Universal Dissolution

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Universal Dissolution

Poem 6

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 Sarah C. E. Ross.

How to cite these versions

Conventions for these editions

The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making

  • Created by Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
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Index of Poems

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X (Close panel)Notes: Transcription
Title note

 Physical note

blotted with especially large blot on “John”; blot darker on facing page

 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 7

 Physical note

or “Aquœducts”
Line number 12

 Physical note

insertion written in hand H2.
Line number 20

 Physical note

in original “virginall”, descender of “g” struck through and ascender added to make “d”, with “all” covered by “L” in “Leaves; main scribe thus changed “virginall” to “virdent” or “virdent” by inserting “t” into space before “all”; “virgin” inserted in different hand from main scribe, with either looping insertion symbol or conversion of second “i” in “virginall” to “e”
Line number 20

 Physical note

directly below “fieldemort” and “Fillimott” above its second half, both in different hand from main scribe
Line number 21

 Physical note

“a” appears added later
Line number 22

 Physical note

in left margin, in hand H2: “X tho ſhe the liveing / kill and Dead preſrve / yett can she not / from death herſelfe reſerve”; horizontal line beneath, then: “The ſypriſs that / doth mourn for / us in vaine / ſhall bee cut down /and nevar ſprowt /againe.”
Line number 31

 Physical note

“x” appears keyed to marginal note (see note 7)
Line number 45

 Physical note

Final “e” imperfectly erased.
Line number 63

 Physical note

corrected over “poiſoning”
Line number 63

 Physical note

“k” written over earlier letter (possibly “ſ”), imperfectly erased with descender visible.
Line number 81

 Physical note

end of word unclear, with apparently later addition of what looks like “a”, possibly part of malformed “n”
Line number 87

 Physical note

“e” or “ev,” scribbled out
Line number 123

 Physical note

“our” appears above “o:r” (which has superscript “r”); insertions appear to be in two hands, each different from main scribe
Line number 131

 Physical note

strike-through of complete word, starting “A” and ending “ſed”
Line number 131

 Physical note

written in hand H2
Line number 138

 Physical note

“w” possibly corrected to “t” in different hand from main scribe
Line number 143

 Physical note

imperfectly blotted “e” afterward
Line number 147

 Physical note

“ni” overwrites an unknown letter
Line number 147

 Physical note

appears crowded between surrounding words
Line number 152

 Physical note

“A” overwrites “ſt”
Line number 162

 Physical note

initial “a” scribbled out; “g” written over with “ſ”; “h” writes over another “a”, correcting “againe” to “ſhine”
Line number 173

 Physical note

corrected from “bee”
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Transcription
Transcription

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Universall diſſolution made when I was with Child of my 15th Child
Physical Note
blotted with especially large blot on “John”; blot darker on facing page
my ſonne John
I being every one thought in a Conſumption 1648
Gloss Note
entire, total, or global “dissolution,” meaning separation into constituent elements or atoms; disintegration, decomposition; liquefaction; laxity of morals; dispersion of an assembly (often political); death, termination.
Universal Dissolution
, Made When I Was with Child, of my 15th Child,
Critical Note
This is an insertion into the title, in the hand likely to be Pulter’s own. The insertion is indicated by a caret and obscured by an ink blot. Pregnant with her son John Pulter (1648-1677), one of two children who outlived Pulter.
my Son, John
, I Being, Everyone Thought, in a
Critical Note
disease associated with an abnormality of “humors” (in the physiology of the day, the four fluids determining health), resulting in extreme weight loss; later identified with tuberculosis; the act of decaying
Consumption
, 1648
Universal
Gloss Note
reduction to elements or atoms; disintegration; death
Dissolution
, Made When I Was With Child of
Critical Note
John Pulter (1648-77) was the fifteenth (and likely last) of Pulter’s children. "My Son John" is an insertion into the title, in the hand likely to be Pulter’s own. The insertion is indicated by a caret and obscured by an ink blot.
My 15th Child (My Son John)
, I Being, Everyone Thought, in a Consumption, 1648
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
My priority in editing these poems has been to modernise, and to achieve interpretative and visual clarity, in order to make the poems as accessible as possible to as wide a modern audience as is possible. Spelling is modernised, as is punctuation. Modernising the latter, in particular, often involves a significant act of editorial interpretation, but in my view this is one of the most productive areas of editorial intervention, particularly for a manuscript text such as Pulter’s where the punctuation is erratic compared to modern usage (and, indeed, compared to early modern printed texts).
Critical Note
1. See Alice Eardley, “‘I haue not time to point yr booke … which I desire you yourselfe to doe’: Editing the Form of Early Modern Manuscript Verse”, in The Work of Form: Poetics and Materiality in Early Modern Culture, ed. Ben Burton and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 162-178.
1


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
In this devotional poem, the speaker instructs her soul not to lament mortality, but to accept the eventual decay and dissolution of everything: nature, poetic fame, political power, youth, beauty, animals, civilizations, the earth, planets, and stars. In detailing how all natural and cosmological elements in the world will revert back to their “first principles” or original “cause” in the grand cycle of life, the poem provides an extensive catalogue of specific trees, plants, animals, mythological characters, ancient cities, constellations, and planets. As the title suggests, this self-reprimand—or, perhaps, self-consolation—is prompted by an illness connected with the speaker’s fifteenth pregnancy, and it does not conclude, as do many of her poems, with an affirmation of the afterlife. It seems instead focussed on the scope and scale of the unmaking of the physical world.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Pulter’s detailed title to this occasional poem indicates its context and focus. Seriously ill during her pregnancy with her fifteenth child, her son John, she addresses her own soul, fearful at the possibility of death, and reassures it by outlining the universality of “dissolution”, the death of the mortal body. Her poem progresses through an extended series of similes, comparing the end of “mortal man” to that of all other creatures and elemental things; these similes owe much to the emblematic mode of thinking that is evident in the emblem poem series later in the manuscript. For another poem written in illness during this pregnancy, see "This Was Written in 1648, When I Lay in, with my Son John" (Poem 45); and see discussion in Alice Eardley (ed.), Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter Inc. and Centre for Reformation and Restoration Studies, 2014), p. 16.
Like many of Pulter’s poems, “Universal Dissolution” is related to the mode of devotional complaint, in which the distressed, earthbound soul articulates its worldly grief and its yearning to be with God. Pulter’s manuscript contains several devotional complaints, such as "Must I Thus Ever Interdicted Be" (Poem 55). “Universal Dissolution”, however, is typical of many of Pulter’s other devotional poems in that it is not a complaint per se, but is cast as a response to the implicitly prior plaints of her own heart and soul. Thus the poem opens "My soul, why art thou sad ...?" The poem outlines a philosophical consolation for her heart and soul, illustrating through multiple examples that “all sublunary things decay” (line 108), and concluding “Then my unsettled soul be more resolved, / Seeing all this universe must be dissolved.” This stance exemplifies the devotional stoicism typical of Pulter’s poems, even as they articulate significant physical, personal, and political hardships and melancholy.
This poem contains a number of amendments in three of the main hands present in the manuscript: the scribal hand, the hand likely to be Pulter’s own, and the “antiquarian hand” (see Ross (2000), pp. 150-171 and 252-4). For this reason, the poem makes an excellent case study in the editing processes evident in the manuscript. Only substantive amendments and editorial choices are outlined in the notes below.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
My Soule why art thou ſad at the decay
My soul, why art thou sad at the decay
My soul, why art thou sad at the decay
2
Of this fraile frame this feeble houſe of clay
Of this frail
Gloss Note
here, structure, physical body, constitution, arrangement; may also signify universe, heavens, earth, or any part of it.
frame
, this feeble house of
Critical Note
body. See Isaiah 64:8: “O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter.”
clay
?
Of this frail frame, this
Critical Note
the body. See Isaiah 64:8, “O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter”.
feeble house of clay
?
3
What can be expected from the humble birth
What can be expected from the humble birth
What can be expected from the humble birth
4
Of this fraile ffabrick but to fall to Earth
Of this
Gloss Note
edifice, fabricated construction
frail fabric
, but to fall to earth?
Of this frail fabric, but to fall to earth?
5
The Cristall^bubling fountaine being by Nature led
The bubbling fountain, being by nature led,
The
Physical Note
The scribal hand has scored out “crystal” and inserted “bubbling”.
bubbling
fountain, being by nature led,
6
Will riſe noe Higher then her Criſtall head
Will
Critical Note
proverbial: “no stream can rise higher than its source” (Eardley)
rise no higher than her crystal head
;
Will rise no higher than her crystal head;
7
Though many Marble
Physical Note
or “Aquœducts”
Aquaducts
it fill
Though many marble aqueducts it fill,
Though many marble aqueducts it fill,
8
Yet in a conſtant level it runs ſtill
Yet in a constant level it runs still.
Yet in a constant level it runs still.
9
So Mortall Man even from his very birth
So mortal man, even from his very birth,
So mortal man, e’en from his very birth,
10
Runs weeping on, then creeps into the Earth
Runs weeping on, then creeps into the earth.
Runs weeping on, then creeps into the earth.
11
Thoſe gorgious flowers which the vallies Crown
Those gorgeous flowers which the valleys crown,
Those gorgeous flowers which the valleys crown,
12
That by the impartiall Siths \
Physical Note
insertion written in hand H2.
man \
are moan down
That by the impartial
Gloss Note
mower who uses a sharp blade
scytheman
are
Critical Note
See Isaiah 40:6-8: “All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever.”
mown down
:
That by the impartial
Gloss Note
“Scythes” in the scribal hand has had “man” added to it through an insertion in the hand likely to be Pulter’s own. As well as being a sharp, curved blade used to mow grass or other crops by hand, the scythe is commonly associated with Time and Death.
scytheman
are mown down,
13
Trust mee they ſeeme to hang theire heads and weep
Trust me, they seem to hang their heads and weep,
Trust me they seem to hang their heads and weep
14
Cauſe in theire ca^uſes they ſoe ſoone muſt ſleep
’Cause, in their
Gloss Note
original, formative elements
causes
, they so soon must sleep
Critical Note
“because in their causes”, with wordplay on Pulter’s distinctive use of the word “cause” in the second instance to mean the grave, connected to the elements or matter from which the body is first produced, and to which it returns in death. See OED cause n 5: the material cause is elements or matter from which a thing is produced; and the First Cause is the original cause or creator of the universe. See also lines 32, 46.
’Cause in their causes
they so soon must sleep.
15
Soe man to his first Principles must turn
So man to his
Gloss Note
origins, constituent parts, primary propositions; in alchemy, the substances composing all matter (mercury, salt, and sulfur)
first principles
must
Gloss Note
return; rotate; revolve; reverse course; become; make use of; change into
turn
,
So man to his
Gloss Note
the fundamental sources from which something proceeds, primary elements (OED I.1b and II.3b)
first principles
must turn
16
And take A Nap in Black oblivions Urn
And take a nap in black Oblivion’s urn.
And take a nap in black oblivion’s urn.
17
Triumphant Laurel whoſe unconquered bowes
Triumphant
Gloss Note
foliage of bay tree
laurel
, whose unconquered boughs
Gloss Note
In ancient Greece and Rome, bay laurel wreaths were awarded as an emblem of military victory or of distinction in poetry.
Triumphant laurel
, whose unconquered boughs
18
Encircles Poets, and the illustrious browes
Encircles poets’ and the illustrious brows
Physical Note
MS = Encircles
Encircle
poets, and the illustrious brows
19
Of Emperours: how ſoone alaſs wee ſee
Of
Critical Note
Wreaths of laurel were presented to victorious military leaders and poets in ancient Rome.
emperors
: how soon, alas, we see
Of emperors: how soon, alas, we see
20
Her
Physical Note
in original “virginall”, descender of “g” struck through and ascender added to make “d”, with “all” covered by “L” in “Leaves; main scribe thus changed “virginall” to “virdent” or “virdent” by inserting “t” into space before “all”; “virgin” inserted in different hand from main scribe, with either looping insertion symbol or conversion of second “i” in “virginall” to “e”
virgint^virginall
Leaves all
Physical Note
directly below “fieldemort” and “Fillimott” above its second half, both in different hand from main scribe
fieldemort withered ^Fillimott
to bee
Her
Physical Note
In the manuscript, various hands have inscribed this word differently so that it could be “virgin” (chaste), “virginal” (unsullied), or “verdant” (lushly green).
verdant
leaves all withered
Gloss Note
brownish or yellowish color like that of a dead leaf, from the French “feuillemorte”
filemot
to be.
Physical Note
This line contains a number of amendments. The scribe has altered “virginall leaves” to “verdant leaves”, by altering and writing over letters in the main text. In an apparent misreading of priority, the “antiquarian hand” has written “virgin” above the altered word. The antiquarian has also annotated “fieldemort”, writing “Fillimott” above it—i.e. correctly understanding the word to be “filemot”. Beneath “fieldemort”, he has written “withered”, a definition of the word.
Her
verdant leaves all
Gloss Note
the colour of a dead or faded leaf (from the French feuillemorte) (OED)
filemot
to be.
21
E’ne ſoe Mans youth and
Physical Note
“a” appears added later
beauty
doth decay
E’en so, man’s youth and beauty doth decay,
E’en so man’s youth and beauty doth decay;
22
Physical Note
in left margin, in hand H2: “X tho ſhe the liveing / kill and Dead preſrve / yett can she not / from death herſelfe reſerve”; horizontal line beneath, then: “The ſypriſs that / doth mourn for / us in vaine / ſhall bee cut down /and nevar ſprowt /againe.”
His
heat and Moisture Cooles and dries to clay
His heat and moisture cools and
Critical Note
see earlier note on ‘clay’. Heat and moisture were chief properties of the body, as understood in classical humoral physiology.
dries to clay
.
His
Gloss Note
according to early modern humoural theory, these were two of the four qualities of the humoural body
heat and moisture
cools and dries to clay.
23
The stately Cedar that aſpires ſoe High
The stately
Critical Note
associated with pride and great height. See Ezekiel 31:3-5: “Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs. The waters made him great, the deep set him up on high with her rivers running round about his plants, and sent out her little rivers unto all the trees of the field. His height was exalted above all the trees of the field.”
cedar
that aspires so high,
The stately
Critical Note
In the Bible, the cedar is associated with great stature. See, for example, Amos 2:9 and Ezekiel 31:3-5.
cedar
that aspires so high,
24
Scorning the cloudes threatning to Scale the Skie
Scorning the clouds, threat’ning to scale the sky,
Scorning the clouds, threat’ning to scale the sky,
25
ffor all her pride a kernill was her birth
For all her pride, a
Gloss Note
seed
kernel
was her birth,
For all her pride, a kernel was her birth,
26
Which Shewes at last ſhee must returne to Earth
Which shows, at last, she must return to earth.
Which shows at last she must return to earth;
27
Though she the living kill and
Critical Note
protect; keep alive, retain; cedar oil was used in ancient Egypt to embalm corpses
dead preserve
,
Physical Note
Lines 27-30 have been added, in the margin, in the hand likely to be Pulter’s own. Their position for insertion is indicated with a small “x” above “So” at the beginning of line 31.
Though
she the living kill and dead preserve,
28
Yet can she not from death herself reserve.
Yet can she not from death herself reserve.
29
The
Gloss Note
tree associated with grieving
cypress
that doth mourn for us in vain
The
Gloss Note
a tree traditionally associated with death and mourning (OED 1c).
cypress
that doth mourn for us in vain
30
Shall be cut down and never sprout again.
Shall be cut down and never sprout again.
31
Physical Note
“x” appears keyed to marginal note (see note 7)
Sxoe
Man being tide to his Creatours lawes
So man, being tied to his Creator’s laws,
So man being tied to his creator’s laws
32
Must taste of Death and Shrinke unto his cauſe.
Must taste of death and shrink unto his cause.
Must taste of death and shrink unto his
Critical Note
See note to line 14.
cause
.
33
The towering quick eyed Eagle that alone
The towering, quick-eyed eagle, that alone
The towering,
Critical Note
The eagle was said to force its young to gaze upon the sun in order to determine their worthiness. See Philemon Holland’s translation of Pliny’s Natural History, a favourite source of Pulter’s, 1.272.
quick-eyed eagle
that alone
34
Outfaces Phebus in his blazeing Throne
Gloss Note
boldly confronts, contradicts
Outfaces
Gloss Note
sun god
Phoebus
in his blazing throne,
Outfaces
Gloss Note
Greek god of the sun
Phoebus
in his blazing throne,
and

