To Aurora [2]

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To Aurora [2]

Poem #26

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 Victoria E. Burke.

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 16

 Physical note

“er” appears crowded before next word, in different hand
Line number 19

 Physical note

“e” is superscript to the superscription
Line number 29

 Physical note

“S” written over other letter, probably “f”
Line number 36

 Physical note

“h” written over imperfectly erased “d”
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
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Transcription

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
To Aurora [2]
To Aurora [2]
To Aurora [2]
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
This is a semi-diplomatic transcription in which original spelling and punctuation are retained, abbreviations (such as tildes) are expanded with added letters in italics (with the exception of “ye” which is rendered as “the”), “ff” is modernized to “F,” superscriptions are lowered, colons indicating abbreviations are removed, and major alterations to the text (of a word or more, not individual letters) are noted in the footnotes. The retention of original spelling and punctuation has the potential to get us closer to the choices made by the poet and scribe, but some scribal details (such as abbreviations) do not seem substantive or meaning-bearing and run the risk of alienating a modern reader.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Throughout her collection, Pulter repeatedly tests ways to poetically imagine and interpret the moment of sunrise, which usually has strong symbolic resonances in Christianity. But in this poem in which Pulter seeks consolation in the morning sky, she keeps her attention fully on a pagan mythological and female-populated world. The speaker commands her own eyes to take in the splendor of a personified goddess of the dawn, Aurora, who fills the beholder’s senses and enamors viewers. As she did in Made When I Was Not Well [Poem 51] and Tell Me No More [Poem 11], Pulter creates a radical response to the poetic convention of the blazon (a catalogue of body parts filled with comparisons). Rather than a male viewer anatomizing and eroticizing a female body, Pulter dwells on a temporal moment—sunrise—which emerges in sensuous corporeal detail, complete with curling hair, blushing cheeks, clear eyes, and fair breasts. The poem soon is filled with female goddesses: the reader is to imagine Astraea, the goddess of truth or justice, “naked in the arms of Light” (her mother Aurora); and Cynthia, goddess of the moon, hides in shame at Aurora’s superior radiant beauty, as do the other stars and planets visible only at night. In the second half of the poem, the speaker declares that she would have worshipped Aurora had she lived in pagan times, and she provides an extensive list of all the female deities she would reject (she does not imagine worshipping a male god at all). The irony of the poem’s ending lies in the fact that the rituals of worship (here, burning incense) obscure her view of the deified Aurora.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Aurora, the Roman goddess of the dawn, was evidently an important figure in Pulter’s poetry, and in this poem she comes to represent divine “Light,” which the speaker cannot properly see until she is in heaven (ll. 12-14). This poem is the second of three poems with the same title, “To Aurora” (the others are To Aurora [1] [Poem 22] and To Aurora [3] [Poem 34]); Pulter also wrote two poems headed simply “Aurora” (Aurora [1] [Poem 3] and Aurora [2] [Poem 37]). In this poem the speaker addresses her desolate self, requesting that she look up to see the beautiful morning while also noting that Cynthia (the moon) and all the other planets retreat in Aurora’s presence. Pulter explains that if she had lived in a pre-Christian era and worshipped pagan divinities, she might have chosen to celebrate a number of goddesses that she goes on to list (Juno, Bellona, Venus, Derceto, Cybele, Diana, Ceres, Doris, Leucothea, and Isis). Instead, she knows that she would have chosen to celebrate Aurora, to whom she would send up so many burnt offerings that the smoke would obscure the sky. It is noteworthy that she never entertains the notion of worshipping any male gods–she only mentions Jupiter, ruler of the gods, at the end of the poem in the context of imagining Aurora being sufficiently worshipped and so not needing to complain to him. Perhaps most noteworthy of all, in this and several poems that praise Aurora and other goddesses, Pulter does not explicitly refer to the male Judaeo-Christian God, or his son, Jesus Christ. For Pulter, the concept of divine light in this poem is not primarily derived from a biblical tradition which described Christ as “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9), but is instead mediated by a feminine force. Arguably, Pulter is not mocking the idol worship of classical tradition in her references to goddesses she might have revered had she lived in a different age; in this poem and elsewhere in her work, goddesses and feminized planets seem to function as a complement to traditional Christian religious iconography.
While the poet ends up equating Aurora with light itself (ll. 12 and 30)–arguably a divine quality, or a version of God himself, rather than just the dawn of the day in classical tradition–her characterization of pagan gods and goddesses can have an element of fun in them. In My Love is Fair [Poem 59] the poet seems to mock the wooer of the poem who is convinced that his beloved surpasses a number of goddesses (for example, the speaker wonders if the cheeks of his beloved excel Aurora’s at l. 7). The speaker ends that poem by urging the lover to hop on a dolphin and woo his beloved if she is so sublime. In that poem Pulter uses Aurora to evoke the Petrarchan tradition of sensual female beauty, a discourse she also plays with in this poem in its moments of eroticism, as when she claims that Aurora’s beauty will enamour her own eyes (l. 6), and when she evokes the naked goddess Astraea, only to resolve that image into something divine (ll. 11-12).
Aurora was a character that several early modern women writers used in their poetry, depicting her appearance and significance in different ways. In her poem “The Dream,” from Mortality’s Memorandum, with a Dream Prefixed, Imaginary in Manner, Real in Matter (1621), Rachel Speght imagines her speaker sleeping at night, before “Aurora spread her glitt’ring beams / Or did with robes of light herself invest” (ll. 13-14; Women Writers in Renaissance England, edited by Randall Martin, Longman, 1997, p. 433). But when her miraculous dream vision in which she gains an education at the hands of mostly female allegorical figures is interrupted by Death killing her mother, she is jolted awake, without the gentle guidance of the dawning morning. Aemilia Lanyer also uses the image of Aurora in her dream vision poem, “The Authors Dreame to the Ladie Marie, the Countesse Dowager of Pembrooke,” one of her prefatory poems to women which precedes her poem on the Passion of Christ, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (1611). In this poem, the speaker sees Mary Sidney crowned and sitting in Honour’s chair in her mind’s eye. Bellona, goddess of war and wisdom, and Dictina or Pheobe, goddess of the moon, pay homage, but Aurora, “rising from her rosie bedde, / First blusht then wept, to see fair Phoebe grac’d” (ll. 61-62; The Poems of Aemilia Lanyer: Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, edited by Susanne Woods, Oxford UP, 1993, p. 24). Aurora tells Flora, goddess of the spring and flowers, that she will bring the sun to dull Phoebe’s beauty–“And I will give a greater light than she” (l. 70)–which Aurora achieves. Kari Boyd McBride has suggested that in this scene Lanyer is depicting a struggle for primacy between Queen Elizabeth I (Phoebe or Cynthia, a common identification for the Virgin Queen) and Queen Anne (Aurora). McBride sees Aurora’s summoning of the sun to dim Phoebe’s light as potentially a comment on James I’s power and thus by extension a suggestion that his consort’s own power is dependent on his (Kari Boyd McBride, “Sacred Celebration: The Patronage Poems,” Aemilia Lanyer: Gender, Genre, and the Canon, edited by Marshall Grossman, UP of Kentucky, 1998, pp. 60-82 [p. 82 note 33]). Another interesting use of Aurora occurs in a work by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a Hispanic writer who lived 1648-1695 and was a cloistered nun in colonial Mexico. Her dream vision poem, Primero sueño [First Dream]–like Speght’s, a depiction of the soul’s quest for knowledge–also uses the figure of Aurora. Stephanie Merrim has suggested that, in this poem, the poet “gathers the daring, transgressive female (and male) characters [such as Phaethon] into Aurora,” and allows the goddess to stand as a “model and mask” for the poetic speaker (Early Modern Women’s Writing and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Vanderbilt UP, 1999, p. 209). I am grateful Regina Buccola for suggesting these women writers as parallels to Pulter in their use of Aurora.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Look up Sad eyes behould the Smileing Morn:
Look up, sad eyes, behold the smiling morn,
Look up Sad eyes
Critical Note
Pulter is addressing herself and contrasting her sadness with the dawn’s happiness. Pulter’s poetry outlines many reasons for sadness: the deaths of some of her children, the execution of Charles I, and her own exile in the country, though none of those issues are raised in this poem. Here, her yearning for heaven puts her in the pose of a supplicant, a common Christian stance, but one she complicates by populating her heaven with female figures instead of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
behould the Smileing Morn
:
2
How Shee her Golden treſses doth Adorn
How
Gloss Note
Aurora, goddess of dawn
she
her golden
Gloss Note
long locks of hair; braids of hair; figuratively applied to tendrils or rays of the sun
tresses
doth adorn
How Shee her Golden
Gloss Note
Aurora’s long locks of hair (“tresses”) are golden to represent the sun’s rays.
tresses
doth Adorn
3
With Sparkling Gem̄s and Roses Redolent
With sparkling gems and roses
Gloss Note
fragrant
redolent
,
With Sparkling Gemms and Roses Redolent
4
And Julyflowers, whose Aromatick Sent
And
Gloss Note
July flowers or carnations; flowers scented like cloves
gillyflowers
whose aromatic scent
And
Gloss Note
Aurora is associated in this and the previous line with beautiful sights (sparkling gems, which suggest light reflecting off of dew) and lovely scents (fragrant or “redolent” roses, and gillyflowers or carnations).
Julyflowers
, whose Aromatick
Gloss Note
i.e., scent
Sent
5
Perfumes the World, look but up and See
Perfumes the world; look but up and see!
Perfumes the World,
Critical Note
Pulter reprises her call for her eyes to look up at the dawning day (“Look up,” l. 1).
look but up
and See
6
Trust mee her bevty will inamour thee
Trust me, her beauty will enamor thee.
Trust mee her bevty will
Critical Note
The word “enamour” introduces Petrarchan language: Aurora is fair, she has blushing cheeks, clear eyes, curling hair, and a fair breast (ll. 7-9). But while Pulter has introduced a potentially sexualized situation, she undercuts it with the description of Aurora nursing Truth or Astraea at ll. 9-10 (see also To Astraea [Poem 23], ll. 1-4). The reader realizes that the love the speaker will feel for Aurora’s beauty is a spiritual one, and that the evocation of Aurora’s breasts is an image that fuses motherly nourishment with divine revelation. The same-sex eroticism of the female addressee becoming enamoured by a beautiful goddess is replaced by, but still potentially co-exists with, a spiritual interpretation.
inamour
thee
7
Shee is Soe Sweet, Soe young, soe Heavenly faire
She is so sweet, so young, so heavenly fair,
Shee is
Critical Note
Pulter uses anaphora, or the repetition of the first word in successive phrases, to emphasize Aurora’s sweetness, youth, and beauty, though the speaker insists on the spiritual quality of the goddess’s beauty.
Soe Sweet, Soe young, soe Heavenly faire
8
With blushing cheeks clear eyes, and curling Haire
With blushing cheeks, clear eyes, and curling hair.
With
Critical Note
As in the line above, a tripartite structure (in this case three adjective-noun pairings) emphasizes conventionally beautiful aspects of Aurora’s appearance.
blushing cheeks clear eyes, and curling Haire
9
View that fair breast which in her prime of Youth
View that fair breast which, in her prime of youth,
View that fair breast which in her prime of Youth
10
Gave nouriſhment unto eternall truth
Gave nourishment unto eternal
Gloss Note
Astraea, goddess of justice, whom Pulter also identifies as the goddess of truth, born from Aurora
Truth
.
Gave nourishment unto eternall truth
11
Oh that I once could See that lovly Sight
O, that I once could see that lovely sight:
Oh that I once could See that lovly Sight
12
Astrea naked in the Arms of Light
Astraea, naked in the arms of
Gloss Note
Aurora
Light
!
Critical Note
This is another moment when Pulter is playing with erotic expectations, since a figure lying naked in another figure’s arms suggests an earthly, and potentially sinful, scene of desire. But the image brings in the abstract, divine qualities of Truth and Light, which the speaker goes on to note cannot be properly seen in this world but only in the afterlife. Again, all of these figures (Astraea, Aurora, and the addressee) are female, which raises the potential of same-sex eroticism that is discounted, at least on the surface. Instead, the image of a mother holding a child in her arms is evoked, reminding us of Pulter’s own frequent references in her poetry to being a mother, and to motherhood more generally (for example, in many of the animal examples of Why Must I Thus Forever Be Confined [Poem 57]). Several of the goddesses depicted below are also associated with their roles as mothers: Derceto, Cybele, Ceres, and Doris. Though Pulter does not mention it, in the myth, Leucothea throws herself into the sea holding her son, and Isis is, among other things, a fertility and mother goddess.
Astrea naked in the Arms of Light
13
But oh I ne’re can See it till aboue
But O, I ne’er can see it, till above
But oh I ne’re can See it till aboue
14
I am involv’d in endles Joy and Love
I am
Gloss Note
entangled, encompassed
involved
in endless joy and love.
I am
Gloss Note
The place depicted is heaven. Pulter frequently uses the word “involved” in her verse, meaning enfolded or enveloped.
involv’d in endles Joy and Love
15
View then thoſe Robes w:ch doth her limbs infold
View, then, those robes which doth her limbs enfold,
View then those Robes which doth her limbs infold
16
Rich purple fring’d with
Physical Note
“er” appears crowded before next word, in different hand
never
wasting Gold
Rich purple, fringed with
Gloss Note
never-decaying
never-wasting
gold.
Rich
Critical Note
Pulter characterizes Aurora as wearing purple robes fringed with gold, capturing the colours of dawn, but also suggesting with the phrase “never wasting” an image of eternity, which contrasts with the ever-changing sky (reminding us of the earthly and divine tension in the imagery).
purple fring’d with never wasting Gold
17
Pale Cinthie doth her Sickly bevty Shrow’d
Pale
Gloss Note
Cynthia, moon goddess
Cynthie
doth her
Gloss Note
pale, feeble
sickly
beauty shroud,
Pale
Critical Note
The goddess Cynthia here represents the moon. Her beauty is “sickly” because the moon is pale, reflecting the sun’s light. There may also be a pun on a sickle-shaped moon (my thanks to Leah Knight for this suggestion). She wears a dark cloud as a veil, presumably because she knows her beauty is inferior to Aurora’s.
Cinthie doth her Sickly bevty Shrow’d
18
And for a vaile Shee wears a Sable Clowd
And for a veil
Gloss Note
Cynthia
she
wears a sable cloud;
And for a vaile Shee wears a Sable Clowd
And

