of Lady Hester Pulter (1605?–1678): An Annotated Edition.” PhD diss., University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2012. 289). Pulter uses similar language in “The Elephant” (Emblem 19) [Poem 84], esp. lines 16, 36-9; and “This Poor Turtle Dove” (Emblem 20) [Poem 85], esp. lines 23-4, emblems which are also concerned with irreligious behaviour.
Bid gallants leave their dames, their drink, their dice;
13
Not they (the’le Swear) for preſent Paradiſe
Not they, they’ll swear, for present paradise.
Not they (they’ll swear) for
Gloss Note
Pulter criticises those who won’t give up their irreligious behaviours based on the instant gratification – “present paradise” – they receive from them (line 13). Our place on earth, she indicates, should be dedicated to God, who will then reward the diligent with a space in heaven, the true place of paradise.
present paradise
.
14
Tel them (in Love) the’r at the Abiſſis Brink
Tell them in love they’re at
Gloss Note
The abyss was infernal Hell, a seemingly bottomless gulf beneath the earth, or a general negative condition from which recovery was impossible or unlikely.
th’abyss’s
brink;
Tell them (in love) they’re at the
Gloss Note
the edge of the great deep or bottomless gulf believed in old cosmogonies to lie beneath the earth; the infernal pit, the abode of the dead, hell (OED 1c). In the Bible, the earth, prior to its creation by God, is described as “without form, and void, and darkness upon the face of the deep” (Gen 1:1-3).
abyss’s brink
;
15
Thel’e Yaul, and Baul ffor
Physical Note
light mark following may be poorly formed comma
Wenches
or more Drink
They’ll
Gloss Note
cry out loudly
yawl and bawl
for
Gloss Note
wanton women in this context, though sometimes just meaning girls or lower-class servants
wenches
or more drink.
They’ll
Gloss Note
manuscript= Yaul and Baul. “yawl” meaning to shout, yell (OED)
yawl and bawl
for
Gloss Note
wanton women; mistresses (OED 2)
wenches
or more drink.
16
Bid a Lite Lady Leave her Wanton Love
Bid a
Gloss Note
frivolous; unchaste; immodest
light
lady leave her wanton love;
Bid a
Gloss Note
wanton, unchaste; frivolous, unthinking (OED 14)
light
lady leave her wanton love;
17
Not Shee Shee Vows, for all the Joys Above
Not she, she vows, for all the joys above.
Not she, she vows, for all the
Gloss Note
heaven
joys above
.
18
Tell her, er’e long her Paint wont hide her Clay
Tell her, ere long
Critical Note
Her cosmetics cannot cover over her mortality. Numerous Renaissance texts hold up women’s use of cosmetics as a futile and deceptive attempt to stay corruption and decay. See Hamlet’s meditations on Yorick’s skull (5.1) and Bosola’s hectoring of the Old Lady in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi (2.1)
her paint won’t hide her clay
;
Tell her, ere long,
Critical Note
Anti-cosmetic discourses gained traction in the sixteenth century, arguing that the art of painting a face was a blasphemous usurpation of God’s power (Farah Karim-Cooper. “‘This Alters Not Thy Beauty’: Face-Paint, Gender, and Race in The English Moor.” Early Theatre, vol. 10, no. 2, 2014, pp. 140-1). See, for example, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 127, in which cosmetics are “Fairing the foul with Art’s false borrowed face” (line 6).
her paint won’t hide her clay
;
19
What doth Shee Care, Shel’e doe it while Shee may
What doth she care, she’ll do it while she may.
What doth she care, she’ll do it while she may.
20
Put but Theſe Ranters where they cannot Rore
Put but these
Gloss Note
people who declaim noisily; riotous, dissolute people; religious radicals in mid-seventeenth-century England who rejected religious authority and formal worship, and gained a reputation for ostentatiously promiscuous, drunken, or blasphemous behaviour.
ranters
where they cannot
Gloss Note
behave in a lively and noisy manner
roar
,
Put but these
Critical Note
noisy, riotous, dissolute people (OED 3). Pulter employs this appellation frequently in criticisms of worldly indulgence; see This Poor Turtle Dove (Emblem 20) [Poem 85] line 23, which criticizes husbands who “rant it high and game”, and The Elephant (Emblem 19) [Poem 84] line 36, for the speaker’s reproach towards those who “drink, rant, throw the die”. Also see the Headnote for a discussion of the political meaning of the word “ranter”.
ranters
where they cannot roar,
21
They lye like ffish on the forſaken Shore
Gloss Note
fish washed ashore and stranded on land, a figure for people out of their environment
They lie like fish on the forsaken shore.
They lie like fish on the forsaken shore;
22
Or Curb theſe Gallants of their vain
Gloss Note
final “s” appears blotted out
desires
Or curb these
Gloss Note
fashionable gentlemen
gallants
of their vain desire,
Or curb these gallants of their vain desire,
23
Their like
Physical Note
first “s” crowded in, in darker link
Piraustys
kept out of the ffire
They’re like
Gloss Note
The pyrausta was a “mythical moth-size dragon that, like the salamander, lives in fire” (Eardley). If removed from fire, the creature dies.
pyraustas
kept out of the fire.
They’re like
Critical Note
a mythical creature from Cyprus, described by Pliny as “a kind of four-footed creature, and yet winged (as big as the greater kind of flies)” which “so long as it remaines in the fire” lives (The Historie of the World: Commonly Called, the Naturall Historie of C. Plinius Secundus. Trans. Philemon Holland. Vol. 1 [1635], 330). Pulter’s simile in this line compares “gallants” without “their vain desire” to these mythical creatures, who, without fire, literally perish; both, she observes, thrive off that which is typically destructive (line 22, 23).
pyraustas
kept out of the fire;
Or

