Why Art Thou Sad at the Approach of Night

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Why Art Thou Sad at the Approach of Night

Poem 47

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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X (Close panel)Notes: Transcription

 Editorial note

In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.
Line number 11

 Physical note

“i” imperfectly erased
Line number 13

 Physical note

both “i”s appear written over “e”s
Line number 13

 Physical note

“C” written over “c”
Line number 27

 Physical note

final “s” and possibly other letters preceding imperfectly erased, then written over
Line number 32

 Physical note

In left margin, in H3: “? : Chaos. or Coffins”
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Transcription
Transcription

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
[Untitled]
Why Art Thou Sad at the Approach of Night
[Untitled]
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
At nightfall, in stanzas that allude to the folksy and familiar meter of popular ballads, the speaker soothes her saddened soul; but the proffered solace might seem cold comfort, since it requires the embrace of death (a precondition of a promised return to life). The speaker thus broadens her address to hail the Fates, who are dared, in a nearly paradoxical rhyme, to do “right” by the speaker through their “spite”: that is, she invites them to kill her. This careless bravado extends to her boasted fearlessness of the classical Furies, and her contentment to lie down in her grave; but the poem’s incongruous final image, likening that grave—the earth, and hence her “cause”—to her “finest downy bed,” revives some of the disquiet of the opening scene.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Like many of Pulter’s religious poems, this one begins as an address to her “melancholy soul” (2), encouraging it to desist in its spiritual complaint. “Night” and “light” are in this context representations of death and life, and Pulter uses the “revolution” of day and night to figure a cycle of “life and death and life” (12); that is, life, death, and resurrection. The poem builds as it progresses on a set of ideas and images that recurs throughout Pulter’s poems: the “dissolution” (disintegration into elements or dust) of the body in death, and the interrelated process of “revolution” (alteration, change, transmutation of elements) or renewal in God’s love. Pulter sees life, death, and renewal in God as a circular process, and “revolution” is a word and image she uses repeatedly for this positive transformation in God: “revolution / Is the preserving of the universe / From dissolution” (lines 18-20). Revolution is, then, an image for the way in which Christ’s sacrifice has conquered death: “Death at last is conquered quite, / O happy victory!” (7-8). For the biblical sources for this idea, see note to lines 7-8 (below); and among Pulter’s other poems, see The Eclipse [Poem 1], especially lines 43-8 and 65-6; and Immense Fount of Truth [Poem 48].
Pulter’s devotional musings on dissolution and revolution are distinctive and recurrent. She commonly pairs “dissolve / revolve” and “dissolution / revolution” in rhyme, as she does in stanzas 3 and 5 of this poem. “The Eclipse” has very similar concerns, and uses this rhyme three times; in that poem, revolution is a “passage” to eternal love (line 45). She uses the same rhyme in the poem immediately following this one, “Immense Fount of Truth”; in that poem, “the stairs of revolution” enable the speaker to “attain thy radiant throne above” (lines 5-6). See the amplified edition of “Immense Fount of Truth”, edited by Elizabeth Scott-Baumann.
In the last three stanzas of the poem, Pulter melds her concept of dissolution and revolution with other of her recurring images: those of dust and “causes”, the elements or matter from which the body is first produced, and to which it returns in death. Pulter’s dust is analogous to George Herbert’s, whose “Easter” she may echo in the “dust / just” rhyme of lines 22 and 24. Herbert’s lines are “as his death calcined thee to dust, / His life may make thee gold, and much more just” (lines 5-6); see also My Heart Why Do Thou Throb So in My Breast? [Poem 49]. For a similar sense of “causes” as the dust-like first elements to which one is returned in death, see Universal Dissolution [Poem 6], lines 14, 32, 46. Present in her use of both terms (“dust”, “causes”) is the sense of dissolution to these elements being necessary for the revolutionary passage into heavenly glory—the “happy victory” over death.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Why art thou Sad at the aproach of Night
Why art thou sad at the approach of night,
Why art thou sad at the approach of night,
2
My Melancholly Soul
My melancholy soul?
My melancholy soul?
3
Should not obſcurity and cheerfull Light
Should not obscurity and cheerful light
Should not obscurity and cheerful light
4
After each other Rowl
After each other
Gloss Note
proceed; revolve; flow
roll
?
After each other roll?
5
For as Sad Gloomey Shades doth follow Light
For, as sad gloomy shades doth follow light,
For as sad, gloomy shades doth follow light,
6
Soe after Life wee die
So after life we die;
So after life we die;
7
But Death at last is Conquered quite
But death at last is conquered quite:
But
Critical Note
For the biblical idea that Christ’s sacrifice defeated death itself, see Revelation 21:4, “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away”, and 1 Corinthians 15:55, “O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?” John Donne’s Holy Sonnet “Death, be not proud” ends with the declaration, “Death, thou shalt die”.
Death at last is conquered
quite,
8
O happy Victory
O happy victory.
O happy victory!
9
Ther’s nothing like dayes deſolution
There’s nothing like day’s dissolution
There’s nothing like
Critical Note
The end of the day; but also setting up the use of the term in line 20 to mean (as Pulter recurrently does) a material reduction to elements or atoms, disintegration.
Textual Note
In the manuscript, here and at line 20, the word is written as “desolution” (with possible echoes of “desolation”).
day’s dissolution
10
Within my Mind Soe Rife
Within my mind so
Gloss Note
frequent, common
rife
;
Within my mind so
Gloss Note
prevalent, especially of a destructive or undesirable condition
rife
;
11
Mee thinks
Physical Note
“i” imperfectly erased
[i]t’is
like the Revolution
Methinks ’tis like the revolution
Methinks it’s like the
Gloss Note
alteration, change, transmutation of elements (OED n. II 7.a.); and see Headnote.
revolution
12
Of Life and Death and Life
Of life and death and life.
Of life and death and life.
13
Come cruell
Physical Note
both “i”s appear written over “e”s
Lachiſis
and
Physical Note
“C” written over “c”
Clotho
both
Come, cruel
Gloss Note
in classical myth, two of three female Fates who determine the length of human lives, represented as threads
Lachesis and Clotho
both,
Come, cruel
Gloss Note
in Roman mythology, two of the three Fates, who spin and cut the threads of life: Lachesis does the “lot-casting”, Clotho the “spinning”. Pulter’s speaker goads the Fates in this stanza: their actions cause her no fear because of her confidence in victory over death, through God’s love.
Lachesis and Clotho
both,
14
Come Shew your outmost Spite
Come, show your
Gloss Note
most extreme
outmost
spite:
Come, show your outmost spite;
15
Mee thinks you twirle and twist, as Loth
Methinks you
Gloss Note
the threads of fate
twirl and twist
as loath
Methinks you twirl and twist, as loath
16
To come and doe mee Right
To come and do me right.
To come and do me right.
ffor

