This Was Written in 1648, When I Lay in, With my Son John

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This Was Written in 1648, When I Lay in, With my Son John

Poem #45

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
  • IT project consultation by Josh Honn, Northwestern University
  • Project sponsored by Northwestern University, Brock University, and University of Leeds
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X (Close panel)Notes: Transcription
Title note

 Physical note

last letter (“r”) legible; first letter may be “P”; two letters with ascenders in middle, so deleted word may be “Pulter”; top of page has end of last poem
Title note

 Physical note

flourish obliterates imperfectly erased letter to right
Title note

 Physical note

ascending straight line beneath
Title note

 Physical note

in different hand from main scribe

 Editorial note

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

 Physical note

“m” appears written over earlier “e”
Line number 7

 Physical note

corrected from “the” by additon of final “t” and closing of loop over “e”
Line number 16

 Physical note

“En” appears written in place of (and partly over) erased “in”
Line number 30

 Physical note

“L” replaces earlier letter, likely “N”
Line number 52

 Physical note

“r” written over indiscernible letter
Line number 68

 Physical note

“A” appears written over other letters, possibly “in”
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Transcription
Transcription

Facsimile Image Placeholder

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Facsimile Image Placeholder
This was written 1648, when I Lay Inn, with my Son John
Physical Note
last letter (“r”) legible; first letter may be “P”; two letters with ascenders in middle, so deleted word may be “Pulter”; top of page has end of last poem
[?]
, beeing my 15 Child, I beeing Soe weak, that in Ten dayes and Nights I never moued my Head one Jot from my Pillow, out of which great weaknes, my gracious God Restored me, that
Physical Note
flourish obliterates imperfectly erased letter to right
I
Still Live to magnifie his Mercie.
Physical Note
ascending straight line beneath
1665
Physical Note
in different hand from main scribe
1655
Physical Note
The title continues, “This being my 15th child; I being so weak, that in ten days and nights I never moved my head one jot from my pillow, out of which great weakness, my gracious God restored me, that I still live to magnify his mercy.” Following this long title, in the hand of the main scribe, is the year “1665”; slightly to the right a different hand has corrected this to “1655.”
This Was Written in 1648, When I Lay in, With my Son John
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
Paralyzed on what might be your death bed, what could you do but think? Pulter—immobile after delivering her fifteenth child—defies paralysis and pain by exerting paradoxical control over her otherwise free thoughts: free from all but her bidding, anyhow. With god-like power she commands their almost angelic flight beyond the sickroom, first to join the speeding orbit of the moon. From this vantage, her astronomical discoveries counter other poetic claims: Pulter’s moon is no mythological goddess, for instance, but “another world” from which the Earth itself appears (quite radically) to be a moon. Her fancy spirals further yet to other astral bodies on which her reasoning proves informed by recent science; by dawn, however, the very illuminations of this flight of fancy prove overwhelming, and her dazzled thoughts are curtailed to her curtained bedroom, just as a classicized Night is driven out with her allegorical children (Error, Horror, Despair, Sorrow), all terrified of the coming light. The poem ends with an early modern version of that most paradoxical of endings: “To be continued…”—in this case, a promise underwritten by Pulter’s dedication of such verse to the deity whose various lights she is by turns informed, delighted, and frightened by.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Sad, Sick, and Lame, as in my Bed I lay
Sad, sick, and lame, as in my bed I lay,
2
Least Pain and Passion Should bear all the Sway
Lest pain and
Gloss Note
suffering
passion
should
Gloss Note
govern, rule; hold (highest) position of authority or power; exercise influence
bear all the sway
,
3
My thoughts beeing free I bid
Physical Note
“m” appears written over earlier “e”
them
take their flieght
My thoughts being free, I bid them take their flight
4
Above the Gloomey Shades of Death and Night
Above the gloomy shades of death and night.
5
They overjoyed with Such a Large Commiſſion
They, overjoyed with such a large commission,
6
fflew inſtantly without all intermiſſion
Flew instantly, without all intermission,
7
Up to
Physical Note
corrected from “the” by additon of final “t” and closing of loop over “e”
that
Spheir where Nights Pale Queen doth Run
Up to that sphere where
Gloss Note
the moon
night’s pale queen
doth run
8
Round the Circumference of the Illustrious Sun
Round the circumference of the
Gloss Note
luminous; noble
illustrious
sun.
9
Her Globious Body Spacious was and Bright
Her
Gloss Note
spherical
globious
body spacious was, and bright;
10
That Half alone that from Sols Beams had Light
That half alone that from
Gloss Note
the sun’s
Sol’s
beams had light;
11
The other was imured in Shades of Night
The other was
Gloss Note
enclosed
immured
in shades of night.
12
Nor did Shee Seem to mee as Poets fain
Nor did she seem to me as poets
Gloss Note
invent, imagine
feign
:
13
Guiding her Chariot with A Silver Rein
Guiding her chariot with a silver rein,
14
Attir’d like Som fair Nimph or Virgin Queen
Attired like some fair
Gloss Note
demi-goddess
nymph
or virgin queen,
15
With naked Neck and Arms and Robes of Green
With naked neck and arms and robes of green.