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24
Or take theſe Wantons from their Vanity
Or take these wantons from their vanity;
Or take these wantons from their vanity,
25
Thele like this Simple Creature blubling Lie
They’ll like this simple creature
Critical Note
The creature is the turtle; “blubb’ring” is corrected from “blubling” in the manuscript, since it seems to refer to the turtle’s sobbing in l. 5.
blubb’ring
lie,
These like
Gloss Note
the turtle
this simple creature
blubb'ring lie,
26
And in diſpaire most comonly they Die
And in despair most commonly they die.
And in despair most commonly they die.
27
Then hear a ffreind that Tels you but the Truth
Then hear a friend that tells you but the truth:
Critical Note
The emblem reaffirms the didactic message that is revealed in the tercets of lines 5-7 and 24-6: that our job is to serve God and avoid being distracted with temporary indulgences. In this direct address, Pulter assumes the role of a “friend” who is offering a moral exegesis as directed by God. For a discussion of Pulter’s poetic address to her “friends”, see Sarah Ross’s Women, Poetry, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century Britain [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015], 169-173.
Then hear a friend
that tells you but the truth:
28
Remember thy Creator in thy Youth
Remember thy Creator in thy youth.
Gloss Note
Pulter almost directly quotes Ecclesiastes 12.1 here: “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them”. She concludes her emblem by reminding readers always to pay God his due respects during youth, as the body and mind is, at this age, most able to serve God.
Remember thy Creator in thy youth,
29
And leave thoſe ffollyes e’re they doe leave you
And leave those follies ere they do leave you,
And leave those follies ere they do leave you,
30
Or elce expect that Hell will have its Due.
Or else expect that Hell will have its due.
Or else expect that Hell will have its due.
ascending straight line
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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

Our priority in editing these poems has been to modernise, and to achieve interpretative and visual clarity, in order to make the poems as accessible as possible to as wide a modern audience as is possible. Spelling is modernised, as is punctuation. Modernising the latter, in particular, often involves a significant act of editorial interpretation, but in our view this is one of the most productive areas of editorial intervention, particularly for a manuscript text such as Pulter’s where the punctuation is erratic compared to modern usage (and, indeed, compared to early modern printed texts).
1. See Alice Eardley, “‘I haue not time to point yr booke … which I desire you yourselfe to doe’: Editing the Form of Early Modern Manuscript Verse”, in The Work of Form: Poetics and Materiality in Early Modern Culture, ed. Ben Burton and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 162-178.
1
All biblical references are to the King James Version (1612).
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