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
19
And all
Physical Note
“e” is superscript to the superscription
^ye
other Glittring Globes of Light
And all the other glitt’ring globes of light
And all the other Glittring Globes of Light
20
Contract their beams, and trundle out of Sight
Contract their beams and
Gloss Note
to revolve, roll
trundle
out of sight.
Contract
Gloss Note
Again, Pulter is contrasting Aurora’s brightness with other heavenly bodies.
their beams
, and
Gloss Note
“To move along a surface by revolving; to roll” (OED 1b). The image is of a lightening sky that makes the planets less visible, but Pulter has given the heavenly bodies agency in their action of diminishing their beams and rolling away. They seem to agree with the speaker’s assessment of Aurora’s superiority by abasing themselves before her.
trundle
out of Sight
21
Had I liv’d on the Multiplicity
Had I lived on the multiplicity
Had I liv’d on the Multiplicity
22
Of Heathen Gods, my chief felicity
Of heathen gods, my chief felicity
Of Heathen Gods, my chief felicity
23
Would Surely bee rich Temples to Adorn
Would surely be rich temples to adorn
Would Surely bee rich Temples to Adorn
24
Unto the Riſeing luster of the Morn
Unto the rising luster of the morn:
Unto
Gloss Note
This and the previous three lines indicate that, had the speaker been born in an earlier era in which heathen gods were worshipped, then she no doubt would have been most happy to deck out temples devoted to Aurora.
the Riseing luster of the Morn
25
Juno, Belona, and the Queen of Love
Gloss Note
Juno (chief Olympian goddess); Bellona (goddess of war); and Venus, “Queen” or goddess of love
Juno, Bellona, and the Queen of Love,
Gloss Note
The catalogue of all of the other goddesses the speaker would neglect in favour of Aurora begins with three Roman goddesses: Juno, queen of the goddesses and wife of Jupiter; Bellona, goddess of war; and Venus, goddess of love.
Juno, Belona, and the Queen of Love
26
And Shee whoſe Daughter turnd into a Dove
Gloss Note
Assyrian goddess Derceto; mother of Semiramis, queen and goddess who founded the city of Babylon, led victorious armies, and, eventually, took the form of a dove and flew away
And she whose daughter turned into a dove,
And
Gloss Note
Derceto was a Syrian goddess whose daughter Semiramis was fed by doves as an infant and was turned into a dove upon her death.
Shee whose Daughter turnd into a Dove
27
Ould Berecinthia and her numerous brood
Old
Gloss Note
surname of Cybele; mother and fertility goddess whose worshippers went into ecstatic raptures
Berecynthia
and her numerous brood,
Ould
Gloss Note
As Alice Eardley notes in her edition of Pulter’s poetry, Berecynthia was the surname of the Greek and Roman mother goddess Cybele (Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda, Iter / Center for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014, p. 369). Her brood was likely her children or her followers, known for their ecstatic celebrations.
Berecinthia and her numerous brood
28
Cruell Diana pleasd with Virgins Blood
Cruel
Gloss Note
goddess of chastity
Diana
, pleased with virgin’s blood,
Gloss Note
Diana was the Roman goddess of chastity, who was also associated with the moon (like Cynthia) and the hunt. Presumably Diana is cruel and pleased with virgin’s blood because she enjoys killing, has no interest in erotic love, and wishes to attract other virgins to follow her.
Cruell Diana pleasd with Virgins Blood
29
With wandring Ceris all these would I
Physical Note
“S” written over other letter, probably “f”
Sleight
With wand’ring
Gloss Note
goddess of agriculture
Ceres
: all these would I slight,
With wandring
Gloss Note
Ceres is the Roman goddess of agriculture, who wandered because she looked for her daughter Propserpina after Proserpina was abducted by Pluto to the underworld.
Ceris
all these would I
Gloss Note
i.e., slight, or treat with disdain
Sleight
30
And victims offer unto none but Light
And victims offer unto none but Light.
And
Gloss Note
The speaker is continuing her claim from ll. 21-22 that if she followed a heathen religion she would slight all other goddesses and only offer pagan sacrifice (or kill victims on an altar) to Aurora, or Light.
victims offer unto none but Light
31
Blew Doris, and her ffloating froathy train
Blue
Gloss Note
sea goddess and mother of water nymphs
Doris
and her floating frothy train,
Blew
Gloss Note
Doris, a Greek sea nymph, is likely blue because of her association with water; her train, or followers (the fifty Nereids, or sea nymphs, who were her daughters), would have floated and made froth behind her due to their watery habitation.
Doris, and her Floating froathy train
32
Lucothia that in Stately Thebs did Reign
Gloss Note
sea goddess
Leucothea
that in stately Thebes did reign,
Gloss Note
Leucothea was a Greek sea goddess who was the daughter of Cadmus, the first king of Thebes.
Lucothia that in Stately Thebs did Reign
33
Ises, the Cow, the Goddes, and the Maid
Gloss Note
Isis is the Egyptian fertility and mother goddess, who was wife and sister of Osiris; protector of seafarers; often depicted with cow’s horns framing a disc of the sun
Isis, the cow, the goddess, and the maid,
Critical Note
Isis is an Egyptian goddess with many roles (see the Elemental Edition). Pulter mentions the cow because Isis is often depicted wearing cow horns, and perhaps calls her “the goddess” to evoke her importance and the scope of her power. Why Pulter also calls her “the maid” is unclear, unless it is to highlight her gender and perhaps her youth.
Ises, the Cow, the Goddes, and the Maid
34
Even all that on the wavey Empire Swayed
Even all that on the
Gloss Note
the ocean
wavy empire
Gloss Note
ruled
swayed
;
Even
Gloss Note
This appears to be a general characterization of all goddesses who ruled the ocean, which the speaker then goes on to contrast with her own devotion to Aurora in the last four lines.
all that on the wavey Empire Swayed
35
Nor Should Shee Olympick Jupiter invoke
Nor should
Gloss Note
Aurora
she
Gloss Note
Olympus was the home of the gods; Jupiter was the supreme Roman deity as well as the god of light and of the heavens; here the speaker declares that if she had been a heathen, she would have built sacrificial fires so often to Aurora that Aurora would not have needed to appeal to Jupiter for redress for her lack of visible adoration (smoke).
Olympic Jupiter
Gloss Note
summon, appeal to
invoke
Nor Should
Gloss Note
i.e., Aurora
Shee
Olympick
Gloss Note
Ruler of the gods, who lives on Mount Olympus
Jupiter
invoke
36
Becauſe
Physical Note
“h” written over imperfectly erased “d”
her
Alters did noe oft^ner Smoke
Because her altars did no oft’ner smoke;
Because
Gloss Note
Aurora will not have to complain to Jupiter than she is not being worshipped enough with sacrifices being burned in her honour.
her Alters did noe oftner Smoke
37
ffor I with Incence would Soe clowd ye Skies
For I, with incense, would so cloud the skies
For
Critical Note
In this line and the next, the speaker indicates that she would, if she lived in pagan times, worship Aurora so consistently that the smoke from her own altar would cause clouds to form and would darken the eyes of Light, or Aurora, herself. Pulter tones down the brutality of the “victims” of l. 30 that are offered to heathen deities by depicting herself merely burning incense. The mention of Aurora’s shining eyes recalls the speaker’s “sad eyes” of l. 1, and suggests that she is now focused on devotion, rather than on the despondency mentioned in the opening lines of the poem. This final image of obscuring through creating the smoke of worship is a positive rewriting of the other moments of dullness in the poem: Cynthia veiling herself in a dark cloud, presumably due to shame at not being as bright as the morning (ll. 17-18), and the “glittering globes of light” drawing in their beams and rolling out of sight (ll. 19-20). But this concluding image is also somewhat odd in the speaker’s desire to dim the brightness of Aurora’s eyes, and may reveal some desire for dominance, even in this act of worship.
I with Incence would Soe clowd the Skies
38
That Should obſcure the Luster of her eyes
That
Gloss Note
it should
should
obscure the luster of her eyes.
That Should obscure the Luster of her eyes
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

Throughout her collection, Pulter repeatedly tests ways to poetically imagine and interpret the moment of sunrise, which usually has strong symbolic resonances in Christianity. But in this poem in which Pulter seeks consolation in the morning sky, she keeps her attention fully on a pagan mythological and female-populated world. The speaker commands her own eyes to take in the splendor of a personified goddess of the dawn, Aurora, who fills the beholder’s senses and enamors viewers. As she did in Made When I Was Not Well [Poem 51] and Tell Me No More [Poem 11], Pulter creates a radical response to the poetic convention of the blazon (a catalogue of body parts filled with comparisons). Rather than a male viewer anatomizing and eroticizing a female body, Pulter dwells on a temporal moment—sunrise—which emerges in sensuous corporeal detail, complete with curling hair, blushing cheeks, clear eyes, and fair breasts. The poem soon is filled with female goddesses: the reader is to imagine Astraea, the goddess of truth or justice, “naked in the arms of Light” (her mother Aurora); and Cynthia, goddess of the moon, hides in shame at Aurora’s superior radiant beauty, as do the other stars and planets visible only at night. In the second half of the poem, the speaker declares that she would have worshipped Aurora had she lived in pagan times, and she provides an extensive list of all the female deities she would reject (she does not imagine worshipping a male god at all). The irony of the poem’s ending lies in the fact that the rituals of worship (here, burning incense) obscure her view of the deified Aurora.
Line number 2

 Gloss note

Aurora, goddess of dawn
Line number 2

 Gloss note

long locks of hair; braids of hair; figuratively applied to tendrils or rays of the sun
Line number 3

 Gloss note

fragrant
Line number 4

 Gloss note

July flowers or carnations; flowers scented like cloves
Line number 10

 Gloss note

Astraea, goddess of justice, whom Pulter also identifies as the goddess of truth, born from Aurora
Line number 12

 Gloss note

Aurora
Line number 14

 Gloss note

entangled, encompassed
Line number 16

 Gloss note

never-decaying
Line number 17

 Gloss note

Cynthia, moon goddess
Line number 17

 Gloss note

pale, feeble
Line number 18

 Gloss note

Cynthia
Line number 20

 Gloss note

to revolve, roll
Line number 25

 Gloss note

Juno (chief Olympian goddess); Bellona (goddess of war); and Venus, “Queen” or goddess of love
Line number 26

 Gloss note

Assyrian goddess Derceto; mother of Semiramis, queen and goddess who founded the city of Babylon, led victorious armies, and, eventually, took the form of a dove and flew away
Line number 27

 Gloss note

surname of Cybele; mother and fertility goddess whose worshippers went into ecstatic raptures
Line number 28

 Gloss note

goddess of chastity
Line number 29

 Gloss note

goddess of agriculture
Line number 31

 Gloss note

sea goddess and mother of water nymphs
Line number 32

 Gloss note

sea goddess
Line number 33

 Gloss note

Isis is the Egyptian fertility and mother goddess, who was wife and sister of Osiris; protector of seafarers; often depicted with cow’s horns framing a disc of the sun
Line number 34

