This Vast Leviathan (Emblem 12)

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This Vast Leviathan (Emblem 12)

Poem 78

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.

How to cite these versions

Conventions for these editions

The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making

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

 Editorial note

In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.
Line number 6

 Physical note

imperfectly erased ascender over “i”
Line number 7

 Physical note

in left margin: “x*even hee [“x” and “even hee” not struck-through but erased] / With poynant Sauce / And Unctious Caveare / A Diet as reſtorative / ar Rare”
Line number 12

 Physical note

“r” appears in different hand from main scribe
Line number 15

 Physical note

in left margin: “x Trochilos Plinie / Book 11:th Chap: 3d”
Line number 18

 Physical note

in left margin: “*Or Indian or [inserted in different hand from main scribe] Pharos / Rat Plinie Book 8 / chap: 23”
Line number 23
in left margin: “Ecclesiasties / chap,5: v: 9”
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 12]
This Vast Leviathan
(Emblem 12)
AE TITLE
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


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
In this emblem, Pulter draws on two animals—the whale and the crocodile—to exemplify a common lesson: because people in a social hierarchy are interdependent, those at the top should appreciate the labors of those below. But there is nothing predictable about the vivid, or even lurid, scenarios she paints of creatures who are medicated and fed by the intestinal juices, waste products, and half-chewed food scraps of other creatures. Drawing on Jewish lore, the Bible, and natural history, the speaker first imagines Jonah’s three-day voyage into the belly of the beast as an invigorating retreat featuring a diet of fatty tissue with a side dish of “poignant sauce and unctuous caviar;” yet even the whale, whose powerful instrumentality as a host is divinely sanctioned, cannot survive without the help of a tiny fish, who benefits in turn from the whale’s leftovers. The Egyptian crocodile’s symbiotic relationship with a wren provides the second example: in sentences whose shifting pronouns make the identities of three animals dizzyingly unstable, the speaker shows that the powerful crocodile depends on a small bird’s warning that rats will crawl into its body to feast on its intestines; as a reward, the wren gets to pick half-eaten food from the beast’s teeth. The reader may remember the visceral disgust created by her examples more than Pulter’s simple if valuable moral about interdependency.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
12This Vast Leviathan Whoſe Breathing blows
This vast
Gloss Note
a large sea animal; here, a whale
leviathan
, whose breathing blows
2
Huge ffloods and Sholes of ffiſhes through his Noſe
Huge floods and
Gloss Note
schools; a large number of sea creatures swimming together
shoals
of fishes through his nose;
3
Hee whoſe ffair Conſort in Salt Pickle lyes
He
Gloss Note
According to rabbinical literature, God first produced a male and female leviathan, but to prevent the species from multiplying and destroying the world, he killed the female and preserved her flesh to serve at a banquet for the righteous after the Messiah arrives. See Emil G. Hirsch, Kaufmann Kohler, Solomon Schechter, Isaac Broydé, “Leviathan and Behemoth,” jewishencyclopedia.com.
whose fair consort in salt pickle lies
4
To feast the Jewes or elce their Talmond lies
To feast the Jews (or else their
Gloss Note
body of Jewish laws and interpretations
Talmud
lies);
5
Even hee who treated Jonas in his Belly
Even
Gloss Note
When Jonah is cast into the sea by fellow mariners who suspect he brings misfortune, God sends a great fish, traditionally thought of as a whale, to swallow Jonah and save him; he remains in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights (Jonah 1:15-17).
he who treated Jonah in his belly
6
Physical Note
imperfectly erased ascender over “i”
With
wholſom Chilus and Provokeing Gelley,
With wholesome
Gloss Note
the milky bodily fluid formed during digestion of fatty food
chilus
and
Gloss Note
seemingly a reference to whale wax or oil used as medicine (since it is “provoking”—possibly a purgative—and is used here to “treat” Jonah)
provoking jelly
,
7
Physical Note
in left margin: “x*even hee [“x” and “even hee” not struck-through but erased] / With poynant Sauce / And Unctious Caveare / A Diet as reſtorative / ar Rare”
E*ven
hee the Chief of all the Sons of Pride
With
Gloss Note
of a sharp taste or smell
poignant
sauce and
Gloss Note
oily, greasy, fat, rich
unctuous
caviar,
8
Cannot purſue his prey without a Guide
A diet as restorative as rare—
9
The little Muſculus doth Swim before
Even he, the
Gloss Note
Biblical description of the Leviathan: “a king over all the children of pride” (Job 41:34).
chief of all the sons of pride
,
10
Least hee in Shelves or Sands his Bulk Should Moor
Cannot pursue his prey without a guide.
11