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
17
For Seeing the Voice of Nature doth rehears
For, seeing the voice of nature doth
Gloss Note
report; repeat
rehearse
For seeing the voice of Nature doth rehearse
18
That Revolution
That revolution
That revolution
19
Is the preſerving of the Univerſ
Is the preserving of the universe
Is the preserving of the universe
20
ffrom Deſolution
From dissolution,
From
Critical Note
A material reduction to elements or atoms, disintegration. See discussion in the Headnote; and see also Milton’s later use of the term in his description of the Last Judgement in Paradise Lost, 12.459, “When this world’s dissolution shall be ripe” (OED n1.a).
Textual Note
In the manuscript, here and at line 9, the word is written as “desolution” (with possible echoes of “desolation”).
dissolution
,
21
What need I care then when I doe expire
What need I care, then, when I do expire,
What need I care, then, when I do expire,
22
Although I turn to Dust
Although I turn to
Critical Note
finely disintegrated matter; 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
,
Although I turn to
Critical Note
see Genesis 2:7, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground” and Genesis 3:19, “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”.
dust
,
23
Seeing totall Nature still is kept intire
Seeing total nature still is kept entire,
Seeing total Nature still is kept entire,
24
In all her Actions Just
In all her actions just?
In all her actions just?
25
Then let Erinnys and her Curſed train
Then let
Critical Note
in classical myth, Erinys is a goddess of punishment known as a fury; “train” here likely signifies her followers, but may also signify treachery; a trap; artillery; manner of action; consequences.
Erinys and her cursed train
Then let
Gloss Note
In Greek mythology, the Erinys, also known as the Furies or the Eumenides, were goddesses who represented the dead and avenged the crimes of the living. They were often depicted with snakes for hair and holding torches (blazing brands). As with the Fates in line 13, these fearful classical Furies do not scare Pulter’s speaker, whose confidence is in the Christian God.
Erinys and her cursed train
26
Scare thoſe that feare their Might
Scare those that fear their might;
Scare those that fear their might;
27
Their blazing Brands and
Physical Note
final “s” and possibly other letters preceding imperfectly erased, then written over
Viperss
Vain
Their
Gloss Note
The Furies were represented as carrying torches and scourges, and wreathed with snakes.
blazing brands and vipers vain
Their blazing brands and vipers vain
28
Shall mee noe More Afright
Shall me no more affright.
Shall me no more affright.
29
For I as gladly in my quiet Grave
For I as gladly in my quiet grave
For I as gladly in my quiet grave
30
Will lay mee down to rest
Will lay me down to rest
Will lay me down to rest
31
As in the ffinest downey Bed I have,
As in the finest downy bed I have,
As in the finest downy bed I have;
32
Physical Note
In left margin, in H3: “? : Chaos. or Coffins”
In
Cauſses all Sleep best
In
Gloss Note
place or material of origin
causes
all sleep best.
In
Critical Note
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 “dust”, line 22.) Pulter uses “cause” distinctively and recurrently to bring together the grave, and the elements or matter from which the body is first produced, and to which it returns in death. See Universal Dissolution [Poem 6], lines 14, 32, 46.
Textual Note
In the manuscript, a note in the left hand margin indicates a reader’s struggle to make sense of the word (“Causses”); it notes, “? : Chaos. or Coffins”. This is the later, “antiquarian” hand (perhaps Angel Chauncy), which has made several annotations to the manuscript (see Ross 2000, pp. 150-171 and 252-4).
causes
all sleep best.
X (Close panel)Notes: Elemental Edition

 Editorial note

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

 Headnote

At nightfall, in stanzas that allude to the folksy and familiar meter of popular ballads, the speaker soothes her saddened soul; but the proffered solace might seem cold comfort, since it requires the embrace of death (a precondition of a promised return to life). The speaker thus broadens her address to hail the Fates, who are dared, in a nearly paradoxical rhyme, to do “right” by the speaker through their “spite”: that is, she invites them to kill her. This careless bravado extends to her boasted fearlessness of the classical Furies, and her contentment to lie down in her grave; but the poem’s incongruous final image, likening that grave—the earth, and hence her “cause”—to her “finest downy bed,” revives some of the disquiet of the opening scene.
Line number 4