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35
And by that tryall bastard Birds diſclaime
And, by that trial,
Critical Note
According to legend, the eagle tests her young by having them look directly into the sun; those who fail are cast out of the nest.
bastard birds disclaim
,
And by that trial, bastard birds disclaim,
36
Scorning they should be honoured with her name
Scorning they should be honored with her name;
Scorning they should be honoured with her name;
37
Yet ſhee and her’s to dust must all Resolve
Yet she and hers to dust must all
Gloss Note
to dissolve or decompose; also with the connotation of bringing to a clear conclusion
resolve
,
Yet she and hers to dust must all resolve,
38
And ſad obſcuritie must them involve.
And sad obscurity must them
Gloss Note
entangle, envelop
involve
.
And sad obscurity must them involve.
39
Soe miſerable Man doth draw his breath:
So miserable man doth draw his breath
So miserable man doth draw his breath
40
Twixt hope and feare then sinks into the Earth.
Twixt hope and fear, then sinks into the earth.
’Twixt hope and fear, then sinks into the earth.
41
The Phenix on her lofty Alter lies
The phoenix on her lofty altar lies
The
Critical Note
The phoenix is a mythical bird which burns itself to ashes on an aromatic funeral pyre ignited by the sun and fanned by its own wings. The bird then rises from its own ashes to live again, but Pulter’s focus here is on the self-immolation which makes this possible. See Holland (trans.), Pliny’s Natural History, p. 271.
phoenix
on her lofty altar lies
42
And Willingly a virgin victim dies
And willingly a
Gloss Note
pure, chaste
virgin
victim dies;
And, willingly, a virgin victim dies,
43
Her Gold and purple Plums to Aſhes turns
Her gold and purple
Gloss Note
feathers
plumes
to ashes turns
Her gold and purple plumes to ashes turns
44
As in her Aromatick Pier ſhee Burnes
As in her aromatic pyre
Critical Note
the phoenix, an Egyptian bird who burned in a sacrificial fire; a new phoenix was reborn from the ashes.
she burns
.
As in her aromatic pyre she burns.
45
Soe Man that to eternitie
Physical Note
Final “e” imperfectly erased.
aſpires
So man, that to eternity aspires,
So man that to eternity aspires,
46
Conquer’d by Death into his Cauſe Retires
Conquered by death, into his cause retires.
Conquered by death, into his
Critical Note
See note to line 14.
cause
retires.
47
The ſnowey Swan upon the[?] trembling brest,
The snowy swan upon the trembling breast
The snowy
Critical Note
According to Ovid, the swan only sang once, when dying; the “swan-song” has become proverbial. For a similar image of the singing swan on the silver Thames, see “The Invitation into the Country” (Poem 2), lines 31-4; and see “The Complaint of Thames, 1647” (Poem 4), lines 100-104.
swan
upon the trembling breast
48
Of Silver Thames, how poore a time of Rest;
Of silver
Gloss Note
river in England
Thames
—how poor a time of rest
Of silver Thames, how poor a time of rest
49
Shee doth injoy, Soone droops her Milke white wings:
She doth enjoy—soon droops her milk-white wings,
She doth enjoy, soon droops her milk-white wings,
50
While ſadly Shee her Epicedium Sing’s.
While sadly she her
Gloss Note
funeral ode
epicedium
Critical Note
According to Ovid, the swan sang only once, when dying.
sings
.
While sadly she her
Gloss Note
funeral ode
epicedium
sings.
51
Soe while man Strives t’eterniſe others glory:
So while man strives
Gloss Note
immortalize
t’eternize
others’ glory,
So while man strives t’eternise others’ glory,
52
Conſpireing Death, and time, cuts of his Story.
Conspiring Death and Time cuts off
Gloss Note
life, account of life
his story
.
Conspiring Death and Time
Physical Note
MS = “cuts”
cut
off his story.
53
The Stag that trips it or’e the Laun in State:
The
Gloss Note
A male deer prances (“trips it”) in a prosperous condition (“in state”)
stag that trips it o’er the lawn in state
,
The
Critical Note
The stag is a male deer, also used by Pulter (and other royalists) to represent Charles I. See the extended simile inserted into “Upon the Death of my Dear and Lovely Daughter, Jane Pulter” (Poem 10) at lines 45-50.
stag
that trips it o’er the lawn in state,
54
Scorning the ground is Subject unto fate.
Scorning the ground, is subject unto fate.
Scorning the ground, is subject unto fate.
55
Even that brave heart which Blackmore once did hold
Even that brave
Gloss Note
deer
hart
which
Gloss Note
a valley in southern England
Blackmore
once did hold,
E’en that
Critical Note
Caesar was said to have put a collar around the neck of a deer with an inscription prohibiting its capture; it then lived to an extended age. The Vale of Blackmore, in Dorset, is where Caesar’s deer lived and was killed in some versions of the story. See Alice Eardley (ed.), Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter Inc. and Centre for Reformation and Restoration Studies, 2014), p. 67; and Michael Bath, “The Legend of Caesar’s Deer”, Medievalia et Humanistica, n.s., 9 (1979): 53-66. The best-known literary use of Caesar’s deer is in Thomas Wyatt’s sonnet, “Whoso list to hunt”.
brave hart which Blackmore once did hold
,
56
Whose Snowey neck incircled was with gold;
Whose snowy neck encircled was with gold,
Whose snowy neck encircled was with gold,
57
All Ages being deſired for Ceaſers ſake,
All ages being desired, for Caesar’s sake,
All ages being desired, for Caesar’s sake,
58
To ſpare his life when er’e they did him take:
To spare his life whene’er
Gloss Note
hunters
they
did him
Critical Note
hunters throughout the ages were “desired” (here, required) to spare the deer’s life, out of respect for Caesar; Caesar’s deer reputedly lived for centuries.
take
;
To spare his life whene’er they did him take,
59
but yet for all this Conquering Kings deſire,
But yet, for all this conquering king’s desire,
But yet for all this conquering king’s desire,
60
In teares hee did his vitall breath expire.
In tears
Gloss Note
the deer
he
did his vital breath
Critical Note
Caesar reputedly put ornamental collars on all his deer, which guaranteed their safety; Caesar’s last deer was killed in Blackmore, according to legend (Eardley); “hart” doubles for “heart” here.
expire
.
In tears he did his vital breath expire.
61
Soe Man that enter’s in’s ſad Mothers fear’s:
So man, that enters
Gloss Note
in his
in’s
sad mother’s fears,
So man that enters in’s sad mother’s fears
62
As he begins, his Exit makes in teares.
As he begins, his exit makes: in tears.
As he begins, his exit makes in tears.
63
That beast which
Physical Note
corrected over “poiſoning”
poiſoned
Waters
Physical Note
“k” written over earlier letter (possibly “ſ”), imperfectly erased with descender visible.
drink’s
with Scorn,
That beast which poisoned waters drinks with scorn,
Gloss Note
the unicorn, whose horns were believed to have the power to purify water
That beast
which poisoned waters drinks with scorn
64
Becauſe ſhee weares a Cordiall in her horne:
Because she wears a
Gloss Note
restorative medicine
cordial
in
Gloss Note
The unicorn’s horn granted it the power to purify toxic waters.
her horn
,
Because she wears a cordial in her horn,
65
ffrom putrefaction ſhee her being drew
From
Gloss Note
rottenness, decay
putrefaction
she her
Critical Note
Aristotle posited that some life forms arose spontaneously from rotting matter.
being drew
;
From putrefaction she her
Critical Note
Aristotle argued in De Generatione et Corruptione that some creatures were born spontaneously out of the putrifying bodies of others. This is another image of potential rebirth out of death; however, as with the phoenix in lines 41-4, Pulter leaves this potential only implicit.
being drew
;
66
Corruption then at least will haue his due.
Corruption, then, at
Physical Note
“least” in the manuscript
last
, will have his due.
Corruption then at least will have his due.
67
Soe Man (a las) no cure can find in Death
So man (alas) no cure can find in death,
So man (alas) no cure can find in death,
68
When he that gave it takes away his breath
When He that gave it takes away
Gloss Note
man’s
his
breath.
When he that gave it takes away his breath.
69
The King of Beasts that doth the forrest range,
The
Gloss Note
lion
king of beasts
that doth the forest range,
The
Gloss Note
lion
king of beasts
that doth the forest range,
70
And at his pleaſure doth his paſture Change:
And, at his pleasure, doth his pasture change,
And at his pleasure doth his pasture change,
and

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71
And (like our Hidra) makes his will his laws
And (like
Critical Note
here, Pulter’s view of the tyranny of the commonwealth government, derived from the multi-headed mythological water snake killed by Hercules; when one head was struck off, two shot up in its place.
our Hydra
) makes his will his laws,
And, like our
Critical Note
in Greek mythology, a many-headed monster whose heads grow again as fast as they are cut off. Pulter uses the Hydra as a figure for Cromwell and the corruption she sees as associated with his rule. See “The Invitation into the Country” (Poem 2), line 4.
Hydra
, makes his will his laws,
72
Tearing his vaſſals w:th his Cruill clawes
Tearing his
Gloss Note
subordinates, slaves
vassals
with his cruel claws,
Tearing his vassals with his cruel claws;
73
As other creatures hath his Terrour felt
As other creatures hath his terror felt,
As other creatures hath his terror felt,
74
Soe Death will doe by him as he hath dealt
So Death will do by him, as he hath dealt.
So death will do by him as he hath dealt.
75
Soe domineering Man his Trophis must
So domineering man, his
Gloss Note
victories, tokens of victory
trophies
must
So domineering man, his trophies must
76
Ere long bee read and ſeene in Nought but dust
Ere long be
Gloss Note
discerned, interpreted
read
and seen in naught but dust.
Ere long be read and seen in nought but dust.
77
That huge Laviathan that playes and sportes
That huge
Gloss Note
enormous sea creature, whale
leviathan
that plays and sports
That huge
Critical Note
aquatic animal (real or imaginary) of enormous size, frequently mentioned in Hebrew poetry; see Job 41:1-33. Pulter (as is common) conflates the leviathan and the whale. See also Pulter’s "This Vast Leviathan" (Emblem 12).
leviathan
that plays and sports
78
And makes mad Reax in Neptunes Azure courts
And
Gloss Note
undertakes pranks (“reax”) in the Roman god of water’s (“Neptune’s”) blue (“azure”) waves
makes mad reax in Neptune’s azure courts
,
And makes mad
Gloss Note
pranks, playful tricks.
rex
in
Gloss Note
Roman god of the sea.
Neptune’s
azure courts,
79
Even he whose fellow was by fates direction
E’en he, whose
Gloss Note
kin
fellow
was, by fate’s direction,
E’en he whose fellow was
Critical Note
A story from Jewish lore of two whales, male and female, castrated and pickled respectively by God to prevent them reproducing and causing widespread destruction Alice Eardley (ed.), Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter Inc. and Centre for Reformation and Restoration Studies, 2014), p. 68.).
by Fate’s direction
80
ffain’d to be powd’rd gainst the Reſurrection
Gloss Note
imagined
Feigned
to be
Critical Note
Eardley cites Jewish lore, which tells of how God sought to prevent the reproduction of whales by pickling (or powdering) the female to serve as food for the righteous in eternity; the afterlife is what surpasses the Resurrection (God’s final judgment at the end of the world).
powdered ’gainst the Resurrection
,
Gloss Note
fabled
Feigned
to be
Gloss Note
salted, pickled for future use; preserved.
powdered
Gloss Note
in preparation for.
’gainst
the resurrection,
81
That
Physical Note
end of word unclear, with apparently later addition of what looks like “a”, possibly part of malformed “n”
ſom[?]
of Pride on the forſaken Shores
That
Critical Note
See Job 41:33-34, referring to the leviathan or whale: “Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear. / He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.”
son of pride
on the forsaken shores,
That
Critical Note
the whale, described in the Bible as “a king over all the children of pride” (Job 41:34). See also Pulter’s "This Vast Leviathan" (Emblem 12), line 9.
son of Pride
on the forsaken shores,
82
Out of his Eliment his life out Rores
Out of his element, his life
Gloss Note
drowns out, throws into confusion
outroars
.
Out of his element his life
Critical Note
Pulter’s meaning here is not “outroar”, a single word meaning to roar louder than (OED v). Rather, she means that the leviathan roars his life out (and in doing so expires). For a similarly distinctive usage, see “The Invitation into the Country”, in which the Thames “her loss deplores / And to the sea her grief out roars” (Poem 2, lines 29-30); and see “The Complaint of Thames, 1647” (Poem 4), line 98: “I will roar out my grief unto the main”.
out roars
.
83
Soe Man though hee all Creatures elce tranſcend
So man, though he all creatures else transcend
So man, though he all creatures else transcend,
84
In Sighs and Groanes, (ah mee) his life must end
In sighs and groans (ah me!), his life must end.
In sighs and groans (ah me) his life must end.
85
The Swiftest Creature that’s below the Moone
The
Gloss Note
dolphin
swiftest creature
that’s below the moon,
The
Gloss Note
the dolphin
swiftest creature
that’s below the moon,
86
Which ſav’d Orions life (alas) how ſoone
Critical Note
Arion, a musician/poet in ancient Greece who was kidnapped by pirates and rescued by dolphins
Which saved Arion’s life
(alas), how soon
Which saved
Critical Note
MS = Orion’s. A Greek lyric poet and harpist, borne to safe land on a dolphin after being thrown overboard by Corinthian sailors. See Katherine Philips’s use of the Arion story to celebrate Charles II’s restoration to the monarchy, “Arion on a Dolphin, to His Majesty in his Passage into England”.
Arion’s
life, alas how
Physical Note
MS = Which saved Orion’s life (alas) how soon. In modernising the punctuation of this line, I have attached the expostulation “alas” to “how soon her race will end” rather than to “saved Arion’s life”. For alternative modernisations of the punctuation of this line, see Leah Knight and Wendy Wall’s Elemental Edition of the poem, and Alice Eardley (ed.), Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter Inc. and Centre for Reformation and Restoration Studies, 2014).
soon
87
Her Race will
Physical Note
“e” or “ev,” scribbled out
[ev]
end even in A little time
Her
Gloss Note
voyage or progress through life; contest of speed; also, species
race
will end; even in a little time
Her race will end; e’en in a little time
88
Shee must returne againe to dirt or Slime
She must return again to dirt or slime.
She must return again to dirt or slime.
89
Soe Man his Destinie can ner’e out run
So man, his destiny can ne’er outrun,
So man his destiny can ne’er outrun;
90
The cruell Parce cuts, Mans life is dun
The cruel
Gloss Note
three Fates who determine length of human lives by cutting threads
Parcae
cuts: man’s life is done.
The cruel
Gloss Note
in Roman mythology, the three Fates, usually depicted as three women who draw forth, measure out, and cut the threads of human life.
Parcae
Physical Note
MS = “cuts”
cut
, man’s life is done.
91
The little Remmora that nere will fayle
The little
Gloss Note
suckerfish that can attach to anything in the water and, in legends, could impede their movement; obstacle
remora
that ne’er will fail
The little
Critical Note
a little fish that attaches itself to the underside of ships, slowing its passage or preventing it entirely from moving (commonly used figuratively or emblematically). See the description in Holland’s translation of Pliny’s Natural History, 2.425.
remora
that ne’er will fail
92
To stop the Proudest Ship thats under Sayle
To stop the proudest ship that’s under sail,
To stop the proudest ship that’s under sail,
93
When Death doth summon her Shee must away
When Death doth summon her, she must away;
When Death doth summon her she must away;
94
ffor all her Art Shee cant make time to Stay
For all her art, she can’t make time to
Gloss Note
halt, support
stay
.
For all her art she can’t make time to stay.
95
So Man that Strives to blurr anothers fame
So man, that strives to
Gloss Note
blemish
blur
another’s fame,
So man that strives to blur another’s fame,
96
Death comes the while and blots out his own name
Death comes the
Gloss Note
meanwhile
while
and
Gloss Note
stains, disfigures in ink
blots
out his own name.
Death comes the while and blots out his own name.
thoſe

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97
Those Cittyes that the Orient kingdoomes gracest
Those cities that the
Gloss Note
eastern
orient
kingdoms
Gloss Note
honors
gracest
,
Those cities that the orient kingdoms gracest,
98
Beneath theere Ruins (Sadly) li’es defacest
Beneath their ruins (sadly) lies defacest:
Beneath their ruins, sadly, lies defacest,
99
As Ninnivie Perſepoles, the faire
Gloss Note
Such as
As
Nineveh, Persepolis the fair,
As
Gloss Note
an ancient Assyrian city founded by Nimrod (Genesis 10:11).
Nineveh
,
Gloss Note
the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire, in ancient Persia.
Persepolis
the fair,
100
And Babilon (Soe famous) all deſpaire
Critical Note
ancient towns that were destroyed; Nineveh, in Assyria (now Iraq); Perseopolis, in ancient Persia (now Iran); Babylon, in ancient Mesopotamia (now Iraq)
And Babylon
(so famous!), all despair
And
Gloss Note
ancient city on the River Euphrates, in Mesopotamia, famous for its monumental buildings and hanging gardens
Babylon
so famous, all despair
101
Of ever being Reſtored againe, and now
Of ever being restored again; and now
Of ever being restored again, and now
102
Wee ſee that all to time and fate muſt bow
We see that all to time and fate must bow.
We see that all to time and fate must bow.
103
Soe wretched Man whoſe Structure is of dust
So wretched man, whose structure is of
Critical Note
see Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
dust
,
So wretched man, whose structure is of dust,
104
After his periods past he moulder must
After his
Gloss Note
time’s
period’s
past, he
Gloss Note
disintegrate
molder
must,
After his period’s past, he moulder must,
105
And this our Globe of Earth er’e long Shall burn
And this, our globe of earth,
Gloss Note
before
ere
long shall burn,
And this our globe of earth ere long shall burn
106
And all her pomp and Pride to ^ Cinders Ashes turn
And all her pomp and pride to cinders’ ashes
Gloss Note
transform, return
turn
.
And all her pomp and pride to
Physical Note
The scribe has added “cinders” above this word; a caret indicates the insertion, but “ashes” has not been scored out, and no priority has been indicated between the two alternatives.
ashes
turn.
107
Then my impatiant Soule what cans’t thou Say
Then, my impatient soul, what canst thou say,
Then, my impatient soul, what canst thou say,
108
Seeing all Sublunary things decay
Seeing all
Gloss Note
earthly (beneath the moon), minor
sublunary
things decay?
Seeing all
Gloss Note
beneath the moon; i.e. earthly, belonging to this world
sublunary
things decay?
109
Nay mark Aurora in her youthfull pride
Nay, mark
Gloss Note
goddess of dawn
Aurora
, in her youthful pride,
Nay, mark
Gloss Note
Roman goddess of the dawn (and the subject of several poems by Pulter)
Aurora
in her youthful pride,
110
Her purple Curtains newly drawn aſide
Her purple curtains newly drawn aside,
Her purple curtains newly drawn aside,
111
As when her bleſſed Infant Shee brought forth
As when her blesséd infant she brought forth,
As when her blessed infant she brought forth,
112
The faire Astrea of unparreld worth
The fair
Critical Note
goddess of justice, whom Pulter identifies as well with truth; daughter of Aurora
Astraea
of unparalleled worth.
The fair
Gloss Note
in Roman mythology, daughter of Aurora and Astraeus, and the goddess of truth or justice.
Astraea
of
Gloss Note
unparalleled, a contraction common in Pulter’s poems.
unparalled
worth.
113
Bright is the one but brighter is the other
Bright is the one, but brighter is the other;
Bright is the one, but brighter is the other;
114
The Daughter infinitely excels the Mother
The daughter infinitely excels the mother.
The daughter infinitely excels the mother.
115
Light from mine eyes I wiſh may never part
Light from mine eyes, I wish may never part,
Light from mine eyes I wish may never part,
116
But thou Sweete Truth Shalt harbor in my heart
But thou, sweet Truth, shalt harbor in my heart.
But thou, sweet Truth, shalt harbour in my heart;
117
Yet this most glorious Creature light Soone fades
Yet this most glorious creature, Light, soon fades
Yet this most glorious creature, Light, soon fades
118
And is inveloped in nights darke Shades
And is enveloped in night’s dark shades.
And is enveloped in night’s dark shades.
119
Soe though Mans Soule’s a beame of Heavenly light
So though man’s soul’s a beam of heavenly light,
So, though man’s soul’s a beam of heavenly light,
120
Yet must his body Sleepe in Death and Night
Yet must his body sleep in death and night.
Yet must his body sleep in death and night.
121
Nay Cinthias borrowed Splendencencie Shall ceaſe
Nay,
Gloss Note
the moon’s
Cynthia’s
borrowed
Gloss Note
splendor
splendency
shall cease,
Nay,
Gloss Note
an epithet of Artemis, the Greek goddess of the moon.
Cynthia’s
Gloss Note
the moon reflects the light of the sun
borrowed splendency
shall cease,
122
And Shee Shall leave to wane and to increase
And she shall
Gloss Note
cease
leave
to wane and to increase;
And she shall
Gloss Note
cease
leave
to wane and to increase,
nor