And of the Whales abundance Shee but lives
Gloss Note
Pliny, in his natural history, writes of a fish “called Musculus Marinus, which goeth before the whale … as his guide”; elsewhere, in a chapter entitled, “Of the enmity and amity which is between fishes and other water beasts,” of the “society and fellowship” between whales and this fish: “whereas the whale aforesaid hath no use of his eyes … the other swimmeth before him, serveth him instead of eyes and lights, to show when he is near the shelves and shallows, wherein he may be soone grounded, so big and huge he is.” See Book 11, Chapter 37, and Book 9, Chapter 62, in Philemon Holland’s translation of The History of the World (London, 1601).
The little musculus doth swim before
,
12
The Emperious Monſter
Physical Note
“r” appears in different hand from main scribe
Scrapes
, and Mamucks gives
Lest
Gloss Note
the leviathan, or whale
he
in shelves or sands his bulk should moor.
13
Soe may you See Nils Caymen gapeing lye
Gloss Note
That is, the whole diet of the musculus derives from the whale’s excess supply.
And of the whale’s abundance she but lives
;
14
Whilst in and out his Mouth thex Wren doth fflie
Th’imperious
Gloss Note
the whale
monster
scraps and
Gloss Note
scraps or shreds; broken or torn pieces
mammocks
gives.
15
Physical Note
in left margin: “x Trochilos Plinie / Book 11:th Chap: 3d”
To
wake him when the *Ichneumon her ffoe
So may you see Nile’s
Gloss Note
a term loosely applied to some members of the crocodile family
caiman
gaping lie
16
Into her Lothed Intralls Strives to goe
Whilst in and out his mouth
Physical Note
In the manuscript, an “x” between these words is keyed to a note in the left margin, which refers us to Pliny’s account of the “Trochilos”; the citation is to Book 11, Chapter 3, but in Philemon Holland’s translation, Book 8, Chapter 25 features this account of the Nile crocodile: “When he hath filled his belly with fishes, he lieth to sleep … and for that he is a great and greedy devourer, somewhat of the meat sticketh evermore between his teeth. In regard whereof cometh the wren, a little bird called there Trochilos, and the king of birds in Italy: and she, for her victual’s sake, hoppeth first about his mouth, falleth to pecking and picking it with her little neb or bill, and so forward to the teeth, which she cleanseth; and all to make him gape. Then getteth she within his mouth, which he openeth the wider, by reason that he taketh so great delight in this her scraping and scouring of his teeth and jaws.” Philemon Holland, trans., C. Plinius Secundus, The Historie of the World (London, 1601).
the wren
doth fly
17
ffor which the Putred ffleſh Shee picks away
To wake him when the
Physical Note
An asterisk by this word in the manuscript is keyed to a note in the margin referring us to Pliny’s natural history, Book 8, Chapter 23; while that chapter features the ichneumon (a type of mongoose), the poem’s account is actually a continuation of material from Chapter 25: “when [the crocodile] is lulled as it were fast asleep with this pleasure and contentment of his: the rat of India, or ichneumon ... spieth his vantage, and seeing him lie thus broad gaping, whippeth into his mouth, and shooteth himself down his throat as quick as an arrow, and then gnaweth his bowels, eateth an hole through his belly, and so killeth him.” Philemon Holland, trans., C. Plinius Secundus, The Historie of the World (London, 1601).
ichneumon
,
Critical Note
the caiman’s (or crocodile’s), whose gender, according to the pronouns, seemingly shifts from male to female. While this may be a scribal error, it was not corrected by the hand that is probably Pulter’s; as such, the gender confusion may enhance the general blurring of identities created by confusing pronouns designating the bird and crocodile in the next lines. Eardley alters this pronoun, as well as the next two referring to the crocodile, to “him,” which stabilizes the crocodile’s gender. A reader might just as legitimately alter the two pronouns used earlier to refer to the crocodile to create a consistently female-gendered animal.
her
foe,
18
Physical Note
in left margin: “*Or Indian or [inserted in different hand from main scribe] Pharos / Rat Plinie Book 8 / chap: 23”
Between
her teeth, this beeing all her pay
Into her loathéd
Gloss Note
internal organs, usually the intestines; here figuratively for the interior of the body
entrails
strives to go;
19
Soe greatest Monarchs poorest vaſſals need
For which the putrid flesh
Gloss Note
the wren
she
picks away
20
Soe hungry Peſants pamper’d Nobles ffeed
Between her teeth, this being all her pay.
21
Then let thoſe that are placed the rest above
So greatest monarchs poorest vassals need;
22
Answer their labour with their care and Love
So hungry peasants pampered nobles feed.
23
in left margin: “Ecclesiasties / chap,5: v: 9”
And
Pittie thoſe which labor at the Plough
Then let those that are placed the rest above
24
T’is God that made the difference and not thou.
Answer their labor with their care and love,
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