 Gloss note

proceed; revolve; flow
Line number 10

 Gloss note

frequent, common
Line number 13

 Gloss note

in classical myth, two of three female Fates who determine the length of human lives, represented as threads
Line number 14

 Gloss note

most extreme
Line number 15

 Gloss note

the threads of fate
Line number 17

 Gloss note

report; repeat
Line number 22

 Critical note

finely disintegrated matter; 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 25

 Critical note

in classical myth, Erinys is a goddess of punishment known as a fury; “train” here likely signifies her followers, but may also signify treachery; a trap; artillery; manner of action; consequences.
Line number 27

 Gloss note

The Furies were represented as carrying torches and scourges, and wreathed with snakes.
Line number 32

 Gloss note

place or material of origin
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Elemental Edition
Elemental Edition

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
[Untitled]
Why Art Thou Sad at the Approach of Night
[Untitled]
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
At nightfall, in stanzas that allude to the folksy and familiar meter of popular ballads, the speaker soothes her saddened soul; but the proffered solace might seem cold comfort, since it requires the embrace of death (a precondition of a promised return to life). The speaker thus broadens her address to hail the Fates, who are dared, in a nearly paradoxical rhyme, to do “right” by the speaker through their “spite”: that is, she invites them to kill her. This careless bravado extends to her boasted fearlessness of the classical Furies, and her contentment to lie down in her grave; but the poem’s incongruous final image, likening that grave—the earth, and hence her “cause”—to her “finest downy bed,” revives some of the disquiet of the opening scene.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Like many of Pulter’s religious poems, this one begins as an address to her “melancholy soul” (2), encouraging it to desist in its spiritual complaint. “Night” and “light” are in this context representations of death and life, and Pulter uses the “revolution” of day and night to figure a cycle of “life and death and life” (12); that is, life, death, and resurrection. The poem builds as it progresses on a set of ideas and images that recurs throughout Pulter’s poems: the “dissolution” (disintegration into elements or dust) of the body in death, and the interrelated process of “revolution” (alteration, change, transmutation of elements) or renewal in God’s love. Pulter sees life, death, and renewal in God as a circular process, and “revolution” is a word and image she uses repeatedly for this positive transformation in God: “revolution / Is the preserving of the universe / From dissolution” (lines 18-20). Revolution is, then, an image for the way in which Christ’s sacrifice has conquered death: “Death at last is conquered quite, / O happy victory!” (7-8). For the biblical sources for this idea, see note to lines 7-8 (below); and among Pulter’s other poems, see The Eclipse [Poem 1], especially lines 43-8 and 65-6; and Immense Fount of Truth [Poem 48].
Pulter’s devotional musings on dissolution and revolution are distinctive and recurrent. She commonly pairs “dissolve / revolve” and “dissolution / revolution” in rhyme, as she does in stanzas 3 and 5 of this poem. “The Eclipse” has very similar concerns, and uses this rhyme three times; in that poem, revolution is a “passage” to eternal love (line 45). She uses the same rhyme in the poem immediately following this one, “Immense Fount of Truth”; in that poem, “the stairs of revolution” enable the speaker to “attain thy radiant throne above” (lines 5-6). See the amplified edition of “Immense Fount of Truth”, edited by Elizabeth Scott-Baumann.
In the last three stanzas of the poem, Pulter melds her concept of dissolution and revolution with other of her recurring images: those of dust and “causes”, the elements or matter from which the body is first produced, and to which it returns in death. Pulter’s dust is analogous to George Herbert’s, whose “Easter” she may echo in the “dust / just” rhyme of lines 22 and 24. Herbert’s lines are “as his death calcined thee to dust, / His life may make thee gold, and much more just” (lines 5-6); see also My Heart Why Do Thou Throb So in My Breast? [Poem 49]. For a similar sense of “causes” as the dust-like first elements to which one is returned in death, see Universal Dissolution [Poem 6], lines 14, 32, 46. Present in her use of both terms (“dust”, “causes”) is the sense of dissolution to these elements being necessary for the revolutionary passage into heavenly glory—the “happy victory” over death.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Why art thou Sad at the aproach of Night
Why art thou sad at the approach of night,
Why art thou sad at the approach of night,
2
My Melancholly Soul
My melancholy soul?
My melancholy soul?
3
Should not obſcurity and cheerfull Light
Should not obscurity and cheerful light
Should not obscurity and cheerful light
4
After each other Rowl
After each other
Gloss Note
proceed; revolve; flow
roll
?
After each other roll?
5
For as Sad Gloomey Shades doth follow Light
For, as sad gloomy shades doth follow light,
For as sad, gloomy shades doth follow light,
6
Soe after Life wee die
So after life we die;
So after life we die;
7
But Death at last is Conquered quite
But death at last is conquered quite:
But
Critical Note
For the biblical idea that Christ’s sacrifice defeated death itself, see Revelation 21:4, “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away”, and 1 Corinthians 15:55, “O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?” John Donne’s Holy Sonnet “Death, be not proud” ends with the declaration, “Death, thou shalt die”.
Death at last is conquered
quite,
8
O happy Victory
O happy victory.
O happy victory!
9
Ther’s nothing like dayes deſolution
There’s nothing like day’s dissolution
There’s nothing like
Critical Note
The end of the day; but also setting up the use of the term in line 20 to mean (as Pulter recurrently does) a material reduction to elements or atoms, disintegration.
Textual Note
In the manuscript, here and at line 20, the word is written as “desolution” (with possible echoes of “desolation”).
day’s dissolution
10
Within my Mind Soe Rife
Within my mind so
Gloss Note
frequent, common
rife
;
Within my mind so
Gloss Note
prevalent, especially of a destructive or undesirable condition
rife
;
11
Mee thinks
Physical Note
“i” imperfectly erased
[i]t’is
like the Revolution
Methinks ’tis like the revolution
Methinks it’s like the
Gloss Note
alteration, change, transmutation of elements (OED n. II 7.a.); and see Headnote.
revolution
12
Of Life and Death and Life
Of life and death and life.
Of life and death and life.
13
Come cruell
Physical Note
both “i”s appear written over “e”s
Lachiſis
and
Physical Note
“C” written over “c”
Clotho
both
Come, cruel
Gloss Note
in classical myth, two of three female Fates who determine the length of human lives, represented as threads
Lachesis and Clotho
both,
Come, cruel
Gloss Note
in Roman mythology, two of the three Fates, who spin and cut the threads of life: Lachesis does the “lot-casting”, Clotho the “spinning”. Pulter’s speaker goads the Fates in this stanza: their actions cause her no fear because of her confidence in victory over death, through God’s love.
Lachesis and Clotho
both,
14
Come Shew your outmost Spite
Come, show your
Gloss Note
most extreme
outmost
spite:
Come, show your outmost spite;
15
Mee thinks you twirle and twist, as Loth
Methinks you
Gloss Note
the threads of fate
twirl and twist
as loath
Methinks you twirl and twist, as loath
16
To come and doe mee Right
To come and do me right.
To come and do me right.
ffor