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16
Love Sick
Physical Note
“En” appears written in place of (and partly over) erased “in”
EnDimion
oft hath thus her Seen
Lovesick
Gloss Note
in classical myth, a shepherd who loved the moon goddess
Endymion
oft hath thus her seen;
17
But as my thoughts about her Orb was Hurld
But as my thoughts about her orb was hurled,
18
I did perceive Shee was another World
I did perceive she was another world.
19
Thus beeing in my ffancie raiſd soe fare
Thus being in my fancy raised so far,
20
This World apear’d to mee another Star
This world appeared to me another star;
21
And as the Moon a Shadow Casts and Light
And as the moon a shadow casts and light,
22
Soe is our Earth the Empres of their Night
So is our Earth the empress of their night.
23
Next Venus Usher to the Night and Day
Next,
Gloss Note
planet identified with the morning star (in the “orient” or east) and evening star (in the “occident” or west); hence her representation as “usher” to night and day
Venus, usher to the night and day
,
24
Her ful ffaced Bevty to mee did Diſplay
Her
Gloss Note
fully visible
full-faced
beauty to me did display;
25
Some time Shee Waned then again increaſe
Sometimes she wanéd, then again
Gloss Note
increased; would increase
increase
,
26
Which in our humours cauſ or Warr or Peace
Which in our
Gloss Note
in ancient and medieval physiology, four bodily fluids (blood, phlegm, choler, and bile) believed to determine health, temperament, and behaviour (warring or peaceful)
humors
cause
Gloss Note
either
or
war or peace.
27
My fancie next to Mercury would Run
My fancy next to Mercury would run,
28
But craftily hee popt b\ehind the Sun
But craftily he popped behind the sun.
29
A wonder ti’s the medium beeing Soe Bright
A wonder ’tis, the medium being so bright,
30
His Splendencie Should bee obſcur’d by
Physical Note
“L” replaces earlier letter, likely “N”
Light
His
Gloss Note
brightness; magnificence
splendency
should be obscured by light.
31
Nor could I Sols refulgent Orb discrie
Nor could I Sol’s
Gloss Note
brilliant; glorious
refulgent
orb
Gloss Note
perceive
descry
:
32
His Raidient Beames dazled my tender eye
His radiant beams dazzled my tender eye;
33
And now my Wonder is again Renewed
And now my wonder is again renewed,
34
That hee enlightening all could not bee vewed
That he, enlightening all, could not be viewed.
35
Yet to my Reason this apeard the Best
Yet to my reason this appeared the best:
36
That hee the Center was of all the Rest
That he the center was of all the rest
37
The Planets all like Bowlls Still trundling Round
The planets, all like
Gloss Note
balls
bowls
still trundling round
38
The vast Circumference of his Glorious Mound
The vast circumference of his glorious mound;
hee