In this emblem, Pulter draws on two animals—the whale and the crocodile—to exemplify a common lesson: because people in a social hierarchy are interdependent, those at the top should appreciate the labors of those below. But there is nothing predictable about the vivid, or even lurid, scenarios she paints of creatures who are medicated and fed by the intestinal juices, waste products, and half-chewed food scraps of other creatures. Drawing on Jewish lore, the Bible, and natural history, the speaker first imagines Jonah’s three-day voyage into the belly of the beast as an invigorating retreat featuring a diet of fatty tissue with a side dish of “poignant sauce and unctuous caviar;” yet even the whale, whose powerful instrumentality as a host is divinely sanctioned, cannot survive without the help of a tiny fish, who benefits in turn from the whale’s leftovers. The Egyptian crocodile’s symbiotic relationship with a wren provides the second example: in sentences whose shifting pronouns make the identities of three animals dizzyingly unstable, the speaker shows that the powerful crocodile depends on a small bird’s warning that rats will crawl into its body to feast on its intestines; as a reward, the wren gets to pick half-eaten food from the beast’s teeth. The reader may remember the visceral disgust created by her examples more than Pulter’s simple if valuable moral about interdependency.
Line number 1

 Gloss note

a large sea animal; here, a whale
Line number 2

 Gloss note

schools; a large number of sea creatures swimming together
Line number 3

 Gloss note

According to rabbinical literature, God first produced a male and female leviathan, but to prevent the species from multiplying and destroying the world, he killed the female and preserved her flesh to serve at a banquet for the righteous after the Messiah arrives. See Emil G. Hirsch, Kaufmann Kohler, Solomon Schechter, Isaac Broydé, “Leviathan and Behemoth,” jewishencyclopedia.com.
Line number 4

 Gloss note

body of Jewish laws and interpretations
Line number 5

 Gloss note

When Jonah is cast into the sea by fellow mariners who suspect he brings misfortune, God sends a great fish, traditionally thought of as a whale, to swallow Jonah and save him; he remains in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights (Jonah 1:15-17).
Line number 6

 Gloss note

the milky bodily fluid formed during digestion of fatty food
Line number 6

 Gloss note

seemingly a reference to whale wax or oil used as medicine (since it is “provoking”—possibly a purgative—and is used here to “treat” Jonah)
Line number 7