 Gloss note

the ocean
Line number 34

 Gloss note

ruled
Line number 35

 Gloss note

Aurora
Line number 35

 Gloss note

Olympus was the home of the gods; Jupiter was the supreme Roman deity as well as the god of light and of the heavens; here the speaker declares that if she had been a heathen, she would have built sacrificial fires so often to Aurora that Aurora would not have needed to appeal to Jupiter for redress for her lack of visible adoration (smoke).
Line number 35

 Gloss note

summon, appeal to
Line number 38

 Gloss note

it should
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X (Close panel)Elemental Edition
Elemental Edition

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To Aurora [2]
To Aurora [2]
To Aurora [2]
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
This is a semi-diplomatic transcription in which original spelling and punctuation are retained, abbreviations (such as tildes) are expanded with added letters in italics (with the exception of “ye” which is rendered as “the”), “ff” is modernized to “F,” superscriptions are lowered, colons indicating abbreviations are removed, and major alterations to the text (of a word or more, not individual letters) are noted in the footnotes. The retention of original spelling and punctuation has the potential to get us closer to the choices made by the poet and scribe, but some scribal details (such as abbreviations) do not seem substantive or meaning-bearing and run the risk of alienating a modern reader.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Throughout her collection, Pulter repeatedly tests ways to poetically imagine and interpret the moment of sunrise, which usually has strong symbolic resonances in Christianity. But in this poem in which Pulter seeks consolation in the morning sky, she keeps her attention fully on a pagan mythological and female-populated world. The speaker commands her own eyes to take in the splendor of a personified goddess of the dawn, Aurora, who fills the beholder’s senses and enamors viewers. As she did in Made When I Was Not Well [Poem 51] and Tell Me No More [Poem 11], Pulter creates a radical response to the poetic convention of the blazon (a catalogue of body parts filled with comparisons). Rather than a male viewer anatomizing and eroticizing a female body, Pulter dwells on a temporal moment—sunrise—which emerges in sensuous corporeal detail, complete with curling hair, blushing cheeks, clear eyes, and fair breasts. The poem soon is filled with female goddesses: the reader is to imagine Astraea, the goddess of truth or justice, “naked in the arms of Light” (her mother Aurora); and Cynthia, goddess of the moon, hides in shame at Aurora’s superior radiant beauty, as do the other stars and planets visible only at night. In the second half of the poem, the speaker declares that she would have worshipped Aurora had she lived in pagan times, and she provides an extensive list of all the female deities she would reject (she does not imagine worshipping a male god at all). The irony of the poem’s ending lies in the fact that the rituals of worship (here, burning incense) obscure her view of the deified Aurora.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Aurora, the Roman goddess of the dawn, was evidently an important figure in Pulter’s poetry, and in this poem she comes to represent divine “Light,” which the speaker cannot properly see until she is in heaven (ll. 12-14). This poem is the second of three poems with the same title, “To Aurora” (the others are To Aurora [1] [Poem 22] and To Aurora [3] [Poem 34]); Pulter also wrote two poems headed simply “Aurora” (Aurora [1] [Poem 3] and Aurora [2] [Poem 37]). In this poem the speaker addresses her desolate self, requesting that she look up to see the beautiful morning while also noting that Cynthia (the moon) and all the other planets retreat in Aurora’s presence. Pulter explains that if she had lived in a pre-Christian era and worshipped pagan divinities, she might have chosen to celebrate a number of goddesses that she goes on to list (Juno, Bellona, Venus, Derceto, Cybele, Diana, Ceres, Doris, Leucothea, and Isis). Instead, she knows that she would have chosen to celebrate Aurora, to whom she would send up so many burnt offerings that the smoke would obscure the sky. It is noteworthy that she never entertains the notion of worshipping any male gods–she only mentions Jupiter, ruler of the gods, at the end of the poem in the context of imagining Aurora being sufficiently worshipped and so not needing to complain to him. Perhaps most noteworthy of all, in this and several poems that praise Aurora and other goddesses, Pulter does not explicitly refer to the male Judaeo-Christian God, or his son, Jesus Christ. For Pulter, the concept of divine light in this poem is not primarily derived from a biblical tradition which described Christ as “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9), but is instead mediated by a feminine force. Arguably, Pulter is not mocking the idol worship of classical tradition in her references to goddesses she might have revered had she lived in a different age; in this poem and elsewhere in her work, goddesses and feminized planets seem to function as a complement to traditional Christian religious iconography.
While the poet ends up equating Aurora with light itself (ll. 12 and 30)–arguably a divine quality, or a version of God himself, rather than just the dawn of the day in classical tradition–her characterization of pagan gods and goddesses can have an element of fun in them. In My Love is Fair [Poem 59] the poet seems to mock the wooer of the poem who is convinced that his beloved surpasses a number of goddesses (for example, the speaker wonders if the cheeks of his beloved excel Aurora’s at l. 7). The speaker ends that poem by urging the lover to hop on a dolphin and woo his beloved if she is so sublime. In that poem Pulter uses Aurora to evoke the Petrarchan tradition of sensual female beauty, a discourse she also plays with in this poem in its moments of eroticism, as when she claims that Aurora’s beauty will enamour her own eyes (l. 6), and when she evokes the naked goddess Astraea, only to resolve that image into something divine (ll. 11-12).
Aurora was a character that several early modern women writers used in their poetry, depicting her appearance and significance in different ways. In her poem “The Dream,” from Mortality’s Memorandum, with a Dream Prefixed, Imaginary in Manner, Real in Matter (1621), Rachel Speght imagines her speaker sleeping at night, before “Aurora spread her glitt’ring beams / Or did with robes of light herself invest” (ll. 13-14; Women Writers in Renaissance England, edited by Randall Martin, Longman, 1997, p. 433). But when her miraculous dream vision in which she gains an education at the hands of mostly female allegorical figures is interrupted by Death killing her mother, she is jolted awake, without the gentle guidance of the dawning morning. Aemilia Lanyer also uses the image of Aurora in her dream vision poem, “The Authors Dreame to the Ladie Marie, the Countesse Dowager of Pembrooke,” one of her prefatory poems to women which precedes her poem on the Passion of Christ, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (1611). In this poem, the speaker sees Mary Sidney crowned and sitting in Honour’s chair in her mind’s eye. Bellona, goddess of war and wisdom, and Dictina or Pheobe, goddess of the moon, pay homage, but Aurora, “rising from her rosie bedde, / First blusht then wept, to see fair Phoebe grac’d” (ll. 61-62; The Poems of Aemilia Lanyer: Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, edited by Susanne Woods, Oxford UP, 1993, p. 24). Aurora tells Flora, goddess of the spring and flowers, that she will bring the sun to dull Phoebe’s beauty–“And I will give a greater light than she” (l. 70)–which Aurora achieves. Kari Boyd McBride has suggested that in this scene Lanyer is depicting a struggle for primacy between Queen Elizabeth I (Phoebe or Cynthia, a common identification for the Virgin Queen) and Queen Anne (Aurora). McBride sees Aurora’s summoning of the sun to dim Phoebe’s light as potentially a comment on James I’s power and thus by extension a suggestion that his consort’s own power is dependent on his (Kari Boyd McBride, “Sacred Celebration: The Patronage Poems,” Aemilia Lanyer: Gender, Genre, and the Canon, edited by Marshall Grossman, UP of Kentucky, 1998, pp. 60-82 [p. 82 note 33]). Another interesting use of Aurora occurs in a work by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a Hispanic writer who lived 1648-1695 and was a cloistered nun in colonial Mexico. Her dream vision poem, Primero sueño [First Dream]–like Speght’s, a depiction of the soul’s quest for knowledge–also uses the figure of Aurora. Stephanie Merrim has suggested that, in this poem, the poet “gathers the daring, transgressive female (and male) characters [such as Phaethon] into Aurora,” and allows the goddess to stand as a “model and mask” for the poetic speaker (Early Modern Women’s Writing and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Vanderbilt UP, 1999, p. 209). I am grateful Regina Buccola for suggesting these women writers as parallels to Pulter in their use of Aurora.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Look up Sad eyes behould the Smileing Morn:
Look up, sad eyes, behold the smiling morn,
Look up Sad eyes
Critical Note
Pulter is addressing herself and contrasting her sadness with the dawn’s happiness. Pulter’s poetry outlines many reasons for sadness: the deaths of some of her children, the execution of Charles I, and her own exile in the country, though none of those issues are raised in this poem. Here, her yearning for heaven puts her in the pose of a supplicant, a common Christian stance, but one she complicates by populating her heaven with female figures instead of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
behould the Smileing Morn
:
2
How Shee her Golden treſses doth Adorn
How
Gloss Note
Aurora, goddess of dawn
she
her golden
Gloss Note
long locks of hair; braids of hair; figuratively applied to tendrils or rays of the sun
tresses
doth adorn
How Shee her Golden
Gloss Note
Aurora’s long locks of hair (“tresses”) are golden to represent the sun’s rays.
tresses
doth Adorn
3
With Sparkling Gem̄s and Roses Redolent
With sparkling gems and roses
Gloss Note
fragrant
redolent
,
With Sparkling Gemms and Roses Redolent
4
And Julyflowers, whose Aromatick Sent
And
Gloss Note
July flowers or carnations; flowers scented like cloves
gillyflowers
whose aromatic scent
And
Gloss Note
Aurora is associated in this and the previous line with beautiful sights (sparkling gems, which suggest light reflecting off of dew) and lovely scents (fragrant or “redolent” roses, and gillyflowers or carnations).
Julyflowers
, whose Aromatick
Gloss Note
i.e., scent
Sent
5
Perfumes the World, look but up and See
Perfumes the world; look but up and see!
Perfumes the World,
Critical Note
Pulter reprises her call for her eyes to look up at the dawning day (“Look up,” l. 1).
look but up
and See
6
Trust mee her bevty will inamour thee
Trust me, her beauty will enamor thee.
Trust mee her bevty will
Critical Note
The word “enamour” introduces Petrarchan language: Aurora is fair, she has blushing cheeks, clear eyes, curling hair, and a fair breast (ll. 7-9). But while Pulter has introduced a potentially sexualized situation, she undercuts it with the description of Aurora nursing Truth or Astraea at ll. 9-10 (see also To Astraea [Poem 23], ll. 1-4). The reader realizes that the love the speaker will feel for Aurora’s beauty is a spiritual one, and that the evocation of Aurora’s breasts is an image that fuses motherly nourishment with divine revelation. The same-sex eroticism of the female addressee becoming enamoured by a beautiful goddess is replaced by, but still potentially co-exists with, a spiritual interpretation.
inamour
thee
7
Shee is Soe Sweet, Soe young, soe Heavenly faire
She is so sweet, so young, so heavenly fair,
Shee is
Critical Note
Pulter uses anaphora, or the repetition of the first word in successive phrases, to emphasize Aurora’s sweetness, youth, and beauty, though the speaker insists on the spiritual quality of the goddess’s beauty.
Soe Sweet, Soe young, soe Heavenly faire
8
With blushing cheeks clear eyes, and curling Haire
With blushing cheeks, clear eyes, and curling hair.
With
Critical Note
As in the line above, a tripartite structure (in this case three adjective-noun pairings) emphasizes conventionally beautiful aspects of Aurora’s appearance.
blushing cheeks clear eyes, and curling Haire
9
View that fair breast which in her prime of Youth
View that fair breast which, in her prime of youth,
View that fair breast which in her prime of Youth
10
Gave nouriſhment unto eternall truth
Gave nourishment unto eternal
Gloss Note
Astraea, goddess of justice, whom Pulter also identifies as the goddess of truth, born from Aurora
Truth
.
Gave nourishment unto eternall truth
11
Oh that I once could See that lovly Sight
O, that I once could see that lovely sight:
Oh that I once could See that lovly Sight
12
Astrea naked in the Arms of Light
Astraea, naked in the arms of
Gloss Note
Aurora
Light
!
Critical Note
This is another moment when Pulter is playing with erotic expectations, since a figure lying naked in another figure’s arms suggests an earthly, and potentially sinful, scene of desire. But the image brings in the abstract, divine qualities of Truth and Light, which the speaker goes on to note cannot be properly seen in this world but only in the afterlife. Again, all of these figures (Astraea, Aurora, and the addressee) are female, which raises the potential of same-sex eroticism that is discounted, at least on the surface. Instead, the image of a mother holding a child in her arms is evoked, reminding us of Pulter’s own frequent references in her poetry to being a mother, and to motherhood more generally (for example, in many of the animal examples of Why Must I Thus Forever Be Confined [Poem 57]). Several of the goddesses depicted below are also associated with their roles as mothers: Derceto, Cybele, Ceres, and Doris. Though Pulter does not mention it, in the myth, Leucothea throws herself into the sea holding her son, and Isis is, among other things, a fertility and mother goddess.
Astrea naked in the Arms of Light
13
But oh I ne’re can See it till aboue
But O, I ne’er can see it, till above
But oh I ne’re can See it till aboue
14
I am involv’d in endles Joy and Love
I am
Gloss Note
entangled, encompassed
involved
in endless joy and love.
I am
Gloss Note
The place depicted is heaven. Pulter frequently uses the word “involved” in her verse, meaning enfolded or enveloped.
involv’d in endles Joy and Love
15
View then thoſe Robes w:ch doth her limbs infold
View, then, those robes which doth her limbs enfold,
View then those Robes which doth her limbs infold
16
Rich purple fring’d with
Physical Note
“er” appears crowded before next word, in different hand
never
wasting Gold
Rich purple, fringed with
Gloss Note
never-decaying
never-wasting
gold.
Rich
Critical Note
Pulter characterizes Aurora as wearing purple robes fringed with gold, capturing the colours of dawn, but also suggesting with the phrase “never wasting” an image of eternity, which contrasts with the ever-changing sky (reminding us of the earthly and divine tension in the imagery).
purple fring’d with never wasting Gold
17
Pale Cinthie doth her Sickly bevty Shrow’d
Pale
Gloss Note
Cynthia, moon goddess
Cynthie
doth her
Gloss Note
pale, feeble
sickly
beauty shroud,
Pale
Critical Note
The goddess Cynthia here represents the moon. Her beauty is “sickly” because the moon is pale, reflecting the sun’s light. There may also be a pun on a sickle-shaped moon (my thanks to Leah Knight for this suggestion). She wears a dark cloud as a veil, presumably because she knows her beauty is inferior to Aurora’s.
Cinthie doth her Sickly bevty Shrow’d
18
And for a vaile Shee wears a Sable Clowd
And for a veil
Gloss Note
Cynthia
she
wears a sable cloud;
And for a vaile Shee wears a Sable Clowd
And

