Aletheia’s Pearl

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Aletheia’s Pearl

Poem 32

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 Lara Dodds.

How to cite these versions

Conventions for these editions

The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making

  • Created by Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
  • Encoded by Katherine Poland, Matthew Taylor, Elizabeth Chou, and Emily Andrey, Northwestern University
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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 6

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“ſ” appears written over another “k”
Line number 6

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inserted in different hand from main scribe
Line number 22

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final “t” crowded in before next word, in different hand from main scribe
Line number 29

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in H2; space was left by H1 for nine ellipses, five of which are positioned under the word “triumvirie.”
Line number 32

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apostrophe and “’s” crowded into space before next word
Line number 42

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another letter has been converted into the final “d” (perhaps an “l” or “t,” which is imperfectly erased)
Line number 58

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cancelled with scribbles
Line number 66

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there is a hyphen or dash above the caret
Line number 72

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“ts” crowded between other letters

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catchword is incorrect
Line number 83

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blot atop
Line number 89

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Line number 99

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second syllable in darker ink, possibly over earlier letters
Line number 120

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final “e” imperfectly erased
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Transcription
Transcription

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Alitheas Pearl
Aletheia’s Pearl
Aletheia’s Pearl
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
I have modernized spelling and punctuation in this poem with the aim of enhancing clarity and readability. The notes gloss unfamiliar words and provide cultural and literary contexts.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Pulter’s fascination with spherical forms—elsewhere, suns and stars—is evinced here in two competing images: the gleaming pearl of truth and the bubble of her life, the latter brittle but obstinately refusing to break. These key images are surrounded by a pageant of allegorical female figures central to the life story recounted in the poem. As a virginal girl, the speaker accepts a pearl from Aletheia, the goddess of truth, in exchange for everything she owns—a daring trade, which is described here much like a wedding. But the speaker (“puffed up with prosperity,” and so with pride) wants still more: not satisfied with Truth, she wants Peace and Joy to join their menage. She disregards Truth’s warnings against their deceptive, unreliable nature, as well as her prophecy of the speaker’s future misery—incompatible with either quality—and her own suggested guests: Patience and Hope, criticized by the speaker as dull. Although she is briefly dazzled by the magnificent appearance of Peace and Joy, the happy occasion of their presence is brief: they flee by morning, with their places taken by Sorrow and Fear. Now Truth’s introduction of Patience and Hope is accepted; along with Faith, they are charged to defend the speaker against the depredations of an internal civil war. This poem is linked to other Pulter poems featuring a conflict-ridden mythological cosmos dominated by female bonds, but is unusual in its very deliberate allegory and in the speaker’s appeal to the guidance of a female mentor (rather than a more conventional Christian god).

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
“Aletheia’s Pearl” is a spiritual autobiography in the form of a personalized mythography. Pulter’s speaker describes the triumphs and challenges of her life through an account of her changing relationships with a range of personified figures: Aletheia (Truth), Joy, Peace, Patience, Hope, Faith, Sorrow, Fear, and Despair. An initial commitment to Aletheia, symbolized by a gift of a pearl, is followed by a youthful dalliance with Peace and Joy, the unwelcome appearance of Sorrow and Despair, and the belated company of Patience, Hope and Faith. Late in the poem, the speaker reveals that she lived thirteen years as a “maid” and thirty-three as a wife; this mature perspective informs the narrative of the poem, yet the precise relationship between the allegorical events of the poem and specific life-events (i.e.,marriage or the births or deaths of children) remains oblique.
One context for “Aletheia’s Pearl” is the invitation poem tradition, especially John Milton’s companion poems, “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso.” Pulter’s engagement with this tradition can be usefully explored through at least two different frames. First, most examples of the invitation poem, including Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” and Milton’s companion poems, position the speaker through heterosexual eroticism. Like Cavendish’s “Dialogue of Melancholy and Mirth,” “Aletheia’s Pearl” does not, and, further, Pulter’s speaker invokes female personifications defined primarily as mother-daughter pairs: Time and Truth, Peace and Joy, Faith and Patience. Second, Pulter’s speaker describes her youthful devotion to truth from the perspective of a later maturity. Milton’s “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso” are usually considered alternative models for living or for a poetic career; “Aletheia’s Pearl” does not propose a choice between joy and melancholy, but identifies these affects (and others) as part of a single “sad story” that develops over the course of the speaker’s life.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
ffaire Ælithea (when I was A Girle)
Fair
Gloss Note
goddess or spirit of truth
Aletheia
(when I was a girl)
Fair
Critical Note
personification of Truth; from the Greek ἀλήθεια, which may be translated as “unclosedness,” “disclosure,” or “truth.”
Aletheia
(when I was a girl),
2
One Sunday, offer’d mee an Orient Pearl;
One Sunday offered me an
Gloss Note
oriental; from the Eastern part of the world; radiant; associated with the part of the heavens in which the sun rises
orient
pearl,
One Sunday, offered me an
Gloss Note
a pearl from India; a beautiful, radiant, and highly valuable pearl.
orient pearl
;
3
But for it, I must part with all I had,
But for it I must part with all I had;
But for it, I must part with all I had.
4
I of the Bargain was extreamly Glad
I, of the bargain, was extremely glad.
I of the bargain was extremely glad.
5
Then being Soe directed, from above
Then being so directed from above,
Then, being so directed from above,
6
Shee Smileing,
Physical Note
“ſ” appears written over another “k”
aſke’d
Physical Note
inserted in different hand from main scribe
\mee \
if I could her loue?
She, smiling, asked me if I could her love.
She, smiling, asked me if I could her love.
7
I Seeing her Soe fare tranſcend all other,
I, seeing her so far transcend all other,
I, seeing her so far transcend all other,
8
And more resplendent then her raidient^Mother
And more resplendent than her radiant
Gloss Note
Truth was proverbially the daughter of Time.
mother
,
And more resplendent than her
Gloss Note
Time, who is proverbially the mother of Truth
radiant mother
,
9
Said,) I with her would Gladly live and Die,
Said I with her would gladly live and die.
Said, I with her would gladly live and die.
10
Celestiall Love the true Loves Knot did tie,
Celestial Love the true love’s knot did tie;
Celestial love the true love’s knot did tie;
11
Reciprocally promiſeing ne’re to depart,
Reciprocally promising ne’er to depart,
Reciprocally promising ne’er to depart,
12
Shee took poſſeſſion of my Virgin Heart
Gloss Note
Aletheia
She
took possession of my
Gloss Note
pure, chaste
virgin
heart.
Critical Note
the speaker pledges her troth to truth—here personified as a beautiful maiden, Aletheia—and in return Aletheia takes possession of her “virgin heart.” This relationship is represented as a mutually beneficial exchange (the speaker’s “all” or “heart” in return for Aletheia’s pearl and promise “ne’er to depart”) that is ritually confirmed by the tying of a “true love’s knot,” an ornamental knot used to symbolize love and commitment (see OED “true-love knot,” n.). Later the poem refers to the speaker’s marriage, but her same-sex bond with Aletheia precedes that relationship.
She took possession of my virgin heart.
13
In earnest of her love Shee gave a kiſs;
In earnest of her love she gave a kiss,
In earnest of her love she gave a kiss,
14
Saying Shee would lead mee to eternall bliſs;
Saying she would lead me to eternal bliss;
Saying she would lead me to eternal bliss;
15
Soe Should I Shun the paths of endles errour,
So should I shun the paths of endless
Gloss Note
wandering, mistake
error
,
So should I shun the paths of endless error,
16
And have an Innocent Soule Still free from ^terrour.
And have an innocent soul still free from terror.
And have an innocent soul still free from terror.
17
Shee bid mee feare noe trouble in my Story,
She bid me fear no trouble in my
Gloss Note
life
story
,
She bid me fear no trouble in my story,
18
ffor love would Crown mee w:th immortall Glory.
For love would crown me with immortal glory.
For love would crown me with immortal glory.
thus

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19
Thus Innocently I paſt my Youthfull Dayes;
Thus innocently I passed my youthful days,
Thus innocently I passed my youthful days,
20
Seeing more and more of her refulgent Rayes.
Seeing more and more of her
Gloss Note
radiant
refulgent
rays.
Seeing more and more of her refulgent rays.
21
Thus beeing puft up with proſperity,
Thus, being puffed up with prosperity,
Thus being puffed up with prosperity,
22
The World in every Star I
Physical Note
final “t” crowded in before next word, in different hand from main scribe
thought
to buy,
The world in every star I thought to
Gloss Note
possess
buy
,
The world in every star I thought to buy.
23
And oft I did my Virgin Guid intreat,
And oft I did my virgin guide entreat,
And oft I did my virgin guide intreat
24
To make my happines on earth compleat;
To make my happiness on earth complete,
To make my happiness on earth complete:
25
That Peace, (that Stately Dame) Shee would invite
That Peace (that stately dame) she would invite
That Peace, that stately dame, she would invite
26
To dwell with us to conſumate delight.
To dwell with us, to
Critical Note
to bring to completion; make perfect; also to give sexual expression to a relationship
consummate
delight.
To dwell with us to consummate delight.
27
ffor then I Said, that Joy would follow after
For then, I said, that Joy would follow after:
For then, I said, that Joy would follow after;
28
Get but the Mother, & you have the Daughter.
Get but the mother, and you have the daughter.
Critical Note
identifying Joy as the daughter of Peace, the speaker encourages Aletheia to “invite” the pair to “dwell with us to consummate delight.” Compare this passage to the invitation poem tradition and especially to Milton’s “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso,” in which the speaker alternately invites the goddesses Mirth and Melancholy to become his companion. Later, Aletheia offers instead to “invite” Patience and Hope to become the speaker’s companions.
Get but the mother, and you have the daughter.
29
That blest
Physical Note
in H2; space was left by H1 for nine ellipses, five of which are positioned under the word “triumvirie.”
triumvirie
. . . . might I once injoy
That blest
Critical Note
triumvirie” added by a hand that is probably Pulter’s, in a blank space left by the scribe; a triumvir is a ruling body of three people, derived from the Latin triumviri, a coalition of three Roman magistrates; here the speaker refers to Peace, Joy, and Truth.
triumviri
might I once
Gloss Note
have the benefit of; find pleasure in
enjoy
,
That blest
Physical Note
i.e. triumvirate. In the manuscript this word is inserted into a space in the line by a different hand.
triumviry
might I once enjoy,
30
I Should Esteem this World a trifeling toy.
I should esteem this world a trifling
Gloss Note
trivial thing
toy
.
I should esteem this world a trifling toy.
31
My faire Directris Smileing then did Say,
My fair directress, smiling, then did say,
My fair directress, smiling, then did say,
32
That those two Jolly
Physical Note
apostrophe and “’s” crowded into space before next word
Lady’s
would not Stay
That those two jolly ladies would not stay
That those two jolly ladies would not stay
33
Long in a place, nor were they as they Seem’d:
Long in a place, nor were they as they seemed:
Long in a place, nor were they as they seemed,
34
As all that Glisters is not Gold estee^md.
As all that
Gloss Note
glitters
glisters
is not gold esteemed,
As all that glisters is not gold esteemed.
35
Ther’s noe true Peace, nor Joy, below ye Sun:
There’s no true peace, nor joy, below the sun;
There’s no true peace, nor joy, below the Sun,
36
Nor can wee know it till this Life is dun.
Nor can we know it till this life is done.
Nor can we know it till this life is done.
37
Nay more being at the Parces houſe: of late,
Nay more, being at the
Gloss Note
one of three female Fates’
Parcae’s
house of late,
Nay more, being at the
Gloss Note
the Parcae are female personifications of destiny, the three Fates
Parcaes’
house of late,
38
Turning the vollumes of the book of ffate
Turning the volumes of the book of fate
Turning the volumes of the book of fate
to