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123
Nor shall her changes make
Physical Note
“our” appears above “o:r” (which has superscript “r”); insertions appear to be in two hands, each different from main scribe
^o:r our
Ocean Riſe
Nor shall her changes make our ocean rise
Nor shall her changes make our ocean rise
124
Or fall, or her Sad influence cloſe our eyes
Or fall, or her sad influence close our eyes.
Or fall, or her sad influence close our eyes.
125
Hers and her Brothers firery Shafts noe more
Hers and
Gloss Note
Apollo’s (the sun god’s)
her brother’s
fiery shafts no more
Gloss Note
MS = Hers. The fiery shafts of Artemis, and her brother Apollo, the Greek god of the sun
Her and her brother’s fiery shafts no more
126
Shall make poore Niobies theire loſs deplore
Shall make poor
Critical Note
siblings Apollo and Cynthia (Artemis) transformed Niobe into a weeping rock for bragging that she had more children than their mother; here, the sun and moon, which Pulter imagines as continuously spurring all grieving mothers (figuratively, “Niobes”) to mourn their losses, will disappear and no longer exert influence.
Niobes
their loss deplore.
Shall make poor
Critical Note
in Greek mythology, Artemis and Apollo punished Niobe, who had boasted of having more children than their mother, Leto. Artemis and Apollo killed Niobe’s children and transformed her into a weeping stone. Niobe became a common literary figure for a woman’s profound grief for her children. See “Upon the Death of my Dear and Lovely Daughter, Jane Pulter” (Poem 10), line 50.
Niobes
their loss deplore.
127
The glittering harbinger of Cheerfull Day
The glitt’ring
Gloss Note
forerunner
harbinger
of
Gloss Note
Aurora, goddess of dawn
cheerful day
,
The
Gloss Note
Aurora, goddess of the dawn (harbinger: one that goes before)
glittering harbinger
of cheerful day
128
That leads the Sable Empris on her way
That leads the
Gloss Note
Night
sable Empress
on her way,
That leads the
Gloss Note
night
sable empress
on her way,
129
Bearing a Torch her Ebone Coach beſide
Bearing a torch her
Gloss Note
black
ebon
coach beside,
Bearing a torch, her
Gloss Note
i.e. ebony (black)
ebon
coach beside,
130
As shee Triumphant round our Orb doth ride
As she, triumphant, round
Gloss Note
Earth
our orb
doth ride,
As she triumphant round our orb doth ride,
131
E’ne Shee
Physical Note
strike-through of complete word, starting “A” and ending “ſed”
[?]
shall bee \
Physical Note
written in hand H2
amaz’d \
and lose her way
E’en she shall be
Gloss Note
bewildered, astonished
amazed
and lose her way,
Physical Note
This line has been amended. Originally “E’en she a[..s.d] shall be, and lose her way”, the word beginning with “a” (possibly “abused”?) has been scored out, and “amazed” has been added above the line to create “E’en she shall be amazed, and lose her way”. The word “amazed” is in the hand likely to be Pulter’s own, suggesting this is an authorial amendment.
E’en
she shall be
Gloss Note
bewildered, confounded, perplexed; also terror-stricken (OED 2 and 3)
amazed
, and lose her way,
132
Not able to conduct the Night or Day
Not able to conduct the night or day.
Not able to conduct the night or day.
133
Nor Shall that Slie the^ife, Hermes, ever keepe
Nor shall that sly thief Hermes ever
Gloss Note
confine himself, remain
keep
,
Nor shall that sly thief,
Critical Note
Hermes is Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, and therefore very difficult for astronomers to see behind the “illustrious sunbeams”. Here he is depicted as playing bo-peep, a nursery game of hiding one’s face and suddenly reappearing (OED).
Hermes
, ever keep
134
Behind the illuſtrious Sun beams playing bopeep
Behind th’illustrious sun beams, playing bo peep;
Behind th’illustrious sunbeams, playing bo-peep;
135
His light shall bee obſcured noe more with light
His light shall be obscured no more with light,
His light shall be obscured no more with light,
136
But all his Knaveries Shall come in Sight
But all his
Gloss Note
mischiefs
knaveries
shall
Critical Note
Hermes, or Mercury, is both the trickster messenger god and the planet Mercury, which is hidden by the sun, seeming to play a nursery game of hide and seek.
come in sight
.
But all his
Gloss Note
trickeries
knaveries
shall come in sight.
137
The ffount and Center of all Light the Sun
The
Gloss Note
source, fountain
fount
and center of all light, the sun,
The fount and centre of all light, the sun,
138
Round whom
Physical Note
“w” possibly corrected to “t” in different hand from main scribe
whoſe
Orbs perpetually doe run
Round whom those
Gloss Note
planets
orbs
perpetually do run,
Round whom
Physical Note
Originally “whose”, the word may have been corrected, through an adjustment of the “w”, to “those” (a better word here).
those
orbs perpetually do run,
139
Shall all his influence and ^light contract
Shall all his influence and light contract,
Shall all his influence and light contract,
140
Which will Amazed Nature quite diſtract
Which will amazéd Nature quite distract.
Which will
Gloss Note
see note to line 131; or here, perhaps, lost in wonder and astonishment (OED 4)
amazèd
Nature quite distract.
141
Auſpitious Jupiter poore Mortals friend
Critical Note
Jupiter, the largest planet and supreme god in Roman pantheon, is seen, in astrology, as “auspicious” (presenting a positive omen), temperate, wise, benevolent, and concerned with law and judgement, with tacit affiliations to Christian judgement in art.
Auspicious Jupiter
, poor mortal’s friend,
Critical Note
Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system and the supreme Roman god. In astrological terms, the planet is “auspicious”, a sign that good things will happen.
Auspicious Jupiter
, poor mortals’ friend,
142
His mild Aspect to earth noe more Shall Send
His mild aspect to earth no more shall send.
His mild aspect to earth no more shall send;
143
ffierce
Physical Note
imperfectly blotted “e” afterward
Mars
his flagrant rapeire Shall put up
Fierce
Gloss Note
god of war
Mars
his
Gloss Note
blazing sword
flagrant rapier
shall put up,
Gloss Note
the planet associated with the god of war.
Fierce Mars
, his
Gloss Note
blazing, burning sword.
flagrant rapier
shall
Gloss Note
lay aside.
put up
,
144
Seing totall Nature drinks the Selfe Same cup
Seeing total Nature drinks the
Gloss Note
identical
selfsame
cup
Seeing total Nature drinks the self-same cup;
145
And that Malignant Melancholy Star
And that
Gloss Note
Saturn
malignant, melancholy star
And that
Gloss Note
Saturn, which has a long astrological association with melancholy
malignant, melancholy star
146
That to doe miſchiefe could diſcerne ſoe fare
That, to do mischief, could
Gloss Note
see, perceive
discern
so far
That, to do mischief, could discern so far
147
As sweete
Physical Note
“ni” overwrites an unknown letter
Hibernie
Where
Physical Note
appears crowded between surrounding words
I
first had life
As sweet
Gloss Note
classical name for Ireland
Hibernie
where I
Critical Note
Pulter was born outside of Dublin.
first had life
,
As sweet
Critical Note
Pulter was born in Ireland, the classical Latin name for which is Hibernia. Here, she describes Saturn as presiding over her birth even in Ireland. She frequently refers in her poetry to the influence of melancholic Saturn on her life and character. See Alice Eardley, “Saturn (whose aspects soe sads my soul)”: Lady Hester Pulter’s Feminine Melancholic Genius”, in Michael Denbo (ed.), New Ways of Looking at Old Texts, IV: Papers of the Renaissance English Text Society, 2002-2006 (Tempe, AZ: ACMRS, 2008), pp. 239-252.
Hibernie, where I first had life
,
148
Now quite destroyed by Atropus Keene Knife
Now quite destroyed by
Gloss Note
one of the three Fates’
Atropos’s
Gloss Note
sharp
keen
knife.
Now quite destroyed by
Gloss Note
one of the three Fates (or Parcae, line 90), she who cuts the thread of mortal life
Atropos’
keen knife.
ah

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149
Ah cruell stars not mee alone anoy
Ah, cruel stars, not me alone annoy,
Ah, cruel stars not me alone annoy,
150
But my poore Countrey too they must destroy
But my poor country too,
Gloss Note
the stars
they
must destroy.
But my poor country, too, they must destroy!
151
But those conjunctions too er’e long Shall ceaſe
But those
Gloss Note
alignments of the stars
conjunctions
too ere long shall cease;
But those
Gloss Note
alignments of the stars
conjunctions
, too, ere long shall cease,
152
When
Physical Note
“A” overwrites “ſt”
Alls
to Chaos turnd there will be peace
When all’s to chaos turned, there will be peace.
When all’s to chaos turned, there will be peace.
153
The Six proud Pleads Shall theire bevty hide
The six proud
Critical Note
cluster of stars in the constellation Taurus, of which only six are visible; in mythology, seven virgin followers of the goddess Artemis, whom Zeus turned into stars to protect them from the sexual advances of Orion
Pleiades
shall their beauty hide,
The
Critical Note
The Pleiades are a prominent cluster of stars in the constellation Taurus, often referred to as seven (or “the seven sisters”) even though only six are easily visible to the naked eye. These six are the “proud” (splendid, standing out) Pleiades which Pulter imagines becoming dark.
six proud Pleiads
shall their beauty hide,
154
As well as Sissiphus his baſhfull Bride
As well as Sisyphus his bashful
Critical Note
Merope, a nearly invisible star in the Pleaids (see n. 39); she hides her face for shame at having married a mortal, while all her sisters mated with gods; wife of Sisyphus, condemned eternally to push a rock up a hill and have it roll back before he reached the summit
bride
.
As well as
Critical Note
Merope, the nearly invisible star in the Pleaides (see note above), who hides her face in shame at having married a mortal (Sisyphus), while all her sisters mated with gods
Sisyphus, his bashful bride
;
155
Then Shall Orions Harpe noe Muſick make
Then shall
Critical Note
conflating Orion, a giant hunter turned into a constellation, with musician Arion (see note on Parcae)
Orion’s
harp no music make,
Then shall
Critical Note
in Greek mythology, a giant and huntsman transformed at his death into a constellation of stars. Pulter here conflates him with the Greek lyric poet and harpist Arion (see note to line 86).
Orion’s
harp no music make,
156
But ſuch as Shall the Stoutest Courage Shake
But such as shall the
Gloss Note
proudest, fiercest
stoutest
courage shake.
But such as shall the stoutest courage shake;
157
Thoſe tender hearted Siſters Shall noe more
Those
Gloss Note
the Hyades (or the “rainers”), seven nymphs who wept at the death of their brother, Hyas, so much that Zeus turned then into a constellation, which appears in rainy seasons.
tenderhearted sisters
shall no more
Those
Gloss Note
the Hyades, sisters in Greek mythology to the Pleiades and the Hesperides
tender-hearted sisters
shall no more
158
Theire brother Hilas hasty fate deplore
Their brother Hyas’s hasty fate deplore,
Critical Note
MS = Hilas. In Greek mythology, the Hyades are “the rainy ones”; they were seven nymphs who wept so much at the death of their brother, Hyas, that Zeus turned them into a constellation, which appears in rainy seasons.
Their brother Hyas’ hasty fate deplore
,
159
Sho^wreing from theire Sad eyes Such floods of Rain
Showering from their sad eyes such floods of rain
Show’ring from their sad eyes such floods of rain
160
That oft the plowmans hopes and labour’s vaine
That oft the plowman’s hopes and labor’s vain.
That oft the plowman’s hopes and
Gloss Note
i.e. labour is
labour’s
vain.
161
The Vulture that did Stop Mans high deſigne
The
Critical Note
constellation Lyra that shines from the sky and is represented as a bird, either eagle or vulture (Eardley); creature who gnawed on Prometheus’s liver
vulture
that did stop man’s high design,
The
Gloss Note
one of two northern constellations, Lyra or Aquila
vulture
that did stop man’s high design
162
Must stoope to fate and ceaſe to fly ^or
Physical Note
initial “a” scribbled out; “g” written over with “ſ”; “h” writes over another “a”, correcting “againe” to “ſhine”
[ag]ſhine
Must stoop to fate and cease to fly or shine.
Must stoop to fate and cease to fly or
Physical Note
amended from “again”, in the scribal hand
shine
,
163
And all the Gems of Ariadnas Crown
And all the gems of
Critical Note
Abandoned by Theseus, after she helped him kill the Minotaur, Ariadne is transformed by Dionysius into a constellation crowned by seven stars.
Ariadne’s crown
And all the gems of
Gloss Note
in Greek mythology, a consort of Theseus and Dionysus, who transforms here into a constellation crowned by seven stars
Ariadne’s
crown
164
Shall loſe theire (Sparkling) luster & drop down
Shall lose their sparkling luster and drop down.
Shall lose their sparkling lustre and drop down.
165
Nor Shall pale Aſaph evermore apeare
Nor shall pale
Gloss Note
comet visible every 400 years
Asoph
evermore appear
Nor shall pale
Gloss Note
a comet thought to appear every 400 years.
Asoph
Gloss Note
for all future time
evermore
appear
166
At the Revolving of fowre Hundred yeare
At the revolving of four hundred year;
At the revolving of four hundred year,
167
ffor though her abſence wee have long indur’d
For though her absence we have long endured,
For though her absence we have long endured,
168
Yet Shall Shee bee eternally obſcur’d
Yet shall she be eternally obscured.
Yet shall she be eternally obscured.
169
Bold Syrius no more Shall Shew her face
Bold
Gloss Note
Dog Star, appearing in hot summer
Sirius
no more shall show her face,
Bold
Gloss Note
the Dog Star, one of the brightest stars in the sky. In ancient times, the rising of the Dog Star was associated with the hottest, most sultry days of summer (“dog days”).
Sirius
no more shall show her face,
170
As Shee doth uſe when Phebus is in place
As she doth use when Phoebus is in place.
As she
Gloss Note
usually does
doth use
when
Gloss Note
the Greek god of the sun
Phoebus
is in place,
171
But these and all the fixed Orbs of light
But these, and all the fixéd orbs of light,
But these and all the fixèd orbs of light
172
Shall bee involv’d once more in Horred night
Shall be involved once more in horrid night.
Shall be
Gloss Note
enveloped
involved
once more in horrid night.
173
Like Robes the Elements Shall folded
Physical Note
corrected from “bee”
lie
Like robes, the
Critical Note
basic substances of which all material bodies are composed; in ancient philosophy, believed to be earth, water, air, and fire.
elements
shall folded lie
Like robes, the elements shall folded lie
174
In the vast wardrope of eternitie
In the vast wardrobe of eternity.
In the vast wardrobe of eternity.
175
Then my unſetled ſoule bee more reſolv’d
Then my unsettled soul, be more
Gloss Note
disintegrated; convinced
resolved
,
Then my unsettled soul be more resolved,
176
Se’eing all this Univerſe must be diſſolv’d.
Seeing all this universe must be
Critical Note
See first note.
dissolved
.
Seeing all this universe must be
Critical Note
See note to Title.
dissolved
.
ascending straight line
X (Close panel)Notes: Elemental Edition
Title note

 Gloss note

entire, total, or global “dissolution,” meaning separation into constituent elements or atoms; disintegration, decomposition; liquefaction; laxity of morals; dispersion of an assembly (often political); death, termination.
Title note

 Critical note

This is an insertion into the title, in the hand likely to be Pulter’s own. The insertion is indicated by a caret and obscured by an ink blot. Pregnant with her son John Pulter (1648-1677), one of two children who outlived Pulter.
Title note

 Critical note

disease associated with an abnormality of “humors” (in the physiology of the day, the four fluids determining health), resulting in extreme weight loss; later identified with tuberculosis; the act of decaying

 Editorial note

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

 Headnote

In this devotional poem, the speaker instructs her soul not to lament mortality, but to accept the eventual decay and dissolution of everything: nature, poetic fame, political power, youth, beauty, animals, civilizations, the earth, planets, and stars. In detailing how all natural and cosmological elements in the world will revert back to their “first principles” or original “cause” in the grand cycle of life, the poem provides an extensive catalogue of specific trees, plants, animals, mythological characters, ancient cities, constellations, and planets. As the title suggests, this self-reprimand—or, perhaps, self-consolation—is prompted by an illness connected with the speaker’s fifteenth pregnancy, and it does not conclude, as do many of her poems, with an affirmation of the afterlife. It seems instead focussed on the scope and scale of the unmaking of the physical world.
Line number 2

 Gloss note

here, structure, physical body, constitution, arrangement; may also signify universe, heavens, earth, or any part of it.
Line number 2

 Critical note

body. See Isaiah 64:8: “O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter.”
Line number 4

 Gloss note

edifice, fabricated construction
Line number 6

 Critical note

proverbial: “no stream can rise higher than its source” (Eardley)
Line number 12

 Gloss note

mower who uses a sharp blade
Line number 12

 Critical note

See Isaiah 40:6-8: “All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever.”
Line number 14

 Gloss note

original, formative elements
Line number 15

 Gloss note

origins, constituent parts, primary propositions; in alchemy, the substances composing all matter (mercury, salt, and sulfur)
Line number 15

 Gloss note

return; rotate; revolve; reverse course; become; make use of; change into
Line number 17

 Gloss note

foliage of bay tree
Line number 19

 Critical note

Wreaths of laurel were presented to victorious military leaders and poets in ancient Rome.
Line number 20

 Physical note

In the manuscript, various hands have inscribed this word differently so that it could be “virgin” (chaste), “virginal” (unsullied), or “verdant” (lushly green).
Line number 20

 Gloss note

brownish or yellowish color like that of a dead leaf, from the French “feuillemorte”
Line number 22

 Critical note

see earlier note on ‘clay’. Heat and moisture were chief properties of the body, as understood in classical humoral physiology.
Line number 23

 Critical note

associated with pride and great height. See Ezekiel 31:3-5: “Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs. The waters made him great, the deep set him up on high with her rivers running round about his plants, and sent out her little rivers unto all the trees of the field. His height was exalted above all the trees of the field.”
Line number 25

 Gloss note

seed
Line number 27

 Critical note

protect; keep alive, retain; cedar oil was used in ancient Egypt to embalm corpses
Line number 29

 Gloss note

tree associated with grieving
Line number 34

 Gloss note

boldly confronts, contradicts
Line number 34

 Gloss note

sun god
Line number 35

 Critical note

According to legend, the eagle tests her young by having them look directly into the sun; those who fail are cast out of the nest.
Line number 37

 Gloss note

to dissolve or decompose; also with the connotation of bringing to a clear conclusion
Line number 38

 Gloss note

entangle, envelop
Line number 42

 Gloss note

pure, chaste
Line number 43

 Gloss note

feathers
Line number 44

 Critical note

the phoenix, an Egyptian bird who burned in a sacrificial fire; a new phoenix was reborn from the ashes.
Line number 48

 Gloss note

river in England
Line number 50

 Gloss note

funeral ode
Line number 50

 Critical note

According to Ovid, the swan sang only once, when dying.
Line number 51

 Gloss note

immortalize
Line number 52

 Gloss note

life, account of life
Line number 53

 Gloss note

A male deer prances (“trips it”) in a prosperous condition (“in state”)
Line number 55

 Gloss note

deer
Line number 55

 Gloss note

a valley in southern England
Line number 58

 Gloss note

hunters
Line number 58

 Critical note

hunters throughout the ages were “desired” (here, required) to spare the deer’s life, out of respect for Caesar; Caesar’s deer reputedly lived for centuries.
Line number 60

 Gloss note

the deer
Line number 60

 Critical note

Caesar reputedly put ornamental collars on all his deer, which guaranteed their safety; Caesar’s last deer was killed in Blackmore, according to legend (Eardley); “hart” doubles for “heart” here.
Line number 61

 Gloss note

in his
Line number 64

 Gloss note

restorative medicine
Line number 64

 Gloss note

The unicorn’s horn granted it the power to purify toxic waters.
Line number 65

 Gloss note

rottenness, decay
Line number 65

 Critical note

Aristotle posited that some life forms arose spontaneously from rotting matter.
Line number 66

 Physical note

“least” in the manuscript
Line number 68

 Gloss note

man’s
Line number 69

 Gloss note

lion
Line number 71

 Critical note

here, Pulter’s view of the tyranny of the commonwealth government, derived from the multi-headed mythological water snake killed by Hercules; when one head was struck off, two shot up in its place.
Line number 72

 Gloss note

subordinates, slaves
Line number 75

 Gloss note

victories, tokens of victory
Line number 76

 Gloss note

discerned, interpreted
Line number 77

 Gloss note

enormous sea creature, whale
Line number 78

 Gloss note

undertakes pranks (“reax”) in the Roman god of water’s (“Neptune’s”) blue (“azure”) waves
Line number 79

 Gloss note

kin
Line number 80

 Gloss note

imagined
Line number 80

 Critical note

Eardley cites Jewish lore, which tells of how God sought to prevent the reproduction of whales by pickling (or powdering) the female to serve as food for the righteous in eternity; the afterlife is what surpasses the Resurrection (God’s final judgment at the end of the world).
Line number 81

 Critical note

See Job 41:33-34, referring to the leviathan or whale: “Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear. / He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.”
Line number 82

 Gloss note

drowns out, throws into confusion
Line number 85

 Gloss note

dolphin
Line number 86

 Critical note

Arion, a musician/poet in ancient Greece who was kidnapped by pirates and rescued by dolphins
Line number 87

 Gloss note

voyage or progress through life; contest of speed; also, species
Line number 90

 Gloss note

three Fates who determine length of human lives by cutting threads
Line number 91

 Gloss note

suckerfish that can attach to anything in the water and, in legends, could impede their movement; obstacle
Line number 94

 Gloss note

halt, support
Line number 95

 Gloss note

blemish
Line number 96

 Gloss note

meanwhile
Line number 96

 Gloss note

stains, disfigures in ink
Line number 97

 Gloss note

eastern
Line number 97

 Gloss note

honors
Line number 99

 Gloss note

Such as
Line number 100

 Critical note

ancient towns that were destroyed; Nineveh, in Assyria (now Iraq); Perseopolis, in ancient Persia (now Iran); Babylon, in ancient Mesopotamia (now Iraq)
Line number 103