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
17
For Seeing the Voice of Nature doth rehears
For, seeing the voice of nature doth
Gloss Note
report; repeat
rehearse
For seeing the voice of Nature doth rehearse
18
That Revolution
That revolution
That revolution
19
Is the preſerving of the Univerſ
Is the preserving of the universe
Is the preserving of the universe
20
ffrom Deſolution
From dissolution,
From
Critical Note
A material reduction to elements or atoms, disintegration. See discussion in the Headnote; and see also Milton’s later use of the term in his description of the Last Judgement in Paradise Lost, 12.459, “When this world’s dissolution shall be ripe” (OED n1.a).
Textual Note
In the manuscript, here and at line 9, the word is written as “desolution” (with possible echoes of “desolation”).
dissolution
,
21
What need I care then when I doe expire
What need I care, then, when I do expire,
What need I care, then, when I do expire,
22
Although I turn to Dust
Although I turn to
Critical Note
finely disintegrated matter; 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
,
Although I turn to
Critical Note
see Genesis 2:7, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground” and Genesis 3:19, “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”.
dust
,
23
Seeing totall Nature still is kept intire
Seeing total nature still is kept entire,
Seeing total Nature still is kept entire,
24
In all her Actions Just
In all her actions just?
In all her actions just?
25
Then let Erinnys and her Curſed train
Then let
Critical Note
in classical myth, Erinys is a goddess of punishment known as a fury; “train” here likely signifies her followers, but may also signify treachery; a trap; artillery; manner of action; consequences.
Erinys and her cursed train
Then let
Gloss Note
In Greek mythology, the Erinys, also known as the Furies or the Eumenides, were goddesses who represented the dead and avenged the crimes of the living. They were often depicted with snakes for hair and holding torches (blazing brands). As with the Fates in line 13, these fearful classical Furies do not scare Pulter’s speaker, whose confidence is in the Christian God.
Erinys and her cursed train
26
Scare thoſe that feare their Might
Scare those that fear their might;
Scare those that fear their might;
27
Their blazing Brands and
Physical Note
final “s” and possibly other letters preceding imperfectly erased, then written over
Viperss
Vain
Their
Gloss Note
The Furies were represented as carrying torches and scourges, and wreathed with snakes.
blazing brands and vipers vain
Their blazing brands and vipers vain
28
Shall mee noe More Afright
Shall me no more affright.
Shall me no more affright.
29
For I as gladly in my quiet Grave
For I as gladly in my quiet grave
For I as gladly in my quiet grave
30
Will lay mee down to rest
Will lay me down to rest
Will lay me down to rest
31
As in the ffinest downey Bed I have,
As in the finest downy bed I have,
As in the finest downy bed I have;
32
Physical Note
In left margin, in H3: “? : Chaos. or Coffins”
In
Cauſses all Sleep best
In
Gloss Note
place or material of origin
causes
all sleep best.
In
Critical Note
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 “dust”, line 22.) Pulter uses “cause” distinctively and recurrently to bring together the grave, and the elements or matter from which the body is first produced, and to which it returns in death. See Universal Dissolution [Poem 6], lines 14, 32, 46.
Textual Note
In the manuscript, a note in the left hand margin indicates a reader’s struggle to make sense of the word (“Causses”); it notes, “? : Chaos. or Coffins”. This is the later, “antiquarian” hand (perhaps Angel Chauncy), which has made several annotations to the manuscript (see Ross 2000, pp. 150-171 and 252-4).
causes
all sleep best.
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition