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39
To See what might advance the eternals Glory.
To see what might advance th’Eternal’s glory,
To see what might advance th’Eternal’s glory,
40
Shee hapt to cast an eye on my Sad Story,
Gloss Note
one of the Fates
She
Gloss Note
happened
hap’d
to cast an eye on my sad story,
She
Gloss Note
to happen upon or to discover by chance (see OED hap, v. 4a.).
happed
to cast an eye on my sad story,
41
And by my destiny Shee Saw my life,
And by my destiny she saw my life,
And by my destiny she saw my life,
42
At which Shee
Physical Note
another letter has been converted into the final “d” (perhaps an “l” or “t,” which is imperfectly erased)
Sigh’d
! both, Infant, Maid, & Wife
At which she sighed: both infant,
Gloss Note
unmarried woman
maid
, and wife
At which she sighed: both, infant, maid, and wife
43
Would bee involv’d, and fil’d with inward trouble;
Would be involved and filled with inward trouble,
Would be involved and filled with inward trouble,
44
But yet as brittle as the tenderest Bubble.
But yet as
Gloss Note
fragile
brittle
as the tenderest bubble,
But yet as
Gloss Note
a conventional metaphor for the briefness and fragility of life.
brittle as the tenderest bubble
.
45
And looking further on from page to Page,
And looking further on from page to page,
And looking further on from page to page,
46
She found I would live a tedious Pilgrimage.
She found I would live a tedious
Gloss Note
journey, sometimes toward a holy place
pilgrimage
;
Gloss Note
Aletheia reads the speaker’s “sad story” in the book of fate and discovers that she will suffer trouble during all the stages of her life (“infant, maid, and wife”).
She found I would live a tedious pilgrimage.
47
But yet to comfort mee in my Sad Story;
But yet to comfort me in my sad story,
But yet to comfort me in my sad story,
48
My troubles all would end in endles Glory.
My troubles all would end in endless glory.
My troubles all would end in endless glory.
49
Therefore Shee did adviſe for my Reliefe,
Therefore she did advise, for my relief,
Therefore she did advise for my relief,
50
A modest Matron to allay my Griefe.
A modest matron to allay my grief,
A modest matron to allay my grief.
51
One not Soe brave but of as Ample ffame;
One not so
Gloss Note
finely dressed
brave
but of as ample
Gloss Note
reputation
fame
One not so brave, but of as ample fame,
52
And noble Birth, (the Daughter of ye Dame
And noble birth (the daughter of the
Critical Note
Faith is personified with a shield, derived from Ephesians 6:16: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” On Faith as the mother of Patience, see Robert Rollock, Lectures Upon the First and Second Epistles of Paul to the Thessalonians (London, 1606), 2.11.
dame
And noble birth (the daughter of
Critical Note
Faith; see Ephesians 6:16: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (AV). In the poem’s third mother-daughter pair, Patience is identified as the daughter of Faith.
the dame
53
Who doth defend the ffaithfull with her Shield
Who doth defend the faithful with her shield
Who doth defend the faithful with her shield
54
And makes them still victorious in the ffield)
And makes them still victorious in the field);
And makes them still victorious in the field),
55
Patience her name, who Said Shee would invite
Patience her name, who said she would invite
Patience her name, who said she would invite
56
Her sister Hope, to ffurther my delight.
Her sister Hope to further my delight.
Her sister Hope, to further my delight.
57
I said of those two Damſels I had bin told,
I said of those two damsels I had been told,
I said of those two damsels I had been told,
58
But yet I thought
Physical Note
cancelled with scribbles
I thought
till I grew Sick or Old,
But yet I thought till I grew sick or old
But yet I thought, till I grew sick or old,
59
Their Sad and tedious Stories would deject
Their sad and tedious stories would deject
Their sad and tedious stories would deject
60
My Spritely Soul, them I did not affect
My
Gloss Note
cheerful, animated
sprightly
soul; them I did not
Gloss Note
like, want
affect
.
My spritely soul. Them I did not affect.
Truth

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61
Truth Sighing Said, not many Dayes would Goe,
Truth, sighing said, not many days would go,
Truth, sighing, said, not many days would go,
62
Er’e I would wiſh for thoſe I Sleighted Soe.
Gloss Note
before
Ere
I would wish for those I slighted so,
Ere I would wish for those I slighted so.
63
But all her counſell was to mee in vain,
But all her counsel was to me in vain,
But all her counsel was to me in vain,
64
ffor I invited home that Gallant Train,
For I invited home that gallant train:
For I invited home that gallant train:
65
Peace in A ^Purple Mantle, wrought with Gold,
Peace in a purple
Gloss Note
garment
mantle
Gloss Note
embellished
wrought
with gold,
Peace in a purple mantle, wrought with gold,
66
Where Groves, Phanes, Citties, you might there
Physical Note
there is a hyphen or dash above the caret
be^hold
;
Where groves,
Gloss Note
temples
fanes
, cities, you might there behold;
Where groves,
Gloss Note
temples
phanes
, cities, you might there behold,
67
Which cast a luster to my wondring eye.
Which cast a luster to my wondering eye;
Which cast a luster to my wondering eye;
68
Joy in an Azure vesture like the Skie,
Joy, in an
Gloss Note
blue
azure
Gloss Note
garment
vesture
like the sky,
Joy, in an azure vesture like the sky,
69
Studded with Gems, which dazeled Soe my Sight,
Studded with gems, which dazzled so my sight,
Studded with gems, which dazzled so my sight,
70
That now (mee thought) my Pearl was not Soe bright
That now (methought) my pearl was not so bright
That now (methought) my pearl was not so bright
71
As it was wont; but lookt both dim and Sad;
As it
Gloss Note
used to be
was wont
, but looked both dim and sad.
As it was wont, but
Gloss Note
the speaker’s pearl appears to “dim” in comparison to the pleasures she shares with Peace and Joy; however, she recognizes its true brightness when she is joined by Patience and Hope.
looked both dim and sad
.
72
Thus of my
Physical Note
“ts” crowded between other letters
Guests
I was extreamly Glad.
Thus of my guests I was extremely glad.
Thus of my guests I was extremely glad.
73
Peace Sweetly Smiled, Joy Gigling Laugh’d outright
Peace sweetly smiled; Joy, giggling, laughed outright,
Peace sweetly smiled, Joy, giggling, laughed outright,
74
And thus in Mirth wee past the time till Night.
And thus in mirth we passed the time till night.
And thus in mirth we passed the time till night.
75
Then tir’d with Laughing wee went all to Bed;
Then tired with laughing, we went all to bed,
Then tired with laughing we went all to bed,
76
But by the Morn my Chearfull Guests were fled.
But by the morn my cheerful guests were fled;
But by the morn my cheerful guests were fled,
77
And none but Sorrow left, tearing her hair;
And none but Sorrow left, tearing her hair,
And none but Sorrow left, tearing her hair,
78
And ffear who (trembling) asked for deſpair.
And Fear who, trembling, askéd for Despair.
Gloss Note
the speaker goes to bed with Peace and Joy but when she wakes she discovers Sorrow and Fear in their place. Echoing the invitations issued earlier in the poem, Fear “asked for” Despair, and, as a result, the speaker is finally ready to acknowledge Aletheia’s offer of Patience as a companion.
And Fear who, trembling, asked for Despair.
79
My Bleſſed Guid Seeing mee in tears diſſolved,
My blesséd guide, seeing me in tears
Gloss Note
melted, undone
dissolved
,
My blessed guide, seeing me in tears dissolved,
80
And with Such Woefull Company involved;
And with such woeful company involved,
And with such woeful company involved,
81
Asked mee? if Patience I did yet deſire.
Asked me if Patience I did yet desire.
Asked me if Patience I did yet desire.
82
I said without her I Should Soon expire.
I said without her I should soon expire.
I said, without her I should soon expire.
Physical Note
catchword is incorrect
wipe

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83
At last Shee came with Slow
Physical Note
blot atop
and
modest pace,
At last she came, with slow and modest pace;
At last she came with slow and modest pace,
84
Wipeing ye the tears from my pale blubbar’d face.
Wiping the the tears from my pale,
Gloss Note
flooded with tears
blubbered
face,
Wiping the tears from my pale
Gloss Note
flooded with tears.
blubbered
face.
85
Shee told mee many a Sad and diſmale Story,
She told me many a sad and dismal story,
She told me many a sad and dismal story,
86
Which ever ended in ye ſufferers Glory.
Which ever ended in the sufferer’s glory.
Which ever
Gloss Note
Patience fulfills the promise to comfort the speaker by telling stories of sufferers who achieve eternal reward; these sad stories echo the sad story of the speaker’s life written in the book of fate.
ended in the sufferer’s glory
.
87
These tears Sure waſhed the ffelms from of my Sight,
These tears
Gloss Note
assuredly
sure
washed the films from off my sight,
These tears sure washed the films from off my sight,
88
ffor now I found my Pearl was fare more bright,
For now I found my pearl was far more bright,
For now I found my pearl was far more bright
89
Then all the Gems
Physical Note
I hat
ever yet did view;
Than all the gems I ever yet did view;
Than all the gems I ever yet did view.
90
Behould the Power of Penitentiall dew,
Behold the power of
Gloss Note
tears of remorse, for sin
penitential dew
!
Behold the power of penitential dew.
91
I laid my Pearl cloſs to my trembling breast,
I laid my pearl close to my trembling breast,
I laid my pearl close to my trembling breast,
92
And on an Anker Lay’d my head to Rest,
And on an
Gloss Note
in Christian tradition, a symbol of hope; see Heb. 6:19: “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul.”
anchor
laid my head to rest,
Critical Note
see Hebrews 6:19: “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil” (AV).
And on an anchor laid my head to rest,
93
That Hope (in love to mee) before had Lay’d
That Hope (in love to me) before had
Gloss Note
laid down for
laid
That Hope (in love to me) before had laid
94
Mee to Suſtain, that fair and bleſſed Mayd
Me to sustain; that fair and blessed maid,
Me to sustain. That fair and blessed maid,
95
Whome ffaire Alithea brought to take my part,
Whom fair Aletheia brought to take my part,
Whom faire Aletheia brought to take my part,
96
To Sway the ffactions in my troubled Hart;
To sway the
Gloss Note
competing political groups
factions
in my troubled heart;
To sway the factions in my troubled heart,
97
And gave them charge, evern to hold in awe
And gave
Gloss Note
She charges Patience and Hope (“them”) to make Sorrow and Fear be in awe of them.
them
charge, ever to hold in awe
And gave them charge ever to hold in awe
98
Sorrow and ffear, and never to withdraw
Sorrow and Fear, and never to withdraw
Sorrow and Fear, and never to withdraw
99
There best aſſistance, to keep out
Physical Note
second syllable in darker ink, possibly over earlier letters
diſpaire
Their best assistance, to keep out Despair,
Their best assistance to keep out Despair,
100
Who with her curst aſſociates would repaire
Who with her cursed associates would
Gloss Note
return; habitually assemble
repair
Who with her cursed associates would repair
101
Mee to aflict which would mee ^much afright
Me to afflict, which would me much affright,
Me to afflict, which would me much afright,
102
Cavſe the black brood of Acharon, and Night,
’Cause the black
Critical Note
offspring, which include Doom, Fate, Death, Dreams, Blame, Misery, the Hesperides, the Destinies (or Parcae), Nemesis, Deceit, Lovemaking, Old Age, and Strife. Hesiod, The Poems of Hesiod: Theogony, Works and Days, and the Shield of Herakles (2017), 42, 45.
brood of Acheron and Night
’Cause the
Critical Note
the offspring of Night and Acheron include Doom, Fate, Death, Sleep, Dreams, Blame, Woe, the Hesperides, the Destinies (Parcae), Nemesis, Deceit, Friendship, Old Age, and Strife. See Hesiod Theogony, lines 211-25. This “horrid train” causes the speaker to faint.
black brood of Acheron and Night
103
Would alſoe com, who onely were adicted
Would also come, who only were addicted
Would also come, who only were addicted
104
To ad aflictions to the most aflicted.
To
Gloss Note
adding
add
afflictions to the most afflicted.
To add afflictions to the most afflicted.
105
Just as Shee Spake, in came that Horrid train
Just as she spake, in came that horrid
Gloss Note
procession, ensnaring treachery
train
,
Just as she spake, in came that horrid train,
106
Which cauſed a trembling, throughout every vein
Which caused a trembling throughout every vein
Which caused a trembling throughout every vein
of