 Critical note

see Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
Line number 104

 Gloss note

time’s
Line number 104

 Gloss note

disintegrate
Line number 105

 Gloss note

before
Line number 106

 Gloss note

transform, return
Line number 108

 Gloss note

earthly (beneath the moon), minor
Line number 109

 Gloss note

goddess of dawn
Line number 112

 Critical note

goddess of justice, whom Pulter identifies as well with truth; daughter of Aurora
Line number 121

 Gloss note

the moon’s
Line number 121

 Gloss note

splendor
Line number 122

 Gloss note

cease
Line number 125

 Gloss note

Apollo’s (the sun god’s)
Line number 126

 Critical note

siblings Apollo and Cynthia (Artemis) transformed Niobe into a weeping rock for bragging that she had more children than their mother; here, the sun and moon, which Pulter imagines as continuously spurring all grieving mothers (figuratively, “Niobes”) to mourn their losses, will disappear and no longer exert influence.
Line number 127

 Gloss note

forerunner
Line number 127

 Gloss note

Aurora, goddess of dawn
Line number 128

 Gloss note

Night
Line number 129

 Gloss note

black
Line number 130

 Gloss note

Earth
Line number 131

 Gloss note

bewildered, astonished
Line number 133

 Gloss note

confine himself, remain
Line number 136

 Gloss note

mischiefs
Line number 136

 Critical note

Hermes, or Mercury, is both the trickster messenger god and the planet Mercury, which is hidden by the sun, seeming to play a nursery game of hide and seek.
Line number 137

 Gloss note

source, fountain
Line number 138

 Gloss note

planets
Line number 141

 Critical note

Jupiter, the largest planet and supreme god in Roman pantheon, is seen, in astrology, as “auspicious” (presenting a positive omen), temperate, wise, benevolent, and concerned with law and judgement, with tacit affiliations to Christian judgement in art.
Line number 143

 Gloss note

god of war
Line number 143

 Gloss note

blazing sword
Line number 144

 Gloss note

identical
Line number 145

 Gloss note

Saturn
Line number 146

 Gloss note

see, perceive
Line number 147

 Gloss note

classical name for Ireland
Line number 147

 Critical note

Pulter was born outside of Dublin.
Line number 148

 Gloss note

one of the three Fates’
Line number 148

 Gloss note

sharp
Line number 150

 Gloss note

the stars
Line number 151

 Gloss note

alignments of the stars
Line number 153

 Critical note

cluster of stars in the constellation Taurus, of which only six are visible; in mythology, seven virgin followers of the goddess Artemis, whom Zeus turned into stars to protect them from the sexual advances of Orion
Line number 154

 Critical note

Merope, a nearly invisible star in the Pleaids (see n. 39); she hides her face for shame at having married a mortal, while all her sisters mated with gods; wife of Sisyphus, condemned eternally to push a rock up a hill and have it roll back before he reached the summit
Line number 155

 Critical note

conflating Orion, a giant hunter turned into a constellation, with musician Arion (see note on Parcae)
Line number 156

 Gloss note

proudest, fiercest
Line number 157

 Gloss note

the Hyades (or the “rainers”), seven nymphs who wept at the death of their brother, Hyas, so much that Zeus turned then into a constellation, which appears in rainy seasons.
Line number 161

 Critical note

constellation Lyra that shines from the sky and is represented as a bird, either eagle or vulture (Eardley); creature who gnawed on Prometheus’s liver
Line number 163

 Critical note

Abandoned by Theseus, after she helped him kill the Minotaur, Ariadne is transformed by Dionysius into a constellation crowned by seven stars.
Line number 165

 Gloss note

comet visible every 400 years
Line number 169

 Gloss note

Dog Star, appearing in hot summer
Line number 173

 Critical note

basic substances of which all material bodies are composed; in ancient philosophy, believed to be earth, water, air, and fire.
Line number 175

 Gloss note

disintegrated; convinced
Line number 176

 Critical note

See first note.
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X (Close panel)Elemental Edition
Elemental Edition

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
Universall diſſolution made when I was with Child of my 15th Child
Physical Note
blotted with especially large blot on “John”; blot darker on facing page
my ſonne John
I being every one thought in a Conſumption 1648
Gloss Note
entire, total, or global “dissolution,” meaning separation into constituent elements or atoms; disintegration, decomposition; liquefaction; laxity of morals; dispersion of an assembly (often political); death, termination.
Universal Dissolution
, Made When I Was with Child, of my 15th Child,
Critical Note
This is an insertion into the title, in the hand likely to be Pulter’s own. The insertion is indicated by a caret and obscured by an ink blot. Pregnant with her son John Pulter (1648-1677), one of two children who outlived Pulter.
my Son, John
, I Being, Everyone Thought, in a
Critical Note
disease associated with an abnormality of “humors” (in the physiology of the day, the four fluids determining health), resulting in extreme weight loss; later identified with tuberculosis; the act of decaying
Consumption
, 1648
Universal
Gloss Note
reduction to elements or atoms; disintegration; death
Dissolution
, Made When I Was With Child of
Critical Note
John Pulter (1648-77) was the fifteenth (and likely last) of Pulter’s children. "My Son John" is an insertion into the title, in the hand likely to be Pulter’s own. The insertion is indicated by a caret and obscured by an ink blot.
My 15th Child (My Son John)
, I Being, Everyone Thought, in a Consumption, 1648
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
My priority in editing these poems has been to modernise, and to achieve interpretative and visual clarity, in order to make the poems as accessible as possible to as wide a modern audience as is possible. Spelling is modernised, as is punctuation. Modernising the latter, in particular, often involves a significant act of editorial interpretation, but in my view this is one of the most productive areas of editorial intervention, particularly for a manuscript text such as Pulter’s where the punctuation is erratic compared to modern usage (and, indeed, compared to early modern printed texts).
Critical Note
1. See Alice Eardley, “‘I haue not time to point yr booke … which I desire you yourselfe to doe’: Editing the Form of Early Modern Manuscript Verse”, in The Work of Form: Poetics and Materiality in Early Modern Culture, ed. Ben Burton and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 162-178.
1


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
In this devotional poem, the speaker instructs her soul not to lament mortality, but to accept the eventual decay and dissolution of everything: nature, poetic fame, political power, youth, beauty, animals, civilizations, the earth, planets, and stars. In detailing how all natural and cosmological elements in the world will revert back to their “first principles” or original “cause” in the grand cycle of life, the poem provides an extensive catalogue of specific trees, plants, animals, mythological characters, ancient cities, constellations, and planets. As the title suggests, this self-reprimand—or, perhaps, self-consolation—is prompted by an illness connected with the speaker’s fifteenth pregnancy, and it does not conclude, as do many of her poems, with an affirmation of the afterlife. It seems instead focussed on the scope and scale of the unmaking of the physical world.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Pulter’s detailed title to this occasional poem indicates its context and focus. Seriously ill during her pregnancy with her fifteenth child, her son John, she addresses her own soul, fearful at the possibility of death, and reassures it by outlining the universality of “dissolution”, the death of the mortal body. Her poem progresses through an extended series of similes, comparing the end of “mortal man” to that of all other creatures and elemental things; these similes owe much to the emblematic mode of thinking that is evident in the emblem poem series later in the manuscript. For another poem written in illness during this pregnancy, see "This Was Written in 1648, When I Lay in, with my Son John" (Poem 45); and see discussion in Alice Eardley (ed.), Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter Inc. and Centre for Reformation and Restoration Studies, 2014), p. 16.
Like many of Pulter’s poems, “Universal Dissolution” is related to the mode of devotional complaint, in which the distressed, earthbound soul articulates its worldly grief and its yearning to be with God. Pulter’s manuscript contains several devotional complaints, such as "Must I Thus Ever Interdicted Be" (Poem 55). “Universal Dissolution”, however, is typical of many of Pulter’s other devotional poems in that it is not a complaint per se, but is cast as a response to the implicitly prior plaints of her own heart and soul. Thus the poem opens "My soul, why art thou sad ...?" The poem outlines a philosophical consolation for her heart and soul, illustrating through multiple examples that “all sublunary things decay” (line 108), and concluding “Then my unsettled soul be more resolved, / Seeing all this universe must be dissolved.” This stance exemplifies the devotional stoicism typical of Pulter’s poems, even as they articulate significant physical, personal, and political hardships and melancholy.
This poem contains a number of amendments in three of the main hands present in the manuscript: the scribal hand, the hand likely to be Pulter’s own, and the “antiquarian hand” (see Ross (2000), pp. 150-171 and 252-4). For this reason, the poem makes an excellent case study in the editing processes evident in the manuscript. Only substantive amendments and editorial choices are outlined in the notes below.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
My Soule why art thou ſad at the decay
My soul, why art thou sad at the decay
My soul, why art thou sad at the decay
2
Of this fraile frame this feeble houſe of clay
Of this frail
Gloss Note
here, structure, physical body, constitution, arrangement; may also signify universe, heavens, earth, or any part of it.
frame
, this feeble house of
Critical Note
body. See Isaiah 64:8: “O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter.”
clay
?
Of this frail frame, this
Critical Note
the body. See Isaiah 64:8, “O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter”.
feeble house of clay
?
3
What can be expected from the humble birth
What can be expected from the humble birth
What can be expected from the humble birth
4
Of this fraile ffabrick but to fall to Earth
Of this
Gloss Note
edifice, fabricated construction
frail fabric
, but to fall to earth?
Of this frail fabric, but to fall to earth?
5
The Cristall^bubling fountaine being by Nature led
The bubbling fountain, being by nature led,
The
Physical Note
The scribal hand has scored out “crystal” and inserted “bubbling”.
bubbling
fountain, being by nature led,
6
Will riſe noe Higher then her Criſtall head
Will
Critical Note
proverbial: “no stream can rise higher than its source” (Eardley)
rise no higher than her crystal head
;
Will rise no higher than her crystal head;
7
Though many Marble
Physical Note
or “Aquœducts”
Aquaducts
it fill
Though many marble aqueducts it fill,
Though many marble aqueducts it fill,
8
Yet in a conſtant level it runs ſtill
Yet in a constant level it runs still.
Yet in a constant level it runs still.
9
So Mortall Man even from his very birth
So mortal man, even from his very birth,
So mortal man, e’en from his very birth,
10
Runs weeping on, then creeps into the Earth
Runs weeping on, then creeps into the earth.
Runs weeping on, then creeps into the earth.
11
Thoſe gorgious flowers which the vallies Crown
Those gorgeous flowers which the valleys crown,
Those gorgeous flowers which the valleys crown,
12
That by the impartiall Siths \
Physical Note
insertion written in hand H2.
man \
are moan down
That by the impartial
Gloss Note
mower who uses a sharp blade
scytheman
are
Critical Note
See Isaiah 40:6-8: “All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever.”
mown down
:
That by the impartial
Gloss Note
“Scythes” in the scribal hand has had “man” added to it through an insertion in the hand likely to be Pulter’s own. As well as being a sharp, curved blade used to mow grass or other crops by hand, the scythe is commonly associated with Time and Death.
scytheman
are mown down,
13
Trust mee they ſeeme to hang theire heads and weep
Trust me, they seem to hang their heads and weep,
Trust me they seem to hang their heads and weep
14
Cauſe in theire ca^uſes they ſoe ſoone muſt ſleep
’Cause, in their
Gloss Note
original, formative elements
causes
, they so soon must sleep
Critical Note
“because in their causes”, with wordplay on Pulter’s distinctive use of the word “cause” in the second instance to mean the grave, connected to the elements or matter from which the body is first produced, and to which it returns in death. See OED cause n 5: the material cause is elements or matter from which a thing is produced; and the First Cause is the original cause or creator of the universe. See also lines 32, 46.
’Cause in their causes
they so soon must sleep.
15
Soe man to his first Principles must turn
So man to his
Gloss Note
origins, constituent parts, primary propositions; in alchemy, the substances composing all matter (mercury, salt, and sulfur)
first principles
must
Gloss Note
return; rotate; revolve; reverse course; become; make use of; change into
turn
,
So man to his
Gloss Note
the fundamental sources from which something proceeds, primary elements (OED I.1b and II.3b)
first principles
must turn
16
And take A Nap in Black oblivions Urn
And take a nap in black Oblivion’s urn.
And take a nap in black oblivion’s urn.
17
Triumphant Laurel whoſe unconquered bowes
Triumphant
Gloss Note
foliage of bay tree
laurel
, whose unconquered boughs
Gloss Note
In ancient Greece and Rome, bay laurel wreaths were awarded as an emblem of military victory or of distinction in poetry.
Triumphant laurel
, whose unconquered boughs
18
Encircles Poets, and the illustrious browes
Encircles poets’ and the illustrious brows
Physical Note
MS = Encircles
Encircle
poets, and the illustrious brows
19
Of Emperours: how ſoone alaſs wee ſee
Of
Critical Note
Wreaths of laurel were presented to victorious military leaders and poets in ancient Rome.
emperors
: how soon, alas, we see
Of emperors: how soon, alas, we see
20
Her
Physical Note
in original “virginall”, descender of “g” struck through and ascender added to make “d”, with “all” covered by “L” in “Leaves; main scribe thus changed “virginall” to “virdent” or “virdent” by inserting “t” into space before “all”; “virgin” inserted in different hand from main scribe, with either looping insertion symbol or conversion of second “i” in “virginall” to “e”
virgint^virginall
Leaves all
Physical Note
directly below “fieldemort” and “Fillimott” above its second half, both in different hand from main scribe
fieldemort withered ^Fillimott
to bee
Her
Physical Note
In the manuscript, various hands have inscribed this word differently so that it could be “virgin” (chaste), “virginal” (unsullied), or “verdant” (lushly green).
verdant
leaves all withered
Gloss Note
brownish or yellowish color like that of a dead leaf, from the French “feuillemorte”
filemot
to be.
Physical Note
This line contains a number of amendments. The scribe has altered “virginall leaves” to “verdant leaves”, by altering and writing over letters in the main text. In an apparent misreading of priority, the “antiquarian hand” has written “virgin” above the altered word. The antiquarian has also annotated “fieldemort”, writing “Fillimott” above it—i.e. correctly understanding the word to be “filemot”. Beneath “fieldemort”, he has written “withered”, a definition of the word.
Her
verdant leaves all
Gloss Note
the colour of a dead or faded leaf (from the French feuillemorte) (OED)
filemot
to be.
21
E’ne ſoe Mans youth and
Physical Note
“a” appears added later
beauty
doth decay
E’en so, man’s youth and beauty doth decay,
E’en so man’s youth and beauty doth decay;
22
Physical Note
in left margin, in hand H2: “X tho ſhe the liveing / kill and Dead preſrve / yett can she not / from death herſelfe reſerve”; horizontal line beneath, then: “The ſypriſs that / doth mourn for / us in vaine / ſhall bee cut down /and nevar ſprowt /againe.”
His
heat and Moisture Cooles and dries to clay
His heat and moisture cools and
Critical Note
see earlier note on ‘clay’. Heat and moisture were chief properties of the body, as understood in classical humoral physiology.
dries to clay
.
His
Gloss Note
according to early modern humoural theory, these were two of the four qualities of the humoural body
heat and moisture
cools and dries to clay.
23
The stately Cedar that aſpires ſoe High
The stately
Critical Note
associated with pride and great height. See Ezekiel 31:3-5: “Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs. The waters made him great, the deep set him up on high with her rivers running round about his plants, and sent out her little rivers unto all the trees of the field. His height was exalted above all the trees of the field.”
cedar
that aspires so high,
The stately
Critical Note
In the Bible, the cedar is associated with great stature. See, for example, Amos 2:9 and Ezekiel 31:3-5.
cedar
that aspires so high,
24
Scorning the cloudes threatning to Scale the Skie
Scorning the clouds, threat’ning to scale the sky,
Scorning the clouds, threat’ning to scale the sky,
25
ffor all her pride a kernill was her birth
For all her pride, a
Gloss Note
seed
kernel
was her birth,
For all her pride, a kernel was her birth,
26
Which Shewes at last ſhee must returne to Earth
Which shows, at last, she must return to earth.
Which shows at last she must return to earth;
27
Though she the living kill and
Critical Note
protect; keep alive, retain; cedar oil was used in ancient Egypt to embalm corpses
dead preserve
,
Physical Note
Lines 27-30 have been added, in the margin, in the hand likely to be Pulter’s own. Their position for insertion is indicated with a small “x” above “So” at the beginning of line 31.
Though
she the living kill and dead preserve,
28
Yet can she not from death herself reserve.
Yet can she not from death herself reserve.
29
The
Gloss Note
tree associated with grieving
cypress
that doth mourn for us in vain
The
Gloss Note
a tree traditionally associated with death and mourning (OED 1c).
cypress
that doth mourn for us in vain
30
Shall be cut down and never sprout again.
Shall be cut down and never sprout again.
31
Physical Note
“x” appears keyed to marginal note (see note 7)
Sxoe
Man being tide to his Creatours lawes
So man, being tied to his Creator’s laws,
So man being tied to his creator’s laws
32
Must taste of Death and Shrinke unto his cauſe.
Must taste of death and shrink unto his cause.
Must taste of death and shrink unto his
Critical Note
See note to line 14.
cause
.
33
The towering quick eyed Eagle that alone
The towering, quick-eyed eagle, that alone
The towering,
Critical Note
The eagle was said to force its young to gaze upon the sun in order to determine their worthiness. See Philemon Holland’s translation of Pliny’s Natural History, a favourite source of Pulter’s, 1.272.
quick-eyed eagle
that alone
34
Outfaces Phebus in his blazeing Throne
Gloss Note
boldly confronts, contradicts
Outfaces
Gloss Note
sun god
Phoebus
in his blazing throne,
Outfaces
Gloss Note
Greek god of the sun
Phoebus
in his blazing throne,
and