 Gloss note

of a sharp taste or smell
Line number 7

 Gloss note

oily, greasy, fat, rich
Line number 9

 Gloss note

Biblical description of the Leviathan: “a king over all the children of pride” (Job 41:34).
Line number 11

 Gloss note

Pliny, in his natural history, writes of a fish “called Musculus Marinus, which goeth before the whale … as his guide”; elsewhere, in a chapter entitled, “Of the enmity and amity which is between fishes and other water beasts,” of the “society and fellowship” between whales and this fish: “whereas the whale aforesaid hath no use of his eyes … the other swimmeth before him, serveth him instead of eyes and lights, to show when he is near the shelves and shallows, wherein he may be soone grounded, so big and huge he is.” See Book 11, Chapter 37, and Book 9, Chapter 62, in Philemon Holland’s translation of The History of the World (London, 1601).
Line number 12

 Gloss note

the leviathan, or whale
Line number 13

 Gloss note

That is, the whole diet of the musculus derives from the whale’s excess supply.
Line number 14

 Gloss note

the whale
Line number 14

 Gloss note

scraps or shreds; broken or torn pieces
Line number 15

 Gloss note

a term loosely applied to some members of the crocodile family
Line number 16

 Physical note

In the manuscript, an “x” between these words is keyed to a note in the left margin, which refers us to Pliny’s account of the “Trochilos”; the citation is to Book 11, Chapter 3, but in Philemon Holland’s translation, Book 8, Chapter 25 features this account of the Nile crocodile: “When he hath filled his belly with fishes, he lieth to sleep … and for that he is a great and greedy devourer, somewhat of the meat sticketh evermore between his teeth. In regard whereof cometh the wren, a little bird called there Trochilos, and the king of birds in Italy: and she, for her victual’s sake, hoppeth first about his mouth, falleth to pecking and picking it with her little neb or bill, and so forward to the teeth, which she cleanseth; and all to make him gape. Then getteth she within his mouth, which he openeth the wider, by reason that he taketh so great delight in this her scraping and scouring of his teeth and jaws.” Philemon Holland, trans., C. Plinius Secundus, The Historie of the World (London, 1601).
Line number 17

 Physical note

An asterisk by this word in the manuscript is keyed to a note in the margin referring us to Pliny’s natural history, Book 8, Chapter 23; while that chapter features the ichneumon (a type of mongoose), the poem’s account is actually a continuation of material from Chapter 25: “when [the crocodile] is lulled as it were fast asleep with this pleasure and contentment of his: the rat of India, or ichneumon ... spieth his vantage, and seeing him lie thus broad gaping, whippeth into his mouth, and shooteth himself down his throat as quick as an arrow, and then gnaweth his bowels, eateth an hole through his belly, and so killeth him.” Philemon Holland, trans., C. Plinius Secundus, The Historie of the World (London, 1601).
Line number 17

 Critical note

the caiman’s (or crocodile’s), whose gender, according to the pronouns, seemingly shifts from male to female. While this may be a scribal error, it was not corrected by the hand that is probably Pulter’s; as such, the gender confusion may enhance the general blurring of identities created by confusing pronouns designating the bird and crocodile in the next lines. Eardley alters this pronoun, as well as the next two referring to the crocodile, to “him,” which stabilizes the crocodile’s gender. A reader might just as legitimately alter the two pronouns used earlier to refer to the crocodile to create a consistently female-gendered animal.
Line number 18

 Gloss note

internal organs, usually the intestines; here figuratively for the interior of the body
Line number 19

 Gloss note

the wren
Line number 25

 Physical note

A note in the margin cites the biblical Ecclesiastes, Chapter 5, verse 9: “Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.”
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Elemental Edition
Elemental Edition

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
[Emblem 12]
This Vast Leviathan
(Emblem 12)
AE TITLE
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