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19
And all
Physical Note
“e” is superscript to the superscription
^ye
other Glittring Globes of Light
And all the other glitt’ring globes of light
And all the other Glittring Globes of Light
20
Contract their beams, and trundle out of Sight
Contract their beams and
Gloss Note
to revolve, roll
trundle
out of sight.
Contract
Gloss Note
Again, Pulter is contrasting Aurora’s brightness with other heavenly bodies.
their beams
, and
Gloss Note
“To move along a surface by revolving; to roll” (OED 1b). The image is of a lightening sky that makes the planets less visible, but Pulter has given the heavenly bodies agency in their action of diminishing their beams and rolling away. They seem to agree with the speaker’s assessment of Aurora’s superiority by abasing themselves before her.
trundle
out of Sight
21
Had I liv’d on the Multiplicity
Had I lived on the multiplicity
Had I liv’d on the Multiplicity
22
Of Heathen Gods, my chief felicity
Of heathen gods, my chief felicity
Of Heathen Gods, my chief felicity
23
Would Surely bee rich Temples to Adorn
Would surely be rich temples to adorn
Would Surely bee rich Temples to Adorn
24
Unto the Riſeing luster of the Morn
Unto the rising luster of the morn:
Unto
Gloss Note
This and the previous three lines indicate that, had the speaker been born in an earlier era in which heathen gods were worshipped, then she no doubt would have been most happy to deck out temples devoted to Aurora.
the Riseing luster of the Morn
25
Juno, Belona, and the Queen of Love
Gloss Note
Juno (chief Olympian goddess); Bellona (goddess of war); and Venus, “Queen” or goddess of love
Juno, Bellona, and the Queen of Love,
Gloss Note
The catalogue of all of the other goddesses the speaker would neglect in favour of Aurora begins with three Roman goddesses: Juno, queen of the goddesses and wife of Jupiter; Bellona, goddess of war; and Venus, goddess of love.
Juno, Belona, and the Queen of Love
26
And Shee whoſe Daughter turnd into a Dove
Gloss Note
Assyrian goddess Derceto; mother of Semiramis, queen and goddess who founded the city of Babylon, led victorious armies, and, eventually, took the form of a dove and flew away
And she whose daughter turned into a dove,
And
Gloss Note
Derceto was a Syrian goddess whose daughter Semiramis was fed by doves as an infant and was turned into a dove upon her death.
Shee whose Daughter turnd into a Dove
27
Ould Berecinthia and her numerous brood
Old
Gloss Note
surname of Cybele; mother and fertility goddess whose worshippers went into ecstatic raptures
Berecynthia
and her numerous brood,
Ould
Gloss Note
As Alice Eardley notes in her edition of Pulter’s poetry, Berecynthia was the surname of the Greek and Roman mother goddess Cybele (Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda, Iter / Center for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014, p. 369). Her brood was likely her children or her followers, known for their ecstatic celebrations.
Berecinthia and her numerous brood
28
Cruell Diana pleasd with Virgins Blood
Cruel
Gloss Note
goddess of chastity
Diana
, pleased with virgin’s blood,
Gloss Note
Diana was the Roman goddess of chastity, who was also associated with the moon (like Cynthia) and the hunt. Presumably Diana is cruel and pleased with virgin’s blood because she enjoys killing, has no interest in erotic love, and wishes to attract other virgins to follow her.
Cruell Diana pleasd with Virgins Blood
29
With wandring Ceris all these would I
Physical Note
“S” written over other letter, probably “f”
Sleight
With wand’ring
Gloss Note
goddess of agriculture
Ceres
: all these would I slight,
With wandring
Gloss Note
Ceres is the Roman goddess of agriculture, who wandered because she looked for her daughter Propserpina after Proserpina was abducted by Pluto to the underworld.
Ceris
all these would I
Gloss Note
i.e., slight, or treat with disdain
Sleight
30
And victims offer unto none but Light
And victims offer unto none but Light.
And
Gloss Note
The speaker is continuing her claim from ll. 21-22 that if she followed a heathen religion she would slight all other goddesses and only offer pagan sacrifice (or kill victims on an altar) to Aurora, or Light.
victims offer unto none but Light
31
Blew Doris, and her ffloating froathy train
Blue
Gloss Note
sea goddess and mother of water nymphs
Doris
and her floating frothy train,
Blew
Gloss Note
Doris, a Greek sea nymph, is likely blue because of her association with water; her train, or followers (the fifty Nereids, or sea nymphs, who were her daughters), would have floated and made froth behind her due to their watery habitation.
Doris, and her Floating froathy train
32
Lucothia that in Stately Thebs did Reign
Gloss Note
sea goddess
Leucothea
that in stately Thebes did reign,
Gloss Note
Leucothea was a Greek sea goddess who was the daughter of Cadmus, the first king of Thebes.
Lucothia that in Stately Thebs did Reign
33
Ises, the Cow, the Goddes, and the Maid
Gloss Note
Isis is the Egyptian fertility and mother goddess, who was wife and sister of Osiris; protector of seafarers; often depicted with cow’s horns framing a disc of the sun
Isis, the cow, the goddess, and the maid,
Critical Note
Isis is an Egyptian goddess with many roles (see the Elemental Edition). Pulter mentions the cow because Isis is often depicted wearing cow horns, and perhaps calls her “the goddess” to evoke her importance and the scope of her power. Why Pulter also calls her “the maid” is unclear, unless it is to highlight her gender and perhaps her youth.
Ises, the Cow, the Goddes, and the Maid
34
Even all that on the wavey Empire Swayed
Even all that on the
Gloss Note
the ocean
wavy empire
Gloss Note
ruled
swayed
;
Even
Gloss Note
This appears to be a general characterization of all goddesses who ruled the ocean, which the speaker then goes on to contrast with her own devotion to Aurora in the last four lines.
all that on the wavey Empire Swayed
35
Nor Should Shee Olympick Jupiter invoke
Nor should
Gloss Note
Aurora
she
Gloss Note
Olympus was the home of the gods; Jupiter was the supreme Roman deity as well as the god of light and of the heavens; here the speaker declares that if she had been a heathen, she would have built sacrificial fires so often to Aurora that Aurora would not have needed to appeal to Jupiter for redress for her lack of visible adoration (smoke).
Olympic Jupiter
Gloss Note
summon, appeal to
invoke
Nor Should
Gloss Note
i.e., Aurora
Shee
Olympick
Gloss Note
Ruler of the gods, who lives on Mount Olympus
Jupiter
invoke
36
Becauſe
Physical Note
“h” written over imperfectly erased “d”
her
Alters did noe oft^ner Smoke
Because her altars did no oft’ner smoke;
Because
Gloss Note
Aurora will not have to complain to Jupiter than she is not being worshipped enough with sacrifices being burned in her honour.
her Alters did noe oftner Smoke
37
ffor I with Incence would Soe clowd ye Skies
For I, with incense, would so cloud the skies
For
Critical Note
In this line and the next, the speaker indicates that she would, if she lived in pagan times, worship Aurora so consistently that the smoke from her own altar would cause clouds to form and would darken the eyes of Light, or Aurora, herself. Pulter tones down the brutality of the “victims” of l. 30 that are offered to heathen deities by depicting herself merely burning incense. The mention of Aurora’s shining eyes recalls the speaker’s “sad eyes” of l. 1, and suggests that she is now focused on devotion, rather than on the despondency mentioned in the opening lines of the poem. This final image of obscuring through creating the smoke of worship is a positive rewriting of the other moments of dullness in the poem: Cynthia veiling herself in a dark cloud, presumably due to shame at not being as bright as the morning (ll. 17-18), and the “glittering globes of light” drawing in their beams and rolling out of sight (ll. 19-20). But this concluding image is also somewhat odd in the speaker’s desire to dim the brightness of Aurora’s eyes, and may reveal some desire for dominance, even in this act of worship.
I with Incence would Soe clowd the Skies
38
That Should obſcure the Luster of her eyes
That
Gloss Note
it should
should
obscure the luster of her eyes.
That Should obscure the Luster of her eyes
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition

 Editorial note

This is a semi-diplomatic transcription in which original spelling and punctuation are retained, abbreviations (such as tildes) are expanded with added letters in italics (with the exception of “ye” which is rendered as “the”), “ff” is modernized to “F,” superscriptions are lowered, colons indicating abbreviations are removed, and major alterations to the text (of a word or more, not individual letters) are noted in the footnotes. The retention of original spelling and punctuation has the potential to get us closer to the choices made by the poet and scribe, but some scribal details (such as abbreviations) do not seem substantive or meaning-bearing and run the risk of alienating a modern reader.