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35
And by that tryall bastard Birds diſclaime
And, by that trial,
Critical Note
According to legend, the eagle tests her young by having them look directly into the sun; those who fail are cast out of the nest.
bastard birds disclaim
,
And by that trial, bastard birds disclaim,
36
Scorning they should be honoured with her name
Scorning they should be honored with her name;
Scorning they should be honoured with her name;
37
Yet ſhee and her’s to dust must all Resolve
Yet she and hers to dust must all
Gloss Note
to dissolve or decompose; also with the connotation of bringing to a clear conclusion
resolve
,
Yet she and hers to dust must all resolve,
38
And ſad obſcuritie must them involve.
And sad obscurity must them
Gloss Note
entangle, envelop
involve
.
And sad obscurity must them involve.
39
Soe miſerable Man doth draw his breath:
So miserable man doth draw his breath
So miserable man doth draw his breath
40
Twixt hope and feare then sinks into the Earth.
Twixt hope and fear, then sinks into the earth.
’Twixt hope and fear, then sinks into the earth.
41
The Phenix on her lofty Alter lies
The phoenix on her lofty altar lies
The
Critical Note
The phoenix is a mythical bird which burns itself to ashes on an aromatic funeral pyre ignited by the sun and fanned by its own wings. The bird then rises from its own ashes to live again, but Pulter’s focus here is on the self-immolation which makes this possible. See Holland (trans.), Pliny’s Natural History, p. 271.
phoenix
on her lofty altar lies
42
And Willingly a virgin victim dies
And willingly a
Gloss Note
pure, chaste
virgin
victim dies;
And, willingly, a virgin victim dies,
43
Her Gold and purple Plums to Aſhes turns
Her gold and purple
Gloss Note
feathers
plumes
to ashes turns
Her gold and purple plumes to ashes turns
44
As in her Aromatick Pier ſhee Burnes
As in her aromatic pyre
Critical Note
the phoenix, an Egyptian bird who burned in a sacrificial fire; a new phoenix was reborn from the ashes.
she burns
.
As in her aromatic pyre she burns.
45
Soe Man that to eternitie
Physical Note
Final “e” imperfectly erased.
aſpires
So man, that to eternity aspires,
So man that to eternity aspires,
46
Conquer’d by Death into his Cauſe Retires
Conquered by death, into his cause retires.
Conquered by death, into his
Critical Note
See note to line 14.
cause
retires.
47
The ſnowey Swan upon the[?] trembling brest,
The snowy swan upon the trembling breast
The snowy
Critical Note
According to Ovid, the swan only sang once, when dying; the “swan-song” has become proverbial. For a similar image of the singing swan on the silver Thames, see “The Invitation into the Country” (Poem 2), lines 31-4; and see “The Complaint of Thames, 1647” (Poem 4), lines 100-104.
swan
upon the trembling breast
48
Of Silver Thames, how poore a time of Rest;
Of silver
Gloss Note
river in England
Thames
—how poor a time of rest
Of silver Thames, how poor a time of rest
49
Shee doth injoy, Soone droops her Milke white wings:
She doth enjoy—soon droops her milk-white wings,
She doth enjoy, soon droops her milk-white wings,
50
While ſadly Shee her Epicedium Sing’s.
While sadly she her
Gloss Note
funeral ode
epicedium
Critical Note
According to Ovid, the swan sang only once, when dying.
sings
.
While sadly she her
Gloss Note
funeral ode
epicedium
sings.
51
Soe while man Strives t’eterniſe others glory:
So while man strives
Gloss Note
immortalize
t’eternize
others’ glory,
So while man strives t’eternise others’ glory,
52
Conſpireing Death, and time, cuts of his Story.
Conspiring Death and Time cuts off
Gloss Note
life, account of life
his story
.
Conspiring Death and Time
Physical Note
MS = “cuts”
cut
off his story.
53
The Stag that trips it or’e the Laun in State:
The
Gloss Note
A male deer prances (“trips it”) in a prosperous condition (“in state”)
stag that trips it o’er the lawn in state
,
The
Critical Note
The stag is a male deer, also used by Pulter (and other royalists) to represent Charles I. See the extended simile inserted into “Upon the Death of my Dear and Lovely Daughter, Jane Pulter” (Poem 10) at lines 45-50.
stag
that trips it o’er the lawn in state,
54
Scorning the ground is Subject unto fate.
Scorning the ground, is subject unto fate.
Scorning the ground, is subject unto fate.
55
Even that brave heart which Blackmore once did hold
Even that brave
Gloss Note
deer
hart
which
Gloss Note
a valley in southern England
Blackmore
once did hold,
E’en that
Critical Note
Caesar was said to have put a collar around the neck of a deer with an inscription prohibiting its capture; it then lived to an extended age. The Vale of Blackmore, in Dorset, is where Caesar’s deer lived and was killed in some versions of the story. See Alice Eardley (ed.), Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter Inc. and Centre for Reformation and Restoration Studies, 2014), p. 67; and Michael Bath, “The Legend of Caesar’s Deer”, Medievalia et Humanistica, n.s., 9 (1979): 53-66. The best-known literary use of Caesar’s deer is in Thomas Wyatt’s sonnet, “Whoso list to hunt”.
brave hart which Blackmore once did hold
,
56
Whose Snowey neck incircled was with gold;
Whose snowy neck encircled was with gold,
Whose snowy neck encircled was with gold,
57
All Ages being deſired for Ceaſers ſake,
All ages being desired, for Caesar’s sake,
All ages being desired, for Caesar’s sake,
58
To ſpare his life when er’e they did him take:
To spare his life whene’er
Gloss Note
hunters
they
did him
Critical Note
hunters throughout the ages were “desired” (here, required) to spare the deer’s life, out of respect for Caesar; Caesar’s deer reputedly lived for centuries.
take
;
To spare his life whene’er they did him take,
59
but yet for all this Conquering Kings deſire,
But yet, for all this conquering king’s desire,
But yet for all this conquering king’s desire,
60
In teares hee did his vitall breath expire.
In tears
Gloss Note
the deer
he
did his vital breath
Critical Note
Caesar reputedly put ornamental collars on all his deer, which guaranteed their safety; Caesar’s last deer was killed in Blackmore, according to legend (Eardley); “hart” doubles for “heart” here.
expire
.
In tears he did his vital breath expire.
61
Soe Man that enter’s in’s ſad Mothers fear’s:
So man, that enters
Gloss Note
in his
in’s
sad mother’s fears,
So man that enters in’s sad mother’s fears
62
As he begins, his Exit makes in teares.
As he begins, his exit makes: in tears.
As he begins, his exit makes in tears.
63
That beast which
Physical Note
corrected over “poiſoning”
poiſoned
Waters
Physical Note
“k” written over earlier letter (possibly “ſ”), imperfectly erased with descender visible.
drink’s
with Scorn,
That beast which poisoned waters drinks with scorn,
Gloss Note
the unicorn, whose horns were believed to have the power to purify water
That beast
which poisoned waters drinks with scorn
64
Becauſe ſhee weares a Cordiall in her horne:
Because she wears a
Gloss Note
restorative medicine
cordial
in
Gloss Note
The unicorn’s horn granted it the power to purify toxic waters.
her horn
,
Because she wears a cordial in her horn,
65
ffrom putrefaction ſhee her being drew
From
Gloss Note
rottenness, decay
putrefaction
she her
Critical Note
Aristotle posited that some life forms arose spontaneously from rotting matter.
being drew
;
From putrefaction she her
Critical Note
Aristotle argued in De Generatione et Corruptione that some creatures were born spontaneously out of the putrifying bodies of others. This is another image of potential rebirth out of death; however, as with the phoenix in lines 41-4, Pulter leaves this potential only implicit.
being drew
;
66
Corruption then at least will haue his due.
Corruption, then, at
Physical Note
“least” in the manuscript
last
, will have his due.
Corruption then at least will have his due.
67
Soe Man (a las) no cure can find in Death
So man (alas) no cure can find in death,
So man (alas) no cure can find in death,
68
When he that gave it takes away his breath
When He that gave it takes away
Gloss Note
man’s
his
breath.
When he that gave it takes away his breath.
69
The King of Beasts that doth the forrest range,
The
Gloss Note
lion
king of beasts
that doth the forest range,
The
Gloss Note
lion
king of beasts
that doth the forest range,
70
And at his pleaſure doth his paſture Change:
And, at his pleasure, doth his pasture change,
And at his pleasure doth his pasture change,
and

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71
And (like our Hidra) makes his will his laws
And (like
Critical Note
here, Pulter’s view of the tyranny of the commonwealth government, derived from the multi-headed mythological water snake killed by Hercules; when one head was struck off, two shot up in its place.
our Hydra
) makes his will his laws,
And, like our
Critical Note
in Greek mythology, a many-headed monster whose heads grow again as fast as they are cut off. Pulter uses the Hydra as a figure for Cromwell and the corruption she sees as associated with his rule. See “The Invitation into the Country” (Poem 2), line 4.
Hydra
, makes his will his laws,
72
Tearing his vaſſals w:th his Cruill clawes
Tearing his
Gloss Note
subordinates, slaves
vassals
with his cruel claws,
Tearing his vassals with his cruel claws;
73
As other creatures hath his Terrour felt
As other creatures hath his terror felt,
As other creatures hath his terror felt,
74
Soe Death will doe by him as he hath dealt
So Death will do by him, as he hath dealt.
So death will do by him as he hath dealt.
75
Soe domineering Man his Trophis must
So domineering man, his
Gloss Note
victories, tokens of victory
trophies
must
So domineering man, his trophies must
76
Ere long bee read and ſeene in Nought but dust
Ere long be
Gloss Note
discerned, interpreted
read
and seen in naught but dust.
Ere long be read and seen in nought but dust.
77
That huge Laviathan that playes and sportes
That huge
Gloss Note
enormous sea creature, whale
leviathan
that plays and sports
That huge
Critical Note
aquatic animal (real or imaginary) of enormous size, frequently mentioned in Hebrew poetry; see Job 41:1-33. Pulter (as is common) conflates the leviathan and the whale. See also Pulter’s "This Vast Leviathan" (Emblem 12).
leviathan
that plays and sports
78
And makes mad Reax in Neptunes Azure courts
And
Gloss Note
undertakes pranks (“reax”) in the Roman god of water’s (“Neptune’s”) blue (“azure”) waves
makes mad reax in Neptune’s azure courts
,
And makes mad
Gloss Note
pranks, playful tricks.
rex
in
Gloss Note
Roman god of the sea.
Neptune’s
azure courts,
79
Even he whose fellow was by fates direction
E’en he, whose
Gloss Note
kin
fellow
was, by fate’s direction,
E’en he whose fellow was
Critical Note
A story from Jewish lore of two whales, male and female, castrated and pickled respectively by God to prevent them reproducing and causing widespread destruction Alice Eardley (ed.), Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter Inc. and Centre for Reformation and Restoration Studies, 2014), p. 68.).
by Fate’s direction
80
ffain’d to be powd’rd gainst the Reſurrection
Gloss Note
imagined
Feigned
to be
Critical Note
Eardley cites Jewish lore, which tells of how God sought to prevent the reproduction of whales by pickling (or powdering) the female to serve as food for the righteous in eternity; the afterlife is what surpasses the Resurrection (God’s final judgment at the end of the world).
powdered ’gainst the Resurrection
,
Gloss Note
fabled
Feigned
to be
Gloss Note
salted, pickled for future use; preserved.
powdered
Gloss Note
in preparation for.
’gainst
the resurrection,
81
That
Physical Note
end of word unclear, with apparently later addition of what looks like “a”, possibly part of malformed “n”
ſom[?]
of Pride on the forſaken Shores
That
Critical Note
See Job 41:33-34, referring to the leviathan or whale: “Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear. / He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.”
son of pride
on the forsaken shores,
That
Critical Note
the whale, described in the Bible as “a king over all the children of pride” (Job 41:34). See also Pulter’s "This Vast Leviathan" (Emblem 12), line 9.
son of Pride
on the forsaken shores,
82
Out of his Eliment his life out Rores
Out of his element, his life
Gloss Note
drowns out, throws into confusion
outroars
.
Out of his element his life
Critical Note
Pulter’s meaning here is not “outroar”, a single word meaning to roar louder than (OED v). Rather, she means that the leviathan roars his life out (and in doing so expires). For a similarly distinctive usage, see “The Invitation into the Country”, in which the Thames “her loss deplores / And to the sea her grief out roars” (Poem 2, lines 29-30); and see “The Complaint of Thames, 1647” (Poem 4), line 98: “I will roar out my grief unto the main”.
out roars
.
83
Soe Man though hee all Creatures elce tranſcend
So man, though he all creatures else transcend
So man, though he all creatures else transcend,
84
In Sighs and Groanes, (ah mee) his life must end
In sighs and groans (ah me!), his life must end.
In sighs and groans (ah me) his life must end.
85
The Swiftest Creature that’s below the Moone
The
Gloss Note
dolphin
swiftest creature
that’s below the moon,
The
Gloss Note
the dolphin
swiftest creature
that’s below the moon,
86
Which ſav’d Orions life (alas) how ſoone
Critical Note
Arion, a musician/poet in ancient Greece who was kidnapped by pirates and rescued by dolphins
Which saved Arion’s life
(alas), how soon
Which saved
Critical Note
MS = Orion’s. A Greek lyric poet and harpist, borne to safe land on a dolphin after being thrown overboard by Corinthian sailors. See Katherine Philips’s use of the Arion story to celebrate Charles II’s restoration to the monarchy, “Arion on a Dolphin, to His Majesty in his Passage into England”.
Arion’s
life, alas how
Physical Note
MS = Which saved Orion’s life (alas) how soon. In modernising the punctuation of this line, I have attached the expostulation “alas” to “how soon her race will end” rather than to “saved Arion’s life”. For alternative modernisations of the punctuation of this line, see Leah Knight and Wendy Wall’s Elemental Edition of the poem, and Alice Eardley (ed.), Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter Inc. and Centre for Reformation and Restoration Studies, 2014).
soon
87
Her Race will
Physical Note
“e” or “ev,” scribbled out
[ev]
end even in A little time
Her
Gloss Note
voyage or progress through life; contest of speed; also, species
race
will end; even in a little time
Her race will end; e’en in a little time
88
Shee must returne againe to dirt or Slime
She must return again to dirt or slime.
She must return again to dirt or slime.
89
Soe Man his Destinie can ner’e out run
So man, his destiny can ne’er outrun,
So man his destiny can ne’er outrun;
90
The cruell Parce cuts, Mans life is dun
The cruel
Gloss Note
three Fates who determine length of human lives by cutting threads
Parcae
cuts: man’s life is done.
The cruel
Gloss Note
in Roman mythology, the three Fates, usually depicted as three women who draw forth, measure out, and cut the threads of human life.
Parcae
Physical Note
MS = “cuts”
cut
, man’s life is done.
91
The little Remmora that nere will fayle
The little
Gloss Note
suckerfish that can attach to anything in the water and, in legends, could impede their movement; obstacle
remora
that ne’er will fail
The little
Critical Note
a little fish that attaches itself to the underside of ships, slowing its passage or preventing it entirely from moving (commonly used figuratively or emblematically). See the description in Holland’s translation of Pliny’s Natural History, 2.425.
remora
that ne’er will fail
92
To stop the Proudest Ship thats under Sayle
To stop the proudest ship that’s under sail,
To stop the proudest ship that’s under sail,
93
When Death doth summon her Shee must away
When Death doth summon her, she must away;
When Death doth summon her she must away;
94
ffor all her Art Shee cant make time to Stay
For all her art, she can’t make time to
Gloss Note
halt, support
stay
.
For all her art she can’t make time to stay.
95
So Man that Strives to blurr anothers fame
So man, that strives to
Gloss Note
blemish
blur
another’s fame,
So man that strives to blur another’s fame,
96
Death comes the while and blots out his own name
Death comes the
Gloss Note
meanwhile
while
and
Gloss Note
stains, disfigures in ink
blots
out his own name.
Death comes the while and blots out his own name.
thoſe

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97
Those Cittyes that the Orient kingdoomes gracest
Those cities that the
Gloss Note
eastern
orient
kingdoms
Gloss Note
honors
gracest
,
Those cities that the orient kingdoms gracest,
98
Beneath theere Ruins (Sadly) li’es defacest
Beneath their ruins (sadly) lies defacest:
Beneath their ruins, sadly, lies defacest,
99
As Ninnivie Perſepoles, the faire
Gloss Note
Such as
As
Nineveh, Persepolis the fair,
As
Gloss Note
an ancient Assyrian city founded by Nimrod (Genesis 10:11).
Nineveh
,
Gloss Note
the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire, in ancient Persia.
Persepolis
the fair,
100
And Babilon (Soe famous) all deſpaire
Critical Note
ancient towns that were destroyed; Nineveh, in Assyria (now Iraq); Perseopolis, in ancient Persia (now Iran); Babylon, in ancient Mesopotamia (now Iraq)
And Babylon
(so famous!), all despair
And
Gloss Note
ancient city on the River Euphrates, in Mesopotamia, famous for its monumental buildings and hanging gardens
Babylon
so famous, all despair
101
Of ever being Reſtored againe, and now
Of ever being restored again; and now
Of ever being restored again, and now
102
Wee ſee that all to time and fate muſt bow
We see that all to time and fate must bow.
We see that all to time and fate must bow.
103
Soe wretched Man whoſe Structure is of dust
So wretched man, whose structure is of
Critical Note
see Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
dust
,
So wretched man, whose structure is of dust,
104
After his periods past he moulder must
After his
Gloss Note
time’s
period’s
past, he
Gloss Note
disintegrate
molder
must,
After his period’s past, he moulder must,
105
And this our Globe of Earth er’e long Shall burn
And this, our globe of earth,
Gloss Note
before
ere
long shall burn,
And this our globe of earth ere long shall burn
106
And all her pomp and Pride to ^ Cinders Ashes turn
And all her pomp and pride to cinders’ ashes
Gloss Note
transform, return
turn
.
And all her pomp and pride to
Physical Note
The scribe has added “cinders” above this word; a caret indicates the insertion, but “ashes” has not been scored out, and no priority has been indicated between the two alternatives.
ashes
turn.
107
Then my impatiant Soule what cans’t thou Say
Then, my impatient soul, what canst thou say,
Then, my impatient soul, what canst thou say,
108
Seeing all Sublunary things decay
Seeing all
Gloss Note
earthly (beneath the moon), minor
sublunary
things decay?
Seeing all
Gloss Note
beneath the moon; i.e. earthly, belonging to this world
sublunary
things decay?
109
Nay mark Aurora in her youthfull pride
Nay, mark
Gloss Note
goddess of dawn
Aurora
, in her youthful pride,
Nay, mark
Gloss Note
Roman goddess of the dawn (and the subject of several poems by Pulter)
Aurora
in her youthful pride,
110
Her purple Curtains newly drawn aſide
Her purple curtains newly drawn aside,
Her purple curtains newly drawn aside,
111
As when her bleſſed Infant Shee brought forth
As when her blesséd infant she brought forth,
As when her blessed infant she brought forth,
112
The faire Astrea of unparreld worth
The fair
Critical Note
goddess of justice, whom Pulter identifies as well with truth; daughter of Aurora
Astraea
of unparalleled worth.
The fair
Gloss Note
in Roman mythology, daughter of Aurora and Astraeus, and the goddess of truth or justice.
Astraea
of
Gloss Note
unparalleled, a contraction common in Pulter’s poems.
unparalled
worth.
113
Bright is the one but brighter is the other
Bright is the one, but brighter is the other;
Bright is the one, but brighter is the other;
114
The Daughter infinitely excels the Mother
The daughter infinitely excels the mother.
The daughter infinitely excels the mother.
115
Light from mine eyes I wiſh may never part
Light from mine eyes, I wish may never part,
Light from mine eyes I wish may never part,
116
But thou Sweete Truth Shalt harbor in my heart
But thou, sweet Truth, shalt harbor in my heart.
But thou, sweet Truth, shalt harbour in my heart;
117
Yet this most glorious Creature light Soone fades
Yet this most glorious creature, Light, soon fades
Yet this most glorious creature, Light, soon fades
118
And is inveloped in nights darke Shades
And is enveloped in night’s dark shades.
And is enveloped in night’s dark shades.
119
Soe though Mans Soule’s a beame of Heavenly light
So though man’s soul’s a beam of heavenly light,
So, though man’s soul’s a beam of heavenly light,
120
Yet must his body Sleepe in Death and Night
Yet must his body sleep in death and night.
Yet must his body sleep in death and night.
121
Nay Cinthias borrowed Splendencencie Shall ceaſe
Nay,
Gloss Note
the moon’s
Cynthia’s
borrowed
Gloss Note
splendor
splendency
shall cease,
Nay,
Gloss Note
an epithet of Artemis, the Greek goddess of the moon.
Cynthia’s
Gloss Note
the moon reflects the light of the sun
borrowed splendency
shall cease,
122
And Shee Shall leave to wane and to increase
And she shall
Gloss Note
cease
leave
to wane and to increase;
And she shall
Gloss Note
cease
leave
to wane and to increase,
nor