 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

Like many of Pulter’s religious poems, this one begins as an address to her “melancholy soul” (2), encouraging it to desist in its spiritual complaint. “Night” and “light” are in this context representations of death and life, and Pulter uses the “revolution” of day and night to figure a cycle of “life and death and life” (12); that is, life, death, and resurrection. The poem builds as it progresses on a set of ideas and images that recurs throughout Pulter’s poems: the “dissolution” (disintegration into elements or dust) of the body in death, and the interrelated process of “revolution” (alteration, change, transmutation of elements) or renewal in God’s love. Pulter sees life, death, and renewal in God as a circular process, and “revolution” is a word and image she uses repeatedly for this positive transformation in God: “revolution / Is the preserving of the universe / From dissolution” (lines 18-20). Revolution is, then, an image for the way in which Christ’s sacrifice has conquered death: “Death at last is conquered quite, / O happy victory!” (7-8). For the biblical sources for this idea, see note to lines 7-8 (below); and among Pulter’s other poems, see The Eclipse [Poem 1], especially lines 43-8 and 65-6; and Immense Fount of Truth [Poem 48].
Pulter’s devotional musings on dissolution and revolution are distinctive and recurrent. She commonly pairs “dissolve / revolve” and “dissolution / revolution” in rhyme, as she does in stanzas 3 and 5 of this poem. “The Eclipse” has very similar concerns, and uses this rhyme three times; in that poem, revolution is a “passage” to eternal love (line 45). She uses the same rhyme in the poem immediately following this one, “Immense Fount of Truth”; in that poem, “the stairs of revolution” enable the speaker to “attain thy radiant throne above” (lines 5-6). See the amplified edition of “Immense Fount of Truth”, edited by Elizabeth Scott-Baumann.
In the last three stanzas of the poem, Pulter melds her concept of dissolution and revolution with other of her recurring images: those of dust and “causes”, the elements or matter from which the body is first produced, and to which it returns in death. Pulter’s dust is analogous to George Herbert’s, whose “Easter” she may echo in the “dust / just” rhyme of lines 22 and 24. Herbert’s lines are “as his death calcined thee to dust, / His life may make thee gold, and much more just” (lines 5-6); see also My Heart Why Do Thou Throb So in My Breast? [Poem 49]. For a similar sense of “causes” as the dust-like first elements to which one is returned in death, see Universal Dissolution [Poem 6], lines 14, 32, 46. Present in her use of both terms (“dust”, “causes”) is the sense of dissolution to these elements being necessary for the revolutionary passage into heavenly glory—the “happy victory” over death.
Line number 7

 Critical note

For the biblical idea that Christ’s sacrifice defeated death itself, see Revelation 21:4, “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away”, and 1 Corinthians 15:55, “O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?” John Donne’s Holy Sonnet “Death, be not proud” ends with the declaration, “Death, thou shalt die”.
Line number 9

 Critical note

The end of the day; but also setting up the use of the term in line 20 to mean (as Pulter recurrently does) a material reduction to elements or atoms, disintegration.
Line number 9

 Textual note

In the manuscript, here and at line 20, the word is written as “desolution” (with possible echoes of “desolation”).
Line number 10

 Gloss note

prevalent, especially of a destructive or undesirable condition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

alteration, change, transmutation of elements (OED n. II 7.a.); and see Headnote.
Line number 13

 Gloss note

in Roman mythology, two of the three Fates, who spin and cut the threads of life: Lachesis does the “lot-casting”, Clotho the “spinning”. Pulter’s speaker goads the Fates in this stanza: their actions cause her no fear because of her confidence in victory over death, through God’s love.
Line number 20

 Critical note

A material reduction to elements or atoms, disintegration. See discussion in the Headnote; and see also Milton’s later use of the term in his description of the Last Judgement in Paradise Lost, 12.459, “When this world’s dissolution shall be ripe” (OED n1.a).
Line number 20

 Textual note

In the manuscript, here and at line 9, the word is written as “desolution” (with possible echoes of “desolation”).
Line number 22

 Critical note

see Genesis 2:7, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground” and Genesis 3:19, “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”.
Line number 25

 Gloss note

In Greek mythology, the Erinys, also known as the Furies or the Eumenides, were goddesses who represented the dead and avenged the crimes of the living. They were often depicted with snakes for hair and holding torches (blazing brands). As with the Fates in line 13, these fearful classical Furies do not scare Pulter’s speaker, whose confidence is in the Christian God.
Line number 32

 Critical note

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 “dust”, line 22.) Pulter uses “cause” distinctively and recurrently to bring together the grave, and the elements or matter from which the body is first produced, and to which it returns in death. See Universal Dissolution [Poem 6], lines 14, 32, 46.
Line number 32

 Textual note

In the manuscript, a note in the left hand margin indicates a reader’s struggle to make sense of the word (“Causses”); it notes, “? : Chaos. or Coffins”. This is the later, “antiquarian” hand (perhaps Angel Chauncy), which has made several annotations to the manuscript (see Ross 2000, pp. 150-171 and 252-4).
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Amplified Edition
Amplified Edition

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[Untitled]
Why Art Thou Sad at the Approach of Night
[Untitled]
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
At nightfall, in stanzas that allude to the folksy and familiar meter of popular ballads, the speaker soothes her saddened soul; but the proffered solace might seem cold comfort, since it requires the embrace of death (a precondition of a promised return to life). The speaker thus broadens her address to hail the Fates, who are dared, in a nearly paradoxical rhyme, to do “right” by the speaker through their “spite”: that is, she invites them to kill her. This careless bravado extends to her boasted fearlessness of the classical Furies, and her contentment to lie down in her grave; but the poem’s incongruous final image, likening that grave—the earth, and hence her “cause”—to her “finest downy bed,” revives some of the disquiet of the opening scene.