 Headnote

Aurora, the Roman goddess of the dawn, was evidently an important figure in Pulter’s poetry, and in this poem she comes to represent divine “Light,” which the speaker cannot properly see until she is in heaven (ll. 12-14). This poem is the second of three poems with the same title, “To Aurora” (the others are To Aurora [1] [Poem 22] and To Aurora [3] [Poem 34]); Pulter also wrote two poems headed simply “Aurora” (Aurora [1] [Poem 3] and Aurora [2] [Poem 37]). In this poem the speaker addresses her desolate self, requesting that she look up to see the beautiful morning while also noting that Cynthia (the moon) and all the other planets retreat in Aurora’s presence. Pulter explains that if she had lived in a pre-Christian era and worshipped pagan divinities, she might have chosen to celebrate a number of goddesses that she goes on to list (Juno, Bellona, Venus, Derceto, Cybele, Diana, Ceres, Doris, Leucothea, and Isis). Instead, she knows that she would have chosen to celebrate Aurora, to whom she would send up so many burnt offerings that the smoke would obscure the sky. It is noteworthy that she never entertains the notion of worshipping any male gods–she only mentions Jupiter, ruler of the gods, at the end of the poem in the context of imagining Aurora being sufficiently worshipped and so not needing to complain to him. Perhaps most noteworthy of all, in this and several poems that praise Aurora and other goddesses, Pulter does not explicitly refer to the male Judaeo-Christian God, or his son, Jesus Christ. For Pulter, the concept of divine light in this poem is not primarily derived from a biblical tradition which described Christ as “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9), but is instead mediated by a feminine force. Arguably, Pulter is not mocking the idol worship of classical tradition in her references to goddesses she might have revered had she lived in a different age; in this poem and elsewhere in her work, goddesses and feminized planets seem to function as a complement to traditional Christian religious iconography.
While the poet ends up equating Aurora with light itself (ll. 12 and 30)–arguably a divine quality, or a version of God himself, rather than just the dawn of the day in classical tradition–her characterization of pagan gods and goddesses can have an element of fun in them. In My Love is Fair [Poem 59] the poet seems to mock the wooer of the poem who is convinced that his beloved surpasses a number of goddesses (for example, the speaker wonders if the cheeks of his beloved excel Aurora’s at l. 7). The speaker ends that poem by urging the lover to hop on a dolphin and woo his beloved if she is so sublime. In that poem Pulter uses Aurora to evoke the Petrarchan tradition of sensual female beauty, a discourse she also plays with in this poem in its moments of eroticism, as when she claims that Aurora’s beauty will enamour her own eyes (l. 6), and when she evokes the naked goddess Astraea, only to resolve that image into something divine (ll. 11-12).
Aurora was a character that several early modern women writers used in their poetry, depicting her appearance and significance in different ways. In her poem “The Dream,” from Mortality’s Memorandum, with a Dream Prefixed, Imaginary in Manner, Real in Matter (1621), Rachel Speght imagines her speaker sleeping at night, before “Aurora spread her glitt’ring beams / Or did with robes of light herself invest” (ll. 13-14; Women Writers in Renaissance England, edited by Randall Martin, Longman, 1997, p. 433). But when her miraculous dream vision in which she gains an education at the hands of mostly female allegorical figures is interrupted by Death killing her mother, she is jolted awake, without the gentle guidance of the dawning morning. Aemilia Lanyer also uses the image of Aurora in her dream vision poem, “The Authors Dreame to the Ladie Marie, the Countesse Dowager of Pembrooke,” one of her prefatory poems to women which precedes her poem on the Passion of Christ, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (1611). In this poem, the speaker sees Mary Sidney crowned and sitting in Honour’s chair in her mind’s eye. Bellona, goddess of war and wisdom, and Dictina or Pheobe, goddess of the moon, pay homage, but Aurora, “rising from her rosie bedde, / First blusht then wept, to see fair Phoebe grac’d” (ll. 61-62; The Poems of Aemilia Lanyer: Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, edited by Susanne Woods, Oxford UP, 1993, p. 24). Aurora tells Flora, goddess of the spring and flowers, that she will bring the sun to dull Phoebe’s beauty–“And I will give a greater light than she” (l. 70)–which Aurora achieves. Kari Boyd McBride has suggested that in this scene Lanyer is depicting a struggle for primacy between Queen Elizabeth I (Phoebe or Cynthia, a common identification for the Virgin Queen) and Queen Anne (Aurora). McBride sees Aurora’s summoning of the sun to dim Phoebe’s light as potentially a comment on James I’s power and thus by extension a suggestion that his consort’s own power is dependent on his (Kari Boyd McBride, “Sacred Celebration: The Patronage Poems,” Aemilia Lanyer: Gender, Genre, and the Canon, edited by Marshall Grossman, UP of Kentucky, 1998, pp. 60-82 [p. 82 note 33]). Another interesting use of Aurora occurs in a work by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a Hispanic writer who lived 1648-1695 and was a cloistered nun in colonial Mexico. Her dream vision poem, Primero sueño [First Dream]–like Speght’s, a depiction of the soul’s quest for knowledge–also uses the figure of Aurora. Stephanie Merrim has suggested that, in this poem, the poet “gathers the daring, transgressive female (and male) characters [such as Phaethon] into Aurora,” and allows the goddess to stand as a “model and mask” for the poetic speaker (Early Modern Women’s Writing and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Vanderbilt UP, 1999, p. 209). I am grateful Regina Buccola for suggesting these women writers as parallels to Pulter in their use of Aurora.
Line number 1

 Critical note

Pulter is addressing herself and contrasting her sadness with the dawn’s happiness. Pulter’s poetry outlines many reasons for sadness: the deaths of some of her children, the execution of Charles I, and her own exile in the country, though none of those issues are raised in this poem. Here, her yearning for heaven puts her in the pose of a supplicant, a common Christian stance, but one she complicates by populating her heaven with female figures instead of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Line number 2

 Gloss note

Aurora’s long locks of hair (“tresses”) are golden to represent the sun’s rays.
Line number 4

 Gloss note

Aurora is associated in this and the previous line with beautiful sights (sparkling gems, which suggest light reflecting off of dew) and lovely scents (fragrant or “redolent” roses, and gillyflowers or carnations).
Line number 4

 Gloss note

i.e., scent
Line number 5

 Critical note

Pulter reprises her call for her eyes to look up at the dawning day (“Look up,” l. 1).
Line number 6

 Critical note

The word “enamour” introduces Petrarchan language: Aurora is fair, she has blushing cheeks, clear eyes, curling hair, and a fair breast (ll. 7-9). But while Pulter has introduced a potentially sexualized situation, she undercuts it with the description of Aurora nursing Truth or Astraea at ll. 9-10 (see also To Astraea [Poem 23], ll. 1-4). The reader realizes that the love the speaker will feel for Aurora’s beauty is a spiritual one, and that the evocation of Aurora’s breasts is an image that fuses motherly nourishment with divine revelation. The same-sex eroticism of the female addressee becoming enamoured by a beautiful goddess is replaced by, but still potentially co-exists with, a spiritual interpretation.
Line number 7

 Critical note

Pulter uses anaphora, or the repetition of the first word in successive phrases, to emphasize Aurora’s sweetness, youth, and beauty, though the speaker insists on the spiritual quality of the goddess’s beauty.
Line number 8

 Critical note

As in the line above, a tripartite structure (in this case three adjective-noun pairings) emphasizes conventionally beautiful aspects of Aurora’s appearance.
Line number 12

 Critical note

This is another moment when Pulter is playing with erotic expectations, since a figure lying naked in another figure’s arms suggests an earthly, and potentially sinful, scene of desire. But the image brings in the abstract, divine qualities of Truth and Light, which the speaker goes on to note cannot be properly seen in this world but only in the afterlife. Again, all of these figures (Astraea, Aurora, and the addressee) are female, which raises the potential of same-sex eroticism that is discounted, at least on the surface. Instead, the image of a mother holding a child in her arms is evoked, reminding us of Pulter’s own frequent references in her poetry to being a mother, and to motherhood more generally (for example, in many of the animal examples of Why Must I Thus Forever Be Confined [Poem 57]). Several of the goddesses depicted below are also associated with their roles as mothers: Derceto, Cybele, Ceres, and Doris. Though Pulter does not mention it, in the myth, Leucothea throws herself into the sea holding her son, and Isis is, among other things, a fertility and mother goddess.
Line number 14

 Gloss note

The place depicted is heaven. Pulter frequently uses the word “involved” in her verse, meaning enfolded or enveloped.
Line number 16

 Critical note

Pulter characterizes Aurora as wearing purple robes fringed with gold, capturing the colours of dawn, but also suggesting with the phrase “never wasting” an image of eternity, which contrasts with the ever-changing sky (reminding us of the earthly and divine tension in the imagery).
Line number 17

 Critical note

The goddess Cynthia here represents the moon. Her beauty is “sickly” because the moon is pale, reflecting the sun’s light. There may also be a pun on a sickle-shaped moon (my thanks to Leah Knight for this suggestion). She wears a dark cloud as a veil, presumably because she knows her beauty is inferior to Aurora’s.
Line number 20

 Gloss note

Again, Pulter is contrasting Aurora’s brightness with other heavenly bodies.
Line number 20

 Gloss note

“To move along a surface by revolving; to roll” (OED 1b). The image is of a lightening sky that makes the planets less visible, but Pulter has given the heavenly bodies agency in their action of diminishing their beams and rolling away. They seem to agree with the speaker’s assessment of Aurora’s superiority by abasing themselves before her.
Line number 24

 Gloss note

This and the previous three lines indicate that, had the speaker been born in an earlier era in which heathen gods were worshipped, then she no doubt would have been most happy to deck out temples devoted to Aurora.
Line number 25

 Gloss note

The catalogue of all of the other goddesses the speaker would neglect in favour of Aurora begins with three Roman goddesses: Juno, queen of the goddesses and wife of Jupiter; Bellona, goddess of war; and Venus, goddess of love.
Line number 26

 Gloss note

Derceto was a Syrian goddess whose daughter Semiramis was fed by doves as an infant and was turned into a dove upon her death.
Line number 27

 Gloss note

As Alice Eardley notes in her edition of Pulter’s poetry, Berecynthia was the surname of the Greek and Roman mother goddess Cybele (Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda, Iter / Center for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014, p. 369). Her brood was likely her children or her followers, known for their ecstatic celebrations.
Line number 28

 Gloss note

Diana was the Roman goddess of chastity, who was also associated with the moon (like Cynthia) and the hunt. Presumably Diana is cruel and pleased with virgin’s blood because she enjoys killing, has no interest in erotic love, and wishes to attract other virgins to follow her.
Line number 29

 Gloss note

Ceres is the Roman goddess of agriculture, who wandered because she looked for her daughter Propserpina after Proserpina was abducted by Pluto to the underworld.
Line number 29

 Gloss note

i.e., slight, or treat with disdain
Line number 30

 Gloss note

The speaker is continuing her claim from ll. 21-22 that if she followed a heathen religion she would slight all other goddesses and only offer pagan sacrifice (or kill victims on an altar) to Aurora, or Light.
Line number 31

 Gloss note

Doris, a Greek sea nymph, is likely blue because of her association with water; her train, or followers (the fifty Nereids, or sea nymphs, who were her daughters), would have floated and made froth behind her due to their watery habitation.
Line number 32

 Gloss note

Leucothea was a Greek sea goddess who was the daughter of Cadmus, the first king of Thebes.
Line number 33

 Critical note

Isis is an Egyptian goddess with many roles (see the Elemental Edition). Pulter mentions the cow because Isis is often depicted wearing cow horns, and perhaps calls her “the goddess” to evoke her importance and the scope of her power. Why Pulter also calls her “the maid” is unclear, unless it is to highlight her gender and perhaps her youth.
Line number 34

 Gloss note

This appears to be a general characterization of all goddesses who ruled the ocean, which the speaker then goes on to contrast with her own devotion to Aurora in the last four lines.
Line number 35

 Gloss note

i.e., Aurora
Line number 35

 Gloss note

Ruler of the gods, who lives on Mount Olympus
Line number 36

 Gloss note

Aurora will not have to complain to Jupiter than she is not being worshipped enough with sacrifices being burned in her honour.
Line number 37

 Critical note

In this line and the next, the speaker indicates that she would, if she lived in pagan times, worship Aurora so consistently that the smoke from her own altar would cause clouds to form and would darken the eyes of Light, or Aurora, herself. Pulter tones down the brutality of the “victims” of l. 30 that are offered to heathen deities by depicting herself merely burning incense. The mention of Aurora’s shining eyes recalls the speaker’s “sad eyes” of l. 1, and suggests that she is now focused on devotion, rather than on the despondency mentioned in the opening lines of the poem. This final image of obscuring through creating the smoke of worship is a positive rewriting of the other moments of dullness in the poem: Cynthia veiling herself in a dark cloud, presumably due to shame at not being as bright as the morning (ll. 17-18), and the “glittering globes of light” drawing in their beams and rolling out of sight (ll. 19-20). But this concluding image is also somewhat odd in the speaker’s desire to dim the brightness of Aurora’s eyes, and may reveal some desire for dominance, even in this act of worship.
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To Aurora [2]
To Aurora [2]
To Aurora [2]
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.

— Victoria E. Burke
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.

— Victoria E. Burke
This is a semi-diplomatic transcription in which original spelling and punctuation are retained, abbreviations (such as tildes) are expanded with added letters in italics (with the exception of “ye” which is rendered as “the”), “ff” is modernized to “F,” superscriptions are lowered, colons indicating abbreviations are removed, and major alterations to the text (of a word or more, not individual letters) are noted in the footnotes. The retention of original spelling and punctuation has the potential to get us closer to the choices made by the poet and scribe, but some scribal details (such as abbreviations) do not seem substantive or meaning-bearing and run the risk of alienating a modern reader.

— Victoria E. Burke
Throughout her collection, Pulter repeatedly tests ways to poetically imagine and interpret the moment of sunrise, which usually has strong symbolic resonances in Christianity. But in this poem in which Pulter seeks consolation in the morning sky, she keeps her attention fully on a pagan mythological and female-populated world. The speaker commands her own eyes to take in the splendor of a personified goddess of the dawn, Aurora, who fills the beholder’s senses and enamors viewers. As she did in Made When I Was Not Well [Poem 51] and Tell Me No More [Poem 11], Pulter creates a radical response to the poetic convention of the blazon (a catalogue of body parts filled with comparisons). Rather than a male viewer anatomizing and eroticizing a female body, Pulter dwells on a temporal moment—sunrise—which emerges in sensuous corporeal detail, complete with curling hair, blushing cheeks, clear eyes, and fair breasts. The poem soon is filled with female goddesses: the reader is to imagine Astraea, the goddess of truth or justice, “naked in the arms of Light” (her mother Aurora); and Cynthia, goddess of the moon, hides in shame at Aurora’s superior radiant beauty, as do the other stars and planets visible only at night. In the second half of the poem, the speaker declares that she would have worshipped Aurora had she lived in pagan times, and she provides an extensive list of all the female deities she would reject (she does not imagine worshipping a male god at all). The irony of the poem’s ending lies in the fact that the rituals of worship (here, burning incense) obscure her view of the deified Aurora.