Why do people obstinately cling to bad ways, even when facing death? In this emblem, Pulter assumes the persona of the wise counsellor who warns young people about the follies and vanities that can lead a person to damnation. She stacks example upon example of how animals and humans stubbornly refuse to give up immoral behaviors: from the “simple creature” of the title who revels in the earth and oceans, to mythical minute dragons who can exist only in burning fire, to misers who sink their investments in money. The speaker reserves the bulk of her reprimand for the frivolous gallants and ladies of her age who like to gamble, drink, indulge in fashions, and have sex. Calling these folks “ranters” connects the general riotous and noisy partiers to religious radicals in mid-seventeenth-century England who rejected religious authority. What seems to irritate the speaker is their complete immersion in their chosen worlds: as if earthbound pleasures have become the air they breathe. Being removed from sin and entertainment leaves these impassioned fools without the divine life support they need, much like a blubbering turtle gasping for breath or a fish washed ashore.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

In this emblem, Pulter turns her attention to earthly pleasures and the immorality of indulgence in them. She begins with the turtle as an emblem, describing the enjoyment the creature takes in running and swimming on the earth, which illustrates her “ignoble” nature. The turtle dislikes being inverted “to the skies”, which Pulter construes as an unwillingness to face God (line 5). She proceeds to highlight instances of such unwillingness in the human world, criticising the “gallants”, “wanton[s]”, and “ranters” who choose to overindulge in base, earthly things like money, drink, and unchaste love rather than devote themselves to God (lines 12, 16, 20). For related emblems, see The Elephant (Emblem 19) [Poem 84] and This Poor Turtle Dove (Emblem 20) [Poem 85], which use similar language to criticise overindulgence and folly. Pulter exposes these people who disobey God’s wishes, criticising intemperate behaviour for its ungratefulness.
Key to unveiling this message is a subtle but striking use of form. While the emblem is, for the most part, in Pulter’s typical rhyming couplets, she uses two tercets at lines 5-7 and 24-6 to encapsulate her message: that “wantons”, like the turtle, indulge excessively in the pleasures of the world. These two tercets not only summarise the fate of the turtle and “rant[ing]” humans respectively, but link them together, as Pulter interrupts the overall rhyme scheme of the poem in each case. The repetition of the words “lie” and “die” across the two tercets further affirms the connection and emphasises the moral Pulter wishes to impart: that the pleasures of the world are vain, and those who overindulge in worldly things die in despair.
Notably, the emblem’s moral message acquires political connotations: both Eardley and Christian point out that “ranter” was a derogatory term given to religious and political radicals, including those in the Antinomian sect arising in England around the time Pulter was composing her emblem collection (Alice Eardley, “An Edition of Lady Hester Pulter’s Book of ‘Emblemes’.” PhD diss. [University of Warwick, 2008], 29 n. 20; and Stefan Christian, “The Poems of Lady Hester Pulter (1605?–1678): An Annotated Edition.” PhD diss. [University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2012], 289). As she does in many of her emblems, Pulter embeds her criticism of the social and political upheaval caused by the republican government in the wider religious instruction directed at her readers. The images of these indulgent ranters, gallants, and wantons remind us that in giving way to impulsive desires, we forget God and the service we owe Him while on earth. Using the two tercets to emphasise these consequences, she then begins her explicit address in the final four lines of the poem, as she implores: “hear a friend that tells you but the truth”, indicating the authorial role she possesses as she mediates the devotional message of servitude to God (line 32). Drawing on Ecclesiastes 12.1, Pulter urges her readers to “Remember thy creator in thy youth”, instructing against the careless indulgences she presents earlier and warning that otherwise “Hell will have its due” (lines 28, 30). Instead, she offers her expostulation: be God’s humble and devoted servant on earth and be safe from the earthly distractions which incur judgement.
Elemental Edition
Line number 1

 Critical note

“Fast” here means firmly fixed in its place; not easily moved or shaken. “Runs upon” refers to the action of pushing violently; driving its head fruitlessly against the earth. The line seems to invite the reader to see the creature as moving swiftly, but when l. 5 reveals that the creature is a turtle, it forces a return and reinterpretation of these initial lines.
Elemental Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

The turtle’s passion for the earth (ground) displays her “ignoble birth,” meaning her base, sordid, lowly and dishonourable character.
Amplified Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

base, especially when comparing animals and humans (OED 1b and 2).
Transcription
Line number 3

 Physical note

“w” written over imperfectly erased “h”
Elemental Edition
Line number 3

 Critical note

Eardley sees this word as a scribal mistake for “tumid,” meaning swollen, puffed out with the wind,” but taméd also fits the turtle’s luxurious swimming in the calm oceans.
Amplified Edition
Line number 3