— Sarah C. E. Ross
Like many of Pulter’s religious poems, this one begins as an address to her “melancholy soul” (2), encouraging it to desist in its spiritual complaint. “Night” and “light” are in this context representations of death and life, and Pulter uses the “revolution” of day and night to figure a cycle of “life and death and life” (12); that is, life, death, and resurrection. The poem builds as it progresses on a set of ideas and images that recurs throughout Pulter’s poems: the “dissolution” (disintegration into elements or dust) of the body in death, and the interrelated process of “revolution” (alteration, change, transmutation of elements) or renewal in God’s love. Pulter sees life, death, and renewal in God as a circular process, and “revolution” is a word and image she uses repeatedly for this positive transformation in God: “revolution / Is the preserving of the universe / From dissolution” (lines 18-20). Revolution is, then, an image for the way in which Christ’s sacrifice has conquered death: “Death at last is conquered quite, / O happy victory!” (7-8). For the biblical sources for this idea, see note to lines 7-8 (below); and among Pulter’s other poems, see The Eclipse [Poem 1], especially lines 43-8 and 65-6; and Immense Fount of Truth [Poem 48].
Pulter’s devotional musings on dissolution and revolution are distinctive and recurrent. She commonly pairs “dissolve / revolve” and “dissolution / revolution” in rhyme, as she does in stanzas 3 and 5 of this poem. “The Eclipse” has very similar concerns, and uses this rhyme three times; in that poem, revolution is a “passage” to eternal love (line 45). She uses the same rhyme in the poem immediately following this one, “Immense Fount of Truth”; in that poem, “the stairs of revolution” enable the speaker to “attain thy radiant throne above” (lines 5-6). See the amplified edition of “Immense Fount of Truth”, edited by Elizabeth Scott-Baumann.
In the last three stanzas of the poem, Pulter melds her concept of dissolution and revolution with other of her recurring images: those of dust and “causes”, the elements or matter from which the body is first produced, and to which it returns in death. Pulter’s dust is analogous to George Herbert’s, whose “Easter” she may echo in the “dust / just” rhyme of lines 22 and 24. Herbert’s lines are “as his death calcined thee to dust, / His life may make thee gold, and much more just” (lines 5-6); see also My Heart Why Do Thou Throb So in My Breast? [Poem 49]. For a similar sense of “causes” as the dust-like first elements to which one is returned in death, see Universal Dissolution [Poem 6], lines 14, 32, 46. Present in her use of both terms (“dust”, “causes”) is the sense of dissolution to these elements being necessary for the revolutionary passage into heavenly glory—the “happy victory” over death.


— Sarah C. E. Ross
1
Why art thou Sad at the aproach of Night
Why art thou sad at the approach of night,
Why art thou sad at the approach of night,
2
My Melancholly Soul
My melancholy soul?
My melancholy soul?
3
Should not obſcurity and cheerfull Light
Should not obscurity and cheerful light
Should not obscurity and cheerful light
4
After each other Rowl
After each other
Gloss Note
proceed; revolve; flow
roll
?
After each other roll?
5
For as Sad Gloomey Shades doth follow Light
For, as sad gloomy shades doth follow light,
For as sad, gloomy shades doth follow light,
6
Soe after Life wee die
So after life we die;
So after life we die;
7
But Death at last is Conquered quite
But death at last is conquered quite:
But
Critical Note
For the biblical idea that Christ’s sacrifice defeated death itself, see Revelation 21:4, “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away”, and 1 Corinthians 15:55, “O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?” John Donne’s Holy Sonnet “Death, be not proud” ends with the declaration, “Death, thou shalt die”.
Death at last is conquered
quite,
8
O happy Victory
O happy victory.
O happy victory!
9
Ther’s nothing like dayes deſolution
There’s nothing like day’s dissolution
There’s nothing like
Critical Note
The end of the day; but also setting up the use of the term in line 20 to mean (as Pulter recurrently does) a material reduction to elements or atoms, disintegration.
Textual Note
In the manuscript, here and at line 20, the word is written as “desolution” (with possible echoes of “desolation”).
day’s dissolution
10
Within my Mind Soe Rife
Within my mind so
Gloss Note
frequent, common
rife
;
Within my mind so
Gloss Note
prevalent, especially of a destructive or undesirable condition
rife
;
11
Mee thinks
Physical Note
“i” imperfectly erased
[i]t’is
like the Revolution
Methinks ’tis like the revolution
Methinks it’s like the
Gloss Note
alteration, change, transmutation of elements (OED n. II 7.a.); and see Headnote.
revolution
12
Of Life and Death and Life
Of life and death and life.
Of life and death and life.
13
Come cruell
Physical Note
both “i”s appear written over “e”s
Lachiſis
and
Physical Note
“C” written over “c”
Clotho
both
Come, cruel
Gloss Note
in classical myth, two of three female Fates who determine the length of human lives, represented as threads
Lachesis and Clotho
both,
Come, cruel
Gloss Note
in Roman mythology, two of the three Fates, who spin and cut the threads of life: Lachesis does the “lot-casting”, Clotho the “spinning”. Pulter’s speaker goads the Fates in this stanza: their actions cause her no fear because of her confidence in victory over death, through God’s love.
Lachesis and Clotho
both,
14
Come Shew your outmost Spite
Come, show your
Gloss Note
most extreme
outmost
spite:
Come, show your outmost spite;
15
Mee thinks you twirle and twist, as Loth
Methinks you
Gloss Note
the threads of fate
twirl and twist
as loath
Methinks you twirl and twist, as loath
16
To come and doe mee Right
To come and do me right.
To come and do me right.
ffor