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39
Hee Resting quickens all with Heat and Light
He,
Gloss Note
unmoving
resting
,
Gloss Note
animates
quickens
all with heat and light,
40
And by the Earths motion makes our Day or Night
And by the Earth’s motion makes our day or night.
41
Next Jupiter that Mild Auspicious Starr
Gloss Note
Jupiter is seen in astrology as “auspicious” (presenting a positive omen), temperate, wise, benevolent, and concerned with law and judgement.
Next Jupiter, that mild auspicious star:
42
I did perceive about his Blazing Carr
I did perceive about his blazing
Gloss Note
chariot
car
43
ffour bright Attendents alwayes hurrid Round
Gloss Note
the moons of Jupiter, discovered by Galileo in 1610.
Four bright attendants
always hurried round;
44
Next fflagrant Mars where noe Such Moons are found
Next
Gloss Note
blazing
flagrant
Mars, where no such moons are found;
45
Then Saturn (whose Aspects Soe Sads my Soul)
Gloss Note
The speaker is saddened by the planet’s “aspects,” or temporary positions in the sky; Saturn was understood in astrology to have a baleful influence.
Then Saturn (whose aspects so sads my soul)
46
About whose Orb two Sickly Cinthias rowl
About whose orb two sickly
Gloss Note
Cynthia is the moon goddess; in 1610, Galileo mistook Saturn’s rings for two moons.
Cynthias
roll;
47
Then on the ffixed Stars I would have Gazed
Then on the
Gloss Note
stars, which appear always to occupy the same position in the sky (as distinct from planets, known as “wandering stars”)
fixed stars
I would have gazed,
48
But their vast Brightnes Soe my Mind Amazed
But their vast brightness so my mind amazed
49
That my afrighted ffancie Downward fflew
That my affrighted fancy downward flew
50
Just as the Howers Auroras Curtain Drew
Just as
Gloss Note
the Horae, Greek goddesses of seasons, are portrayed as the attendants of Aurora, the dawn; in drawing or pulling back her curtain, they expose her brightness.
the Hours Aurora’s curtain drew
,
51
At which the Uglie Wife of Accharon
At which the ugly
Gloss Note
Acheron, a river in classical underworld ruled by Hades, is here identified with its ruler; his wife is here identified with Nyx or Night.
wife of Acheron
52
Bid
Physical Note
“r” written over indiscernible letter
drive
and Slaſhed her Drouſey Monsters on
Bid drive, and slashed her drowsy monsters on;
53
With Her there went her first born Brat old Errour
With her there went her firstborn brat, old Error,
54
And ffierce Eumenedes poor Mortals terrour
And fierce
Gloss Note
classical divinities of vengeance, also known as the Furies
Eumenides
, poor mortals’ terror,
55
Who with their Snakes, and whips, and Brands, were hurld
Who with their snakes, and whips, and brands, were hurled
56
To Strike Amazement to the Lower World
To strike
Gloss Note
fear, alarm
amazement
to the lower world;
57
Beeing Scard themſelves at the aproach of Light
Being scared themselves at the approach of light,
58
To our Antipodes they took their fflieght
To our
Gloss Note
opposite side of the world
antipodes
they took their flight.
59
Sinſe Curſed ofſpring with their Dam did Trace
Sin’s curséd offspring with their
Gloss Note
mother
dam
did
Gloss Note
go, follow
trace
,
60
That most Prodigious incestious Race
That most
Gloss Note
The offspring of Sin and Night are prodigious (likely in the sense of unnatural, but alternately or also: ominous; appalling; immense) and incestuous because, according to classical myth, Nyx or Night had children by her brother, Erebos, (signifying “darkness,” or the dark space leading to Hades or Hell); these children are, however, not identified in classical myth with Horror, Despair, and Sorrow, as here.
prodigious, incestuous race
:
61
Pale Gastly, Shudring, Horrour, lost despair
Pale, ghastly, shuddering Horror, lost Despair,
62
And Sobbing Sorrow, tearing of her Hair
And sobbing Sorrow, tearing off her hair:
theſe

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63
These of her Sable Womb were born and Bred
These of
Gloss Note
Night’s
her
sable womb were born and bred,
64
And from the Light with her now frighted fled
And from the light with her now frighted fled;
65
And then my Mayds my Window Curtains Drew
And then my maids my window curtains drew,
66
And as my Pain Soe Comforts did Renew
And, as my pain, so comforts did renew.
67
Unto the God of truth, Light Life, and Love
Unto the God of truth, light, life, and love,
68
Il’e Such Layes Here begin Shall end
Physical Note
“A” appears written over other letters, possibly “in”
Aboue
.
I’ll such
Gloss Note
short songs
lays
Gloss Note
that is, the speaker will begin writing or singing songs here that she will finish in Heaven
here begin shall end above
.
X (Close panel)Notes: Elemental Edition
Title note

 Physical note

The title continues, “This being my 15th child; I being so weak, that in ten days and nights I never moved my head one jot from my pillow, out of which great weakness, my gracious God restored me, that I still live to magnify his mercy.” Following this long title, in the hand of the main scribe, is the year “1665”; slightly to the right a different hand has corrected this to “1655.”