 Critical note

Eardley proposes this as a scribal error actually meaning “tumid”, defining the swollen seas. Both our edition and the Elemental Edition retain it as it appears in the manuscript, however, as “tamed” evokes a fitting image of the turtle indulgently swimming in calm seas.
Elemental Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

lying prone. According to Pliny, turtles found it pleasant to float facing downwards with their shells out of the water. Pulter reads their discomfort with being turned upside down as a refusal to look to God in Heaven.
Amplified Edition
Line number 4

 Physical note

manuscript= Peas
Amplified Edition
Line number 5

 Gloss note

Pulter criticizes the turtle’s unhappiness at being turned upwards, suggesting that this is a refusal to look to the heavens: see Headnote.
Transcription
Line number 6

 Physical note

line appears inserted later than next, in slightly smaller script, slightly overlapping lines immediately above and below
Elemental Edition
Line number 6

 Physical note

The scribe added this line between two existing lines, thus correcting a couplet into a rhyming triplet.
Amplified Edition
Line number 6

 Critical note

This line is inserted into the space between lines 5 and 7, possibly at a later date, as the inserted line overlaps and is written in smaller handwriting likely to be Pulter’s own. It is an important addition, given that it has the effect of creating a tercet, which marks the end of the description of the poem's opening image, the turtle. The tercet encapsulates the moralistic description of what happens if the turtle is inverted, the central moral of the poem, to which Pulter returns, in another tercet, at lines 24-6.
Elemental Edition
Line number 8

 Gloss note

of his
Amplified Edition
Line number 8

 Gloss note

of his
Elemental Edition
Line number 9

 Gloss note

In the Bible, Nabal is a rich man whose heart is turned to stone when he rejects the peace offering and request for resources that David sends to him. The story features Nabal’s wife, Abigail, who defies her husband so as to prevent war and negotiate a political truce. See 1 Sam 25: 2-42.
Amplified Edition
Line number 9

 Gloss note

In the Bible, Nabal is a parsimonious farmer and landowner who lives in the city of Maon. When David, who is later the King of Israel and Judah, sends men down to pay their respects to Nabal, his “surly and mean” qualities are revealed as he rejects the greetings extended to him. David retaliates, preparing four hundred men to attack; however, Nabal’s wife Abigail appeases his anger by offering him a bounty of gifts. When Abigail later tells Nabal of the peace she has made, his heart turns to “stone” at the gifts she has given and he has a heart attack, a punishment by God for his ungenerous nature; see 1 Sam 25:3-38.
Elemental Edition
Line number 10

 Gloss note

the miser
Amplified Edition
Line number 12

 Critical note

Pulter uses the word “gallant” in a derogatory sense, referring to vain men who are merely concerned with appearance, indulgence, and courting women (OED b1, 3). Stefan Christian suggests that she may also use the word in reference to “failed Royalists, the so-called Cavaliers, whose military failure Pulter might well have connected to their moral failures” (“The Poems of Lady Hester Pulter (1605?–1678): An Annotated Edition.” PhD diss., University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2012. 289). Pulter uses similar language in “The Elephant” (Emblem 19) [Poem 84], esp. lines 16, 36-9; and “This Poor Turtle Dove” (Emblem 20) [Poem 85], esp. lines 23-4, emblems which are also concerned with irreligious behaviour.
Amplified Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

Pulter criticises those who won’t give up their irreligious behaviours based on the instant gratification – “present paradise” – they receive from them (line 13). Our place on earth, she indicates, should be dedicated to God, who will then reward the diligent with a space in heaven, the true place of paradise.
Elemental Edition
Line number 14

 Gloss note

The abyss was infernal Hell, a seemingly bottomless gulf beneath the earth, or a general negative condition from which recovery was impossible or unlikely.
Amplified Edition
Line number 14

 Gloss note

the edge of the great deep or bottomless gulf believed in old cosmogonies to lie beneath the earth; the infernal pit, the abode of the dead, hell (OED 1c). In the Bible, the earth, prior to its creation by God, is described as “without form, and void, and darkness upon the face of the deep” (Gen 1:1-3).
Transcription
Line number 15

 Physical note

light mark following may be poorly formed comma
Elemental Edition
Line number 15

 Gloss note

cry out loudly
Elemental Edition
Line number 15

 Gloss note

wanton women in this context, though sometimes just meaning girls or lower-class servants
Amplified Edition
Line number 15