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107
Of my Sad Heart, down fell I in a Sownd:
Of my sad heart; down fell I in a
Gloss Note
faint, swoon
sound
,
Of my sad heart; down fell I in a
Gloss Note
swoon or fainting-fit (see OED sound, n.4)
sound
,
108
Till that brave Damsill raiſd mee from the Ground.
Till that
Gloss Note
Faith
brave damsel
raised me from the ground,
Till that brave
Gloss Note
Faith
damsel
raised me from the ground,
109
Who Just then came Triumphant from the ffield,
Who just then came triumphant from the field;
Who just then came triumphant from the field;
110
Then with her bright impenetrable Shield;
Then, with her bright impenetrable shield,
Then with her bright impenetrable shield,
111
Shee all thoſe Helliſh Monsters did oppoſe:
She all those hellish monsters did oppose
She all those hellish monsters did oppose.
112
Thus was I Safe deliverd from my foes.
(Thus was I safe delivered from my foes);
Thus was I safe delivered from my foes.
113
Then leaving Hope, and Patience by my Side,
Then, leaving Hope and Patience by my side,
Then, leaving Hope and Patience by my side,
114
Commanding them both, with mee to abide.
Commanding them both with me to abide,
Commanding them both, with me to abide;
115
Councelling mee to follow my faire Guid.
Counselling me to follow my fair guide,
Counseling me to follow my fair guide,
116
Who would through all the trouble of my Story,
Who would, through all the trouble of my story,
Who would through all the trouble of my story,
117
Lead mee at last to everlasting Glory.
Lead me at last to everlasting glory.
Lead me at last to everlasting glory.
118
Thus have I liv’d a Sad and weary life,
Thus have I lived a sad and weary life,
Thus have I lived a sad and weary life,
119
Thirteen a Mayd, and Thirtie three a Wife.
Thirteen a maid, and thirty three a wife.
Critical Note
Earlier in the poem, Pulter identifies “infant, maid, and wife” as the three stages of life. Here the speaker specifies how many years she lived in the second two of those stages. If we identify the speaker with Pulter herself, who was born between 1605 and 1608 and was married in 1623, this line suggests that the poem was written in 1656 when Pulter was between 49 and 51 years old.
Thirteen a maid, and thirty-three a wife.
120
All I found true my
Physical Note
final “e” imperfectly erased
Alithe’e
did Speak,
All I found true my Alethie did speak,
All I found true my Aletheia did speak,
121
But yet (Aye mee) the bubble will not breake.
But yet (ay me!) the
Critical Note
her fragile and vexing earthly life
bubble
will not break.
But yet (aye me)
Critical Note
in the final line of the poem, the speaker returns to the metaphor of life as bubble that is introduced earlier and laments that this bubble is strong rather than weak. The image of the bubble echoes the symbol of the pearl: both are spherical, beautiful, and fragile.
the bubble will not break
.
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

Pulter’s fascination with spherical forms—elsewhere, suns and stars—is evinced here in two competing images: the gleaming pearl of truth and the bubble of her life, the latter brittle but obstinately refusing to break. These key images are surrounded by a pageant of allegorical female figures central to the life story recounted in the poem. As a virginal girl, the speaker accepts a pearl from Aletheia, the goddess of truth, in exchange for everything she owns—a daring trade, which is described here much like a wedding. But the speaker (“puffed up with prosperity,” and so with pride) wants still more: not satisfied with Truth, she wants Peace and Joy to join their menage. She disregards Truth’s warnings against their deceptive, unreliable nature, as well as her prophecy of the speaker’s future misery—incompatible with either quality—and her own suggested guests: Patience and Hope, criticized by the speaker as dull. Although she is briefly dazzled by the magnificent appearance of Peace and Joy, the happy occasion of their presence is brief: they flee by morning, with their places taken by Sorrow and Fear. Now Truth’s introduction of Patience and Hope is accepted; along with Faith, they are charged to defend the speaker against the depredations of an internal civil war. This poem is linked to other Pulter poems featuring a conflict-ridden mythological cosmos dominated by female bonds, but is unusual in its very deliberate allegory and in the speaker’s appeal to the guidance of a female mentor (rather than a more conventional Christian god).
Line number 1

 Gloss note

goddess or spirit of truth
Line number 2

 Gloss note

oriental; from the Eastern part of the world; radiant; associated with the part of the heavens in which the sun rises
Line number 8

 Gloss note

Truth was proverbially the daughter of Time.
Line number 12

 Gloss note

Aletheia
Line number 12

 Gloss note

pure, chaste
Line number 15

 Gloss note

wandering, mistake
Line number 17

 Gloss note

life
Line number 20

 Gloss note

radiant
Line number 22

 Gloss note

possess
Line number 26

 Critical note

to bring to completion; make perfect; also to give sexual expression to a relationship
Line number 29

 Critical note

triumvirie” added by a hand that is probably Pulter’s, in a blank space left by the scribe; a triumvir is a ruling body of three people, derived from the Latin triumviri, a coalition of three Roman magistrates; here the speaker refers to Peace, Joy, and Truth.
Line number 29

 Gloss note

have the benefit of; find pleasure in
Line number 30

 Gloss note

trivial thing
Line number 34

 Gloss note

glitters
Line number 37

 Gloss note

one of three female Fates’
Line number 40

 Gloss note

one of the Fates
Line number 40

 Gloss note

happened
Line number 42

 Gloss note

unmarried woman
Line number 44

 Gloss note

fragile
Line number 46

 Gloss note

journey, sometimes toward a holy place
Line number 51

 Gloss note

finely dressed
Line number 51

 Gloss note

reputation
Line number 52

 Critical note

Faith is personified with a shield, derived from Ephesians 6:16: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” On Faith as the mother of Patience, see Robert Rollock, Lectures Upon the First and Second Epistles of Paul to the Thessalonians (London, 1606), 2.11.
Line number 60

 Gloss note

cheerful, animated
Line number 60

 Gloss note

like, want
Line number 62

 Gloss note

before
Line number 65

 Gloss note

garment
Line number 65

 Gloss note

embellished
Line number 66

 Gloss note

temples
Line number 68

 Gloss note

blue
Line number 68

 Gloss note

garment
Line number 71

 Gloss note

used to be
Line number 79

 Gloss note

melted, undone
Line number 84

 Gloss note

flooded with tears
Line number 87

 Gloss note

assuredly
Line number 90

 Gloss note

tears of remorse, for sin
Line number 92

 Gloss note

in Christian tradition, a symbol of hope; see Heb. 6:19: “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul.”
Line number 93

 Gloss note

laid down for
Line number 96

 Gloss note

competing political groups
Line number 97

 Gloss note

She charges Patience and Hope (“them”) to make Sorrow and Fear be in awe of them.
Line number 100

 Gloss note

return; habitually assemble
Line number 102

 Critical note

offspring, which include Doom, Fate, Death, Dreams, Blame, Misery, the Hesperides, the Destinies (or Parcae), Nemesis, Deceit, Lovemaking, Old Age, and Strife. Hesiod, The Poems of Hesiod: Theogony, Works and Days, and the Shield of Herakles (2017), 42, 45.
Line number 104

 Gloss note

adding
Line number 105

 Gloss note

procession, ensnaring treachery
Line number 107

 Gloss note

faint, swoon
Line number 108

 Gloss note

Faith
Line number 121

 Critical note

her fragile and vexing earthly life
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Elemental Edition
Elemental Edition

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Alitheas Pearl
Aletheia’s Pearl
Aletheia’s Pearl
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
I have modernized spelling and punctuation in this poem with the aim of enhancing clarity and readability. The notes gloss unfamiliar words and provide cultural and literary contexts.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Pulter’s fascination with spherical forms—elsewhere, suns and stars—is evinced here in two competing images: the gleaming pearl of truth and the bubble of her life, the latter brittle but obstinately refusing to break. These key images are surrounded by a pageant of allegorical female figures central to the life story recounted in the poem. As a virginal girl, the speaker accepts a pearl from Aletheia, the goddess of truth, in exchange for everything she owns—a daring trade, which is described here much like a wedding. But the speaker (“puffed up with prosperity,” and so with pride) wants still more: not satisfied with Truth, she wants Peace and Joy to join their menage. She disregards Truth’s warnings against their deceptive, unreliable nature, as well as her prophecy of the speaker’s future misery—incompatible with either quality—and her own suggested guests: Patience and Hope, criticized by the speaker as dull. Although she is briefly dazzled by the magnificent appearance of Peace and Joy, the happy occasion of their presence is brief: they flee by morning, with their places taken by Sorrow and Fear. Now Truth’s introduction of Patience and Hope is accepted; along with Faith, they are charged to defend the speaker against the depredations of an internal civil war. This poem is linked to other Pulter poems featuring a conflict-ridden mythological cosmos dominated by female bonds, but is unusual in its very deliberate allegory and in the speaker’s appeal to the guidance of a female mentor (rather than a more conventional Christian god).

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
“Aletheia’s Pearl” is a spiritual autobiography in the form of a personalized mythography. Pulter’s speaker describes the triumphs and challenges of her life through an account of her changing relationships with a range of personified figures: Aletheia (Truth), Joy, Peace, Patience, Hope, Faith, Sorrow, Fear, and Despair. An initial commitment to Aletheia, symbolized by a gift of a pearl, is followed by a youthful dalliance with Peace and Joy, the unwelcome appearance of Sorrow and Despair, and the belated company of Patience, Hope and Faith. Late in the poem, the speaker reveals that she lived thirteen years as a “maid” and thirty-three as a wife; this mature perspective informs the narrative of the poem, yet the precise relationship between the allegorical events of the poem and specific life-events (i.e.,marriage or the births or deaths of children) remains oblique.
One context for “Aletheia’s Pearl” is the invitation poem tradition, especially John Milton’s companion poems, “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso.” Pulter’s engagement with this tradition can be usefully explored through at least two different frames. First, most examples of the invitation poem, including Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” and Milton’s companion poems, position the speaker through heterosexual eroticism. Like Cavendish’s “Dialogue of Melancholy and Mirth,” “Aletheia’s Pearl” does not, and, further, Pulter’s speaker invokes female personifications defined primarily as mother-daughter pairs: Time and Truth, Peace and Joy, Faith and Patience. Second, Pulter’s speaker describes her youthful devotion to truth from the perspective of a later maturity. Milton’s “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso” are usually considered alternative models for living or for a poetic career; “Aletheia’s Pearl” does not propose a choice between joy and melancholy, but identifies these affects (and others) as part of a single “sad story” that develops over the course of the speaker’s life.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
ffaire Ælithea (when I was A Girle)
Fair
Gloss Note
goddess or spirit of truth
Aletheia
(when I was a girl)
Fair
Critical Note
personification of Truth; from the Greek ἀλήθεια, which may be translated as “unclosedness,” “disclosure,” or “truth.”
Aletheia
(when I was a girl),
2
One Sunday, offer’d mee an Orient Pearl;
One Sunday offered me an
Gloss Note
oriental; from the Eastern part of the world; radiant; associated with the part of the heavens in which the sun rises
orient
pearl,
One Sunday, offered me an
Gloss Note
a pearl from India; a beautiful, radiant, and highly valuable pearl.
orient pearl
;
3
But for it, I must part with all I had,
But for it I must part with all I had;
But for it, I must part with all I had.
4
I of the Bargain was extreamly Glad
I, of the bargain, was extremely glad.
I of the bargain was extremely glad.
5
Then being Soe directed, from above
Then being so directed from above,
Then, being so directed from above,
6
Shee Smileing,
Physical Note
“ſ” appears written over another “k”
aſke’d
Physical Note
inserted in different hand from main scribe
\mee \
if I could her loue?
She, smiling, asked me if I could her love.
She, smiling, asked me if I could her love.
7
I Seeing her Soe fare tranſcend all other,
I, seeing her so far transcend all other,
I, seeing her so far transcend all other,
8
And more resplendent then her raidient^Mother
And more resplendent than her radiant
Gloss Note
Truth was proverbially the daughter of Time.
mother
,
And more resplendent than her
Gloss Note
Time, who is proverbially the mother of Truth
radiant mother
,
9
Said,) I with her would Gladly live and Die,
Said I with her would gladly live and die.
Said, I with her would gladly live and die.
10
Celestiall Love the true Loves Knot did tie,
Celestial Love the true love’s knot did tie;
Celestial love the true love’s knot did tie;
11
Reciprocally promiſeing ne’re to depart,
Reciprocally promising ne’er to depart,
Reciprocally promising ne’er to depart,
12
Shee took poſſeſſion of my Virgin Heart
Gloss Note
Aletheia
She
took possession of my
Gloss Note
pure, chaste
virgin
heart.
Critical Note
the speaker pledges her troth to truth—here personified as a beautiful maiden, Aletheia—and in return Aletheia takes possession of her “virgin heart.” This relationship is represented as a mutually beneficial exchange (the speaker’s “all” or “heart” in return for Aletheia’s pearl and promise “ne’er to depart”) that is ritually confirmed by the tying of a “true love’s knot,” an ornamental knot used to symbolize love and commitment (see OED “true-love knot,” n.). Later the poem refers to the speaker’s marriage, but her same-sex bond with Aletheia precedes that relationship.
She took possession of my virgin heart.
13
In earnest of her love Shee gave a kiſs;
In earnest of her love she gave a kiss,
In earnest of her love she gave a kiss,
14
Saying Shee would lead mee to eternall bliſs;
Saying she would lead me to eternal bliss;
Saying she would lead me to eternal bliss;
15
Soe Should I Shun the paths of endles errour,
So should I shun the paths of endless
Gloss Note
wandering, mistake
error
,
So should I shun the paths of endless error,
16
And have an Innocent Soule Still free from ^terrour.
And have an innocent soul still free from terror.
And have an innocent soul still free from terror.
17
Shee bid mee feare noe trouble in my Story,
She bid me fear no trouble in my
Gloss Note
life
story
,
She bid me fear no trouble in my story,
18
ffor love would Crown mee w:th immortall Glory.
For love would crown me with immortal glory.
For love would crown me with immortal glory.
thus