 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

Paralyzed on what might be your death bed, what could you do but think? Pulter—immobile after delivering her fifteenth child—defies paralysis and pain by exerting paradoxical control over her otherwise free thoughts: free from all but her bidding, anyhow. With god-like power she commands their almost angelic flight beyond the sickroom, first to join the speeding orbit of the moon. From this vantage, her astronomical discoveries counter other poetic claims: Pulter’s moon is no mythological goddess, for instance, but “another world” from which the Earth itself appears (quite radically) to be a moon. Her fancy spirals further yet to other astral bodies on which her reasoning proves informed by recent science; by dawn, however, the very illuminations of this flight of fancy prove overwhelming, and her dazzled thoughts are curtailed to her curtained bedroom, just as a classicized Night is driven out with her allegorical children (Error, Horror, Despair, Sorrow), all terrified of the coming light. The poem ends with an early modern version of that most paradoxical of endings: “To be continued…”—in this case, a promise underwritten by Pulter’s dedication of such verse to the deity whose various lights she is by turns informed, delighted, and frightened by.
Line number 2

 Gloss note

suffering
Line number 2

 Gloss note

govern, rule; hold (highest) position of authority or power; exercise influence
Line number 7

 Gloss note

the moon
Line number 8

 Gloss note

luminous; noble
Line number 9

 Gloss note

spherical
Line number 10

 Gloss note

the sun’s
Line number 11

 Gloss note

enclosed
Line number 12

 Gloss note

invent, imagine
Line number 14

 Gloss note

demi-goddess
Line number 16

 Gloss note

in classical myth, a shepherd who loved the moon goddess
Line number 23

 Gloss note

planet identified with the morning star (in the “orient” or east) and evening star (in the “occident” or west); hence her representation as “usher” to night and day
Line number 24

 Gloss note

fully visible
Line number 25

 Gloss note

increased; would increase
Line number 26

 Gloss note

in ancient and medieval physiology, four bodily fluids (blood, phlegm, choler, and bile) believed to determine health, temperament, and behaviour (warring or peaceful)
Line number 26

 Gloss note

either
Line number 30

 Gloss note

brightness; magnificence
Line number 31

 Gloss note

brilliant; glorious
Line number 31

 Gloss note

perceive
Line number 37

 Gloss note

balls
Line number 39

 Gloss note

unmoving
Line number 39

 Gloss note

animates
Line number 41

 Gloss note

Jupiter is seen in astrology as “auspicious” (presenting a positive omen), temperate, wise, benevolent, and concerned with law and judgement.
Line number 42

 Gloss note

chariot
Line number 43

 Gloss note

the moons of Jupiter, discovered by Galileo in 1610.
Line number 44

 Gloss note

blazing
Line number 45

 Gloss note

The speaker is saddened by the planet’s “aspects,” or temporary positions in the sky; Saturn was understood in astrology to have a baleful influence.
Line number 46

 Gloss note

Cynthia is the moon goddess; in 1610, Galileo mistook Saturn’s rings for two moons.
Line number 47

 Gloss note

stars, which appear always to occupy the same position in the sky (as distinct from planets, known as “wandering stars”)
Line number 50

 Gloss note

the Horae, Greek goddesses of seasons, are portrayed as the attendants of Aurora, the dawn; in drawing or pulling back her curtain, they expose her brightness.
Line number 51

 Gloss note

Acheron, a river in classical underworld ruled by Hades, is here identified with its ruler; his wife is here identified with Nyx or Night.
Line number 54

 Gloss note

classical divinities of vengeance, also known as the Furies
Line number 56

 Gloss note

fear, alarm
Line number 58

 Gloss note

opposite side of the world
Line number 59

 Gloss note

mother
Line number 59

 Gloss note

go, follow
Line number 60

 Gloss note

The offspring of Sin and Night are prodigious (likely in the sense of unnatural, but alternately or also: ominous; appalling; immense) and incestuous because, according to classical myth, Nyx or Night had children by her brother, Erebos, (signifying “darkness,” or the dark space leading to Hades or Hell); these children are, however, not identified in classical myth with Horror, Despair, and Sorrow, as here.
Line number 63

 Gloss note

Night’s
Line number 68

 Gloss note

short songs
Line number 68

 Gloss note

that is, the speaker will begin writing or singing songs here that she will finish in Heaven
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Elemental Edition
Elemental Edition

