This poem explores one of Pulter’s key ideas, that life is circular (see “The Circle [1, 2, 3, 4]” (Poems 17, 21, 15, 36); “The Revolution” (Poem 16)). Renewed in death by God, we undergo a “revolution”, a transformation of body and soul. This use of “revolution” is fascinating in a period which saw the word appropriated politically by radicals, parliamentarians, and royalists. On the interconnected ideas, and rhymes, of revolution and dissolution, see also “The Eclipse” (Poem 1), “Universal Dissolution” (Poem 6), “The Revolution” (Poem 16), “My Soul, Why Art Thou Full of Trouble” (Poem 40) and “Why Art Thou Sad at the Approach of Night” (Poem 47). Pulter’s “stairs of revolution” is an unusual phrase and image. She imagines progress towards the Day of Judgment, when souls and bodies are reunited and can join God, as a kind of spiral staircase. Describing the stairs as “of revolution” suggests also an ongoing, or cyclical, transformation. The spiral staircase was already loaded with meanings related both to poetic form and faith. George Herbert used it to represent excessive ornamentation, “Is there in truth no beauty? / Is all good structure in a winding stair?” (“Jordan ”). Pulter’s usage is altogether more positive, though, imagining the winding stair as the path to resurrection and union with God. See also Pulter’s emblem poems where she uses the image of “steps” to represent both following in Christ’s footsteps and ascent to heaven (“Mighty Nimrod (Emblem 1)” (Poem 67); “Come, My Dear Children (Emblem 2)” (Poem 68)).
While the poem is in couplets, its fourteen lines allude to sonnet form, and therefore the broader tradition of Petrarchan love poetry. Moreover, the promise of the final lines, to “magnify” the addressee’s name “Beyond the reach of all eternity”, evokes the promise (and boast) of immortality common to earlier sonnet sequences by Spenser and Shakespeare. In Sonnet 55, Shakespeare’s speaker had claimed “So, till the Judgement that yourself arise, / You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.” The beloved lives in “this”, the poem itself. While Shakespeare adopted the idea of the Day of Judgment for his secular love poem, Pulter places this theological concept at the heart of her poem. It is not the self-aggrandising poet who can “magnify” God’s name, but the resurrected believer: immortal, strong and glorious (1 Corinthians 15: 42-44).