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19
Thus Innocently I paſt my Youthfull Dayes;
Thus innocently I passed my youthful days,
Thus innocently I passed my youthful days,
20
Seeing more and more of her refulgent Rayes.
Seeing more and more of her
Gloss Note
radiant
refulgent
rays.
Seeing more and more of her refulgent rays.
21
Thus beeing puft up with proſperity,
Thus, being puffed up with prosperity,
Thus being puffed up with prosperity,
22
The World in every Star I
Physical Note
final “t” crowded in before next word, in different hand from main scribe
thought
to buy,
The world in every star I thought to
Gloss Note
possess
buy
,
The world in every star I thought to buy.
23
And oft I did my Virgin Guid intreat,
And oft I did my virgin guide entreat,
And oft I did my virgin guide intreat
24
To make my happines on earth compleat;
To make my happiness on earth complete,
To make my happiness on earth complete:
25
That Peace, (that Stately Dame) Shee would invite
That Peace (that stately dame) she would invite
That Peace, that stately dame, she would invite
26
To dwell with us to conſumate delight.
To dwell with us, to
Critical Note
to bring to completion; make perfect; also to give sexual expression to a relationship
consummate
delight.
To dwell with us to consummate delight.
27
ffor then I Said, that Joy would follow after
For then, I said, that Joy would follow after:
For then, I said, that Joy would follow after;
28
Get but the Mother, & you have the Daughter.
Get but the mother, and you have the daughter.
Critical Note
identifying Joy as the daughter of Peace, the speaker encourages Aletheia to “invite” the pair to “dwell with us to consummate delight.” Compare this passage to the invitation poem tradition and especially to Milton’s “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso,” in which the speaker alternately invites the goddesses Mirth and Melancholy to become his companion. Later, Aletheia offers instead to “invite” Patience and Hope to become the speaker’s companions.
Get but the mother, and you have the daughter.
29
That blest
Physical Note
in H2; space was left by H1 for nine ellipses, five of which are positioned under the word “triumvirie.”
triumvirie
. . . . might I once injoy
That blest
Critical Note
triumvirie” added by a hand that is probably Pulter’s, in a blank space left by the scribe; a triumvir is a ruling body of three people, derived from the Latin triumviri, a coalition of three Roman magistrates; here the speaker refers to Peace, Joy, and Truth.
triumviri
might I once
Gloss Note
have the benefit of; find pleasure in
enjoy
,
That blest
Physical Note
i.e. triumvirate. In the manuscript this word is inserted into a space in the line by a different hand.
triumviry
might I once enjoy,
30
I Should Esteem this World a trifeling toy.
I should esteem this world a trifling
Gloss Note
trivial thing
toy
.
I should esteem this world a trifling toy.
31
My faire Directris Smileing then did Say,
My fair directress, smiling, then did say,
My fair directress, smiling, then did say,
32
That those two Jolly
Physical Note
apostrophe and “’s” crowded into space before next word
Lady’s
would not Stay
That those two jolly ladies would not stay
That those two jolly ladies would not stay
33
Long in a place, nor were they as they Seem’d:
Long in a place, nor were they as they seemed:
Long in a place, nor were they as they seemed,
34
As all that Glisters is not Gold estee^md.
As all that
Gloss Note
glitters
glisters
is not gold esteemed,
As all that glisters is not gold esteemed.
35
Ther’s noe true Peace, nor Joy, below ye Sun:
There’s no true peace, nor joy, below the sun;
There’s no true peace, nor joy, below the Sun,
36
Nor can wee know it till this Life is dun.
Nor can we know it till this life is done.
Nor can we know it till this life is done.
37
Nay more being at the Parces houſe: of late,
Nay more, being at the
Gloss Note
one of three female Fates’
Parcae’s
house of late,
Nay more, being at the
Gloss Note
the Parcae are female personifications of destiny, the three Fates
Parcaes’
house of late,
38
Turning the vollumes of the book of ffate
Turning the volumes of the book of fate
Turning the volumes of the book of fate
to

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39
To See what might advance the eternals Glory.
To see what might advance th’Eternal’s glory,
To see what might advance th’Eternal’s glory,
40
Shee hapt to cast an eye on my Sad Story,
Gloss Note
one of the Fates
She
Gloss Note
happened
hap’d
to cast an eye on my sad story,
She
Gloss Note
to happen upon or to discover by chance (see OED hap, v. 4a.).
happed
to cast an eye on my sad story,
41
And by my destiny Shee Saw my life,
And by my destiny she saw my life,
And by my destiny she saw my life,
42
At which Shee
Physical Note
another letter has been converted into the final “d” (perhaps an “l” or “t,” which is imperfectly erased)
Sigh’d
! both, Infant, Maid, & Wife
At which she sighed: both infant,
Gloss Note
unmarried woman
maid
, and wife
At which she sighed: both, infant, maid, and wife
43
Would bee involv’d, and fil’d with inward trouble;
Would be involved and filled with inward trouble,
Would be involved and filled with inward trouble,
44
But yet as brittle as the tenderest Bubble.
But yet as
Gloss Note
fragile
brittle
as the tenderest bubble,
But yet as
Gloss Note
a conventional metaphor for the briefness and fragility of life.
brittle as the tenderest bubble
.
45
And looking further on from page to Page,
And looking further on from page to page,
And looking further on from page to page,
46
She found I would live a tedious Pilgrimage.
She found I would live a tedious
Gloss Note
journey, sometimes toward a holy place
pilgrimage
;
Gloss Note
Aletheia reads the speaker’s “sad story” in the book of fate and discovers that she will suffer trouble during all the stages of her life (“infant, maid, and wife”).
She found I would live a tedious pilgrimage.
47
But yet to comfort mee in my Sad Story;
But yet to comfort me in my sad story,
But yet to comfort me in my sad story,
48
My troubles all would end in endles Glory.
My troubles all would end in endless glory.
My troubles all would end in endless glory.
49
Therefore Shee did adviſe for my Reliefe,
Therefore she did advise, for my relief,
Therefore she did advise for my relief,
50
A modest Matron to allay my Griefe.
A modest matron to allay my grief,
A modest matron to allay my grief.
51
One not Soe brave but of as Ample ffame;
One not so
Gloss Note
finely dressed
brave
but of as ample
Gloss Note
reputation
fame
One not so brave, but of as ample fame,
52
And noble Birth, (the Daughter of ye Dame
And noble birth (the daughter of the
Critical Note
Faith is personified with a shield, derived from Ephesians 6:16: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” On Faith as the mother of Patience, see Robert Rollock, Lectures Upon the First and Second Epistles of Paul to the Thessalonians (London, 1606), 2.11.
dame
And noble birth (the daughter of
Critical Note
Faith; see Ephesians 6:16: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (AV). In the poem’s third mother-daughter pair, Patience is identified as the daughter of Faith.
the dame
53
Who doth defend the ffaithfull with her Shield
Who doth defend the faithful with her shield
Who doth defend the faithful with her shield
54
And makes them still victorious in the ffield)
And makes them still victorious in the field);
And makes them still victorious in the field),
55
Patience her name, who Said Shee would invite
Patience her name, who said she would invite
Patience her name, who said she would invite
56
Her sister Hope, to ffurther my delight.
Her sister Hope to further my delight.
Her sister Hope, to further my delight.
57
I said of those two Damſels I had bin told,
I said of those two damsels I had been told,
I said of those two damsels I had been told,
58
But yet I thought
Physical Note
cancelled with scribbles
I thought
till I grew Sick or Old,
But yet I thought till I grew sick or old
But yet I thought, till I grew sick or old,
59
Their Sad and tedious Stories would deject
Their sad and tedious stories would deject
Their sad and tedious stories would deject
60
My Spritely Soul, them I did not affect
My
Gloss Note
cheerful, animated
sprightly
soul; them I did not
Gloss Note
like, want
affect
.
My spritely soul. Them I did not affect.
Truth

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61
Truth Sighing Said, not many Dayes would Goe,
Truth, sighing said, not many days would go,
Truth, sighing, said, not many days would go,
62
Er’e I would wiſh for thoſe I Sleighted Soe.
Gloss Note
before
Ere
I would wish for those I slighted so,
Ere I would wish for those I slighted so.
63
But all her counſell was to mee in vain,
But all her counsel was to me in vain,
But all her counsel was to me in vain,
64
ffor I invited home that Gallant Train,
For I invited home that gallant train:
For I invited home that gallant train:
65
Peace in A ^Purple Mantle, wrought with Gold,
Peace in a purple
Gloss Note
garment
mantle
Gloss Note
embellished
wrought
with gold,
Peace in a purple mantle, wrought with gold,
66
Where Groves, Phanes, Citties, you might there
Physical Note
there is a hyphen or dash above the caret
be^hold
;
Where groves,
Gloss Note
temples
fanes
, cities, you might there behold;
Where groves,
Gloss Note
temples
phanes
, cities, you might there behold,
67
Which cast a luster to my wondring eye.
Which cast a luster to my wondering eye;
Which cast a luster to my wondering eye;
68
Joy in an Azure vesture like the Skie,
Joy, in an
Gloss Note
blue
azure
Gloss Note
garment
vesture
like the sky,
Joy, in an azure vesture like the sky,
69
Studded with Gems, which dazeled Soe my Sight,
Studded with gems, which dazzled so my sight,
Studded with gems, which dazzled so my sight,
70
That now (mee thought) my Pearl was not Soe bright
That now (methought) my pearl was not so bright
That now (methought) my pearl was not so bright
71
As it was wont; but lookt both dim and Sad;
As it
Gloss Note
used to be
was wont
, but looked both dim and sad.
As it was wont, but
Gloss Note
the speaker’s pearl appears to “dim” in comparison to the pleasures she shares with Peace and Joy; however, she recognizes its true brightness when she is joined by Patience and Hope.
looked both dim and sad
.
72
Thus of my
Physical Note
“ts” crowded between other letters
Guests
I was extreamly Glad.
Thus of my guests I was extremely glad.
Thus of my guests I was extremely glad.
73
Peace Sweetly Smiled, Joy Gigling Laugh’d outright
Peace sweetly smiled; Joy, giggling, laughed outright,
Peace sweetly smiled, Joy, giggling, laughed outright,
74
And thus in Mirth wee past the time till Night.
And thus in mirth we passed the time till night.
And thus in mirth we passed the time till night.
75
Then tir’d with Laughing wee went all to Bed;
Then tired with laughing, we went all to bed,
Then tired with laughing we went all to bed,
76
But by the Morn my Chearfull Guests were fled.
But by the morn my cheerful guests were fled;
But by the morn my cheerful guests were fled,
77
And none but Sorrow left, tearing her hair;
And none but Sorrow left, tearing her hair,
And none but Sorrow left, tearing her hair,
78
And ffear who (trembling) asked for deſpair.
And Fear who, trembling, askéd for Despair.
Gloss Note
the speaker goes to bed with Peace and Joy but when she wakes she discovers Sorrow and Fear in their place. Echoing the invitations issued earlier in the poem, Fear “asked for” Despair, and, as a result, the speaker is finally ready to acknowledge Aletheia’s offer of Patience as a companion.
And Fear who, trembling, asked for Despair.
79
My Bleſſed Guid Seeing mee in tears diſſolved,
My blesséd guide, seeing me in tears
Gloss Note
melted, undone
dissolved
,
My blessed guide, seeing me in tears dissolved,
80
And with Such Woefull Company involved;
And with such woeful company involved,
And with such woeful company involved,
81
Asked mee? if Patience I did yet deſire.
Asked me if Patience I did yet desire.
Asked me if Patience I did yet desire.
82
I said without her I Should Soon expire.
I said without her I should soon expire.
I said, without her I should soon expire.
Physical Note
catchword is incorrect
wipe