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17
For Seeing the Voice of Nature doth rehears
For, seeing the voice of nature doth
Gloss Note
report; repeat
rehearse
For seeing the voice of Nature doth rehearse
18
That Revolution
That revolution
That revolution
19
Is the preſerving of the Univerſ
Is the preserving of the universe
Is the preserving of the universe
20
ffrom Deſolution
From dissolution,
From
Critical Note
A material reduction to elements or atoms, disintegration. See discussion in the Headnote; and see also Milton’s later use of the term in his description of the Last Judgement in Paradise Lost, 12.459, “When this world’s dissolution shall be ripe” (OED n1.a).
Textual Note
In the manuscript, here and at line 9, the word is written as “desolution” (with possible echoes of “desolation”).
dissolution
,
21
What need I care then when I doe expire
What need I care, then, when I do expire,
What need I care, then, when I do expire,
22
Although I turn to Dust
Although I turn to
Critical Note
finely disintegrated matter; 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
,
Although I turn to
Critical Note
see Genesis 2:7, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground” and Genesis 3:19, “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”.
dust
,
23
Seeing totall Nature still is kept intire
Seeing total nature still is kept entire,
Seeing total Nature still is kept entire,
24
In all her Actions Just
In all her actions just?
In all her actions just?
25
Then let Erinnys and her Curſed train
Then let
Critical Note
in classical myth, Erinys is a goddess of punishment known as a fury; “train” here likely signifies her followers, but may also signify treachery; a trap; artillery; manner of action; consequences.
Erinys and her cursed train
Then let
Gloss Note
In Greek mythology, the Erinys, also known as the Furies or the Eumenides, were goddesses who represented the dead and avenged the crimes of the living. They were often depicted with snakes for hair and holding torches (blazing brands). As with the Fates in line 13, these fearful classical Furies do not scare Pulter’s speaker, whose confidence is in the Christian God.
Erinys and her cursed train
26
Scare thoſe that feare their Might
Scare those that fear their might;
Scare those that fear their might;
27
Their blazing Brands and
Physical Note
final “s” and possibly other letters preceding imperfectly erased, then written over
Viperss
Vain
Their
Gloss Note
The Furies were represented as carrying torches and scourges, and wreathed with snakes.
blazing brands and vipers vain
Their blazing brands and vipers vain
28
Shall mee noe More Afright
Shall me no more affright.
Shall me no more affright.
29
For I as gladly in my quiet Grave
For I as gladly in my quiet grave
For I as gladly in my quiet grave
30
Will lay mee down to rest
Will lay me down to rest
Will lay me down to rest
31
As in the ffinest downey Bed I have,
As in the finest downy bed I have,
As in the finest downy bed I have;
32
Physical Note
In left margin, in H3: “? : Chaos. or Coffins”
In
Cauſses all Sleep best
In
Gloss Note
place or material of origin
causes
all sleep best.
In
Critical Note
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 “dust”, line 22.) Pulter uses “cause” distinctively and recurrently to bring together the grave, and the elements or matter from which the body is first produced, and to which it returns in death. See Universal Dissolution [Poem 6], lines 14, 32, 46.
Textual Note
In the manuscript, a note in the left hand margin indicates a reader’s struggle to make sense of the word (“Causses”); it notes, “? : Chaos. or Coffins”. This is the later, “antiquarian” hand (perhaps Angel Chauncy), which has made several annotations to the manuscript (see Ross 2000, pp. 150-171 and 252-4).
causes
all sleep best.
X (Close panel) All Notes
Transcription

 Editorial note

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

 Editorial note

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

 Editorial note

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
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

At nightfall, in stanzas that allude to the folksy and familiar meter of popular ballads, the speaker soothes her saddened soul; but the proffered solace might seem cold comfort, since it requires the embrace of death (a precondition of a promised return to life). The speaker thus broadens her address to hail the Fates, who are dared, in a nearly paradoxical rhyme, to do “right” by the speaker through their “spite”: that is, she invites them to kill her. This careless bravado extends to her boasted fearlessness of the classical Furies, and her contentment to lie down in her grave; but the poem’s incongruous final image, likening that grave—the earth, and hence her “cause”—to her “finest downy bed,” revives some of the disquiet of the opening scene.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