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
This was written 1648, when I Lay Inn, with my Son John
Physical Note
last letter (“r”) legible; first letter may be “P”; two letters with ascenders in middle, so deleted word may be “Pulter”; top of page has end of last poem
[?]
, beeing my 15 Child, I beeing Soe weak, that in Ten dayes and Nights I never moued my Head one Jot from my Pillow, out of which great weaknes, my gracious God Restored me, that
Physical Note
flourish obliterates imperfectly erased letter to right
I
Still Live to magnifie his Mercie.
Physical Note
ascending straight line beneath
1665
Physical Note
in different hand from main scribe
1655
Physical Note
The title continues, “This being my 15th child; I being so weak, that in ten days and nights I never moved my head one jot from my pillow, out of which great weakness, my gracious God restored me, that I still live to magnify his mercy.” Following this long title, in the hand of the main scribe, is the year “1665”; slightly to the right a different hand has corrected this to “1655.”
This Was Written in 1648, When I Lay in, With my Son John
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
Paralyzed on what might be your death bed, what could you do but think? Pulter—immobile after delivering her fifteenth child—defies paralysis and pain by exerting paradoxical control over her otherwise free thoughts: free from all but her bidding, anyhow. With god-like power she commands their almost angelic flight beyond the sickroom, first to join the speeding orbit of the moon. From this vantage, her astronomical discoveries counter other poetic claims: Pulter’s moon is no mythological goddess, for instance, but “another world” from which the Earth itself appears (quite radically) to be a moon. Her fancy spirals further yet to other astral bodies on which her reasoning proves informed by recent science; by dawn, however, the very illuminations of this flight of fancy prove overwhelming, and her dazzled thoughts are curtailed to her curtained bedroom, just as a classicized Night is driven out with her allegorical children (Error, Horror, Despair, Sorrow), all terrified of the coming light. The poem ends with an early modern version of that most paradoxical of endings: “To be continued…”—in this case, a promise underwritten by Pulter’s dedication of such verse to the deity whose various lights she is by turns informed, delighted, and frightened by.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Sad, Sick, and Lame, as in my Bed I lay
Sad, sick, and lame, as in my bed I lay,
2
Least Pain and Passion Should bear all the Sway
Lest pain and
Gloss Note
suffering
passion
should
Gloss Note
govern, rule; hold (highest) position of authority or power; exercise influence
bear all the sway
,
3
My thoughts beeing free I bid
Physical Note
“m” appears written over earlier “e”
them
take their flieght
My thoughts being free, I bid them take their flight
4
Above the Gloomey Shades of Death and Night
Above the gloomy shades of death and night.
5
They overjoyed with Such a Large Commiſſion
They, overjoyed with such a large commission,
6
fflew inſtantly without all intermiſſion
Flew instantly, without all intermission,
7
Up to
Physical Note
corrected from “the” by additon of final “t” and closing of loop over “e”
that
Spheir where Nights Pale Queen doth Run
Up to that sphere where
Gloss Note
the moon
night’s pale queen
doth run
8
Round the Circumference of the Illustrious Sun
Round the circumference of the
Gloss Note
luminous; noble
illustrious
sun.
9
Her Globious Body Spacious was and Bright
Her
Gloss Note
spherical
globious
body spacious was, and bright;
10
That Half alone that from Sols Beams had Light
That half alone that from
Gloss Note
the sun’s
Sol’s
beams had light;
11
The other was imured in Shades of Night
The other was
Gloss Note
enclosed
immured
in shades of night.
12
Nor did Shee Seem to mee as Poets fain
Nor did she seem to me as poets
Gloss Note
invent, imagine
feign
:
13
Guiding her Chariot with A Silver Rein
Guiding her chariot with a silver rein,
14
Attir’d like Som fair Nimph or Virgin Queen
Attired like some fair
Gloss Note
demi-goddess
nymph
or virgin queen,
15
With naked Neck and Arms and Robes of Green
With naked neck and arms and robes of green.