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83
At last Shee came with Slow
Physical Note
blot atop
and
modest pace,
At last she came, with slow and modest pace;
At last she came with slow and modest pace,
84
Wipeing ye the tears from my pale blubbar’d face.
Wiping the the tears from my pale,
Gloss Note
flooded with tears
blubbered
face,
Wiping the tears from my pale
Gloss Note
flooded with tears.
blubbered
face.
85
Shee told mee many a Sad and diſmale Story,
She told me many a sad and dismal story,
She told me many a sad and dismal story,
86
Which ever ended in ye ſufferers Glory.
Which ever ended in the sufferer’s glory.
Which ever
Gloss Note
Patience fulfills the promise to comfort the speaker by telling stories of sufferers who achieve eternal reward; these sad stories echo the sad story of the speaker’s life written in the book of fate.
ended in the sufferer’s glory
.
87
These tears Sure waſhed the ffelms from of my Sight,
These tears
Gloss Note
assuredly
sure
washed the films from off my sight,
These tears sure washed the films from off my sight,
88
ffor now I found my Pearl was fare more bright,
For now I found my pearl was far more bright,
For now I found my pearl was far more bright
89
Then all the Gems
Physical Note
I hat
ever yet did view;
Than all the gems I ever yet did view;
Than all the gems I ever yet did view.
90
Behould the Power of Penitentiall dew,
Behold the power of
Gloss Note
tears of remorse, for sin
penitential dew
!
Behold the power of penitential dew.
91
I laid my Pearl cloſs to my trembling breast,
I laid my pearl close to my trembling breast,
I laid my pearl close to my trembling breast,
92
And on an Anker Lay’d my head to Rest,
And on an
Gloss Note
in Christian tradition, a symbol of hope; see Heb. 6:19: “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul.”
anchor
laid my head to rest,
Critical Note
see Hebrews 6:19: “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil” (AV).
And on an anchor laid my head to rest,
93
That Hope (in love to mee) before had Lay’d
That Hope (in love to me) before had
Gloss Note
laid down for
laid
That Hope (in love to me) before had laid
94
Mee to Suſtain, that fair and bleſſed Mayd
Me to sustain; that fair and blessed maid,
Me to sustain. That fair and blessed maid,
95
Whome ffaire Alithea brought to take my part,
Whom fair Aletheia brought to take my part,
Whom faire Aletheia brought to take my part,
96
To Sway the ffactions in my troubled Hart;
To sway the
Gloss Note
competing political groups
factions
in my troubled heart;
To sway the factions in my troubled heart,
97
And gave them charge, evern to hold in awe
And gave
Gloss Note
She charges Patience and Hope (“them”) to make Sorrow and Fear be in awe of them.
them
charge, ever to hold in awe
And gave them charge ever to hold in awe
98
Sorrow and ffear, and never to withdraw
Sorrow and Fear, and never to withdraw
Sorrow and Fear, and never to withdraw
99
There best aſſistance, to keep out
Physical Note
second syllable in darker ink, possibly over earlier letters
diſpaire
Their best assistance, to keep out Despair,
Their best assistance to keep out Despair,
100
Who with her curst aſſociates would repaire
Who with her cursed associates would
Gloss Note
return; habitually assemble
repair
Who with her cursed associates would repair
101
Mee to aflict which would mee ^much afright
Me to afflict, which would me much affright,
Me to afflict, which would me much afright,
102
Cavſe the black brood of Acharon, and Night,
’Cause the black
Critical Note
offspring, which include Doom, Fate, Death, Dreams, Blame, Misery, the Hesperides, the Destinies (or Parcae), Nemesis, Deceit, Lovemaking, Old Age, and Strife. Hesiod, The Poems of Hesiod: Theogony, Works and Days, and the Shield of Herakles (2017), 42, 45.
brood of Acheron and Night
’Cause the
Critical Note
the offspring of Night and Acheron include Doom, Fate, Death, Sleep, Dreams, Blame, Woe, the Hesperides, the Destinies (Parcae), Nemesis, Deceit, Friendship, Old Age, and Strife. See Hesiod Theogony, lines 211-25. This “horrid train” causes the speaker to faint.
black brood of Acheron and Night
103
Would alſoe com, who onely were adicted
Would also come, who only were addicted
Would also come, who only were addicted
104
To ad aflictions to the most aflicted.
To
Gloss Note
adding
add
afflictions to the most afflicted.
To add afflictions to the most afflicted.
105
Just as Shee Spake, in came that Horrid train
Just as she spake, in came that horrid
Gloss Note
procession, ensnaring treachery
train
,
Just as she spake, in came that horrid train,
106
Which cauſed a trembling, throughout every vein
Which caused a trembling throughout every vein
Which caused a trembling throughout every vein
of

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107
Of my Sad Heart, down fell I in a Sownd:
Of my sad heart; down fell I in a
Gloss Note
faint, swoon
sound
,
Of my sad heart; down fell I in a
Gloss Note
swoon or fainting-fit (see OED sound, n.4)
sound
,
108
Till that brave Damsill raiſd mee from the Ground.
Till that
Gloss Note
Faith
brave damsel
raised me from the ground,
Till that brave
Gloss Note
Faith
damsel
raised me from the ground,
109
Who Just then came Triumphant from the ffield,
Who just then came triumphant from the field;
Who just then came triumphant from the field;
110
Then with her bright impenetrable Shield;
Then, with her bright impenetrable shield,
Then with her bright impenetrable shield,
111
Shee all thoſe Helliſh Monsters did oppoſe:
She all those hellish monsters did oppose
She all those hellish monsters did oppose.
112
Thus was I Safe deliverd from my foes.
(Thus was I safe delivered from my foes);
Thus was I safe delivered from my foes.
113
Then leaving Hope, and Patience by my Side,
Then, leaving Hope and Patience by my side,
Then, leaving Hope and Patience by my side,
114
Commanding them both, with mee to abide.
Commanding them both with me to abide,
Commanding them both, with me to abide;
115
Councelling mee to follow my faire Guid.
Counselling me to follow my fair guide,
Counseling me to follow my fair guide,
116
Who would through all the trouble of my Story,
Who would, through all the trouble of my story,
Who would through all the trouble of my story,
117
Lead mee at last to everlasting Glory.
Lead me at last to everlasting glory.
Lead me at last to everlasting glory.
118
Thus have I liv’d a Sad and weary life,
Thus have I lived a sad and weary life,
Thus have I lived a sad and weary life,
119
Thirteen a Mayd, and Thirtie three a Wife.
Thirteen a maid, and thirty three a wife.
Critical Note
Earlier in the poem, Pulter identifies “infant, maid, and wife” as the three stages of life. Here the speaker specifies how many years she lived in the second two of those stages. If we identify the speaker with Pulter herself, who was born between 1605 and 1608 and was married in 1623, this line suggests that the poem was written in 1656 when Pulter was between 49 and 51 years old.
Thirteen a maid, and thirty-three a wife.
120
All I found true my
Physical Note
final “e” imperfectly erased
Alithe’e
did Speak,
All I found true my Alethie did speak,
All I found true my Aletheia did speak,
121
But yet (Aye mee) the bubble will not breake.
But yet (ay me!) the
Critical Note
her fragile and vexing earthly life
bubble
will not break.
But yet (aye me)
Critical Note
in the final line of the poem, the speaker returns to the metaphor of life as bubble that is introduced earlier and laments that this bubble is strong rather than weak. The image of the bubble echoes the symbol of the pearl: both are spherical, beautiful, and fragile.
the bubble will not break
.
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition

 Editorial note

I have modernized spelling and punctuation in this poem with the aim of enhancing clarity and readability. The notes gloss unfamiliar words and provide cultural and literary contexts.

 Headnote

“Aletheia’s Pearl” is a spiritual autobiography in the form of a personalized mythography. Pulter’s speaker describes the triumphs and challenges of her life through an account of her changing relationships with a range of personified figures: Aletheia (Truth), Joy, Peace, Patience, Hope, Faith, Sorrow, Fear, and Despair. An initial commitment to Aletheia, symbolized by a gift of a pearl, is followed by a youthful dalliance with Peace and Joy, the unwelcome appearance of Sorrow and Despair, and the belated company of Patience, Hope and Faith. Late in the poem, the speaker reveals that she lived thirteen years as a “maid” and thirty-three as a wife; this mature perspective informs the narrative of the poem, yet the precise relationship between the allegorical events of the poem and specific life-events (i.e.,marriage or the births or deaths of children) remains oblique.
One context for “Aletheia’s Pearl” is the invitation poem tradition, especially John Milton’s companion poems, “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso.” Pulter’s engagement with this tradition can be usefully explored through at least two different frames. First, most examples of the invitation poem, including Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” and Milton’s companion poems, position the speaker through heterosexual eroticism. Like Cavendish’s “Dialogue of Melancholy and Mirth,” “Aletheia’s Pearl” does not, and, further, Pulter’s speaker invokes female personifications defined primarily as mother-daughter pairs: Time and Truth, Peace and Joy, Faith and Patience. Second, Pulter’s speaker describes her youthful devotion to truth from the perspective of a later maturity. Milton’s “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso” are usually considered alternative models for living or for a poetic career; “Aletheia’s Pearl” does not propose a choice between joy and melancholy, but identifies these affects (and others) as part of a single “sad story” that develops over the course of the speaker’s life.
Line number 1

 Critical note

personification of Truth; from the Greek ἀλήθεια, which may be translated as “unclosedness,” “disclosure,” or “truth.”
Line number 2

 Gloss note

a pearl from India; a beautiful, radiant, and highly valuable pearl.
Line number 8

 Gloss note

Time, who is proverbially the mother of Truth
Line number 12

 Critical note

the speaker pledges her troth to truth—here personified as a beautiful maiden, Aletheia—and in return Aletheia takes possession of her “virgin heart.” This relationship is represented as a mutually beneficial exchange (the speaker’s “all” or “heart” in return for Aletheia’s pearl and promise “ne’er to depart”) that is ritually confirmed by the tying of a “true love’s knot,” an ornamental knot used to symbolize love and commitment (see OED “true-love knot,” n.). Later the poem refers to the speaker’s marriage, but her same-sex bond with Aletheia precedes that relationship.
Line number 28

 Critical note

identifying Joy as the daughter of Peace, the speaker encourages Aletheia to “invite” the pair to “dwell with us to consummate delight.” Compare this passage to the invitation poem tradition and especially to Milton’s “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso,” in which the speaker alternately invites the goddesses Mirth and Melancholy to become his companion. Later, Aletheia offers instead to “invite” Patience and Hope to become the speaker’s companions.
Line number 29

 Physical note

i.e. triumvirate. In the manuscript this word is inserted into a space in the line by a different hand.
Line number 37

 Gloss note

the Parcae are female personifications of destiny, the three Fates
Line number 40

 Gloss note

to happen upon or to discover by chance (see OED hap, v. 4a.).
Line number 44

 Gloss note

a conventional metaphor for the briefness and fragility of life.
Line number 46

 Gloss note

Aletheia reads the speaker’s “sad story” in the book of fate and discovers that she will suffer trouble during all the stages of her life (“infant, maid, and wife”).
Line number 52

 Critical note

Faith; see Ephesians 6:16: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (AV). In the poem’s third mother-daughter pair, Patience is identified as the daughter of Faith.
Line number 66

 Gloss note

temples
Line number 71

 Gloss note

the speaker’s pearl appears to “dim” in comparison to the pleasures she shares with Peace and Joy; however, she recognizes its true brightness when she is joined by Patience and Hope.
Line number 78

 Gloss note

the speaker goes to bed with Peace and Joy but when she wakes she discovers Sorrow and Fear in their place. Echoing the invitations issued earlier in the poem, Fear “asked for” Despair, and, as a result, the speaker is finally ready to acknowledge Aletheia’s offer of Patience as a companion.
Line number 84

 Gloss note

flooded with tears.
Line number 86

 Gloss note

Patience fulfills the promise to comfort the speaker by telling stories of sufferers who achieve eternal reward; these sad stories echo the sad story of the speaker’s life written in the book of fate.
Line number 92

 Critical note

see Hebrews 6:19: “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil” (AV).
Line number 102

 Critical note

the offspring of Night and Acheron include Doom, Fate, Death, Sleep, Dreams, Blame, Woe, the Hesperides, the Destinies (Parcae), Nemesis, Deceit, Friendship, Old Age, and Strife. See Hesiod Theogony, lines 211-25. This “horrid train” causes the speaker to faint.
Line number 107

 Gloss note

swoon or fainting-fit (see OED sound, n.4)
Line number 108

 Gloss note

Faith
Line number 119

 Critical note

Earlier in the poem, Pulter identifies “infant, maid, and wife” as the three stages of life. Here the speaker specifies how many years she lived in the second two of those stages. If we identify the speaker with Pulter herself, who was born between 1605 and 1608 and was married in 1623, this line suggests that the poem was written in 1656 when Pulter was between 49 and 51 years old.
Line number 121

 Critical note

in the final line of the poem, the speaker returns to the metaphor of life as bubble that is introduced earlier and laments that this bubble is strong rather than weak. The image of the bubble echoes the symbol of the pearl: both are spherical, beautiful, and fragile.
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X (Close panel)Amplified Edition
Amplified Edition

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Alitheas Pearl
Aletheia’s Pearl
Aletheia’s Pearl
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.