 Gloss note

manuscript= Yaul and Baul. “yawl” meaning to shout, yell (OED)
Amplified Edition
Line number 15

 Gloss note

wanton women; mistresses (OED 2)
Elemental Edition
Line number 16

 Gloss note

frivolous; unchaste; immodest
Amplified Edition
Line number 16

 Gloss note

wanton, unchaste; frivolous, unthinking (OED 14)
Amplified Edition
Line number 17

 Gloss note

heaven
Elemental Edition
Line number 18

 Critical note

Her cosmetics cannot cover over her mortality. Numerous Renaissance texts hold up women’s use of cosmetics as a futile and deceptive attempt to stay corruption and decay. See Hamlet’s meditations on Yorick’s skull (5.1) and Bosola’s hectoring of the Old Lady in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi (2.1)
Amplified Edition
Line number 18

 Critical note

Anti-cosmetic discourses gained traction in the sixteenth century, arguing that the art of painting a face was a blasphemous usurpation of God’s power (Farah Karim-Cooper. “‘This Alters Not Thy Beauty’: Face-Paint, Gender, and Race in The English Moor.” Early Theatre, vol. 10, no. 2, 2014, pp. 140-1). See, for example, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 127, in which cosmetics are “Fairing the foul with Art’s false borrowed face” (line 6).
Elemental Edition
Line number 20

 Gloss note

people who declaim noisily; riotous, dissolute people; religious radicals in mid-seventeenth-century England who rejected religious authority and formal worship, and gained a reputation for ostentatiously promiscuous, drunken, or blasphemous behaviour.
Elemental Edition
Line number 20

 Gloss note

behave in a lively and noisy manner
Amplified Edition
Line number 20

 Critical note

noisy, riotous, dissolute people (OED 3). Pulter employs this appellation frequently in criticisms of worldly indulgence; see This Poor Turtle Dove (Emblem 20) [Poem 85] line 23, which criticizes husbands who “rant it high and game”, and The Elephant (Emblem 19) [Poem 84] line 36, for the speaker’s reproach towards those who “drink, rant, throw the die”. Also see the Headnote for a discussion of the political meaning of the word “ranter”.
Elemental Edition
Line number 21

 Gloss note

fish washed ashore and stranded on land, a figure for people out of their environment
Transcription
Line number 22

 Gloss note

final “s” appears blotted out
Elemental Edition
Line number 22

 Gloss note

fashionable gentlemen
Transcription
Line number 23

 Physical note

first “s” crowded in, in darker link
Elemental Edition
Line number 23

 Gloss note

The pyrausta was a “mythical moth-size dragon that, like the salamander, lives in fire” (Eardley). If removed from fire, the creature dies.
Amplified Edition
Line number 23

 Critical note

a mythical creature from Cyprus, described by Pliny as “a kind of four-footed creature, and yet winged (as big as the greater kind of flies)” which “so long as it remaines in the fire” lives (The Historie of the World: Commonly Called, the Naturall Historie of C. Plinius Secundus. Trans. Philemon Holland. Vol. 1 [1635], 330). Pulter’s simile in this line compares “gallants” without “their vain desire” to these mythical creatures, who, without fire, literally perish; both, she observes, thrive off that which is typically destructive (line 22, 23).
Elemental Edition
Line number 25

 Critical note

The creature is the turtle; “blubb’ring” is corrected from “blubling” in the manuscript, since it seems to refer to the turtle’s sobbing in l. 5.
Amplified Edition
Line number 25

 Gloss note

the turtle
Amplified Edition
Line number 27

 Critical note

The emblem reaffirms the didactic message that is revealed in the tercets of lines 5-7 and 24-6: that our job is to serve God and avoid being distracted with temporary indulgences. In this direct address, Pulter assumes the role of a “friend” who is offering a moral exegesis as directed by God. For a discussion of Pulter’s poetic address to her “friends”, see Sarah Ross’s Women, Poetry, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century Britain [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015], 169-173.
Amplified Edition
Line number 28

 Gloss note

Pulter almost directly quotes Ecclesiastes 12.1 here: “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them”. She concludes her emblem by reminding readers always to pay God his due respects during youth, as the body and mind is, at this age, most able to serve God.
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