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16
Love Sick
Physical Note
“En” appears written in place of (and partly over) erased “in”
EnDimion
oft hath thus her Seen
Lovesick
Gloss Note
in classical myth, a shepherd who loved the moon goddess
Endymion
oft hath thus her seen;
17
But as my thoughts about her Orb was Hurld
But as my thoughts about her orb was hurled,
18
I did perceive Shee was another World
I did perceive she was another world.
19
Thus beeing in my ffancie raiſd soe fare
Thus being in my fancy raised so far,
20
This World apear’d to mee another Star
This world appeared to me another star;
21
And as the Moon a Shadow Casts and Light
And as the moon a shadow casts and light,
22
Soe is our Earth the Empres of their Night
So is our Earth the empress of their night.
23
Next Venus Usher to the Night and Day
Next,
Gloss Note
planet identified with the morning star (in the “orient” or east) and evening star (in the “occident” or west); hence her representation as “usher” to night and day
Venus, usher to the night and day
,
24
Her ful ffaced Bevty to mee did Diſplay
Her
Gloss Note
fully visible
full-faced
beauty to me did display;
25
Some time Shee Waned then again increaſe
Sometimes she wanéd, then again
Gloss Note
increased; would increase
increase
,
26
Which in our humours cauſ or Warr or Peace
Which in our
Gloss Note
in ancient and medieval physiology, four bodily fluids (blood, phlegm, choler, and bile) believed to determine health, temperament, and behaviour (warring or peaceful)
humors
cause
Gloss Note
either
or
war or peace.
27
My fancie next to Mercury would Run
My fancy next to Mercury would run,
28
But craftily hee popt b\ehind the Sun
But craftily he popped behind the sun.
29
A wonder ti’s the medium beeing Soe Bright
A wonder ’tis, the medium being so bright,
30
His Splendencie Should bee obſcur’d by
Physical Note
“L” replaces earlier letter, likely “N”
Light
His
Gloss Note
brightness; magnificence
splendency
should be obscured by light.
31
Nor could I Sols refulgent Orb discrie
Nor could I Sol’s
Gloss Note
brilliant; glorious
refulgent
orb
Gloss Note
perceive
descry
:
32
His Raidient Beames dazled my tender eye
His radiant beams dazzled my tender eye;
33
And now my Wonder is again Renewed
And now my wonder is again renewed,
34
That hee enlightening all could not bee vewed
That he, enlightening all, could not be viewed.
35
Yet to my Reason this apeard the Best
Yet to my reason this appeared the best:
36
That hee the Center was of all the Rest
That he the center was of all the rest
37
The Planets all like Bowlls Still trundling Round
The planets, all like
Gloss Note
balls
bowls
still trundling round
38
The vast Circumference of his Glorious Mound
The vast circumference of his glorious mound;
hee

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39
Hee Resting quickens all with Heat and Light
He,
Gloss Note
unmoving
resting
,
Gloss Note
animates
quickens
all with heat and light,
40
And by the Earths motion makes our Day or Night
And by the Earth’s motion makes our day or night.
41
Next Jupiter that Mild Auspicious Starr
Gloss Note
Jupiter is seen in astrology as “auspicious” (presenting a positive omen), temperate, wise, benevolent, and concerned with law and judgement.
Next Jupiter, that mild auspicious star:
42
I did perceive about his Blazing Carr
I did perceive about his blazing
Gloss Note
chariot
car
43
ffour bright Attendents alwayes hurrid Round
Gloss Note
the moons of Jupiter, discovered by Galileo in 1610.
Four bright attendants
always hurried round;
44
Next fflagrant Mars where noe Such Moons are found
Next
Gloss Note
blazing
flagrant
Mars, where no such moons are found;
45
Then Saturn (whose Aspects Soe Sads my Soul)
Gloss Note
The speaker is saddened by the planet’s “aspects,” or temporary positions in the sky; Saturn was understood in astrology to have a baleful influence.
Then Saturn (whose aspects so sads my soul)
46
About whose Orb two Sickly Cinthias rowl
About whose orb two sickly
Gloss Note
Cynthia is the moon goddess; in 1610, Galileo mistook Saturn’s rings for two moons.
Cynthias
roll;
47
Then on the ffixed Stars I would have Gazed
Then on the
Gloss Note
stars, which appear always to occupy the same position in the sky (as distinct from planets, known as “wandering stars”)
fixed stars
I would have gazed,
48
But their vast Brightnes Soe my Mind Amazed
But their vast brightness so my mind amazed
49
That my afrighted ffancie Downward fflew
That my affrighted fancy downward flew
50
Just as the Howers Auroras Curtain Drew
Just as
Gloss Note
the Horae, Greek goddesses of seasons, are portrayed as the attendants of Aurora, the dawn; in drawing or pulling back her curtain, they expose her brightness.
the Hours Aurora’s curtain drew
,
51
At which the Uglie Wife of Accharon
At which the ugly
Gloss Note
Acheron, a river in classical underworld ruled by Hades, is here identified with its ruler; his wife is here identified with Nyx or Night.
wife of Acheron
52
Bid
Physical Note
“r” written over indiscernible letter
drive
and Slaſhed her Drouſey Monsters on
Bid drive, and slashed her drowsy monsters on;
53
With Her there went her first born Brat old Errour
With her there went her firstborn brat, old Error,
54
And ffierce Eumenedes poor Mortals terrour
And fierce
Gloss Note
classical divinities of vengeance, also known as the Furies
Eumenides
, poor mortals’ terror,
55
Who with their Snakes, and whips, and Brands, were hurld
Who with their snakes, and whips, and brands, were hurled
56
To Strike Amazement to the Lower World
To strike
Gloss Note
fear, alarm
amazement
to the lower world;
57
Beeing Scard themſelves at the aproach of Light
Being scared themselves at the approach of light,
58
To our Antipodes they took their fflieght
To our
Gloss Note
opposite side of the world
antipodes
they took their flight.
59
Sinſe Curſed ofſpring with their Dam did Trace
Sin’s curséd offspring with their
Gloss Note
mother
dam
did
Gloss Note
go, follow
trace
,
60
That most Prodigious incestious Race
That most
Gloss Note
The offspring of Sin and Night are prodigious (likely in the sense of unnatural, but alternately or also: ominous; appalling; immense) and incestuous because, according to classical myth, Nyx or Night had children by her brother, Erebos, (signifying “darkness,” or the dark space leading to Hades or Hell); these children are, however, not identified in classical myth with Horror, Despair, and Sorrow, as here.
prodigious, incestuous race
:
61
Pale Gastly, Shudring, Horrour, lost despair
Pale, ghastly, shuddering Horror, lost Despair,
62
And Sobbing Sorrow, tearing of her Hair
And sobbing Sorrow, tearing off her hair:
theſe