— Lara Dodds
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.

— Lara Dodds
I have modernized spelling and punctuation in this poem with the aim of enhancing clarity and readability. The notes gloss unfamiliar words and provide cultural and literary contexts.

— Lara Dodds
Pulter’s fascination with spherical forms—elsewhere, suns and stars—is evinced here in two competing images: the gleaming pearl of truth and the bubble of her life, the latter brittle but obstinately refusing to break. These key images are surrounded by a pageant of allegorical female figures central to the life story recounted in the poem. As a virginal girl, the speaker accepts a pearl from Aletheia, the goddess of truth, in exchange for everything she owns—a daring trade, which is described here much like a wedding. But the speaker (“puffed up with prosperity,” and so with pride) wants still more: not satisfied with Truth, she wants Peace and Joy to join their menage. She disregards Truth’s warnings against their deceptive, unreliable nature, as well as her prophecy of the speaker’s future misery—incompatible with either quality—and her own suggested guests: Patience and Hope, criticized by the speaker as dull. Although she is briefly dazzled by the magnificent appearance of Peace and Joy, the happy occasion of their presence is brief: they flee by morning, with their places taken by Sorrow and Fear. Now Truth’s introduction of Patience and Hope is accepted; along with Faith, they are charged to defend the speaker against the depredations of an internal civil war. This poem is linked to other Pulter poems featuring a conflict-ridden mythological cosmos dominated by female bonds, but is unusual in its very deliberate allegory and in the speaker’s appeal to the guidance of a female mentor (rather than a more conventional Christian god).

— Lara Dodds
“Aletheia’s Pearl” is a spiritual autobiography in the form of a personalized mythography. Pulter’s speaker describes the triumphs and challenges of her life through an account of her changing relationships with a range of personified figures: Aletheia (Truth), Joy, Peace, Patience, Hope, Faith, Sorrow, Fear, and Despair. An initial commitment to Aletheia, symbolized by a gift of a pearl, is followed by a youthful dalliance with Peace and Joy, the unwelcome appearance of Sorrow and Despair, and the belated company of Patience, Hope and Faith. Late in the poem, the speaker reveals that she lived thirteen years as a “maid” and thirty-three as a wife; this mature perspective informs the narrative of the poem, yet the precise relationship between the allegorical events of the poem and specific life-events (i.e.,marriage or the births or deaths of children) remains oblique.
One context for “Aletheia’s Pearl” is the invitation poem tradition, especially John Milton’s companion poems, “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso.” Pulter’s engagement with this tradition can be usefully explored through at least two different frames. First, most examples of the invitation poem, including Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” and Milton’s companion poems, position the speaker through heterosexual eroticism. Like Cavendish’s “Dialogue of Melancholy and Mirth,” “Aletheia’s Pearl” does not, and, further, Pulter’s speaker invokes female personifications defined primarily as mother-daughter pairs: Time and Truth, Peace and Joy, Faith and Patience. Second, Pulter’s speaker describes her youthful devotion to truth from the perspective of a later maturity. Milton’s “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso” are usually considered alternative models for living or for a poetic career; “Aletheia’s Pearl” does not propose a choice between joy and melancholy, but identifies these affects (and others) as part of a single “sad story” that develops over the course of the speaker’s life.


— Lara Dodds
1
ffaire Ælithea (when I was A Girle)
Fair
Gloss Note
goddess or spirit of truth
Aletheia
(when I was a girl)
Fair
Critical Note
personification of Truth; from the Greek ἀλήθεια, which may be translated as “unclosedness,” “disclosure,” or “truth.”
Aletheia
(when I was a girl),
2
One Sunday, offer’d mee an Orient Pearl;
One Sunday offered me an
Gloss Note
oriental; from the Eastern part of the world; radiant; associated with the part of the heavens in which the sun rises
orient
pearl,
One Sunday, offered me an
Gloss Note
a pearl from India; a beautiful, radiant, and highly valuable pearl.
orient pearl
;
3
But for it, I must part with all I had,
But for it I must part with all I had;
But for it, I must part with all I had.
4
I of the Bargain was extreamly Glad
I, of the bargain, was extremely glad.
I of the bargain was extremely glad.
5
Then being Soe directed, from above
Then being so directed from above,
Then, being so directed from above,
6
Shee Smileing,
Physical Note
“ſ” appears written over another “k”
aſke’d
Physical Note
inserted in different hand from main scribe
\mee \
if I could her loue?
She, smiling, asked me if I could her love.
She, smiling, asked me if I could her love.
7
I Seeing her Soe fare tranſcend all other,
I, seeing her so far transcend all other,
I, seeing her so far transcend all other,
8
And more resplendent then her raidient^Mother
And more resplendent than her radiant
Gloss Note
Truth was proverbially the daughter of Time.
mother
,
And more resplendent than her
Gloss Note
Time, who is proverbially the mother of Truth
radiant mother
,
9
Said,) I with her would Gladly live and Die,
Said I with her would gladly live and die.
Said, I with her would gladly live and die.
10
Celestiall Love the true Loves Knot did tie,
Celestial Love the true love’s knot did tie;
Celestial love the true love’s knot did tie;
11
Reciprocally promiſeing ne’re to depart,
Reciprocally promising ne’er to depart,
Reciprocally promising ne’er to depart,
12
Shee took poſſeſſion of my Virgin Heart
Gloss Note
Aletheia
She
took possession of my
Gloss Note
pure, chaste
virgin
heart.
Critical Note
the speaker pledges her troth to truth—here personified as a beautiful maiden, Aletheia—and in return Aletheia takes possession of her “virgin heart.” This relationship is represented as a mutually beneficial exchange (the speaker’s “all” or “heart” in return for Aletheia’s pearl and promise “ne’er to depart”) that is ritually confirmed by the tying of a “true love’s knot,” an ornamental knot used to symbolize love and commitment (see OED “true-love knot,” n.). Later the poem refers to the speaker’s marriage, but her same-sex bond with Aletheia precedes that relationship.
She took possession of my virgin heart.
13
In earnest of her love Shee gave a kiſs;
In earnest of her love she gave a kiss,
In earnest of her love she gave a kiss,
14
Saying Shee would lead mee to eternall bliſs;
Saying she would lead me to eternal bliss;
Saying she would lead me to eternal bliss;
15
Soe Should I Shun the paths of endles errour,
So should I shun the paths of endless
Gloss Note
wandering, mistake
error
,
So should I shun the paths of endless error,
16
And have an Innocent Soule Still free from ^terrour.
And have an innocent soul still free from terror.
And have an innocent soul still free from terror.
17
Shee bid mee feare noe trouble in my Story,
She bid me fear no trouble in my
Gloss Note
life
story
,
She bid me fear no trouble in my story,
18
ffor love would Crown mee w:th immortall Glory.
For love would crown me with immortal glory.
For love would crown me with immortal glory.
thus

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19
Thus Innocently I paſt my Youthfull Dayes;
Thus innocently I passed my youthful days,
Thus innocently I passed my youthful days,
20
Seeing more and more of her refulgent Rayes.
Seeing more and more of her
Gloss Note
radiant
refulgent
rays.
Seeing more and more of her refulgent rays.
21
Thus beeing puft up with proſperity,
Thus, being puffed up with prosperity,
Thus being puffed up with prosperity,
22
The World in every Star I
Physical Note
final “t” crowded in before next word, in different hand from main scribe
thought
to buy,
The world in every star I thought to
Gloss Note
possess
buy
,
The world in every star I thought to buy.
23
And oft I did my Virgin Guid intreat,
And oft I did my virgin guide entreat,
And oft I did my virgin guide intreat
24
To make my happines on earth compleat;
To make my happiness on earth complete,
To make my happiness on earth complete:
25
That Peace, (that Stately Dame) Shee would invite
That Peace (that stately dame) she would invite
That Peace, that stately dame, she would invite
26
To dwell with us to conſumate delight.
To dwell with us, to
Critical Note
to bring to completion; make perfect; also to give sexual expression to a relationship
consummate
delight.
To dwell with us to consummate delight.
27
ffor then I Said, that Joy would follow after
For then, I said, that Joy would follow after:
For then, I said, that Joy would follow after;
28
Get but the Mother, & you have the Daughter.
Get but the mother, and you have the daughter.
Critical Note
identifying Joy as the daughter of Peace, the speaker encourages Aletheia to “invite” the pair to “dwell with us to consummate delight.” Compare this passage to the invitation poem tradition and especially to Milton’s “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso,” in which the speaker alternately invites the goddesses Mirth and Melancholy to become his companion. Later, Aletheia offers instead to “invite” Patience and Hope to become the speaker’s companions.
Get but the mother, and you have the daughter.
29
That blest
Physical Note
in H2; space was left by H1 for nine ellipses, five of which are positioned under the word “triumvirie.”
triumvirie
. . . . might I once injoy
That blest
Critical Note
triumvirie” added by a hand that is probably Pulter’s, in a blank space left by the scribe; a triumvir is a ruling body of three people, derived from the Latin triumviri, a coalition of three Roman magistrates; here the speaker refers to Peace, Joy, and Truth.
triumviri
might I once
Gloss Note
have the benefit of; find pleasure in
enjoy
,
That blest
Physical Note
i.e. triumvirate. In the manuscript this word is inserted into a space in the line by a different hand.
triumviry
might I once enjoy,
30
I Should Esteem this World a trifeling toy.
I should esteem this world a trifling
Gloss Note
trivial thing
toy
.
I should esteem this world a trifling toy.
31
My faire Directris Smileing then did Say,
My fair directress, smiling, then did say,
My fair directress, smiling, then did say,
32
That those two Jolly
Physical Note
apostrophe and “’s” crowded into space before next word
Lady’s
would not Stay
That those two jolly ladies would not stay
That those two jolly ladies would not stay
33
Long in a place, nor were they as they Seem’d:
Long in a place, nor were they as they seemed:
Long in a place, nor were they as they seemed,
34
As all that Glisters is not Gold estee^md.
As all that
Gloss Note
glitters
glisters
is not gold esteemed,
As all that glisters is not gold esteemed.
35
Ther’s noe true Peace, nor Joy, below ye Sun:
There’s no true peace, nor joy, below the sun;
There’s no true peace, nor joy, below the Sun,
36
Nor can wee know it till this Life is dun.
Nor can we know it till this life is done.
Nor can we know it till this life is done.
37
Nay more being at the Parces houſe: of late,
Nay more, being at the
Gloss Note
one of three female Fates’
Parcae’s
house of late,
Nay more, being at the
Gloss Note
the Parcae are female personifications of destiny, the three Fates
Parcaes’
house of late,
38
Turning the vollumes of the book of ffate
Turning the volumes of the book of fate
Turning the volumes of the book of fate
to