Like many of Pulter’s religious poems, this one begins as an address to her “melancholy soul” (2), encouraging it to desist in its spiritual complaint. “Night” and “light” are in this context representations of death and life, and Pulter uses the “revolution” of day and night to figure a cycle of “life and death and life” (12); that is, life, death, and resurrection. The poem builds as it progresses on a set of ideas and images that recurs throughout Pulter’s poems: the “dissolution” (disintegration into elements or dust) of the body in death, and the interrelated process of “revolution” (alteration, change, transmutation of elements) or renewal in God’s love. Pulter sees life, death, and renewal in God as a circular process, and “revolution” is a word and image she uses repeatedly for this positive transformation in God: “revolution / Is the preserving of the universe / From dissolution” (lines 18-20). Revolution is, then, an image for the way in which Christ’s sacrifice has conquered death: “Death at last is conquered quite, / O happy victory!” (7-8). For the biblical sources for this idea, see note to lines 7-8 (below); and among Pulter’s other poems, see The Eclipse [Poem 1], especially lines 43-8 and 65-6; and Immense Fount of Truth [Poem 48].
Pulter’s devotional musings on dissolution and revolution are distinctive and recurrent. She commonly pairs “dissolve / revolve” and “dissolution / revolution” in rhyme, as she does in stanzas 3 and 5 of this poem. “The Eclipse” has very similar concerns, and uses this rhyme three times; in that poem, revolution is a “passage” to eternal love (line 45). She uses the same rhyme in the poem immediately following this one, “Immense Fount of Truth”; in that poem, “the stairs of revolution” enable the speaker to “attain thy radiant throne above” (lines 5-6). See the amplified edition of “Immense Fount of Truth”, edited by Elizabeth Scott-Baumann.
In the last three stanzas of the poem, Pulter melds her concept of dissolution and revolution with other of her recurring images: those of dust and “causes”, the elements or matter from which the body is first produced, and to which it returns in death. Pulter’s dust is analogous to George Herbert’s, whose “Easter” she may echo in the “dust / just” rhyme of lines 22 and 24. Herbert’s lines are “as his death calcined thee to dust, / His life may make thee gold, and much more just” (lines 5-6); see also My Heart Why Do Thou Throb So in My Breast? [Poem 49]. For a similar sense of “causes” as the dust-like first elements to which one is returned in death, see Universal Dissolution [Poem 6], lines 14, 32, 46. Present in her use of both terms (“dust”, “causes”) is the sense of dissolution to these elements being necessary for the revolutionary passage into heavenly glory—the “happy victory” over death.
Elemental Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

proceed; revolve; flow
Amplified Edition
Line number 7

 Critical note

For the biblical idea that Christ’s sacrifice defeated death itself, see Revelation 21:4, “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away”, and 1 Corinthians 15:55, “O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?” John Donne’s Holy Sonnet “Death, be not proud” ends with the declaration, “Death, thou shalt die”.
Amplified Edition
Line number 9

 Critical note

The end of the day; but also setting up the use of the term in line 20 to mean (as Pulter recurrently does) a material reduction to elements or atoms, disintegration.
Amplified Edition
Line number 9

 Textual note

In the manuscript, here and at line 20, the word is written as “desolution” (with possible echoes of “desolation”).
Elemental Edition
Line number 10

 Gloss note

frequent, common
Amplified Edition
Line number 10

 Gloss note

prevalent, especially of a destructive or undesirable condition
Transcription
Line number 11

 Physical note

“i” imperfectly erased
Amplified Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

alteration, change, transmutation of elements (OED n. II 7.a.); and see Headnote.
Transcription
Line number 13

 Physical note

both “i”s appear written over “e”s
Transcription
Line number 13

 Physical note

“C” written over “c”
Elemental Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

in classical myth, two of three female Fates who determine the length of human lives, represented as threads
Amplified Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

in Roman mythology, two of the three Fates, who spin and cut the threads of life: Lachesis does the “lot-casting”, Clotho the “spinning”. Pulter’s speaker goads the Fates in this stanza: their actions cause her no fear because of her confidence in victory over death, through God’s love.
Elemental Edition
Line number 14

 Gloss note

most extreme
Elemental Edition
Line number 15

 Gloss note

the threads of fate
Elemental Edition
Line number 17

 Gloss note

report; repeat
Amplified Edition
Line number 20

 Critical note

A material reduction to elements or atoms, disintegration. See discussion in the Headnote; and see also Milton’s later use of the term in his description of the Last Judgement in Paradise Lost, 12.459, “When this world’s dissolution shall be ripe” (OED n1.a).
Amplified Edition
Line number 20

 Textual note

In the manuscript, here and at line 9, the word is written as “desolution” (with possible echoes of “desolation”).
Elemental Edition
Line number 22

 Critical note

finely disintegrated matter; 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.”
Amplified Edition
Line number 22

 Critical note

see Genesis 2:7, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground” and Genesis 3:19, “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”.
Elemental Edition
Line number 25

 Critical note

in classical myth, Erinys is a goddess of punishment known as a fury; “train” here likely signifies her followers, but may also signify treachery; a trap; artillery; manner of action; consequences.
Amplified Edition
Line number 25

 Gloss note

In Greek mythology, the Erinys, also known as the Furies or the Eumenides, were goddesses who represented the dead and avenged the crimes of the living. They were often depicted with snakes for hair and holding torches (blazing brands). As with the Fates in line 13, these fearful classical Furies do not scare Pulter’s speaker, whose confidence is in the Christian God.
Transcription
Line number 27

 Physical note

final “s” and possibly other letters preceding imperfectly erased, then written over
Elemental Edition
Line number 27

 Gloss note

The Furies were represented as carrying torches and scourges, and wreathed with snakes.
Transcription
Line number 32

 Physical note

In left margin, in H3: “? : Chaos. or Coffins”
Elemental Edition
Line number 32

 Gloss note

place or material of origin
Amplified Edition
Line number 32

 Critical note

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 “dust”, line 22.) Pulter uses “cause” distinctively and recurrently to bring together the grave, and the elements or matter from which the body is first produced, and to which it returns in death. See Universal Dissolution [Poem 6], lines 14, 32, 46.
Amplified Edition
Line number 32

 Textual note

In the manuscript, a note in the left hand margin indicates a reader’s struggle to make sense of the word (“Causses”); it notes, “? : Chaos. or Coffins”. This is the later, “antiquarian” hand (perhaps Angel Chauncy), which has made several annotations to the manuscript (see Ross 2000, pp. 150-171 and 252-4).
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