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63
These of her Sable Womb were born and Bred
These of
Gloss Note
Night’s
her
sable womb were born and bred,
64
And from the Light with her now frighted fled
And from the light with her now frighted fled;
65
And then my Mayds my Window Curtains Drew
And then my maids my window curtains drew,
66
And as my Pain Soe Comforts did Renew
And, as my pain, so comforts did renew.
67
Unto the God of truth, Light Life, and Love
Unto the God of truth, light, life, and love,
68
Il’e Such Layes Here begin Shall end
Physical Note
“A” appears written over other letters, possibly “in”
Aboue
.
I’ll such
Gloss Note
short songs
lays
Gloss Note
that is, the speaker will begin writing or singing songs here that she will finish in Heaven
here begin shall end above
.
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Transcription
Title note

 Physical note

last letter (“r”) legible; first letter may be “P”; two letters with ascenders in middle, so deleted word may be “Pulter”; top of page has end of last poem
Transcription
Title note

 Physical note

flourish obliterates imperfectly erased letter to right
Transcription
Title note

 Physical note

ascending straight line beneath
Transcription
Title note

 Physical note

in different hand from main scribe
Elemental Edition
Title note

 Physical note

The title continues, “This being my 15th child; I being so weak, that in ten days and nights I never moved my head one jot from my pillow, out of which great weakness, my gracious God restored me, that I still live to magnify his mercy.” Following this long title, in the hand of the main scribe, is the year “1665”; slightly to the right a different hand has corrected this to “1655.”
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

Paralyzed on what might be your death bed, what could you do but think? Pulter—immobile after delivering her fifteenth child—defies paralysis and pain by exerting paradoxical control over her otherwise free thoughts: free from all but her bidding, anyhow. With god-like power she commands their almost angelic flight beyond the sickroom, first to join the speeding orbit of the moon. From this vantage, her astronomical discoveries counter other poetic claims: Pulter’s moon is no mythological goddess, for instance, but “another world” from which the Earth itself appears (quite radically) to be a moon. Her fancy spirals further yet to other astral bodies on which her reasoning proves informed by recent science; by dawn, however, the very illuminations of this flight of fancy prove overwhelming, and her dazzled thoughts are curtailed to her curtained bedroom, just as a classicized Night is driven out with her allegorical children (Error, Horror, Despair, Sorrow), all terrified of the coming light. The poem ends with an early modern version of that most paradoxical of endings: “To be continued…”—in this case, a promise underwritten by Pulter’s dedication of such verse to the deity whose various lights she is by turns informed, delighted, and frightened by.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