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
In this emblem, Pulter draws on two animals—the whale and the crocodile—to exemplify a common lesson: because people in a social hierarchy are interdependent, those at the top should appreciate the labors of those below. But there is nothing predictable about the vivid, or even lurid, scenarios she paints of creatures who are medicated and fed by the intestinal juices, waste products, and half-chewed food scraps of other creatures. Drawing on Jewish lore, the Bible, and natural history, the speaker first imagines Jonah’s three-day voyage into the belly of the beast as an invigorating retreat featuring a diet of fatty tissue with a side dish of “poignant sauce and unctuous caviar;” yet even the whale, whose powerful instrumentality as a host is divinely sanctioned, cannot survive without the help of a tiny fish, who benefits in turn from the whale’s leftovers. The Egyptian crocodile’s symbiotic relationship with a wren provides the second example: in sentences whose shifting pronouns make the identities of three animals dizzyingly unstable, the speaker shows that the powerful crocodile depends on a small bird’s warning that rats will crawl into its body to feast on its intestines; as a reward, the wren gets to pick half-eaten food from the beast’s teeth. The reader may remember the visceral disgust created by her examples more than Pulter’s simple if valuable moral about interdependency.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
12This Vast Leviathan Whoſe Breathing blows
This vast
Gloss Note
a large sea animal; here, a whale
leviathan
, whose breathing blows
2
Huge ffloods and Sholes of ffiſhes through his Noſe
Huge floods and
Gloss Note
schools; a large number of sea creatures swimming together
shoals
of fishes through his nose;
3
Hee whoſe ffair Conſort in Salt Pickle lyes
He
Gloss Note
According to rabbinical literature, God first produced a male and female leviathan, but to prevent the species from multiplying and destroying the world, he killed the female and preserved her flesh to serve at a banquet for the righteous after the Messiah arrives. See Emil G. Hirsch, Kaufmann Kohler, Solomon Schechter, Isaac Broydé, “Leviathan and Behemoth,” jewishencyclopedia.com.
whose fair consort in salt pickle lies
4
To feast the Jewes or elce their Talmond lies
To feast the Jews (or else their
Gloss Note
body of Jewish laws and interpretations
Talmud
lies);
5
Even hee who treated Jonas in his Belly
Even
Gloss Note
When Jonah is cast into the sea by fellow mariners who suspect he brings misfortune, God sends a great fish, traditionally thought of as a whale, to swallow Jonah and save him; he remains in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights (Jonah 1:15-17).
he who treated Jonah in his belly
6
Physical Note
imperfectly erased ascender over “i”
With
wholſom Chilus and Provokeing Gelley,
With wholesome
Gloss Note
the milky bodily fluid formed during digestion of fatty food
chilus
and
Gloss Note
seemingly a reference to whale wax or oil used as medicine (since it is “provoking”—possibly a purgative—and is used here to “treat” Jonah)
provoking jelly
,
7
Physical Note
in left margin: “x*even hee [“x” and “even hee” not struck-through but erased] / With poynant Sauce / And Unctious Caveare / A Diet as reſtorative / ar Rare”
E*ven
hee the Chief of all the Sons of Pride
With
Gloss Note
of a sharp taste or smell
poignant
sauce and
Gloss Note
oily, greasy, fat, rich
unctuous
caviar,
8
Cannot purſue his prey without a Guide
A diet as restorative as rare—
9
The little Muſculus doth Swim before
Even he, the
Gloss Note
Biblical description of the Leviathan: “a king over all the children of pride” (Job 41:34).
chief of all the sons of pride
,
10
Least hee in Shelves or Sands his Bulk Should Moor
Cannot pursue his prey without a guide.
11
And of the Whales abundance Shee but lives
Gloss Note
Pliny, in his natural history, writes of a fish “called Musculus Marinus, which goeth before the whale … as his guide”; elsewhere, in a chapter entitled, “Of the enmity and amity which is between fishes and other water beasts,” of the “society and fellowship” between whales and this fish: “whereas the whale aforesaid hath no use of his eyes … the other swimmeth before him, serveth him instead of eyes and lights, to show when he is near the shelves and shallows, wherein he may be soone grounded, so big and huge he is.” See Book 11, Chapter 37, and Book 9, Chapter 62, in Philemon Holland’s translation of The History of the World (London, 1601).
The little musculus doth swim before