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123
Nor shall her changes make
Physical Note
“our” appears above “o:r” (which has superscript “r”); insertions appear to be in two hands, each different from main scribe
^o:r our
Ocean Riſe
Nor shall her changes make our ocean rise
Nor shall her changes make our ocean rise
124
Or fall, or her Sad influence cloſe our eyes
Or fall, or her sad influence close our eyes.
Or fall, or her sad influence close our eyes.
125
Hers and her Brothers firery Shafts noe more
Hers and
Gloss Note
Apollo’s (the sun god’s)
her brother’s
fiery shafts no more
Gloss Note
MS = Hers. The fiery shafts of Artemis, and her brother Apollo, the Greek god of the sun
Her and her brother’s fiery shafts no more
126
Shall make poore Niobies theire loſs deplore
Shall make poor
Critical Note
siblings Apollo and Cynthia (Artemis) transformed Niobe into a weeping rock for bragging that she had more children than their mother; here, the sun and moon, which Pulter imagines as continuously spurring all grieving mothers (figuratively, “Niobes”) to mourn their losses, will disappear and no longer exert influence.
Niobes
their loss deplore.
Shall make poor
Critical Note
in Greek mythology, Artemis and Apollo punished Niobe, who had boasted of having more children than their mother, Leto. Artemis and Apollo killed Niobe’s children and transformed her into a weeping stone. Niobe became a common literary figure for a woman’s profound grief for her children. See “Upon the Death of my Dear and Lovely Daughter, Jane Pulter” (Poem 10), line 50.
Niobes
their loss deplore.
127
The glittering harbinger of Cheerfull Day
The glitt’ring
Gloss Note
forerunner
harbinger
of
Gloss Note
Aurora, goddess of dawn
cheerful day
,
The
Gloss Note
Aurora, goddess of the dawn (harbinger: one that goes before)
glittering harbinger
of cheerful day
128
That leads the Sable Empris on her way
That leads the
Gloss Note
Night
sable Empress
on her way,
That leads the
Gloss Note
night
sable empress
on her way,
129
Bearing a Torch her Ebone Coach beſide
Bearing a torch her
Gloss Note
black
ebon
coach beside,
Bearing a torch, her
Gloss Note
i.e. ebony (black)
ebon
coach beside,
130
As shee Triumphant round our Orb doth ride
As she, triumphant, round
Gloss Note
Earth
our orb
doth ride,
As she triumphant round our orb doth ride,
131
E’ne Shee
Physical Note
strike-through of complete word, starting “A” and ending “ſed”
[?]
shall bee \
Physical Note
written in hand H2
amaz’d \
and lose her way
E’en she shall be
Gloss Note
bewildered, astonished
amazed
and lose her way,
Physical Note
This line has been amended. Originally “E’en she a[..s.d] shall be, and lose her way”, the word beginning with “a” (possibly “abused”?) has been scored out, and “amazed” has been added above the line to create “E’en she shall be amazed, and lose her way”. The word “amazed” is in the hand likely to be Pulter’s own, suggesting this is an authorial amendment.
E’en
she shall be
Gloss Note
bewildered, confounded, perplexed; also terror-stricken (OED 2 and 3)
amazed
, and lose her way,
132
Not able to conduct the Night or Day
Not able to conduct the night or day.
Not able to conduct the night or day.
133
Nor Shall that Slie the^ife, Hermes, ever keepe
Nor shall that sly thief Hermes ever
Gloss Note
confine himself, remain
keep
,
Nor shall that sly thief,
Critical Note
Hermes is Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, and therefore very difficult for astronomers to see behind the “illustrious sunbeams”. Here he is depicted as playing bo-peep, a nursery game of hiding one’s face and suddenly reappearing (OED).
Hermes
, ever keep
134
Behind the illuſtrious Sun beams playing bopeep
Behind th’illustrious sun beams, playing bo peep;
Behind th’illustrious sunbeams, playing bo-peep;
135
His light shall bee obſcured noe more with light
His light shall be obscured no more with light,
His light shall be obscured no more with light,
136
But all his Knaveries Shall come in Sight
But all his
Gloss Note
mischiefs
knaveries
shall
Critical Note
Hermes, or Mercury, is both the trickster messenger god and the planet Mercury, which is hidden by the sun, seeming to play a nursery game of hide and seek.
come in sight
.
But all his
Gloss Note
trickeries
knaveries
shall come in sight.
137
The ffount and Center of all Light the Sun
The
Gloss Note
source, fountain
fount
and center of all light, the sun,
The fount and centre of all light, the sun,
138
Round whom
Physical Note
“w” possibly corrected to “t” in different hand from main scribe
whoſe
Orbs perpetually doe run
Round whom those
Gloss Note
planets
orbs
perpetually do run,
Round whom
Physical Note
Originally “whose”, the word may have been corrected, through an adjustment of the “w”, to “those” (a better word here).
those
orbs perpetually do run,
139
Shall all his influence and ^light contract
Shall all his influence and light contract,
Shall all his influence and light contract,
140
Which will Amazed Nature quite diſtract
Which will amazéd Nature quite distract.
Which will
Gloss Note
see note to line 131; or here, perhaps, lost in wonder and astonishment (OED 4)
amazèd
Nature quite distract.
141
Auſpitious Jupiter poore Mortals friend
Critical Note
Jupiter, the largest planet and supreme god in Roman pantheon, is seen, in astrology, as “auspicious” (presenting a positive omen), temperate, wise, benevolent, and concerned with law and judgement, with tacit affiliations to Christian judgement in art.
Auspicious Jupiter
, poor mortal’s friend,
Critical Note
Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system and the supreme Roman god. In astrological terms, the planet is “auspicious”, a sign that good things will happen.
Auspicious Jupiter
, poor mortals’ friend,
142
His mild Aspect to earth noe more Shall Send
His mild aspect to earth no more shall send.
His mild aspect to earth no more shall send;
143
ffierce
Physical Note
imperfectly blotted “e” afterward
Mars
his flagrant rapeire Shall put up
Fierce
Gloss Note
god of war
Mars
his
Gloss Note
blazing sword
flagrant rapier
shall put up,
Gloss Note
the planet associated with the god of war.
Fierce Mars
, his
Gloss Note
blazing, burning sword.
flagrant rapier
shall
Gloss Note
lay aside.
put up
,
144
Seing totall Nature drinks the Selfe Same cup
Seeing total Nature drinks the
Gloss Note
identical
selfsame
cup
Seeing total Nature drinks the self-same cup;
145
And that Malignant Melancholy Star
And that
Gloss Note
Saturn
malignant, melancholy star
And that
Gloss Note
Saturn, which has a long astrological association with melancholy
malignant, melancholy star
146
That to doe miſchiefe could diſcerne ſoe fare
That, to do mischief, could
Gloss Note
see, perceive
discern
so far
That, to do mischief, could discern so far
147
As sweete
Physical Note
“ni” overwrites an unknown letter
Hibernie
Where
Physical Note
appears crowded between surrounding words
I
first had life
As sweet
Gloss Note
classical name for Ireland
Hibernie
where I
Critical Note
Pulter was born outside of Dublin.
first had life
,
As sweet
Critical Note
Pulter was born in Ireland, the classical Latin name for which is Hibernia. Here, she describes Saturn as presiding over her birth even in Ireland. She frequently refers in her poetry to the influence of melancholic Saturn on her life and character. See Alice Eardley, “Saturn (whose aspects soe sads my soul)”: Lady Hester Pulter’s Feminine Melancholic Genius”, in Michael Denbo (ed.), New Ways of Looking at Old Texts, IV: Papers of the Renaissance English Text Society, 2002-2006 (Tempe, AZ: ACMRS, 2008), pp. 239-252.
Hibernie, where I first had life
,
148
Now quite destroyed by Atropus Keene Knife
Now quite destroyed by
Gloss Note
one of the three Fates’
Atropos’s
Gloss Note
sharp
keen
knife.
Now quite destroyed by
Gloss Note
one of the three Fates (or Parcae, line 90), she who cuts the thread of mortal life
Atropos’
keen knife.
ah

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149
Ah cruell stars not mee alone anoy
Ah, cruel stars, not me alone annoy,
Ah, cruel stars not me alone annoy,
150
But my poore Countrey too they must destroy
But my poor country too,
Gloss Note
the stars
they
must destroy.
But my poor country, too, they must destroy!
151
But those conjunctions too er’e long Shall ceaſe
But those
Gloss Note
alignments of the stars
conjunctions
too ere long shall cease;
But those
Gloss Note
alignments of the stars
conjunctions
, too, ere long shall cease,
152
When
Physical Note
“A” overwrites “ſt”
Alls
to Chaos turnd there will be peace
When all’s to chaos turned, there will be peace.
When all’s to chaos turned, there will be peace.
153
The Six proud Pleads Shall theire bevty hide
The six proud
Critical Note
cluster of stars in the constellation Taurus, of which only six are visible; in mythology, seven virgin followers of the goddess Artemis, whom Zeus turned into stars to protect them from the sexual advances of Orion
Pleiades
shall their beauty hide,
The
Critical Note
The Pleiades are a prominent cluster of stars in the constellation Taurus, often referred to as seven (or “the seven sisters”) even though only six are easily visible to the naked eye. These six are the “proud” (splendid, standing out) Pleiades which Pulter imagines becoming dark.
six proud Pleiads
shall their beauty hide,
154
As well as Sissiphus his baſhfull Bride
As well as Sisyphus his bashful
Critical Note
Merope, a nearly invisible star in the Pleaids (see n. 39); she hides her face for shame at having married a mortal, while all her sisters mated with gods; wife of Sisyphus, condemned eternally to push a rock up a hill and have it roll back before he reached the summit
bride
.
As well as
Critical Note
Merope, the nearly invisible star in the Pleaides (see note above), who hides her face in shame at having married a mortal (Sisyphus), while all her sisters mated with gods
Sisyphus, his bashful bride
;
155
Then Shall Orions Harpe noe Muſick make
Then shall
Critical Note
conflating Orion, a giant hunter turned into a constellation, with musician Arion (see note on Parcae)
Orion’s
harp no music make,
Then shall
Critical Note
in Greek mythology, a giant and huntsman transformed at his death into a constellation of stars. Pulter here conflates him with the Greek lyric poet and harpist Arion (see note to line 86).
Orion’s
harp no music make,
156
But ſuch as Shall the Stoutest Courage Shake
But such as shall the
Gloss Note
proudest, fiercest
stoutest
courage shake.
But such as shall the stoutest courage shake;
157
Thoſe tender hearted Siſters Shall noe more
Those
Gloss Note
the Hyades (or the “rainers”), seven nymphs who wept at the death of their brother, Hyas, so much that Zeus turned then into a constellation, which appears in rainy seasons.
tenderhearted sisters
shall no more
Those
Gloss Note
the Hyades, sisters in Greek mythology to the Pleiades and the Hesperides
tender-hearted sisters
shall no more
158
Theire brother Hilas hasty fate deplore
Their brother Hyas’s hasty fate deplore,
Critical Note
MS = Hilas. In Greek mythology, the Hyades are “the rainy ones”; they were seven nymphs who wept so much at the death of their brother, Hyas, that Zeus turned them into a constellation, which appears in rainy seasons.
Their brother Hyas’ hasty fate deplore
,
159
Sho^wreing from theire Sad eyes Such floods of Rain
Showering from their sad eyes such floods of rain
Show’ring from their sad eyes such floods of rain
160
That oft the plowmans hopes and labour’s vaine
That oft the plowman’s hopes and labor’s vain.
That oft the plowman’s hopes and
Gloss Note
i.e. labour is
labour’s
vain.
161
The Vulture that did Stop Mans high deſigne
The
Critical Note
constellation Lyra that shines from the sky and is represented as a bird, either eagle or vulture (Eardley); creature who gnawed on Prometheus’s liver
vulture
that did stop man’s high design,
The
Gloss Note
one of two northern constellations, Lyra or Aquila
vulture
that did stop man’s high design
162
Must stoope to fate and ceaſe to fly ^or
Physical Note
initial “a” scribbled out; “g” written over with “ſ”; “h” writes over another “a”, correcting “againe” to “ſhine”
[ag]ſhine
Must stoop to fate and cease to fly or shine.
Must stoop to fate and cease to fly or
Physical Note
amended from “again”, in the scribal hand
shine
,
163
And all the Gems of Ariadnas Crown
And all the gems of
Critical Note
Abandoned by Theseus, after she helped him kill the Minotaur, Ariadne is transformed by Dionysius into a constellation crowned by seven stars.
Ariadne’s crown
And all the gems of
Gloss Note
in Greek mythology, a consort of Theseus and Dionysus, who transforms here into a constellation crowned by seven stars
Ariadne’s
crown
164
Shall loſe theire (Sparkling) luster & drop down
Shall lose their sparkling luster and drop down.
Shall lose their sparkling lustre and drop down.
165
Nor Shall pale Aſaph evermore apeare
Nor shall pale
Gloss Note
comet visible every 400 years
Asoph
evermore appear
Nor shall pale
Gloss Note
a comet thought to appear every 400 years.
Asoph
Gloss Note
for all future time
evermore
appear
166
At the Revolving of fowre Hundred yeare
At the revolving of four hundred year;
At the revolving of four hundred year,
167
ffor though her abſence wee have long indur’d
For though her absence we have long endured,
For though her absence we have long endured,
168
Yet Shall Shee bee eternally obſcur’d
Yet shall she be eternally obscured.
Yet shall she be eternally obscured.
169
Bold Syrius no more Shall Shew her face
Bold
Gloss Note
Dog Star, appearing in hot summer
Sirius
no more shall show her face,
Bold
Gloss Note
the Dog Star, one of the brightest stars in the sky. In ancient times, the rising of the Dog Star was associated with the hottest, most sultry days of summer (“dog days”).
Sirius
no more shall show her face,
170
As Shee doth uſe when Phebus is in place
As she doth use when Phoebus is in place.
As she
Gloss Note
usually does
doth use
when
Gloss Note
the Greek god of the sun
Phoebus
is in place,
171
But these and all the fixed Orbs of light
But these, and all the fixéd orbs of light,
But these and all the fixèd orbs of light
172
Shall bee involv’d once more in Horred night
Shall be involved once more in horrid night.
Shall be
Gloss Note
enveloped
involved
once more in horrid night.
173
Like Robes the Elements Shall folded
Physical Note
corrected from “bee”
lie
Like robes, the
Critical Note
basic substances of which all material bodies are composed; in ancient philosophy, believed to be earth, water, air, and fire.
elements
shall folded lie
Like robes, the elements shall folded lie
174
In the vast wardrope of eternitie
In the vast wardrobe of eternity.
In the vast wardrobe of eternity.
175
Then my unſetled ſoule bee more reſolv’d
Then my unsettled soul, be more
Gloss Note
disintegrated; convinced
resolved
,
Then my unsettled soul be more resolved,
176
Se’eing all this Univerſe must be diſſolv’d.
Seeing all this universe must be
Critical Note
See first note.
dissolved
.
Seeing all this universe must be
Critical Note
See note to Title.
dissolved
.
ascending straight line
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition
Title note

 Gloss note

reduction to elements or atoms; disintegration; death
Title note

 Critical note

John Pulter (1648-77) was the fifteenth (and likely last) of Pulter’s children. "My Son John" is an insertion into the title, in the hand likely to be Pulter’s own. The insertion is indicated by a caret and obscured by an ink blot.

 Editorial note

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

 Headnote

Pulter’s detailed title to this occasional poem indicates its context and focus. Seriously ill during her pregnancy with her fifteenth child, her son John, she addresses her own soul, fearful at the possibility of death, and reassures it by outlining the universality of “dissolution”, the death of the mortal body. Her poem progresses through an extended series of similes, comparing the end of “mortal man” to that of all other creatures and elemental things; these similes owe much to the emblematic mode of thinking that is evident in the emblem poem series later in the manuscript. For another poem written in illness during this pregnancy, see "This Was Written in 1648, When I Lay in, with my Son John" (Poem 45); and see discussion in Alice Eardley (ed.), Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter Inc. and Centre for Reformation and Restoration Studies, 2014), p. 16.
Like many of Pulter’s poems, “Universal Dissolution” is related to the mode of devotional complaint, in which the distressed, earthbound soul articulates its worldly grief and its yearning to be with God. Pulter’s manuscript contains several devotional complaints, such as "Must I Thus Ever Interdicted Be" (Poem 55). “Universal Dissolution”, however, is typical of many of Pulter’s other devotional poems in that it is not a complaint per se, but is cast as a response to the implicitly prior plaints of her own heart and soul. Thus the poem opens "My soul, why art thou sad ...?" The poem outlines a philosophical consolation for her heart and soul, illustrating through multiple examples that “all sublunary things decay” (line 108), and concluding “Then my unsettled soul be more resolved, / Seeing all this universe must be dissolved.” This stance exemplifies the devotional stoicism typical of Pulter’s poems, even as they articulate significant physical, personal, and political hardships and melancholy.
This poem contains a number of amendments in three of the main hands present in the manuscript: the scribal hand, the hand likely to be Pulter’s own, and the “antiquarian hand” (see Ross (2000), pp. 150-171 and 252-4). For this reason, the poem makes an excellent case study in the editing processes evident in the manuscript. Only substantive amendments and editorial choices are outlined in the notes below.
Line number 2

 Critical note

the body. See Isaiah 64:8, “O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter”.
Line number 5

 Physical note

The scribal hand has scored out “crystal” and inserted “bubbling”.
Line number 12

 Gloss note

“Scythes” in the scribal hand has had “man” added to it through an insertion in the hand likely to be Pulter’s own. As well as being a sharp, curved blade used to mow grass or other crops by hand, the scythe is commonly associated with Time and Death.
Line number 14

 Critical note

“because in their causes”, with wordplay on Pulter’s distinctive use of the word “cause” in the second instance to mean the grave, connected to the elements or matter from which the body is first produced, and to which it returns in death. See OED cause n 5: the material cause is elements or matter from which a thing is produced; and the First Cause is the original cause or creator of the universe. See also lines 32, 46.
Line number 15

 Gloss note

the fundamental sources from which something proceeds, primary elements (OED I.1b and II.3b)
Line number 17

 Gloss note

In ancient Greece and Rome, bay laurel wreaths were awarded as an emblem of military victory or of distinction in poetry.
Line number 18

 Physical note

MS = Encircles
Line number 20

 Physical note

This line contains a number of amendments. The scribe has altered “virginall leaves” to “verdant leaves”, by altering and writing over letters in the main text. In an apparent misreading of priority, the “antiquarian hand” has written “virgin” above the altered word. The antiquarian has also annotated “fieldemort”, writing “Fillimott” above it—i.e. correctly understanding the word to be “filemot”. Beneath “fieldemort”, he has written “withered”, a definition of the word.
Line number 20

 Gloss note

the colour of a dead or faded leaf (from the French feuillemorte) (OED)
Line number 22

 Gloss note

according to early modern humoural theory, these were two of the four qualities of the humoural body
Line number 23

 Critical note

In the Bible, the cedar is associated with great stature. See, for example, Amos 2:9 and Ezekiel 31:3-5.
Line number 27

 Physical note

Lines 27-30 have been added, in the margin, in the hand likely to be Pulter’s own. Their position for insertion is indicated with a small “x” above “So” at the beginning of line 31.
Line number 29

 Gloss note

a tree traditionally associated with death and mourning (OED 1c).
Line number 32

 Critical note

See note to line 14.
Line number 33

 Critical note

The eagle was said to force its young to gaze upon the sun in order to determine their worthiness. See Philemon Holland’s translation of Pliny’s Natural History, a favourite source of Pulter’s, 1.272.
Line number 34

 Gloss note

Greek god of the sun
Line number 41

 Critical note

The phoenix is a mythical bird which burns itself to ashes on an aromatic funeral pyre ignited by the sun and fanned by its own wings. The bird then rises from its own ashes to live again, but Pulter’s focus here is on the self-immolation which makes this possible. See Holland (trans.), Pliny’s Natural History, p. 271.
Line number 46

 Critical note

See note to line 14.
Line number 47

 Critical note

According to Ovid, the swan only sang once, when dying; the “swan-song” has become proverbial. For a similar image of the singing swan on the silver Thames, see “The Invitation into the Country” (Poem 2), lines 31-4; and see “The Complaint of Thames, 1647” (Poem 4), lines 100-104.
Line number 50

 Gloss note

funeral ode
Line number 52

 Physical note

MS = “cuts”
Line number 53

 Critical note

The stag is a male deer, also used by Pulter (and other royalists) to represent Charles I. See the extended simile inserted into “Upon the Death of my Dear and Lovely Daughter, Jane Pulter” (Poem 10) at lines 45-50.
Line number 55

 Critical note

Caesar was said to have put a collar around the neck of a deer with an inscription prohibiting its capture; it then lived to an extended age. The Vale of Blackmore, in Dorset, is where Caesar’s deer lived and was killed in some versions of the story. See Alice Eardley (ed.), Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter Inc. and Centre for Reformation and Restoration Studies, 2014), p. 67; and Michael Bath, “The Legend of Caesar’s Deer”, Medievalia et Humanistica, n.s., 9 (1979): 53-66. The best-known literary use of Caesar’s deer is in Thomas Wyatt’s sonnet, “Whoso list to hunt”.
Line number 63