Elemental Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

suffering
Elemental Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

govern, rule; hold (highest) position of authority or power; exercise influence
Transcription
Line number 3

 Physical note

“m” appears written over earlier “e”
Transcription
Line number 7

 Physical note

corrected from “the” by additon of final “t” and closing of loop over “e”
Elemental Edition
Line number 7

 Gloss note

the moon
Elemental Edition
Line number 8

 Gloss note

luminous; noble
Elemental Edition
Line number 9

 Gloss note

spherical
Elemental Edition
Line number 10

 Gloss note

the sun’s
Elemental Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

enclosed
Elemental Edition
Line number 12

 Gloss note

invent, imagine
Elemental Edition
Line number 14

 Gloss note

demi-goddess
Transcription
Line number 16

 Physical note

“En” appears written in place of (and partly over) erased “in”
Elemental Edition
Line number 16

 Gloss note

in classical myth, a shepherd who loved the moon goddess
Elemental Edition
Line number 23

 Gloss note

planet identified with the morning star (in the “orient” or east) and evening star (in the “occident” or west); hence her representation as “usher” to night and day
Elemental Edition
Line number 24

 Gloss note

fully visible
Elemental Edition
Line number 25

 Gloss note

increased; would increase
Elemental Edition
Line number 26

 Gloss note

in ancient and medieval physiology, four bodily fluids (blood, phlegm, choler, and bile) believed to determine health, temperament, and behaviour (warring or peaceful)
Elemental Edition
Line number 26

 Gloss note

either
Transcription
Line number 30

 Physical note

“L” replaces earlier letter, likely “N”
Elemental Edition
Line number 30

 Gloss note

brightness; magnificence
Elemental Edition
Line number 31

 Gloss note

brilliant; glorious
Elemental Edition
Line number 31

 Gloss note

perceive
Elemental Edition
Line number 37

 Gloss note

balls
Elemental Edition
Line number 39

 Gloss note

unmoving
Elemental Edition
Line number 39

 Gloss note

animates
Elemental Edition
Line number 41

 Gloss note

Jupiter is seen in astrology as “auspicious” (presenting a positive omen), temperate, wise, benevolent, and concerned with law and judgement.
Elemental Edition
Line number 42

 Gloss note

chariot
Elemental Edition
Line number 43

 Gloss note

the moons of Jupiter, discovered by Galileo in 1610.
Elemental Edition
Line number 44

 Gloss note

blazing
Elemental Edition
Line number 45

 Gloss note

The speaker is saddened by the planet’s “aspects,” or temporary positions in the sky; Saturn was understood in astrology to have a baleful influence.
Elemental Edition
Line number 46

 Gloss note

Cynthia is the moon goddess; in 1610, Galileo mistook Saturn’s rings for two moons.
Elemental Edition
Line number 47

 Gloss note

stars, which appear always to occupy the same position in the sky (as distinct from planets, known as “wandering stars”)
Elemental Edition
Line number 50

 Gloss note

the Horae, Greek goddesses of seasons, are portrayed as the attendants of Aurora, the dawn; in drawing or pulling back her curtain, they expose her brightness.
Elemental Edition
Line number 51

 Gloss note

Acheron, a river in classical underworld ruled by Hades, is here identified with its ruler; his wife is here identified with Nyx or Night.
Transcription
Line number 52

 Physical note

“r” written over indiscernible letter
Elemental Edition
Line number 54

 Gloss note

classical divinities of vengeance, also known as the Furies
Elemental Edition
Line number 56

 Gloss note

fear, alarm
Elemental Edition
Line number 58

 Gloss note

opposite side of the world
Elemental Edition
Line number 59

 Gloss note

mother
Elemental Edition
Line number 59

 Gloss note

go, follow
Elemental Edition
Line number 60

 Gloss note

The offspring of Sin and Night are prodigious (likely in the sense of unnatural, but alternately or also: ominous; appalling; immense) and incestuous because, according to classical myth, Nyx or Night had children by her brother, Erebos, (signifying “darkness,” or the dark space leading to Hades or Hell); these children are, however, not identified in classical myth with Horror, Despair, and Sorrow, as here.
Elemental Edition
Line number 63

 Gloss note

Night’s
Transcription
Line number 68

 Physical note

“A” appears written over other letters, possibly “in”
Elemental Edition
Line number 68

 Gloss note

short songs
Elemental Edition
Line number 68

 Gloss note

that is, the speaker will begin writing or singing songs here that she will finish in Heaven
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