,
12
The Emperious Monſter
Physical Note
“r” appears in different hand from main scribe
Scrapes
, and Mamucks gives
Lest
Gloss Note
the leviathan, or whale
he
in shelves or sands his bulk should moor.
13
Soe may you See Nils Caymen gapeing lye
Gloss Note
That is, the whole diet of the musculus derives from the whale’s excess supply.
And of the whale’s abundance she but lives
;
14
Whilst in and out his Mouth thex Wren doth fflie
Th’imperious
Gloss Note
the whale
monster
scraps and
Gloss Note
scraps or shreds; broken or torn pieces
mammocks
gives.
15
Physical Note
in left margin: “x Trochilos Plinie / Book 11:th Chap: 3d”
To
wake him when the *Ichneumon her ffoe
So may you see Nile’s
Gloss Note
a term loosely applied to some members of the crocodile family
caiman
gaping lie
16
Into her Lothed Intralls Strives to goe
Whilst in and out his mouth
Physical Note
In the manuscript, an “x” between these words is keyed to a note in the left margin, which refers us to Pliny’s account of the “Trochilos”; the citation is to Book 11, Chapter 3, but in Philemon Holland’s translation, Book 8, Chapter 25 features this account of the Nile crocodile: “When he hath filled his belly with fishes, he lieth to sleep … and for that he is a great and greedy devourer, somewhat of the meat sticketh evermore between his teeth. In regard whereof cometh the wren, a little bird called there Trochilos, and the king of birds in Italy: and she, for her victual’s sake, hoppeth first about his mouth, falleth to pecking and picking it with her little neb or bill, and so forward to the teeth, which she cleanseth; and all to make him gape. Then getteth she within his mouth, which he openeth the wider, by reason that he taketh so great delight in this her scraping and scouring of his teeth and jaws.” Philemon Holland, trans., C. Plinius Secundus, The Historie of the World (London, 1601).
the wren
doth fly
17
ffor which the Putred ffleſh Shee picks away
To wake him when the
Physical Note
An asterisk by this word in the manuscript is keyed to a note in the margin referring us to Pliny’s natural history, Book 8, Chapter 23; while that chapter features the ichneumon (a type of mongoose), the poem’s account is actually a continuation of material from Chapter 25: “when [the crocodile] is lulled as it were fast asleep with this pleasure and contentment of his: the rat of India, or ichneumon ... spieth his vantage, and seeing him lie thus broad gaping, whippeth into his mouth, and shooteth himself down his throat as quick as an arrow, and then gnaweth his bowels, eateth an hole through his belly, and so killeth him.” Philemon Holland, trans., C. Plinius Secundus, The Historie of the World (London, 1601).
ichneumon
,
Critical Note
the caiman’s (or crocodile’s), whose gender, according to the pronouns, seemingly shifts from male to female. While this may be a scribal error, it was not corrected by the hand that is probably Pulter’s; as such, the gender confusion may enhance the general blurring of identities created by confusing pronouns designating the bird and crocodile in the next lines. Eardley alters this pronoun, as well as the next two referring to the crocodile, to “him,” which stabilizes the crocodile’s gender. A reader might just as legitimately alter the two pronouns used earlier to refer to the crocodile to create a consistently female-gendered animal.
her
foe,
18
Physical Note
in left margin: “*Or Indian or [inserted in different hand from main scribe] Pharos / Rat Plinie Book 8 / chap: 23”
Between
her teeth, this beeing all her pay
Into her loathéd
Gloss Note
internal organs, usually the intestines; here figuratively for the interior of the body
entrails
strives to go;
19
Soe greatest Monarchs poorest vaſſals need
For which the putrid flesh
Gloss Note
the wren
she
picks away
20
Soe hungry Peſants pamper’d Nobles ffeed
Between her teeth, this being all her pay.
21
Then let thoſe that are placed the rest above
So greatest monarchs poorest vassals need;
22
Answer their labour with their care and Love
So hungry peasants pampered nobles feed.
23
in left margin: “Ecclesiasties / chap,5: v: 9”
And
Pittie thoſe which labor at the Plough
Then let those that are placed the rest above
24
T’is God that made the difference and not thou.
Answer their labor with their care and love,
25
Physical Note
A note in the margin cites the biblical Ecclesiastes, Chapter 5, verse 9: “Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.”
And pity those which labor at the plough
;
26
’Tis God that made the difference and not thou.
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