 Gloss note

the unicorn, whose horns were believed to have the power to purify water
Line number 65

 Critical note

Aristotle argued in De Generatione et Corruptione that some creatures were born spontaneously out of the putrifying bodies of others. This is another image of potential rebirth out of death; however, as with the phoenix in lines 41-4, Pulter leaves this potential only implicit.
Line number 69

 Gloss note

lion
Line number 71

 Critical note

in Greek mythology, a many-headed monster whose heads grow again as fast as they are cut off. Pulter uses the Hydra as a figure for Cromwell and the corruption she sees as associated with his rule. See “The Invitation into the Country” (Poem 2), line 4.
Line number 77

 Critical note

aquatic animal (real or imaginary) of enormous size, frequently mentioned in Hebrew poetry; see Job 41:1-33. Pulter (as is common) conflates the leviathan and the whale. See also Pulter’s "This Vast Leviathan" (Emblem 12).
Line number 78

 Gloss note

pranks, playful tricks.
Line number 78

 Gloss note

Roman god of the sea.
Line number 79

 Critical note

A story from Jewish lore of two whales, male and female, castrated and pickled respectively by God to prevent them reproducing and causing widespread destruction Alice Eardley (ed.), Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter Inc. and Centre for Reformation and Restoration Studies, 2014), p. 68.).
Line number 80

 Gloss note

fabled
Line number 80

 Gloss note

salted, pickled for future use; preserved.
Line number 80

 Gloss note

in preparation for.
Line number 81

 Critical note

the whale, described in the Bible as “a king over all the children of pride” (Job 41:34). See also Pulter’s "This Vast Leviathan" (Emblem 12), line 9.
Line number 82

 Critical note

Pulter’s meaning here is not “outroar”, a single word meaning to roar louder than (OED v). Rather, she means that the leviathan roars his life out (and in doing so expires). For a similarly distinctive usage, see “The Invitation into the Country”, in which the Thames “her loss deplores / And to the sea her grief out roars” (Poem 2, lines 29-30); and see “The Complaint of Thames, 1647” (Poem 4), line 98: “I will roar out my grief unto the main”.
Line number 85

 Gloss note

the dolphin
Line number 86

 Critical note

MS = Orion’s. A Greek lyric poet and harpist, borne to safe land on a dolphin after being thrown overboard by Corinthian sailors. See Katherine Philips’s use of the Arion story to celebrate Charles II’s restoration to the monarchy, “Arion on a Dolphin, to His Majesty in his Passage into England”.
Line number 86

 Physical note

MS = Which saved Orion’s life (alas) how soon. In modernising the punctuation of this line, I have attached the expostulation “alas” to “how soon her race will end” rather than to “saved Arion’s life”. For alternative modernisations of the punctuation of this line, see Leah Knight and Wendy Wall’s Elemental Edition of the poem, and Alice Eardley (ed.), Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter Inc. and Centre for Reformation and Restoration Studies, 2014).
Line number 90

 Gloss note

in Roman mythology, the three Fates, usually depicted as three women who draw forth, measure out, and cut the threads of human life.
Line number 90

 Physical note

MS = “cuts”
Line number 91

 Critical note

a little fish that attaches itself to the underside of ships, slowing its passage or preventing it entirely from moving (commonly used figuratively or emblematically). See the description in Holland’s translation of Pliny’s Natural History, 2.425.
Line number 99

 Gloss note

an ancient Assyrian city founded by Nimrod (Genesis 10:11).
Line number 99

 Gloss note

the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire, in ancient Persia.
Line number 100

 Gloss note

ancient city on the River Euphrates, in Mesopotamia, famous for its monumental buildings and hanging gardens
Line number 106

 Physical note

The scribe has added “cinders” above this word; a caret indicates the insertion, but “ashes” has not been scored out, and no priority has been indicated between the two alternatives.
Line number 108

 Gloss note

beneath the moon; i.e. earthly, belonging to this world
Line number 109

 Gloss note

Roman goddess of the dawn (and the subject of several poems by Pulter)
Line number 112

 Gloss note

in Roman mythology, daughter of Aurora and Astraeus, and the goddess of truth or justice.
Line number 112

 Gloss note

unparalleled, a contraction common in Pulter’s poems.
Line number 121

 Gloss note

an epithet of Artemis, the Greek goddess of the moon.
Line number 121

 Gloss note

the moon reflects the light of the sun
Line number 122

 Gloss note

cease
Line number 125

 Gloss note

MS = Hers. The fiery shafts of Artemis, and her brother Apollo, the Greek god of the sun
Line number 126

 Critical note

in Greek mythology, Artemis and Apollo punished Niobe, who had boasted of having more children than their mother, Leto. Artemis and Apollo killed Niobe’s children and transformed her into a weeping stone. Niobe became a common literary figure for a woman’s profound grief for her children. See “Upon the Death of my Dear and Lovely Daughter, Jane Pulter” (Poem 10), line 50.
Line number 127

 Gloss note

Aurora, goddess of the dawn (harbinger: one that goes before)
Line number 128

 Gloss note

night
Line number 129

 Gloss note

i.e. ebony (black)
Line number 131

 Physical note

This line has been amended. Originally “E’en she a[..s.d] shall be, and lose her way”, the word beginning with “a” (possibly “abused”?) has been scored out, and “amazed” has been added above the line to create “E’en she shall be amazed, and lose her way”. The word “amazed” is in the hand likely to be Pulter’s own, suggesting this is an authorial amendment.
Line number 131

 Gloss note

bewildered, confounded, perplexed; also terror-stricken (OED 2 and 3)
Line number 133

 Critical note

Hermes is Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, and therefore very difficult for astronomers to see behind the “illustrious sunbeams”. Here he is depicted as playing bo-peep, a nursery game of hiding one’s face and suddenly reappearing (OED).
Line number 136

 Gloss note

trickeries
Line number 138

 Physical note

Originally “whose”, the word may have been corrected, through an adjustment of the “w”, to “those” (a better word here).
Line number 140

 Gloss note

see note to line 131; or here, perhaps, lost in wonder and astonishment (OED 4)
Line number 141

 Critical note

Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system and the supreme Roman god. In astrological terms, the planet is “auspicious”, a sign that good things will happen.
Line number 143

 Gloss note

the planet associated with the god of war.
Line number 143

 Gloss note

blazing, burning sword.
Line number 143

 Gloss note

lay aside.
Line number 145

 Gloss note

Saturn, which has a long astrological association with melancholy
Line number 147

 Critical note

Pulter was born in Ireland, the classical Latin name for which is Hibernia. Here, she describes Saturn as presiding over her birth even in Ireland. She frequently refers in her poetry to the influence of melancholic Saturn on her life and character. See Alice Eardley, “Saturn (whose aspects soe sads my soul)”: Lady Hester Pulter’s Feminine Melancholic Genius”, in Michael Denbo (ed.), New Ways of Looking at Old Texts, IV: Papers of the Renaissance English Text Society, 2002-2006 (Tempe, AZ: ACMRS, 2008), pp. 239-252.
Line number 148

 Gloss note

one of the three Fates (or Parcae, line 90), she who cuts the thread of mortal life
Line number 151

 Gloss note

alignments of the stars
Line number 153

 Critical note

The Pleiades are a prominent cluster of stars in the constellation Taurus, often referred to as seven (or “the seven sisters”) even though only six are easily visible to the naked eye. These six are the “proud” (splendid, standing out) Pleiades which Pulter imagines becoming dark.
Line number 154

 Critical note

Merope, the nearly invisible star in the Pleaides (see note above), who hides her face in shame at having married a mortal (Sisyphus), while all her sisters mated with gods
Line number 155

 Critical note

in Greek mythology, a giant and huntsman transformed at his death into a constellation of stars. Pulter here conflates him with the Greek lyric poet and harpist Arion (see note to line 86).
Line number 157

 Gloss note

the Hyades, sisters in Greek mythology to the Pleiades and the Hesperides
Line number 158

 Critical note

MS = Hilas. In Greek mythology, the Hyades are “the rainy ones”; they were seven nymphs who wept so much at the death of their brother, Hyas, that Zeus turned them into a constellation, which appears in rainy seasons.
Line number 160

 Gloss note

i.e. labour is
Line number 161

 Gloss note

one of two northern constellations, Lyra or Aquila
Line number 162

 Physical note

amended from “again”, in the scribal hand
Line number 163

 Gloss note

in Greek mythology, a consort of Theseus and Dionysus, who transforms here into a constellation crowned by seven stars
Line number 165

 Gloss note

a comet thought to appear every 400 years.
Line number 165

 Gloss note

for all future time
Line number 169

 Gloss note

the Dog Star, one of the brightest stars in the sky. In ancient times, the rising of the Dog Star was associated with the hottest, most sultry days of summer (“dog days”).
Line number 170

 Gloss note

usually does
Line number 170

 Gloss note

the Greek god of the sun
Line number 172

 Gloss note

enveloped
Line number 176

 Critical note

See note to Title.
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X (Close panel)Amplified Edition
Amplified Edition

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Universall diſſolution made when I was with Child of my 15th Child
Physical Note
blotted with especially large blot on “John”; blot darker on facing page
my ſonne John
I being every one thought in a Conſumption 1648
Gloss Note
entire, total, or global “dissolution,” meaning separation into constituent elements or atoms; disintegration, decomposition; liquefaction; laxity of morals; dispersion of an assembly (often political); death, termination.
Universal Dissolution
, Made When I Was with Child, of my 15th Child,
Critical Note
This is an insertion into the title, in the hand likely to be Pulter’s own. The insertion is indicated by a caret and obscured by an ink blot. Pregnant with her son John Pulter (1648-1677), one of two children who outlived Pulter.
my Son, John
, I Being, Everyone Thought, in a
Critical Note
disease associated with an abnormality of “humors” (in the physiology of the day, the four fluids determining health), resulting in extreme weight loss; later identified with tuberculosis; the act of decaying
Consumption
, 1648
Universal
Gloss Note
reduction to elements or atoms; disintegration; death
Dissolution
, Made When I Was With Child of
Critical Note
John Pulter (1648-77) was the fifteenth (and likely last) of Pulter’s children. "My Son John" is an insertion into the title, in the hand likely to be Pulter’s own. The insertion is indicated by a caret and obscured by an ink blot.
My 15th Child (My Son John)
, I Being, Everyone Thought, in a Consumption, 1648
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.

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

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


— Sarah C. E. Ross
In this devotional poem, the speaker instructs her soul not to lament mortality, but to accept the eventual decay and dissolution of everything: nature, poetic fame, political power, youth, beauty, animals, civilizations, the earth, planets, and stars. In detailing how all natural and cosmological elements in the world will revert back to their “first principles” or original “cause” in the grand cycle of life, the poem provides an extensive catalogue of specific trees, plants, animals, mythological characters, ancient cities, constellations, and planets. As the title suggests, this self-reprimand—or, perhaps, self-consolation—is prompted by an illness connected with the speaker’s fifteenth pregnancy, and it does not conclude, as do many of her poems, with an affirmation of the afterlife. It seems instead focussed on the scope and scale of the unmaking of the physical world.

— Sarah C. E. Ross
Pulter’s detailed title to this occasional poem indicates its context and focus. Seriously ill during her pregnancy with her fifteenth child, her son John, she addresses her own soul, fearful at the possibility of death, and reassures it by outlining the universality of “dissolution”, the death of the mortal body. Her poem progresses through an extended series of similes, comparing the end of “mortal man” to that of all other creatures and elemental things; these similes owe much to the emblematic mode of thinking that is evident in the emblem poem series later in the manuscript. For another poem written in illness during this pregnancy, see "This Was Written in 1648, When I Lay in, with my Son John" (Poem 45); and see discussion in Alice Eardley (ed.), Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter Inc. and Centre for Reformation and Restoration Studies, 2014), p. 16.
Like many of Pulter’s poems, “Universal Dissolution” is related to the mode of devotional complaint, in which the distressed, earthbound soul articulates its worldly grief and its yearning to be with God. Pulter’s manuscript contains several devotional complaints, such as "Must I Thus Ever Interdicted Be" (Poem 55). “Universal Dissolution”, however, is typical of many of Pulter’s other devotional poems in that it is not a complaint per se, but is cast as a response to the implicitly prior plaints of her own heart and soul. Thus the poem opens "My soul, why art thou sad ...?" The poem outlines a philosophical consolation for her heart and soul, illustrating through multiple examples that “all sublunary things decay” (line 108), and concluding “Then my unsettled soul be more resolved, / Seeing all this universe must be dissolved.” This stance exemplifies the devotional stoicism typical of Pulter’s poems, even as they articulate significant physical, personal, and political hardships and melancholy.
This poem contains a number of amendments in three of the main hands present in the manuscript: the scribal hand, the hand likely to be Pulter’s own, and the “antiquarian hand” (see Ross (2000), pp. 150-171 and 252-4). For this reason, the poem makes an excellent case study in the editing processes evident in the manuscript. Only substantive amendments and editorial choices are outlined in the notes below.


— Sarah C. E. Ross
1
My Soule why art thou ſad at the decay
My soul, why art thou sad at the decay
My soul, why art thou sad at the decay
2
Of this fraile frame this feeble houſe of clay
Of this frail
Gloss Note
here, structure, physical body, constitution, arrangement; may also signify universe, heavens, earth, or any part of it.
frame
, this feeble house of
Critical Note
body. See Isaiah 64:8: “O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter.”
clay
?
Of this frail frame, this
Critical Note
the body. See Isaiah 64:8, “O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter”.
feeble house of clay
?
3
What can be expected from the humble birth
What can be expected from the humble birth
What can be expected from the humble birth
4
Of this fraile ffabrick but to fall to Earth
Of this
Gloss Note
edifice, fabricated construction
frail fabric
, but to fall to earth?
Of this frail fabric, but to fall to earth?
5
The Cristall^bubling fountaine being by Nature led
The bubbling fountain, being by nature led,
The
Physical Note
The scribal hand has scored out “crystal” and inserted “bubbling”.
bubbling
fountain, being by nature led,
6
Will riſe noe Higher then her Criſtall head
Will
Critical Note
proverbial: “no stream can rise higher than its source” (Eardley)
rise no higher than her crystal head
;
Will rise no higher than her crystal head;
7
Though many Marble
Physical Note
or “Aquœducts”
Aquaducts
it fill
Though many marble aqueducts it fill,
Though many marble aqueducts it fill,
8
Yet in a conſtant level it runs ſtill
Yet in a constant level it runs still.
Yet in a constant level it runs still.
9
So Mortall Man even from his very birth
So mortal man, even from his very birth,
So mortal man, e’en from his very birth,
10
Runs weeping on, then creeps into the Earth
Runs weeping on, then creeps into the earth.
Runs weeping on, then creeps into the earth.
11
Thoſe gorgious flowers which the vallies Crown
Those gorgeous flowers which the valleys crown,
Those gorgeous flowers which the valleys crown,
12
That by the impartiall Siths \
Physical Note
insertion written in hand H2.
man \
are moan down
That by the impartial
Gloss Note
mower who uses a sharp blade
scytheman
are
Critical Note
See Isaiah 40:6-8: “All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever.”
mown down
:
That by the impartial
Gloss Note
“Scythes” in the scribal hand has had “man” added to it through an insertion in the hand likely to be Pulter’s own. As well as being a sharp, curved blade used to mow grass or other crops by hand, the scythe is commonly associated with Time and Death.
scytheman
are mown down,
13
Trust mee they ſeeme to hang theire heads and weep
Trust me, they seem to hang their heads and weep,
Trust me they seem to hang their heads and weep
14
Cauſe in theire ca^uſes they ſoe ſoone muſt ſleep
’Cause, in their
Gloss Note
original, formative elements
causes
, they so soon must sleep
Critical Note
“because in their causes”, with wordplay on Pulter’s distinctive use of the word “cause” in the second instance to mean the grave, connected to the elements or matter from which the body is first produced, and to which it returns in death. See OED cause n 5: the material cause is elements or matter from which a thing is produced; and the First Cause is the original cause or creator of the universe. See also lines 32, 46.
’Cause in their causes
they so soon must sleep.
15
Soe man to his first Principles must turn
So man to his
Gloss Note
origins, constituent parts, primary propositions; in alchemy, the substances composing all matter (mercury, salt, and sulfur)
first principles
must
Gloss Note
return; rotate; revolve; reverse course; become; make use of; change into
turn
,
So man to his
Gloss Note
the fundamental sources from which something proceeds, primary elements (OED I.1b and II.3b)
first principles
must turn
16
And take A Nap in Black oblivions Urn
And take a nap in black Oblivion’s urn.
And take a nap in black oblivion’s urn.
17
Triumphant Laurel whoſe unconquered bowes
Triumphant
Gloss Note
foliage of bay tree
laurel
, whose unconquered boughs
Gloss Note
In ancient Greece and Rome, bay laurel wreaths were awarded as an emblem of military victory or of distinction in poetry.
Triumphant laurel
, whose unconquered boughs
18
Encircles Poets, and the illustrious browes
Encircles poets’ and the illustrious brows
Physical Note
MS = Encircles
Encircle
poets, and the illustrious brows
19
Of Emperours: how ſoone alaſs wee ſee
Of
Critical Note
Wreaths of laurel were presented to victorious military leaders and poets in ancient Rome.
emperors
: how soon, alas, we see
Of emperors: how soon, alas, we see
20
Her
Physical Note
in original “virginall”, descender of “g” struck through and ascender added to make “d”, with “all” covered by “L” in “Leaves; main scribe thus changed “virginall” to “virdent” or “virdent” by inserting “t” into space before “all”; “virgin” inserted in different hand from main scribe, with either looping insertion symbol or conversion of second “i” in “virginall” to “e”
virgint^virginall
Leaves all
Physical Note
directly below “fieldemort” and “Fillimott” above its second half, both in different hand from main scribe
fieldemort withered ^Fillimott
to bee
Her
Physical Note
In the manuscript, various hands have inscribed this word differently so that it could be “virgin” (chaste), “virginal” (unsullied), or “verdant” (lushly green).
verdant
leaves all withered
Gloss Note
brownish or yellowish color like that of a dead leaf, from the French “feuillemorte”
filemot
to be.
Physical Note
This line contains a number of amendments. The scribe has altered “virginall leaves” to “verdant leaves”, by altering and writing over letters in the main text. In an apparent misreading of priority, the “antiquarian hand” has written “virgin” above the altered word. The antiquarian has also annotated “fieldemort”, writing “Fillimott” above it—i.e. correctly understanding the word to be “filemot”. Beneath “fieldemort”, he has written “withered”, a definition of the word.
Her
verdant leaves all
Gloss Note
the colour of a dead or faded leaf (from the French feuillemorte) (OED)
filemot
to be.
21
E’ne ſoe Mans youth and
Physical Note
“a” appears added later
beauty
doth decay
E’en so, man’s youth and beauty doth decay,
E’en so man’s youth and beauty doth decay;
22
Physical Note
in left margin, in hand H2: “X tho ſhe the liveing / kill and Dead preſrve / yett can she not / from death herſelfe reſerve”; horizontal line beneath, then: “The ſypriſs that / doth mourn for / us in vaine / ſhall bee cut down /and nevar ſprowt /againe.”
His
heat and Moisture Cooles and dries to clay
His heat and moisture cools and
Critical Note
see earlier note on ‘clay’. Heat and moisture were chief properties of the body, as understood in classical humoral physiology.
dries to clay
.
His
Gloss Note
according to early modern humoural theory, these were two of the four qualities of the humoural body
heat and moisture
cools and dries to clay.
23
The stately Cedar that aſpires ſoe High
The stately
Critical Note
associated with pride and great height. See Ezekiel 31:3-5: “Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs. The waters made him great, the deep set him up on high with her rivers running round about his plants, and sent out her little rivers unto all the trees of the field. His height was exalted above all the trees of the field.”
cedar
that aspires so high,
The stately
Critical Note
In the Bible, the cedar is associated with great stature. See, for example, Amos 2:9 and Ezekiel 31:3-5.
cedar
that aspires so high,
24
Scorning the cloudes threatning to Scale the Skie
Scorning the clouds, threat’ning to scale the sky,
Scorning the clouds, threat’ning to scale the sky,
25
ffor all her pride a kernill was her birth
For all her pride, a
Gloss Note
seed
kernel
was her birth,
For all her pride, a kernel was her birth,
26
Which Shewes at last ſhee must returne to Earth
Which shows, at last, she must return to earth.
Which shows at last she must return to earth;
27
Though she the living kill and
Critical Note
protect; keep alive, retain; cedar oil was used in ancient Egypt to embalm corpses
dead preserve
,
Physical Note
Lines 27-30 have been added, in the margin, in the hand likely to be Pulter’s own. Their position for insertion is indicated with a small “x” above “So” at the beginning of line 31.
Though
she the living kill and dead preserve,
28
Yet can she not from death herself reserve.
Yet can she not from death herself reserve.
29
The
Gloss Note
tree associated with grieving
cypress
that doth mourn for us in vain
The
Gloss Note
a tree traditionally associated with death and mourning (OED 1c).
cypress
that doth mourn for us in vain
30
Shall be cut down and never sprout again.
Shall be cut down and never sprout again.
31
Physical Note
“x” appears keyed to marginal note (see note 7)
Sxoe
Man being tide to his Creatours lawes
So man, being tied to his Creator’s laws,
So man being tied to his creator’s laws
32
Must taste of Death and Shrinke unto his cauſe.
Must taste of death and shrink unto his cause.
Must taste of death and shrink unto his
Critical Note
See note to line 14.
cause
.
33
The towering quick eyed Eagle that alone
The towering, quick-eyed eagle, that alone
The towering,
Critical Note
The eagle was said to force its young to gaze upon the sun in order to determine their worthiness. See Philemon Holland’s translation of Pliny’s Natural History, a favourite source of Pulter’s, 1.272.
quick-eyed eagle
that alone
34
Outfaces Phebus in his blazeing Throne
Gloss Note
boldly confronts, contradicts
Outfaces
Gloss Note
sun god
Phoebus
in his blazing throne,
Outfaces
Gloss Note
Greek god of the sun
Phoebus
in his blazing throne,
and