— Victoria E. Burke
Aurora, the Roman goddess of the dawn, was evidently an important figure in Pulter’s poetry, and in this poem she comes to represent divine “Light,” which the speaker cannot properly see until she is in heaven (ll. 12-14). This poem is the second of three poems with the same title, “To Aurora” (the others are To Aurora [1] [Poem 22] and To Aurora [3] [Poem 34]); Pulter also wrote two poems headed simply “Aurora” (Aurora [1] [Poem 3] and Aurora [2] [Poem 37]). In this poem the speaker addresses her desolate self, requesting that she look up to see the beautiful morning while also noting that Cynthia (the moon) and all the other planets retreat in Aurora’s presence. Pulter explains that if she had lived in a pre-Christian era and worshipped pagan divinities, she might have chosen to celebrate a number of goddesses that she goes on to list (Juno, Bellona, Venus, Derceto, Cybele, Diana, Ceres, Doris, Leucothea, and Isis). Instead, she knows that she would have chosen to celebrate Aurora, to whom she would send up so many burnt offerings that the smoke would obscure the sky. It is noteworthy that she never entertains the notion of worshipping any male gods–she only mentions Jupiter, ruler of the gods, at the end of the poem in the context of imagining Aurora being sufficiently worshipped and so not needing to complain to him. Perhaps most noteworthy of all, in this and several poems that praise Aurora and other goddesses, Pulter does not explicitly refer to the male Judaeo-Christian God, or his son, Jesus Christ. For Pulter, the concept of divine light in this poem is not primarily derived from a biblical tradition which described Christ as “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9), but is instead mediated by a feminine force. Arguably, Pulter is not mocking the idol worship of classical tradition in her references to goddesses she might have revered had she lived in a different age; in this poem and elsewhere in her work, goddesses and feminized planets seem to function as a complement to traditional Christian religious iconography.
While the poet ends up equating Aurora with light itself (ll. 12 and 30)–arguably a divine quality, or a version of God himself, rather than just the dawn of the day in classical tradition–her characterization of pagan gods and goddesses can have an element of fun in them. In My Love is Fair [Poem 59] the poet seems to mock the wooer of the poem who is convinced that his beloved surpasses a number of goddesses (for example, the speaker wonders if the cheeks of his beloved excel Aurora’s at l. 7). The speaker ends that poem by urging the lover to hop on a dolphin and woo his beloved if she is so sublime. In that poem Pulter uses Aurora to evoke the Petrarchan tradition of sensual female beauty, a discourse she also plays with in this poem in its moments of eroticism, as when she claims that Aurora’s beauty will enamour her own eyes (l. 6), and when she evokes the naked goddess Astraea, only to resolve that image into something divine (ll. 11-12).
Aurora was a character that several early modern women writers used in their poetry, depicting her appearance and significance in different ways. In her poem “The Dream,” from Mortality’s Memorandum, with a Dream Prefixed, Imaginary in Manner, Real in Matter (1621), Rachel Speght imagines her speaker sleeping at night, before “Aurora spread her glitt’ring beams / Or did with robes of light herself invest” (ll. 13-14; Women Writers in Renaissance England, edited by Randall Martin, Longman, 1997, p. 433). But when her miraculous dream vision in which she gains an education at the hands of mostly female allegorical figures is interrupted by Death killing her mother, she is jolted awake, without the gentle guidance of the dawning morning. Aemilia Lanyer also uses the image of Aurora in her dream vision poem, “The Authors Dreame to the Ladie Marie, the Countesse Dowager of Pembrooke,” one of her prefatory poems to women which precedes her poem on the Passion of Christ, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (1611). In this poem, the speaker sees Mary Sidney crowned and sitting in Honour’s chair in her mind’s eye. Bellona, goddess of war and wisdom, and Dictina or Pheobe, goddess of the moon, pay homage, but Aurora, “rising from her rosie bedde, / First blusht then wept, to see fair Phoebe grac’d” (ll. 61-62; The Poems of Aemilia Lanyer: Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, edited by Susanne Woods, Oxford UP, 1993, p. 24). Aurora tells Flora, goddess of the spring and flowers, that she will bring the sun to dull Phoebe’s beauty–“And I will give a greater light than she” (l. 70)–which Aurora achieves. Kari Boyd McBride has suggested that in this scene Lanyer is depicting a struggle for primacy between Queen Elizabeth I (Phoebe or Cynthia, a common identification for the Virgin Queen) and Queen Anne (Aurora). McBride sees Aurora’s summoning of the sun to dim Phoebe’s light as potentially a comment on James I’s power and thus by extension a suggestion that his consort’s own power is dependent on his (Kari Boyd McBride, “Sacred Celebration: The Patronage Poems,” Aemilia Lanyer: Gender, Genre, and the Canon, edited by Marshall Grossman, UP of Kentucky, 1998, pp. 60-82 [p. 82 note 33]). Another interesting use of Aurora occurs in a work by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a Hispanic writer who lived 1648-1695 and was a cloistered nun in colonial Mexico. Her dream vision poem, Primero sueño [First Dream]–like Speght’s, a depiction of the soul’s quest for knowledge–also uses the figure of Aurora. Stephanie Merrim has suggested that, in this poem, the poet “gathers the daring, transgressive female (and male) characters [such as Phaethon] into Aurora,” and allows the goddess to stand as a “model and mask” for the poetic speaker (Early Modern Women’s Writing and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Vanderbilt UP, 1999, p. 209). I am grateful Regina Buccola for suggesting these women writers as parallels to Pulter in their use of Aurora.


— Victoria E. Burke
1
Look up Sad eyes behould the Smileing Morn:
Look up, sad eyes, behold the smiling morn,
Look up Sad eyes
Critical Note
Pulter is addressing herself and contrasting her sadness with the dawn’s happiness. Pulter’s poetry outlines many reasons for sadness: the deaths of some of her children, the execution of Charles I, and her own exile in the country, though none of those issues are raised in this poem. Here, her yearning for heaven puts her in the pose of a supplicant, a common Christian stance, but one she complicates by populating her heaven with female figures instead of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
behould the Smileing Morn
:
2
How Shee her Golden treſses doth Adorn
How
Gloss Note
Aurora, goddess of dawn
she
her golden
Gloss Note
long locks of hair; braids of hair; figuratively applied to tendrils or rays of the sun
tresses
doth adorn
How Shee her Golden
Gloss Note
Aurora’s long locks of hair (“tresses”) are golden to represent the sun’s rays.
tresses
doth Adorn
3
With Sparkling Gem̄s and Roses Redolent
With sparkling gems and roses
Gloss Note
fragrant
redolent
,
With Sparkling Gemms and Roses Redolent
4
And Julyflowers, whose Aromatick Sent
And
Gloss Note
July flowers or carnations; flowers scented like cloves
gillyflowers
whose aromatic scent
And
Gloss Note
Aurora is associated in this and the previous line with beautiful sights (sparkling gems, which suggest light reflecting off of dew) and lovely scents (fragrant or “redolent” roses, and gillyflowers or carnations).
Julyflowers
, whose Aromatick
Gloss Note
i.e., scent
Sent
5
Perfumes the World, look but up and See
Perfumes the world; look but up and see!
Perfumes the World,
Critical Note
Pulter reprises her call for her eyes to look up at the dawning day (“Look up,” l. 1).
look but up
and See
6
Trust mee her bevty will inamour thee
Trust me, her beauty will enamor thee.
Trust mee her bevty will
Critical Note
The word “enamour” introduces Petrarchan language: Aurora is fair, she has blushing cheeks, clear eyes, curling hair, and a fair breast (ll. 7-9). But while Pulter has introduced a potentially sexualized situation, she undercuts it with the description of Aurora nursing Truth or Astraea at ll. 9-10 (see also To Astraea [Poem 23], ll. 1-4). The reader realizes that the love the speaker will feel for Aurora’s beauty is a spiritual one, and that the evocation of Aurora’s breasts is an image that fuses motherly nourishment with divine revelation. The same-sex eroticism of the female addressee becoming enamoured by a beautiful goddess is replaced by, but still potentially co-exists with, a spiritual interpretation.
inamour
thee
7
Shee is Soe Sweet, Soe young, soe Heavenly faire
She is so sweet, so young, so heavenly fair,
Shee is
Critical Note
Pulter uses anaphora, or the repetition of the first word in successive phrases, to emphasize Aurora’s sweetness, youth, and beauty, though the speaker insists on the spiritual quality of the goddess’s beauty.
Soe Sweet, Soe young, soe Heavenly faire
8
With blushing cheeks clear eyes, and curling Haire
With blushing cheeks, clear eyes, and curling hair.
With
Critical Note
As in the line above, a tripartite structure (in this case three adjective-noun pairings) emphasizes conventionally beautiful aspects of Aurora’s appearance.
blushing cheeks clear eyes, and curling Haire
9
View that fair breast which in her prime of Youth
View that fair breast which, in her prime of youth,
View that fair breast which in her prime of Youth
10
Gave nouriſhment unto eternall truth
Gave nourishment unto eternal
Gloss Note
Astraea, goddess of justice, whom Pulter also identifies as the goddess of truth, born from Aurora
Truth
.
Gave nourishment unto eternall truth
11
Oh that I once could See that lovly Sight
O, that I once could see that lovely sight:
Oh that I once could See that lovly Sight
12
Astrea naked in the Arms of Light
Astraea, naked in the arms of
Gloss Note
Aurora
Light
!
Critical Note
This is another moment when Pulter is playing with erotic expectations, since a figure lying naked in another figure’s arms suggests an earthly, and potentially sinful, scene of desire. But the image brings in the abstract, divine qualities of Truth and Light, which the speaker goes on to note cannot be properly seen in this world but only in the afterlife. Again, all of these figures (Astraea, Aurora, and the addressee) are female, which raises the potential of same-sex eroticism that is discounted, at least on the surface. Instead, the image of a mother holding a child in her arms is evoked, reminding us of Pulter’s own frequent references in her poetry to being a mother, and to motherhood more generally (for example, in many of the animal examples of Why Must I Thus Forever Be Confined [Poem 57]). Several of the goddesses depicted below are also associated with their roles as mothers: Derceto, Cybele, Ceres, and Doris. Though Pulter does not mention it, in the myth, Leucothea throws herself into the sea holding her son, and Isis is, among other things, a fertility and mother goddess.
Astrea naked in the Arms of Light
13
But oh I ne’re can See it till aboue
But O, I ne’er can see it, till above
But oh I ne’re can See it till aboue
14
I am involv’d in endles Joy and Love
I am
Gloss Note
entangled, encompassed
involved
in endless joy and love.
I am
Gloss Note
The place depicted is heaven. Pulter frequently uses the word “involved” in her verse, meaning enfolded or enveloped.
involv’d in endles Joy and Love
15
View then thoſe Robes w:ch doth her limbs infold
View, then, those robes which doth her limbs enfold,
View then those Robes which doth her limbs infold
16
Rich purple fring’d with
Physical Note
“er” appears crowded before next word, in different hand
never
wasting Gold
Rich purple, fringed with
Gloss Note
never-decaying
never-wasting
gold.
Rich
Critical Note
Pulter characterizes Aurora as wearing purple robes fringed with gold, capturing the colours of dawn, but also suggesting with the phrase “never wasting” an image of eternity, which contrasts with the ever-changing sky (reminding us of the earthly and divine tension in the imagery).
purple fring’d with never wasting Gold
17
Pale Cinthie doth her Sickly bevty Shrow’d
Pale
Gloss Note
Cynthia, moon goddess
Cynthie
doth her
Gloss Note
pale, feeble
sickly
beauty shroud,
Pale
Critical Note
The goddess Cynthia here represents the moon. Her beauty is “sickly” because the moon is pale, reflecting the sun’s light. There may also be a pun on a sickle-shaped moon (my thanks to Leah Knight for this suggestion). She wears a dark cloud as a veil, presumably because she knows her beauty is inferior to Aurora’s.
Cinthie doth her Sickly bevty Shrow’d
18
And for a vaile Shee wears a Sable Clowd
And for a veil
Gloss Note
Cynthia
she
wears a sable cloud;
And for a vaile Shee wears a Sable Clowd
And