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39
To See what might advance the eternals Glory.
To see what might advance th’Eternal’s glory,
To see what might advance th’Eternal’s glory,
40
Shee hapt to cast an eye on my Sad Story,
Gloss Note
one of the Fates
She
Gloss Note
happened
hap’d
to cast an eye on my sad story,
She
Gloss Note
to happen upon or to discover by chance (see OED hap, v. 4a.).
happed
to cast an eye on my sad story,
41
And by my destiny Shee Saw my life,
And by my destiny she saw my life,
And by my destiny she saw my life,
42
At which Shee
Physical Note
another letter has been converted into the final “d” (perhaps an “l” or “t,” which is imperfectly erased)
Sigh’d
! both, Infant, Maid, & Wife
At which she sighed: both infant,
Gloss Note
unmarried woman
maid
, and wife
At which she sighed: both, infant, maid, and wife
43
Would bee involv’d, and fil’d with inward trouble;
Would be involved and filled with inward trouble,
Would be involved and filled with inward trouble,
44
But yet as brittle as the tenderest Bubble.
But yet as
Gloss Note
fragile
brittle
as the tenderest bubble,
But yet as
Gloss Note
a conventional metaphor for the briefness and fragility of life.
brittle as the tenderest bubble
.
45
And looking further on from page to Page,
And looking further on from page to page,
And looking further on from page to page,
46
She found I would live a tedious Pilgrimage.
She found I would live a tedious
Gloss Note
journey, sometimes toward a holy place
pilgrimage
;
Gloss Note
Aletheia reads the speaker’s “sad story” in the book of fate and discovers that she will suffer trouble during all the stages of her life (“infant, maid, and wife”).
She found I would live a tedious pilgrimage.
47
But yet to comfort mee in my Sad Story;
But yet to comfort me in my sad story,
But yet to comfort me in my sad story,
48
My troubles all would end in endles Glory.
My troubles all would end in endless glory.
My troubles all would end in endless glory.
49
Therefore Shee did adviſe for my Reliefe,
Therefore she did advise, for my relief,
Therefore she did advise for my relief,
50
A modest Matron to allay my Griefe.
A modest matron to allay my grief,
A modest matron to allay my grief.
51
One not Soe brave but of as Ample ffame;
One not so
Gloss Note
finely dressed
brave
but of as ample
Gloss Note
reputation
fame
One not so brave, but of as ample fame,
52
And noble Birth, (the Daughter of ye Dame
And noble birth (the daughter of the
Critical Note
Faith is personified with a shield, derived from Ephesians 6:16: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” On Faith as the mother of Patience, see Robert Rollock, Lectures Upon the First and Second Epistles of Paul to the Thessalonians (London, 1606), 2.11.
dame
And noble birth (the daughter of
Critical Note
Faith; see Ephesians 6:16: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (AV). In the poem’s third mother-daughter pair, Patience is identified as the daughter of Faith.
the dame
53
Who doth defend the ffaithfull with her Shield
Who doth defend the faithful with her shield
Who doth defend the faithful with her shield
54
And makes them still victorious in the ffield)
And makes them still victorious in the field);
And makes them still victorious in the field),
55
Patience her name, who Said Shee would invite
Patience her name, who said she would invite
Patience her name, who said she would invite
56
Her sister Hope, to ffurther my delight.
Her sister Hope to further my delight.
Her sister Hope, to further my delight.
57
I said of those two Damſels I had bin told,
I said of those two damsels I had been told,
I said of those two damsels I had been told,
58
But yet I thought
Physical Note
cancelled with scribbles
I thought
till I grew Sick or Old,
But yet I thought till I grew sick or old
But yet I thought, till I grew sick or old,
59
Their Sad and tedious Stories would deject
Their sad and tedious stories would deject
Their sad and tedious stories would deject
60
My Spritely Soul, them I did not affect
My
Gloss Note
cheerful, animated
sprightly
soul; them I did not
Gloss Note
like, want
affect
.
My spritely soul. Them I did not affect.
Truth

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61
Truth Sighing Said, not many Dayes would Goe,
Truth, sighing said, not many days would go,
Truth, sighing, said, not many days would go,
62
Er’e I would wiſh for thoſe I Sleighted Soe.
Gloss Note
before
Ere
I would wish for those I slighted so,
Ere I would wish for those I slighted so.
63
But all her counſell was to mee in vain,
But all her counsel was to me in vain,
But all her counsel was to me in vain,
64
ffor I invited home that Gallant Train,
For I invited home that gallant train:
For I invited home that gallant train:
65
Peace in A ^Purple Mantle, wrought with Gold,
Peace in a purple
Gloss Note
garment
mantle
Gloss Note
embellished
wrought
with gold,
Peace in a purple mantle, wrought with gold,
66
Where Groves, Phanes, Citties, you might there
Physical Note
there is a hyphen or dash above the caret
be^hold
;
Where groves,
Gloss Note
temples
fanes
, cities, you might there behold;
Where groves,
Gloss Note
temples
phanes
, cities, you might there behold,
67
Which cast a luster to my wondring eye.
Which cast a luster to my wondering eye;
Which cast a luster to my wondering eye;
68
Joy in an Azure vesture like the Skie,
Joy, in an
Gloss Note
blue
azure
Gloss Note
garment
vesture
like the sky,
Joy, in an azure vesture like the sky,
69
Studded with Gems, which dazeled Soe my Sight,
Studded with gems, which dazzled so my sight,
Studded with gems, which dazzled so my sight,
70
That now (mee thought) my Pearl was not Soe bright
That now (methought) my pearl was not so bright
That now (methought) my pearl was not so bright
71
As it was wont; but lookt both dim and Sad;
As it
Gloss Note
used to be
was wont
, but looked both dim and sad.
As it was wont, but
Gloss Note
the speaker’s pearl appears to “dim” in comparison to the pleasures she shares with Peace and Joy; however, she recognizes its true brightness when she is joined by Patience and Hope.
looked both dim and sad
.
72
Thus of my
Physical Note
“ts” crowded between other letters
Guests
I was extreamly Glad.
Thus of my guests I was extremely glad.
Thus of my guests I was extremely glad.
73
Peace Sweetly Smiled, Joy Gigling Laugh’d outright
Peace sweetly smiled; Joy, giggling, laughed outright,
Peace sweetly smiled, Joy, giggling, laughed outright,
74
And thus in Mirth wee past the time till Night.
And thus in mirth we passed the time till night.
And thus in mirth we passed the time till night.
75
Then tir’d with Laughing wee went all to Bed;
Then tired with laughing, we went all to bed,
Then tired with laughing we went all to bed,
76
But by the Morn my Chearfull Guests were fled.
But by the morn my cheerful guests were fled;
But by the morn my cheerful guests were fled,
77
And none but Sorrow left, tearing her hair;
And none but Sorrow left, tearing her hair,
And none but Sorrow left, tearing her hair,
78
And ffear who (trembling) asked for deſpair.
And Fear who, trembling, askéd for Despair.
Gloss Note
the speaker goes to bed with Peace and Joy but when she wakes she discovers Sorrow and Fear in their place. Echoing the invitations issued earlier in the poem, Fear “asked for” Despair, and, as a result, the speaker is finally ready to acknowledge Aletheia’s offer of Patience as a companion.
And Fear who, trembling, asked for Despair.
79
My Bleſſed Guid Seeing mee in tears diſſolved,
My blesséd guide, seeing me in tears
Gloss Note
melted, undone
dissolved
,
My blessed guide, seeing me in tears dissolved,
80
And with Such Woefull Company involved;
And with such woeful company involved,
And with such woeful company involved,
81
Asked mee? if Patience I did yet deſire.
Asked me if Patience I did yet desire.
Asked me if Patience I did yet desire.
82
I said without her I Should Soon expire.
I said without her I should soon expire.
I said, without her I should soon expire.
Physical Note
catchword is incorrect
wipe

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83
At last Shee came with Slow
Physical Note
blot atop
and
modest pace,
At last she came, with slow and modest pace;
At last she came with slow and modest pace,
84
Wipeing ye the tears from my pale blubbar’d face.
Wiping the the tears from my pale,
Gloss Note
flooded with tears
blubbered
face,
Wiping the tears from my pale
Gloss Note
flooded with tears.
blubbered
face.
85
Shee told mee many a Sad and diſmale Story,
She told me many a sad and dismal story,
She told me many a sad and dismal story,
86
Which ever ended in ye ſufferers Glory.
Which ever ended in the sufferer’s glory.
Which ever
Gloss Note
Patience fulfills the promise to comfort the speaker by telling stories of sufferers who achieve eternal reward; these sad stories echo the sad story of the speaker’s life written in the book of fate.
ended in the sufferer’s glory
.
87
These tears Sure waſhed the ffelms from of my Sight,
These tears
Gloss Note
assuredly
sure
washed the films from off my sight,
These tears sure washed the films from off my sight,
88
ffor now I found my Pearl was fare more bright,
For now I found my pearl was far more bright,
For now I found my pearl was far more bright
89
Then all the Gems
Physical Note
I hat
ever yet did view;
Than all the gems I ever yet did view;
Than all the gems I ever yet did view.
90
Behould the Power of Penitentiall dew,
Behold the power of
Gloss Note
tears of remorse, for sin
penitential dew
!
Behold the power of penitential dew.
91
I laid my Pearl cloſs to my trembling breast,
I laid my pearl close to my trembling breast,
I laid my pearl close to my trembling breast,
92
And on an Anker Lay’d my head to Rest,
And on an
Gloss Note
in Christian tradition, a symbol of hope; see Heb. 6:19: “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul.”
anchor
laid my head to rest,
Critical Note
see Hebrews 6:19: “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil” (AV).
And on an anchor laid my head to rest,
93
That Hope (in love to mee) before had Lay’d
That Hope (in love to me) before had
Gloss Note
laid down for
laid
That Hope (in love to me) before had laid
94
Mee to Suſtain, that fair and bleſſed Mayd
Me to sustain; that fair and blessed maid,
Me to sustain. That fair and blessed maid,
95
Whome ffaire Alithea brought to take my part,
Whom fair Aletheia brought to take my part,
Whom faire Aletheia brought to take my part,
96
To Sway the ffactions in my troubled Hart;
To sway the
Gloss Note
competing political groups
factions
in my troubled heart;
To sway the factions in my troubled heart,
97
And gave them charge, evern to hold in awe
And gave
Gloss Note
She charges Patience and Hope (“them”) to make Sorrow and Fear be in awe of them.
them
charge, ever to hold in awe
And gave them charge ever to hold in awe
98
Sorrow and ffear, and never to withdraw
Sorrow and Fear, and never to withdraw
Sorrow and Fear, and never to withdraw
99
There best aſſistance, to keep out
Physical Note
second syllable in darker ink, possibly over earlier letters
diſpaire
Their best assistance, to keep out Despair,
Their best assistance to keep out Despair,
100
Who with her curst aſſociates would repaire
Who with her cursed associates would
Gloss Note
return; habitually assemble
repair
Who with her cursed associates would repair
101
Mee to aflict which would mee ^much afright
Me to afflict, which would me much affright,
Me to afflict, which would me much afright,
102
Cavſe the black brood of Acharon, and Night,
’Cause the black
Critical Note
offspring, which include Doom, Fate, Death, Dreams, Blame, Misery, the Hesperides, the Destinies (or Parcae), Nemesis, Deceit, Lovemaking, Old Age, and Strife. Hesiod, The Poems of Hesiod: Theogony, Works and Days, and the Shield of Herakles (2017), 42, 45.
brood of Acheron and Night
’Cause the
Critical Note
the offspring of Night and Acheron include Doom, Fate, Death, Sleep, Dreams, Blame, Woe, the Hesperides, the Destinies (Parcae), Nemesis, Deceit, Friendship, Old Age, and Strife. See Hesiod Theogony, lines 211-25. This “horrid train” causes the speaker to faint.
black brood of Acheron and Night
103
Would alſoe com, who onely were adicted
Would also come, who only were addicted
Would also come, who only were addicted
104
To ad aflictions to the most aflicted.
To
Gloss Note
adding
add
afflictions to the most afflicted.
To add afflictions to the most afflicted.
105
Just as Shee Spake, in came that Horrid train
Just as she spake, in came that horrid
Gloss Note
procession, ensnaring treachery
train
,
Just as she spake, in came that horrid train,
106
Which cauſed a trembling, throughout every vein
Which caused a trembling throughout every vein
Which caused a trembling throughout every vein
of