Elemental Edition

 Headnote

In this emblem, Pulter draws on two animals—the whale and the crocodile—to exemplify a common lesson: because people in a social hierarchy are interdependent, those at the top should appreciate the labors of those below. But there is nothing predictable about the vivid, or even lurid, scenarios she paints of creatures who are medicated and fed by the intestinal juices, waste products, and half-chewed food scraps of other creatures. Drawing on Jewish lore, the Bible, and natural history, the speaker first imagines Jonah’s three-day voyage into the belly of the beast as an invigorating retreat featuring a diet of fatty tissue with a side dish of “poignant sauce and unctuous caviar;” yet even the whale, whose powerful instrumentality as a host is divinely sanctioned, cannot survive without the help of a tiny fish, who benefits in turn from the whale’s leftovers. The Egyptian crocodile’s symbiotic relationship with a wren provides the second example: in sentences whose shifting pronouns make the identities of three animals dizzyingly unstable, the speaker shows that the powerful crocodile depends on a small bird’s warning that rats will crawl into its body to feast on its intestines; as a reward, the wren gets to pick half-eaten food from the beast’s teeth. The reader may remember the visceral disgust created by her examples more than Pulter’s simple if valuable moral about interdependency.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

Elemental Edition
Line number 1

 Gloss note

a large sea animal; here, a whale
Elemental Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

schools; a large number of sea creatures swimming together
Elemental Edition
Line number 3

 Gloss note

According to rabbinical literature, God first produced a male and female leviathan, but to prevent the species from multiplying and destroying the world, he killed the female and preserved her flesh to serve at a banquet for the righteous after the Messiah arrives. See Emil G. Hirsch, Kaufmann Kohler, Solomon Schechter, Isaac Broydé, “Leviathan and Behemoth,” jewishencyclopedia.com.
Elemental Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

body of Jewish laws and interpretations
Elemental Edition
Line number 5

 Gloss note

When Jonah is cast into the sea by fellow mariners who suspect he brings misfortune, God sends a great fish, traditionally thought of as a whale, to swallow Jonah and save him; he remains in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights (Jonah 1:15-17).
Transcription
Line number 6

 Physical note

imperfectly erased ascender over “i”
Elemental Edition
Line number 6

 Gloss note

the milky bodily fluid formed during digestion of fatty food
Elemental Edition
Line number 6

 Gloss note

seemingly a reference to whale wax or oil used as medicine (since it is “provoking”—possibly a purgative—and is used here to “treat” Jonah)
Transcription
Line number 7

 Physical note

in left margin: “x*even hee [“x” and “even hee” not struck-through but erased] / With poynant Sauce / And Unctious Caveare / A Diet as reſtorative / ar Rare”
Elemental Edition
Line number 7

 Gloss note

of a sharp taste or smell
Elemental Edition
Line number 7

 Gloss note

oily, greasy, fat, rich
Elemental Edition
Line number 9

 Gloss note

Biblical description of the Leviathan: “a king over all the children of pride” (Job 41:34).
Elemental Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