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19
And all
Physical Note
“e” is superscript to the superscription
^ye
other Glittring Globes of Light
And all the other glitt’ring globes of light
And all the other Glittring Globes of Light
20
Contract their beams, and trundle out of Sight
Contract their beams and
Gloss Note
to revolve, roll
trundle
out of sight.
Contract
Gloss Note
Again, Pulter is contrasting Aurora’s brightness with other heavenly bodies.
their beams
, and
Gloss Note
“To move along a surface by revolving; to roll” (OED 1b). The image is of a lightening sky that makes the planets less visible, but Pulter has given the heavenly bodies agency in their action of diminishing their beams and rolling away. They seem to agree with the speaker’s assessment of Aurora’s superiority by abasing themselves before her.
trundle
out of Sight
21
Had I liv’d on the Multiplicity
Had I lived on the multiplicity
Had I liv’d on the Multiplicity
22
Of Heathen Gods, my chief felicity
Of heathen gods, my chief felicity
Of Heathen Gods, my chief felicity
23
Would Surely bee rich Temples to Adorn
Would surely be rich temples to adorn
Would Surely bee rich Temples to Adorn
24
Unto the Riſeing luster of the Morn
Unto the rising luster of the morn:
Unto
Gloss Note
This and the previous three lines indicate that, had the speaker been born in an earlier era in which heathen gods were worshipped, then she no doubt would have been most happy to deck out temples devoted to Aurora.
the Riseing luster of the Morn
25
Juno, Belona, and the Queen of Love
Gloss Note
Juno (chief Olympian goddess); Bellona (goddess of war); and Venus, “Queen” or goddess of love
Juno, Bellona, and the Queen of Love,
Gloss Note
The catalogue of all of the other goddesses the speaker would neglect in favour of Aurora begins with three Roman goddesses: Juno, queen of the goddesses and wife of Jupiter; Bellona, goddess of war; and Venus, goddess of love.
Juno, Belona, and the Queen of Love
26
And Shee whoſe Daughter turnd into a Dove
Gloss Note
Assyrian goddess Derceto; mother of Semiramis, queen and goddess who founded the city of Babylon, led victorious armies, and, eventually, took the form of a dove and flew away
And she whose daughter turned into a dove,
And
Gloss Note
Derceto was a Syrian goddess whose daughter Semiramis was fed by doves as an infant and was turned into a dove upon her death.
Shee whose Daughter turnd into a Dove
27
Ould Berecinthia and her numerous brood
Old
Gloss Note
surname of Cybele; mother and fertility goddess whose worshippers went into ecstatic raptures
Berecynthia
and her numerous brood,
Ould
Gloss Note
As Alice Eardley notes in her edition of Pulter’s poetry, Berecynthia was the surname of the Greek and Roman mother goddess Cybele (Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda, Iter / Center for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014, p. 369). Her brood was likely her children or her followers, known for their ecstatic celebrations.
Berecinthia and her numerous brood
28
Cruell Diana pleasd with Virgins Blood
Cruel
Gloss Note
goddess of chastity
Diana
, pleased with virgin’s blood,
Gloss Note
Diana was the Roman goddess of chastity, who was also associated with the moon (like Cynthia) and the hunt. Presumably Diana is cruel and pleased with virgin’s blood because she enjoys killing, has no interest in erotic love, and wishes to attract other virgins to follow her.
Cruell Diana pleasd with Virgins Blood
29
With wandring Ceris all these would I
Physical Note
“S” written over other letter, probably “f”
Sleight
With wand’ring
Gloss Note
goddess of agriculture
Ceres
: all these would I slight,
With wandring
Gloss Note
Ceres is the Roman goddess of agriculture, who wandered because she looked for her daughter Propserpina after Proserpina was abducted by Pluto to the underworld.
Ceris
all these would I
Gloss Note
i.e., slight, or treat with disdain
Sleight
30
And victims offer unto none but Light
And victims offer unto none but Light.
And
Gloss Note
The speaker is continuing her claim from ll. 21-22 that if she followed a heathen religion she would slight all other goddesses and only offer pagan sacrifice (or kill victims on an altar) to Aurora, or Light.
victims offer unto none but Light
31
Blew Doris, and her ffloating froathy train
Blue
Gloss Note
sea goddess and mother of water nymphs
Doris
and her floating frothy train,
Blew
Gloss Note
Doris, a Greek sea nymph, is likely blue because of her association with water; her train, or followers (the fifty Nereids, or sea nymphs, who were her daughters), would have floated and made froth behind her due to their watery habitation.
Doris, and her Floating froathy train
32
Lucothia that in Stately Thebs did Reign
Gloss Note
sea goddess
Leucothea
that in stately Thebes did reign,
Gloss Note
Leucothea was a Greek sea goddess who was the daughter of Cadmus, the first king of Thebes.
Lucothia that in Stately Thebs did Reign
33
Ises, the Cow, the Goddes, and the Maid
Gloss Note
Isis is the Egyptian fertility and mother goddess, who was wife and sister of Osiris; protector of seafarers; often depicted with cow’s horns framing a disc of the sun
Isis, the cow, the goddess, and the maid,
Critical Note
Isis is an Egyptian goddess with many roles (see the Elemental Edition). Pulter mentions the cow because Isis is often depicted wearing cow horns, and perhaps calls her “the goddess” to evoke her importance and the scope of her power. Why Pulter also calls her “the maid” is unclear, unless it is to highlight her gender and perhaps her youth.
Ises, the Cow, the Goddes, and the Maid
34
Even all that on the wavey Empire Swayed
Even all that on the
Gloss Note
the ocean
wavy empire
Gloss Note
ruled
swayed
;
Even
Gloss Note
This appears to be a general characterization of all goddesses who ruled the ocean, which the speaker then goes on to contrast with her own devotion to Aurora in the last four lines.
all that on the wavey Empire Swayed
35
Nor Should Shee Olympick Jupiter invoke
Nor should
Gloss Note
Aurora
she
Gloss Note
Olympus was the home of the gods; Jupiter was the supreme Roman deity as well as the god of light and of the heavens; here the speaker declares that if she had been a heathen, she would have built sacrificial fires so often to Aurora that Aurora would not have needed to appeal to Jupiter for redress for her lack of visible adoration (smoke).
Olympic Jupiter
Gloss Note
summon, appeal to
invoke
Nor Should
Gloss Note
i.e., Aurora
Shee
Olympick
Gloss Note
Ruler of the gods, who lives on Mount Olympus
Jupiter
invoke
36
Becauſe
Physical Note
“h” written over imperfectly erased “d”
her
Alters did noe oft^ner Smoke
Because her altars did no oft’ner smoke;
Because
Gloss Note
Aurora will not have to complain to Jupiter than she is not being worshipped enough with sacrifices being burned in her honour.
her Alters did noe oftner Smoke
37
ffor I with Incence would Soe clowd ye Skies
For I, with incense, would so cloud the skies
For
Critical Note
In this line and the next, the speaker indicates that she would, if she lived in pagan times, worship Aurora so consistently that the smoke from her own altar would cause clouds to form and would darken the eyes of Light, or Aurora, herself. Pulter tones down the brutality of the “victims” of l. 30 that are offered to heathen deities by depicting herself merely burning incense. The mention of Aurora’s shining eyes recalls the speaker’s “sad eyes” of l. 1, and suggests that she is now focused on devotion, rather than on the despondency mentioned in the opening lines of the poem. This final image of obscuring through creating the smoke of worship is a positive rewriting of the other moments of dullness in the poem: Cynthia veiling herself in a dark cloud, presumably due to shame at not being as bright as the morning (ll. 17-18), and the “glittering globes of light” drawing in their beams and rolling out of sight (ll. 19-20). But this concluding image is also somewhat odd in the speaker’s desire to dim the brightness of Aurora’s eyes, and may reveal some desire for dominance, even in this act of worship.
I with Incence would Soe clowd the Skies
38
That Should obſcure the Luster of her eyes
That
Gloss Note
it should
should
obscure the luster of her eyes.
That Should obscure the Luster of her eyes
X (Close panel) All 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.
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

This is a semi-diplomatic transcription in which original spelling and punctuation are retained, abbreviations (such as tildes) are expanded with added letters in italics (with the exception of “ye” which is rendered as “the”), “ff” is modernized to “F,” superscriptions are lowered, colons indicating abbreviations are removed, and major alterations to the text (of a word or more, not individual letters) are noted in the footnotes. The retention of original spelling and punctuation has the potential to get us closer to the choices made by the poet and scribe, but some scribal details (such as abbreviations) do not seem substantive or meaning-bearing and run the risk of alienating a modern reader.
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

Throughout her collection, Pulter repeatedly tests ways to poetically imagine and interpret the moment of sunrise, which usually has strong symbolic resonances in Christianity. But in this poem in which Pulter seeks consolation in the morning sky, she keeps her attention fully on a pagan mythological and female-populated world. The speaker commands her own eyes to take in the splendor of a personified goddess of the dawn, Aurora, who fills the beholder’s senses and enamors viewers. As she did in Made When I Was Not Well [Poem 51] and Tell Me No More [Poem 11], Pulter creates a radical response to the poetic convention of the blazon (a catalogue of body parts filled with comparisons). Rather than a male viewer anatomizing and eroticizing a female body, Pulter dwells on a temporal moment—sunrise—which emerges in sensuous corporeal detail, complete with curling hair, blushing cheeks, clear eyes, and fair breasts. The poem soon is filled with female goddesses: the reader is to imagine Astraea, the goddess of truth or justice, “naked in the arms of Light” (her mother Aurora); and Cynthia, goddess of the moon, hides in shame at Aurora’s superior radiant beauty, as do the other stars and planets visible only at night. In the second half of the poem, the speaker declares that she would have worshipped Aurora had she lived in pagan times, and she provides an extensive list of all the female deities she would reject (she does not imagine worshipping a male god at all). The irony of the poem’s ending lies in the fact that the rituals of worship (here, burning incense) obscure her view of the deified Aurora.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

Aurora, the Roman goddess of the dawn, was evidently an important figure in Pulter’s poetry, and in this poem she comes to represent divine “Light,” which the speaker cannot properly see until she is in heaven (ll. 12-14). This poem is the second of three poems with the same title, “To Aurora” (the others are To Aurora [1] [Poem 22] and To Aurora [3] [Poem 34]); Pulter also wrote two poems headed simply “Aurora” (Aurora [1] [Poem 3] and Aurora [2] [Poem 37]). In this poem the speaker addresses her desolate self, requesting that she look up to see the beautiful morning while also noting that Cynthia (the moon) and all the other planets retreat in Aurora’s presence. Pulter explains that if she had lived in a pre-Christian era and worshipped pagan divinities, she might have chosen to celebrate a number of goddesses that she goes on to list (Juno, Bellona, Venus, Derceto, Cybele, Diana, Ceres, Doris, Leucothea, and Isis). Instead, she knows that she would have chosen to celebrate Aurora, to whom she would send up so many burnt offerings that the smoke would obscure the sky. It is noteworthy that she never entertains the notion of worshipping any male gods–she only mentions Jupiter, ruler of the gods, at the end of the poem in the context of imagining Aurora being sufficiently worshipped and so not needing to complain to him. Perhaps most noteworthy of all, in this and several poems that praise Aurora and other goddesses, Pulter does not explicitly refer to the male Judaeo-Christian God, or his son, Jesus Christ. For Pulter, the concept of divine light in this poem is not primarily derived from a biblical tradition which described Christ as “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9), but is instead mediated by a feminine force. Arguably, Pulter is not mocking the idol worship of classical tradition in her references to goddesses she might have revered had she lived in a different age; in this poem and elsewhere in her work, goddesses and feminized planets seem to function as a complement to traditional Christian religious iconography.
While the poet ends up equating Aurora with light itself (ll. 12 and 30)–arguably a divine quality, or a version of God himself, rather than just the dawn of the day in classical tradition–her characterization of pagan gods and goddesses can have an element of fun in them. In My Love is Fair [Poem 59] the poet seems to mock the wooer of the poem who is convinced that his beloved surpasses a number of goddesses (for example, the speaker wonders if the cheeks of his beloved excel Aurora’s at l. 7). The speaker ends that poem by urging the lover to hop on a dolphin and woo his beloved if she is so sublime. In that poem Pulter uses Aurora to evoke the Petrarchan tradition of sensual female beauty, a discourse she also plays with in this poem in its moments of eroticism, as when she claims that Aurora’s beauty will enamour her own eyes (l. 6), and when she evokes the naked goddess Astraea, only to resolve that image into something divine (ll. 11-12).
Aurora was a character that several early modern women writers used in their poetry, depicting her appearance and significance in different ways. In her poem “The Dream,” from Mortality’s Memorandum, with a Dream Prefixed, Imaginary in Manner, Real in Matter (1621), Rachel Speght imagines her speaker sleeping at night, before “Aurora spread her glitt’ring beams / Or did with robes of light herself invest” (ll. 13-14; Women Writers in Renaissance England, edited by Randall Martin, Longman, 1997, p. 433). But when her miraculous dream vision in which she gains an education at the hands of mostly female allegorical figures is interrupted by Death killing her mother, she is jolted awake, without the gentle guidance of the dawning morning. Aemilia Lanyer also uses the image of Aurora in her dream vision poem, “The Authors Dreame to the Ladie Marie, the Countesse Dowager of Pembrooke,” one of her prefatory poems to women which precedes her poem on the Passion of Christ, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (1611). In this poem, the speaker sees Mary Sidney crowned and sitting in Honour’s chair in her mind’s eye. Bellona, goddess of war and wisdom, and Dictina or Pheobe, goddess of the moon, pay homage, but Aurora, “rising from her rosie bedde, / First blusht then wept, to see fair Phoebe grac’d” (ll. 61-62; The Poems of Aemilia Lanyer: Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, edited by Susanne Woods, Oxford UP, 1993, p. 24). Aurora tells Flora, goddess of the spring and flowers, that she will bring the sun to dull Phoebe’s beauty–“And I will give a greater light than she” (l. 70)–which Aurora achieves. Kari Boyd McBride has suggested that in this scene Lanyer is depicting a struggle for primacy between Queen Elizabeth I (Phoebe or Cynthia, a common identification for the Virgin Queen) and Queen Anne (Aurora). McBride sees Aurora’s summoning of the sun to dim Phoebe’s light as potentially a comment on James I’s power and thus by extension a suggestion that his consort’s own power is dependent on his (Kari Boyd McBride, “Sacred Celebration: The Patronage Poems,” Aemilia Lanyer: Gender, Genre, and the Canon, edited by Marshall Grossman, UP of Kentucky, 1998, pp. 60-82 [p. 82 note 33]). Another interesting use of Aurora occurs in a work by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a Hispanic writer who lived 1648-1695 and was a cloistered nun in colonial Mexico. Her dream vision poem, Primero sueño [First Dream]–like Speght’s, a depiction of the soul’s quest for knowledge–also uses the figure of Aurora. Stephanie Merrim has suggested that, in this poem, the poet “gathers the daring, transgressive female (and male) characters [such as Phaethon] into Aurora,” and allows the goddess to stand as a “model and mask” for the poetic speaker (Early Modern Women’s Writing and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Vanderbilt UP, 1999, p. 209). I am grateful Regina Buccola for suggesting these women writers as parallels to Pulter in their use of Aurora.
Amplified Edition
Line number 1