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35
And by that tryall bastard Birds diſclaime
And, by that trial,
Critical Note
According to legend, the eagle tests her young by having them look directly into the sun; those who fail are cast out of the nest.
bastard birds disclaim
,
And by that trial, bastard birds disclaim,
36
Scorning they should be honoured with her name
Scorning they should be honored with her name;
Scorning they should be honoured with her name;
37
Yet ſhee and her’s to dust must all Resolve
Yet she and hers to dust must all
Gloss Note
to dissolve or decompose; also with the connotation of bringing to a clear conclusion
resolve
,
Yet she and hers to dust must all resolve,
38
And ſad obſcuritie must them involve.
And sad obscurity must them
Gloss Note
entangle, envelop
involve
.
And sad obscurity must them involve.
39
Soe miſerable Man doth draw his breath:
So miserable man doth draw his breath
So miserable man doth draw his breath
40
Twixt hope and feare then sinks into the Earth.
Twixt hope and fear, then sinks into the earth.
’Twixt hope and fear, then sinks into the earth.
41
The Phenix on her lofty Alter lies
The phoenix on her lofty altar lies
The
Critical Note
The phoenix is a mythical bird which burns itself to ashes on an aromatic funeral pyre ignited by the sun and fanned by its own wings. The bird then rises from its own ashes to live again, but Pulter’s focus here is on the self-immolation which makes this possible. See Holland (trans.), Pliny’s Natural History, p. 271.
phoenix
on her lofty altar lies
42
And Willingly a virgin victim dies
And willingly a
Gloss Note
pure, chaste
virgin
victim dies;
And, willingly, a virgin victim dies,
43
Her Gold and purple Plums to Aſhes turns
Her gold and purple
Gloss Note
feathers
plumes
to ashes turns
Her gold and purple plumes to ashes turns
44
As in her Aromatick Pier ſhee Burnes
As in her aromatic pyre
Critical Note
the phoenix, an Egyptian bird who burned in a sacrificial fire; a new phoenix was reborn from the ashes.
she burns
.
As in her aromatic pyre she burns.
45
Soe Man that to eternitie
Physical Note
Final “e” imperfectly erased.
aſpires
So man, that to eternity aspires,
So man that to eternity aspires,
46
Conquer’d by Death into his Cauſe Retires
Conquered by death, into his cause retires.
Conquered by death, into his
Critical Note
See note to line 14.
cause
retires.
47
The ſnowey Swan upon the[?] trembling brest,
The snowy swan upon the trembling breast
The snowy
Critical Note
According to Ovid, the swan only sang once, when dying; the “swan-song” has become proverbial. For a similar image of the singing swan on the silver Thames, see “The Invitation into the Country” (Poem 2), lines 31-4; and see “The Complaint of Thames, 1647” (Poem 4), lines 100-104.
swan
upon the trembling breast
48
Of Silver Thames, how poore a time of Rest;
Of silver
Gloss Note
river in England
Thames
—how poor a time of rest
Of silver Thames, how poor a time of rest
49
Shee doth injoy, Soone droops her Milke white wings:
She doth enjoy—soon droops her milk-white wings,
She doth enjoy, soon droops her milk-white wings,
50
While ſadly Shee her Epicedium Sing’s.
While sadly she her
Gloss Note
funeral ode
epicedium
Critical Note
According to Ovid, the swan sang only once, when dying.
sings
.
While sadly she her
Gloss Note
funeral ode
epicedium
sings.
51
Soe while man Strives t’eterniſe others glory:
So while man strives
Gloss Note
immortalize
t’eternize
others’ glory,
So while man strives t’eternise others’ glory,
52
Conſpireing Death, and time, cuts of his Story.
Conspiring Death and Time cuts off
Gloss Note
life, account of life
his story
.
Conspiring Death and Time
Physical Note
MS = “cuts”
cut
off his story.
53
The Stag that trips it or’e the Laun in State:
The
Gloss Note
A male deer prances (“trips it”) in a prosperous condition (“in state”)
stag that trips it o’er the lawn in state
,
The
Critical Note
The stag is a male deer, also used by Pulter (and other royalists) to represent Charles I. See the extended simile inserted into “Upon the Death of my Dear and Lovely Daughter, Jane Pulter” (Poem 10) at lines 45-50.
stag
that trips it o’er the lawn in state,
54
Scorning the ground is Subject unto fate.
Scorning the ground, is subject unto fate.
Scorning the ground, is subject unto fate.
55
Even that brave heart which Blackmore once did hold
Even that brave
Gloss Note
deer
hart
which
Gloss Note
a valley in southern England
Blackmore
once did hold,
E’en that
Critical Note
Caesar was said to have put a collar around the neck of a deer with an inscription prohibiting its capture; it then lived to an extended age. The Vale of Blackmore, in Dorset, is where Caesar’s deer lived and was killed in some versions of the story. See Alice Eardley (ed.), Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter Inc. and Centre for Reformation and Restoration Studies, 2014), p. 67; and Michael Bath, “The Legend of Caesar’s Deer”, Medievalia et Humanistica, n.s., 9 (1979): 53-66. The best-known literary use of Caesar’s deer is in Thomas Wyatt’s sonnet, “Whoso list to hunt”.
brave hart which Blackmore once did hold
,
56
Whose Snowey neck incircled was with gold;
Whose snowy neck encircled was with gold,
Whose snowy neck encircled was with gold,
57
All Ages being deſired for Ceaſers ſake,
All ages being desired, for Caesar’s sake,
All ages being desired, for Caesar’s sake,
58
To ſpare his life when er’e they did him take:
To spare his life whene’er
Gloss Note
hunters
they
did him
Critical Note
hunters throughout the ages were “desired” (here, required) to spare the deer’s life, out of respect for Caesar; Caesar’s deer reputedly lived for centuries.
take
;
To spare his life whene’er they did him take,
59
but yet for all this Conquering Kings deſire,
But yet, for all this conquering king’s desire,
But yet for all this conquering king’s desire,
60
In teares hee did his vitall breath expire.
In tears
Gloss Note
the deer
he
did his vital breath
Critical Note
Caesar reputedly put ornamental collars on all his deer, which guaranteed their safety; Caesar’s last deer was killed in Blackmore, according to legend (Eardley); “hart” doubles for “heart” here.
expire
.
In tears he did his vital breath expire.
61
Soe Man that enter’s in’s ſad Mothers fear’s:
So man, that enters
Gloss Note
in his
in’s
sad mother’s fears,
So man that enters in’s sad mother’s fears
62
As he begins, his Exit makes in teares.
As he begins, his exit makes: in tears.
As he begins, his exit makes in tears.
63
That beast which
Physical Note
corrected over “poiſoning”
poiſoned
Waters
Physical Note
“k” written over earlier letter (possibly “ſ”), imperfectly erased with descender visible.
drink’s
with Scorn,
That beast which poisoned waters drinks with scorn,
Gloss Note
the unicorn, whose horns were believed to have the power to purify water
That beast
which poisoned waters drinks with scorn
64
Becauſe ſhee weares a Cordiall in her horne:
Because she wears a
Gloss Note
restorative medicine
cordial
in
Gloss Note
The unicorn’s horn granted it the power to purify toxic waters.
her horn
,
Because she wears a cordial in her horn,
65
ffrom putrefaction ſhee her being drew
From
Gloss Note
rottenness, decay
putrefaction
she her
Critical Note
Aristotle posited that some life forms arose spontaneously from rotting matter.
being drew
;
From putrefaction she her
Critical Note
Aristotle argued in De Generatione et Corruptione that some creatures were born spontaneously out of the putrifying bodies of others. This is another image of potential rebirth out of death; however, as with the phoenix in lines 41-4, Pulter leaves this potential only implicit.
being drew
;
66
Corruption then at least will haue his due.
Corruption, then, at
Physical Note
“least” in the manuscript
last
, will have his due.
Corruption then at least will have his due.
67
Soe Man (a las) no cure can find in Death
So man (alas) no cure can find in death,
So man (alas) no cure can find in death,
68
When he that gave it takes away his breath
When He that gave it takes away
Gloss Note
man’s
his
breath.
When he that gave it takes away his breath.
69
The King of Beasts that doth the forrest range,
The
Gloss Note
lion
king of beasts
that doth the forest range,
The
Gloss Note
lion
king of beasts
that doth the forest range,
70
And at his pleaſure doth his paſture Change:
And, at his pleasure, doth his pasture change,
And at his pleasure doth his pasture change,
and

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71
And (like our Hidra) makes his will his laws
And (like
Critical Note
here, Pulter’s view of the tyranny of the commonwealth government, derived from the multi-headed mythological water snake killed by Hercules; when one head was struck off, two shot up in its place.
our Hydra
) makes his will his laws,
And, like our
Critical Note
in Greek mythology, a many-headed monster whose heads grow again as fast as they are cut off. Pulter uses the Hydra as a figure for Cromwell and the corruption she sees as associated with his rule. See “The Invitation into the Country” (Poem 2), line 4.
Hydra
, makes his will his laws,
72
Tearing his vaſſals w:th his Cruill clawes
Tearing his
Gloss Note
subordinates, slaves
vassals
with his cruel claws,
Tearing his vassals with his cruel claws;
73
As other creatures hath his Terrour felt
As other creatures hath his terror felt,
As other creatures hath his terror felt,
74
Soe Death will doe by him as he hath dealt
So Death will do by him, as he hath dealt.
So death will do by him as he hath dealt.
75
Soe domineering Man his Trophis must
So domineering man, his
Gloss Note
victories, tokens of victory
trophies
must
So domineering man, his trophies must
76
Ere long bee read and ſeene in Nought but dust
Ere long be
Gloss Note
discerned, interpreted
read
and seen in naught but dust.
Ere long be read and seen in nought but dust.
77
That huge Laviathan that playes and sportes
That huge
Gloss Note
enormous sea creature, whale
leviathan
that plays and sports
That huge
Critical Note
aquatic animal (real or imaginary) of enormous size, frequently mentioned in Hebrew poetry; see Job 41:1-33. Pulter (as is common) conflates the leviathan and the whale. See also Pulter’s "This Vast Leviathan" (Emblem 12).
leviathan
that plays and sports
78
And makes mad Reax in Neptunes Azure courts
And
Gloss Note
undertakes pranks (“reax”) in the Roman god of water’s (“Neptune’s”) blue (“azure”) waves
makes mad reax in Neptune’s azure courts
,
And makes mad
Gloss Note
pranks, playful tricks.
rex
in
Gloss Note
Roman god of the sea.
Neptune’s
azure courts,
79
Even he whose fellow was by fates direction
E’en he, whose
Gloss Note
kin
fellow
was, by fate’s direction,
E’en he whose fellow was
Critical Note
A story from Jewish lore of two whales, male and female, castrated and pickled respectively by God to prevent them reproducing and causing widespread destruction Alice Eardley (ed.), Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter Inc. and Centre for Reformation and Restoration Studies, 2014), p. 68.).
by Fate’s direction
80
ffain’d to be powd’rd gainst the Reſurrection
Gloss Note
imagined
Feigned
to be
Critical Note
Eardley cites Jewish lore, which tells of how God sought to prevent the reproduction of whales by pickling (or powdering) the female to serve as food for the righteous in eternity; the afterlife is what surpasses the Resurrection (God’s final judgment at the end of the world).
powdered ’gainst the Resurrection
,
Gloss Note
fabled
Feigned
to be
Gloss Note
salted, pickled for future use; preserved.
powdered
Gloss Note
in preparation for.
’gainst
the resurrection,
81
That
Physical Note
end of word unclear, with apparently later addition of what looks like “a”, possibly part of malformed “n”
ſom[?]
of Pride on the forſaken Shores
That
Critical Note
See Job 41:33-34, referring to the leviathan or whale: “Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear. / He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.”
son of pride
on the forsaken shores,
That
Critical Note
the whale, described in the Bible as “a king over all the children of pride” (Job 41:34). See also Pulter’s "This Vast Leviathan" (Emblem 12), line 9.
son of Pride
on the forsaken shores,
82
Out of his Eliment his life out Rores
Out of his element, his life
Gloss Note
drowns out, throws into confusion
outroars
.
Out of his element his life
Critical Note
Pulter’s meaning here is not “outroar”, a single word meaning to roar louder than (OED v). Rather, she means that the leviathan roars his life out (and in doing so expires). For a similarly distinctive usage, see “The Invitation into the Country”, in which the Thames “her loss deplores / And to the sea her grief out roars” (Poem 2, lines 29-30); and see “The Complaint of Thames, 1647” (Poem 4), line 98: “I will roar out my grief unto the main”.
out roars
.
83
Soe Man though hee all Creatures elce tranſcend
So man, though he all creatures else transcend
So man, though he all creatures else transcend,
84
In Sighs and Groanes, (ah mee) his life must end
In sighs and groans (ah me!), his life must end.
In sighs and groans (ah me) his life must end.
85
The Swiftest Creature that’s below the Moone
The
Gloss Note
dolphin
swiftest creature
that’s below the moon,
The
Gloss Note
the dolphin
swiftest creature
that’s below the moon,
86
Which ſav’d Orions life (alas) how ſoone
Critical Note
Arion, a musician/poet in ancient Greece who was kidnapped by pirates and rescued by dolphins
Which saved Arion’s life
(alas), how soon
Which saved
Critical Note
MS = Orion’s. A Greek lyric poet and harpist, borne to safe land on a dolphin after being thrown overboard by Corinthian sailors. See Katherine Philips’s use of the Arion story to celebrate Charles II’s restoration to the monarchy, “Arion on a Dolphin, to His Majesty in his Passage into England”.
Arion’s
life, alas how
Physical Note
MS = Which saved Orion’s life (alas) how soon. In modernising the punctuation of this line, I have attached the expostulation “alas” to “how soon her race will end” rather than to “saved Arion’s life”. For alternative modernisations of the punctuation of this line, see Leah Knight and Wendy Wall’s Elemental Edition of the poem, and Alice Eardley (ed.), Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter Inc. and Centre for Reformation and Restoration Studies, 2014).
soon
87
Her Race will
Physical Note
“e” or “ev,” scribbled out
[ev]
end even in A little time
Her
Gloss Note
voyage or progress through life; contest of speed; also, species
race
will end; even in a little time
Her race will end; e’en in a little time
88
Shee must returne againe to dirt or Slime
She must return again to dirt or slime.
She must return again to dirt or slime.
89
Soe Man his Destinie can ner’e out run
So man, his destiny can ne’er outrun,
So man his destiny can ne’er outrun;
90
The cruell Parce cuts, Mans life is dun
The cruel
Gloss Note
three Fates who determine length of human lives by cutting threads
Parcae
cuts: man’s life is done.
The cruel
Gloss Note
in Roman mythology, the three Fates, usually depicted as three women who draw forth, measure out, and cut the threads of human life.
Parcae
Physical Note
MS = “cuts”
cut
, man’s life is done.
91
The little Remmora that nere will fayle
The little
Gloss Note
suckerfish that can attach to anything in the water and, in legends, could impede their movement; obstacle
remora
that ne’er will fail
The little
Critical Note
a little fish that attaches itself to the underside of ships, slowing its passage or preventing it entirely from moving (commonly used figuratively or emblematically). See the description in Holland’s translation of Pliny’s Natural History, 2.425.
remora
that ne’er will fail
92
To stop the Proudest Ship thats under Sayle
To stop the proudest ship that’s under sail,
To stop the proudest ship that’s under sail,
93
When Death doth summon her Shee must away
When Death doth summon her, she must away;
When Death doth summon her she must away;
94
ffor all her Art Shee cant make time to Stay
For all her art, she can’t make time to
Gloss Note
halt, support
stay
.
For all her art she can’t make time to stay.
95
So Man that Strives to blurr anothers fame
So man, that strives to
Gloss Note
blemish
blur
another’s fame,
So man that strives to blur another’s fame,
96
Death comes the while and blots out his own name
Death comes the
Gloss Note
meanwhile
while
and
Gloss Note
stains, disfigures in ink
blots
out his own name.
Death comes the while and blots out his own name.
thoſe

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97
Those Cittyes that the Orient kingdoomes gracest
Those cities that the
Gloss Note
eastern
orient
kingdoms
Gloss Note
honors
gracest
,
Those cities that the orient kingdoms gracest,
98
Beneath theere Ruins (Sadly) li’es defacest
Beneath their ruins (sadly) lies defacest:
Beneath their ruins, sadly, lies defacest,
99
As Ninnivie Perſepoles, the faire
Gloss Note
Such as
As
Nineveh, Persepolis the fair,
As
Gloss Note
an ancient Assyrian city founded by Nimrod (Genesis 10:11).
Nineveh
,
Gloss Note
the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire, in ancient Persia.
Persepolis
the fair,
100
And Babilon (Soe famous) all deſpaire
Critical Note
ancient towns that were destroyed; Nineveh, in Assyria (now Iraq); Perseopolis, in ancient Persia (now Iran); Babylon, in ancient Mesopotamia (now Iraq)
And Babylon
(so famous!), all despair
And
Gloss Note
ancient city on the River Euphrates, in Mesopotamia, famous for its monumental buildings and hanging gardens
Babylon
so famous, all despair
101
Of ever being Reſtored againe, and now
Of ever being restored again; and now
Of ever being restored again, and now
102
Wee ſee that all to time and fate muſt bow
We see that all to time and fate must bow.
We see that all to time and fate must bow.
103
Soe wretched Man whoſe Structure is of dust
So wretched man, whose structure is of
Critical Note
see Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
dust
,
So wretched man, whose structure is of dust,
104
After his periods past he moulder must
After his
Gloss Note
time’s
period’s
past, he
Gloss Note
disintegrate
molder
must,
After his period’s past, he moulder must,
105
And this our Globe of Earth er’e long Shall burn
And this, our globe of earth,
Gloss Note
before
ere
long shall burn,
And this our globe of earth ere long shall burn