Pliny, in his natural history, writes of a fish “called Musculus Marinus, which goeth before the whale … as his guide”; elsewhere, in a chapter entitled, “Of the enmity and amity which is between fishes and other water beasts,” of the “society and fellowship” between whales and this fish: “whereas the whale aforesaid hath no use of his eyes … the other swimmeth before him, serveth him instead of eyes and lights, to show when he is near the shelves and shallows, wherein he may be soone grounded, so big and huge he is.” See Book 11, Chapter 37, and Book 9, Chapter 62, in Philemon Holland’s translation of The History of the World (London, 1601).
Transcription
Line number 12

 Physical note

“r” appears in different hand from main scribe
Elemental Edition
Line number 12

 Gloss note

the leviathan, or whale
Elemental Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

That is, the whole diet of the musculus derives from the whale’s excess supply.
Elemental Edition
Line number 14

 Gloss note

the whale
Elemental Edition
Line number 14

 Gloss note

scraps or shreds; broken or torn pieces
Transcription
Line number 15

 Physical note

in left margin: “x Trochilos Plinie / Book 11:th Chap: 3d”
Elemental Edition
Line number 15

 Gloss note

a term loosely applied to some members of the crocodile family
Elemental Edition
Line number 16

 Physical note

In the manuscript, an “x” between these words is keyed to a note in the left margin, which refers us to Pliny’s account of the “Trochilos”; the citation is to Book 11, Chapter 3, but in Philemon Holland’s translation, Book 8, Chapter 25 features this account of the Nile crocodile: “When he hath filled his belly with fishes, he lieth to sleep … and for that he is a great and greedy devourer, somewhat of the meat sticketh evermore between his teeth. In regard whereof cometh the wren, a little bird called there Trochilos, and the king of birds in Italy: and she, for her victual’s sake, hoppeth first about his mouth, falleth to pecking and picking it with her little neb or bill, and so forward to the teeth, which she cleanseth; and all to make him gape. Then getteth she within his mouth, which he openeth the wider, by reason that he taketh so great delight in this her scraping and scouring of his teeth and jaws.” Philemon Holland, trans., C. Plinius Secundus, The Historie of the World (London, 1601).
Elemental Edition
Line number 17

 Physical note

An asterisk by this word in the manuscript is keyed to a note in the margin referring us to Pliny’s natural history, Book 8, Chapter 23; while that chapter features the ichneumon (a type of mongoose), the poem’s account is actually a continuation of material from Chapter 25: “when [the crocodile] is lulled as it were fast asleep with this pleasure and contentment of his: the rat of India, or ichneumon ... spieth his vantage, and seeing him lie thus broad gaping, whippeth into his mouth, and shooteth himself down his throat as quick as an arrow, and then gnaweth his bowels, eateth an hole through his belly, and so killeth him.” Philemon Holland, trans., C. Plinius Secundus, The Historie of the World (London, 1601).
Elemental Edition
Line number 17

 Critical note

the caiman’s (or crocodile’s), whose gender, according to the pronouns, seemingly shifts from male to female. While this may be a scribal error, it was not corrected by the hand that is probably Pulter’s; as such, the gender confusion may enhance the general blurring of identities created by confusing pronouns designating the bird and crocodile in the next lines. Eardley alters this pronoun, as well as the next two referring to the crocodile, to “him,” which stabilizes the crocodile’s gender. A reader might just as legitimately alter the two pronouns used earlier to refer to the crocodile to create a consistently female-gendered animal.
Transcription
Line number 18

 Physical note

in left margin: “*Or Indian or [inserted in different hand from main scribe] Pharos / Rat Plinie Book 8 / chap: 23”
Elemental Edition
Line number 18

 Gloss note

internal organs, usually the intestines; here figuratively for the interior of the body
Elemental Edition
Line number 19

 Gloss note

the wren
Transcription
Line number 23
in left margin: “Ecclesiasties / chap,5: v: 9”
Elemental Edition
Line number 25

 Physical note

A note in the margin cites the biblical Ecclesiastes, Chapter 5, verse 9: “Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.”
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
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