 Critical note

Pulter is addressing herself and contrasting her sadness with the dawn’s happiness. Pulter’s poetry outlines many reasons for sadness: the deaths of some of her children, the execution of Charles I, and her own exile in the country, though none of those issues are raised in this poem. Here, her yearning for heaven puts her in the pose of a supplicant, a common Christian stance, but one she complicates by populating her heaven with female figures instead of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Elemental Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

Aurora, goddess of dawn
Elemental Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

long locks of hair; braids of hair; figuratively applied to tendrils or rays of the sun
Amplified Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

Aurora’s long locks of hair (“tresses”) are golden to represent the sun’s rays.
Elemental Edition
Line number 3

 Gloss note

fragrant
Elemental Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

July flowers or carnations; flowers scented like cloves
Amplified Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

Aurora is associated in this and the previous line with beautiful sights (sparkling gems, which suggest light reflecting off of dew) and lovely scents (fragrant or “redolent” roses, and gillyflowers or carnations).
Amplified Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

i.e., scent
Amplified Edition
Line number 5

 Critical note

Pulter reprises her call for her eyes to look up at the dawning day (“Look up,” l. 1).
Amplified Edition
Line number 6

 Critical note

The word “enamour” introduces Petrarchan language: Aurora is fair, she has blushing cheeks, clear eyes, curling hair, and a fair breast (ll. 7-9). But while Pulter has introduced a potentially sexualized situation, she undercuts it with the description of Aurora nursing Truth or Astraea at ll. 9-10 (see also To Astraea [Poem 23], ll. 1-4). The reader realizes that the love the speaker will feel for Aurora’s beauty is a spiritual one, and that the evocation of Aurora’s breasts is an image that fuses motherly nourishment with divine revelation. The same-sex eroticism of the female addressee becoming enamoured by a beautiful goddess is replaced by, but still potentially co-exists with, a spiritual interpretation.
Amplified Edition
Line number 7

 Critical note

Pulter uses anaphora, or the repetition of the first word in successive phrases, to emphasize Aurora’s sweetness, youth, and beauty, though the speaker insists on the spiritual quality of the goddess’s beauty.
Amplified Edition
Line number 8

 Critical note

As in the line above, a tripartite structure (in this case three adjective-noun pairings) emphasizes conventionally beautiful aspects of Aurora’s appearance.
Elemental Edition
Line number 10

 Gloss note

Astraea, goddess of justice, whom Pulter also identifies as the goddess of truth, born from Aurora
Elemental Edition
Line number 12

 Gloss note

Aurora
Amplified Edition
Line number 12

 Critical note

This is another moment when Pulter is playing with erotic expectations, since a figure lying naked in another figure’s arms suggests an earthly, and potentially sinful, scene of desire. But the image brings in the abstract, divine qualities of Truth and Light, which the speaker goes on to note cannot be properly seen in this world but only in the afterlife. Again, all of these figures (Astraea, Aurora, and the addressee) are female, which raises the potential of same-sex eroticism that is discounted, at least on the surface. Instead, the image of a mother holding a child in her arms is evoked, reminding us of Pulter’s own frequent references in her poetry to being a mother, and to motherhood more generally (for example, in many of the animal examples of Why Must I Thus Forever Be Confined [Poem 57]). Several of the goddesses depicted below are also associated with their roles as mothers: Derceto, Cybele, Ceres, and Doris. Though Pulter does not mention it, in the myth, Leucothea throws herself into the sea holding her son, and Isis is, among other things, a fertility and mother goddess.
Elemental Edition
Line number 14

 Gloss note

entangled, encompassed
Amplified Edition
Line number 14

 Gloss note

The place depicted is heaven. Pulter frequently uses the word “involved” in her verse, meaning enfolded or enveloped.
Transcription
Line number 16

 Physical note

“er” appears crowded before next word, in different hand
Elemental Edition
Line number 16

 Gloss note

never-decaying
Amplified Edition
Line number 16

 Critical note

Pulter characterizes Aurora as wearing purple robes fringed with gold, capturing the colours of dawn, but also suggesting with the phrase “never wasting” an image of eternity, which contrasts with the ever-changing sky (reminding us of the earthly and divine tension in the imagery).
Elemental Edition
Line number 17

 Gloss note

Cynthia, moon goddess
Elemental Edition
Line number 17

 Gloss note

pale, feeble
Amplified Edition
Line number 17

 Critical note

The goddess Cynthia here represents the moon. Her beauty is “sickly” because the moon is pale, reflecting the sun’s light. There may also be a pun on a sickle-shaped moon (my thanks to Leah Knight for this suggestion). She wears a dark cloud as a veil, presumably because she knows her beauty is inferior to Aurora’s.
Elemental Edition
Line number 18

 Gloss note

Cynthia
Transcription
Line number 19

 Physical note

“e” is superscript to the superscription
Elemental Edition
Line number 20

 Gloss note

to revolve, roll
Amplified Edition
Line number 20

 Gloss note

Again, Pulter is contrasting Aurora’s brightness with other heavenly bodies.
Amplified Edition
Line number 20

 Gloss note

“To move along a surface by revolving; to roll” (OED 1b). The image is of a lightening sky that makes the planets less visible, but Pulter has given the heavenly bodies agency in their action of diminishing their beams and rolling away. They seem to agree with the speaker’s assessment of Aurora’s superiority by abasing themselves before her.
Amplified Edition
Line number 24

 Gloss note

This and the previous three lines indicate that, had the speaker been born in an earlier era in which heathen gods were worshipped, then she no doubt would have been most happy to deck out temples devoted to Aurora.
Elemental Edition
Line number 25

 Gloss note

Juno (chief Olympian goddess); Bellona (goddess of war); and Venus, “Queen” or goddess of love
Amplified Edition
Line number 25

 Gloss note

The catalogue of all of the other goddesses the speaker would neglect in favour of Aurora begins with three Roman goddesses: Juno, queen of the goddesses and wife of Jupiter; Bellona, goddess of war; and Venus, goddess of love.
Elemental Edition
Line number 26

 Gloss note

Assyrian goddess Derceto; mother of Semiramis, queen and goddess who founded the city of Babylon, led victorious armies, and, eventually, took the form of a dove and flew away
Amplified Edition
Line number 26

 Gloss note

Derceto was a Syrian goddess whose daughter Semiramis was fed by doves as an infant and was turned into a dove upon her death.
Elemental Edition
Line number 27

 Gloss note

surname of Cybele; mother and fertility goddess whose worshippers went into ecstatic raptures
Amplified Edition
Line number 27

 Gloss note

As Alice Eardley notes in her edition of Pulter’s poetry, Berecynthia was the surname of the Greek and Roman mother goddess Cybele (Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda, Iter / Center for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014, p. 369). Her brood was likely her children or her followers, known for their ecstatic celebrations.
Elemental Edition
Line number 28

 Gloss note

goddess of chastity
Amplified Edition
Line number 28

 Gloss note

Diana was the Roman goddess of chastity, who was also associated with the moon (like Cynthia) and the hunt. Presumably Diana is cruel and pleased with virgin’s blood because she enjoys killing, has no interest in erotic love, and wishes to attract other virgins to follow her.
Transcription
Line number 29

 Physical note

“S” written over other letter, probably “f”
Elemental Edition
Line number 29

 Gloss note

goddess of agriculture
Amplified Edition
Line number 29

 Gloss note

Ceres is the Roman goddess of agriculture, who wandered because she looked for her daughter Propserpina after Proserpina was abducted by Pluto to the underworld.
Amplified Edition
Line number 29

 Gloss note

i.e., slight, or treat with disdain
Amplified Edition
Line number 30

 Gloss note

The speaker is continuing her claim from ll. 21-22 that if she followed a heathen religion she would slight all other goddesses and only offer pagan sacrifice (or kill victims on an altar) to Aurora, or Light.
Elemental Edition
Line number 31

 Gloss note

sea goddess and mother of water nymphs
Amplified Edition
Line number 31

 Gloss note

Doris, a Greek sea nymph, is likely blue because of her association with water; her train, or followers (the fifty Nereids, or sea nymphs, who were her daughters), would have floated and made froth behind her due to their watery habitation.
Elemental Edition
Line number 32

 Gloss note

sea goddess
Amplified Edition
Line number 32

 Gloss note

Leucothea was a Greek sea goddess who was the daughter of Cadmus, the first king of Thebes.
Elemental Edition
Line number 33

 Gloss note

Isis is the Egyptian fertility and mother goddess, who was wife and sister of Osiris; protector of seafarers; often depicted with cow’s horns framing a disc of the sun
Amplified Edition
Line number 33

 Critical note

Isis is an Egyptian goddess with many roles (see the Elemental Edition). Pulter mentions the cow because Isis is often depicted wearing cow horns, and perhaps calls her “the goddess” to evoke her importance and the scope of her power. Why Pulter also calls her “the maid” is unclear, unless it is to highlight her gender and perhaps her youth.
Elemental Edition
Line number 34

 Gloss note

the ocean
Elemental Edition
Line number 34

 Gloss note

ruled
Amplified Edition
Line number 34

 Gloss note

This appears to be a general characterization of all goddesses who ruled the ocean, which the speaker then goes on to contrast with her own devotion to Aurora in the last four lines.
Elemental Edition
Line number 35

 Gloss note

Aurora
Elemental Edition
Line number 35

 Gloss note

Olympus was the home of the gods; Jupiter was the supreme Roman deity as well as the god of light and of the heavens; here the speaker declares that if she had been a heathen, she would have built sacrificial fires so often to Aurora that Aurora would not have needed to appeal to Jupiter for redress for her lack of visible adoration (smoke).
Elemental Edition
Line number 35

 Gloss note

summon, appeal to
Amplified Edition
Line number 35

 Gloss note

i.e., Aurora
Amplified Edition
Line number 35

 Gloss note

Ruler of the gods, who lives on Mount Olympus
Transcription
Line number 36

 Physical note

“h” written over imperfectly erased “d”
Amplified Edition
Line number 36

 Gloss note

Aurora will not have to complain to Jupiter than she is not being worshipped enough with sacrifices being burned in her honour.
Amplified Edition
Line number 37

 Critical note

In this line and the next, the speaker indicates that she would, if she lived in pagan times, worship Aurora so consistently that the smoke from her own altar would cause clouds to form and would darken the eyes of Light, or Aurora, herself. Pulter tones down the brutality of the “victims” of l. 30 that are offered to heathen deities by depicting herself merely burning incense. The mention of Aurora’s shining eyes recalls the speaker’s “sad eyes” of l. 1, and suggests that she is now focused on devotion, rather than on the despondency mentioned in the opening lines of the poem. This final image of obscuring through creating the smoke of worship is a positive rewriting of the other moments of dullness in the poem: Cynthia veiling herself in a dark cloud, presumably due to shame at not being as bright as the morning (ll. 17-18), and the “glittering globes of light” drawing in their beams and rolling out of sight (ll. 19-20). But this concluding image is also somewhat odd in the speaker’s desire to dim the brightness of Aurora’s eyes, and may reveal some desire for dominance, even in this act of worship.
Elemental Edition
Line number 38

 Gloss note

it should
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