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107
Of my Sad Heart, down fell I in a Sownd:
Of my sad heart; down fell I in a
Gloss Note
faint, swoon
sound
,
Of my sad heart; down fell I in a
Gloss Note
swoon or fainting-fit (see OED sound, n.4)
sound
,
108
Till that brave Damsill raiſd mee from the Ground.
Till that
Gloss Note
Faith
brave damsel
raised me from the ground,
Till that brave
Gloss Note
Faith
damsel
raised me from the ground,
109
Who Just then came Triumphant from the ffield,
Who just then came triumphant from the field;
Who just then came triumphant from the field;
110
Then with her bright impenetrable Shield;
Then, with her bright impenetrable shield,
Then with her bright impenetrable shield,
111
Shee all thoſe Helliſh Monsters did oppoſe:
She all those hellish monsters did oppose
She all those hellish monsters did oppose.
112
Thus was I Safe deliverd from my foes.
(Thus was I safe delivered from my foes);
Thus was I safe delivered from my foes.
113
Then leaving Hope, and Patience by my Side,
Then, leaving Hope and Patience by my side,
Then, leaving Hope and Patience by my side,
114
Commanding them both, with mee to abide.
Commanding them both with me to abide,
Commanding them both, with me to abide;
115
Councelling mee to follow my faire Guid.
Counselling me to follow my fair guide,
Counseling me to follow my fair guide,
116
Who would through all the trouble of my Story,
Who would, through all the trouble of my story,
Who would through all the trouble of my story,
117
Lead mee at last to everlasting Glory.
Lead me at last to everlasting glory.
Lead me at last to everlasting glory.
118
Thus have I liv’d a Sad and weary life,
Thus have I lived a sad and weary life,
Thus have I lived a sad and weary life,
119
Thirteen a Mayd, and Thirtie three a Wife.
Thirteen a maid, and thirty three a wife.
Critical Note
Earlier in the poem, Pulter identifies “infant, maid, and wife” as the three stages of life. Here the speaker specifies how many years she lived in the second two of those stages. If we identify the speaker with Pulter herself, who was born between 1605 and 1608 and was married in 1623, this line suggests that the poem was written in 1656 when Pulter was between 49 and 51 years old.
Thirteen a maid, and thirty-three a wife.
120
All I found true my
Physical Note
final “e” imperfectly erased
Alithe’e
did Speak,
All I found true my Alethie did speak,
All I found true my Aletheia did speak,
121
But yet (Aye mee) the bubble will not breake.
But yet (ay me!) the
Critical Note
her fragile and vexing earthly life
bubble
will not break.
But yet (aye me)
Critical Note
in the final line of the poem, the speaker returns to the metaphor of life as bubble that is introduced earlier and laments that this bubble is strong rather than weak. The image of the bubble echoes the symbol of the pearl: both are spherical, beautiful, and fragile.
the bubble will not break
.
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

I have modernized spelling and punctuation in this poem with the aim of enhancing clarity and readability. The notes gloss unfamiliar words and provide cultural and literary contexts.
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

Pulter’s fascination with spherical forms—elsewhere, suns and stars—is evinced here in two competing images: the gleaming pearl of truth and the bubble of her life, the latter brittle but obstinately refusing to break. These key images are surrounded by a pageant of allegorical female figures central to the life story recounted in the poem. As a virginal girl, the speaker accepts a pearl from Aletheia, the goddess of truth, in exchange for everything she owns—a daring trade, which is described here much like a wedding. But the speaker (“puffed up with prosperity,” and so with pride) wants still more: not satisfied with Truth, she wants Peace and Joy to join their menage. She disregards Truth’s warnings against their deceptive, unreliable nature, as well as her prophecy of the speaker’s future misery—incompatible with either quality—and her own suggested guests: Patience and Hope, criticized by the speaker as dull. Although she is briefly dazzled by the magnificent appearance of Peace and Joy, the happy occasion of their presence is brief: they flee by morning, with their places taken by Sorrow and Fear. Now Truth’s introduction of Patience and Hope is accepted; along with Faith, they are charged to defend the speaker against the depredations of an internal civil war. This poem is linked to other Pulter poems featuring a conflict-ridden mythological cosmos dominated by female bonds, but is unusual in its very deliberate allegory and in the speaker’s appeal to the guidance of a female mentor (rather than a more conventional Christian god).
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

“Aletheia’s Pearl” is a spiritual autobiography in the form of a personalized mythography. Pulter’s speaker describes the triumphs and challenges of her life through an account of her changing relationships with a range of personified figures: Aletheia (Truth), Joy, Peace, Patience, Hope, Faith, Sorrow, Fear, and Despair. An initial commitment to Aletheia, symbolized by a gift of a pearl, is followed by a youthful dalliance with Peace and Joy, the unwelcome appearance of Sorrow and Despair, and the belated company of Patience, Hope and Faith. Late in the poem, the speaker reveals that she lived thirteen years as a “maid” and thirty-three as a wife; this mature perspective informs the narrative of the poem, yet the precise relationship between the allegorical events of the poem and specific life-events (i.e.,marriage or the births or deaths of children) remains oblique.
One context for “Aletheia’s Pearl” is the invitation poem tradition, especially John Milton’s companion poems, “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso.” Pulter’s engagement with this tradition can be usefully explored through at least two different frames. First, most examples of the invitation poem, including Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” and Milton’s companion poems, position the speaker through heterosexual eroticism. Like Cavendish’s “Dialogue of Melancholy and Mirth,” “Aletheia’s Pearl” does not, and, further, Pulter’s speaker invokes female personifications defined primarily as mother-daughter pairs: Time and Truth, Peace and Joy, Faith and Patience. Second, Pulter’s speaker describes her youthful devotion to truth from the perspective of a later maturity. Milton’s “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso” are usually considered alternative models for living or for a poetic career; “Aletheia’s Pearl” does not propose a choice between joy and melancholy, but identifies these affects (and others) as part of a single “sad story” that develops over the course of the speaker’s life.
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

goddess or spirit of truth
Amplified Edition
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 Critical note

personification of Truth; from the Greek ἀλήθεια, which may be translated as “unclosedness,” “disclosure,” or “truth.”
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

oriental; from the Eastern part of the world; radiant; associated with the part of the heavens in which the sun rises
Amplified Edition
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 Gloss note

a pearl from India; a beautiful, radiant, and highly valuable pearl.
Transcription
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 Physical note

“ſ” appears written over another “k”
Transcription
Line number 6

 Physical note

inserted in different hand from main scribe
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

Truth was proverbially the daughter of Time.
Amplified Edition
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 Gloss note

Time, who is proverbially the mother of Truth
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

Aletheia
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

pure, chaste
Amplified Edition
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 Critical note

the speaker pledges her troth to truth—here personified as a beautiful maiden, Aletheia—and in return Aletheia takes possession of her “virgin heart.” This relationship is represented as a mutually beneficial exchange (the speaker’s “all” or “heart” in return for Aletheia’s pearl and promise “ne’er to depart”) that is ritually confirmed by the tying of a “true love’s knot,” an ornamental knot used to symbolize love and commitment (see OED “true-love knot,” n.). Later the poem refers to the speaker’s marriage, but her same-sex bond with Aletheia precedes that relationship.
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

wandering, mistake
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

life
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

radiant
Transcription
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 Physical note

final “t” crowded in before next word, in different hand from main scribe
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

possess
Elemental Edition
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 Critical note

to bring to completion; make perfect; also to give sexual expression to a relationship
Amplified Edition
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 Critical note

identifying Joy as the daughter of Peace, the speaker encourages Aletheia to “invite” the pair to “dwell with us to consummate delight.” Compare this passage to the invitation poem tradition and especially to Milton’s “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso,” in which the speaker alternately invites the goddesses Mirth and Melancholy to become his companion. Later, Aletheia offers instead to “invite” Patience and Hope to become the speaker’s companions.
Transcription
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 Physical note

in H2; space was left by H1 for nine ellipses, five of which are positioned under the word “triumvirie.”
Elemental Edition
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 Critical note

triumvirie” added by a hand that is probably Pulter’s, in a blank space left by the scribe; a triumvir is a ruling body of three people, derived from the Latin triumviri, a coalition of three Roman magistrates; here the speaker refers to Peace, Joy, and Truth.
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

have the benefit of; find pleasure in
Amplified Edition
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 Physical note

i.e. triumvirate. In the manuscript this word is inserted into a space in the line by a different hand.
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

trivial thing
Transcription
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 Physical note

apostrophe and “’s” crowded into space before next word
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

glitters
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

one of three female Fates’
Amplified Edition
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 Gloss note

the Parcae are female personifications of destiny, the three Fates
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

one of the Fates
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

happened
Amplified Edition
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 Gloss note

to happen upon or to discover by chance (see OED hap, v. 4a.).
Transcription
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 Physical note

another letter has been converted into the final “d” (perhaps an “l” or “t,” which is imperfectly erased)
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

unmarried woman
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

fragile
Amplified Edition
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 Gloss note

a conventional metaphor for the briefness and fragility of life.
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

journey, sometimes toward a holy place
Amplified Edition
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 Gloss note

Aletheia reads the speaker’s “sad story” in the book of fate and discovers that she will suffer trouble during all the stages of her life (“infant, maid, and wife”).
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

finely dressed
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

reputation
Elemental Edition
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 Critical note

Faith is personified with a shield, derived from Ephesians 6:16: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” On Faith as the mother of Patience, see Robert Rollock, Lectures Upon the First and Second Epistles of Paul to the Thessalonians (London, 1606), 2.11.
Amplified Edition
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 Critical note

Faith; see Ephesians 6:16: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (AV). In the poem’s third mother-daughter pair, Patience is identified as the daughter of Faith.
Transcription
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 Physical note

cancelled with scribbles
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

cheerful, animated
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

like, want
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

before
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

garment
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

embellished
Transcription
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 Physical note

there is a hyphen or dash above the caret
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

temples
Amplified Edition
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 Gloss note

temples
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

blue
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

garment
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

used to be
Amplified Edition
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 Gloss note

the speaker’s pearl appears to “dim” in comparison to the pleasures she shares with Peace and Joy; however, she recognizes its true brightness when she is joined by Patience and Hope.
Transcription
Line number 72

 Physical note

“ts” crowded between other letters
Amplified Edition
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 Gloss note

the speaker goes to bed with Peace and Joy but when she wakes she discovers Sorrow and Fear in their place. Echoing the invitations issued earlier in the poem, Fear “asked for” Despair, and, as a result, the speaker is finally ready to acknowledge Aletheia’s offer of Patience as a companion.
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

melted, undone
Transcription

 Physical note

catchword is incorrect
Transcription
Line number 83

 Physical note

blot atop
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

flooded with tears
Amplified Edition
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 Gloss note

flooded with tears.
Amplified Edition
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 Gloss note

Patience fulfills the promise to comfort the speaker by telling stories of sufferers who achieve eternal reward; these sad stories echo the sad story of the speaker’s life written in the book of fate.
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

assuredly
Transcription
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 Physical note

Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

tears of remorse, for sin
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

in Christian tradition, a symbol of hope; see Heb. 6:19: “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul.”
Amplified Edition
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 Critical note

see Hebrews 6:19: “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil” (AV).
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

laid down for
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

competing political groups
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

She charges Patience and Hope (“them”) to make Sorrow and Fear be in awe of them.
Transcription
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 Physical note

second syllable in darker ink, possibly over earlier letters
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

return; habitually assemble
Elemental Edition
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 Critical note

offspring, which include Doom, Fate, Death, Dreams, Blame, Misery, the Hesperides, the Destinies (or Parcae), Nemesis, Deceit, Lovemaking, Old Age, and Strife. Hesiod, The Poems of Hesiod: Theogony, Works and Days, and the Shield of Herakles (2017), 42, 45.
Amplified Edition
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 Critical note

the offspring of Night and Acheron include Doom, Fate, Death, Sleep, Dreams, Blame, Woe, the Hesperides, the Destinies (Parcae), Nemesis, Deceit, Friendship, Old Age, and Strife. See Hesiod Theogony, lines 211-25. This “horrid train” causes the speaker to faint.
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

adding
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

procession, ensnaring treachery
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

faint, swoon
Amplified Edition
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 Gloss note

swoon or fainting-fit (see OED sound, n.4)
Elemental Edition
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 Gloss note

Faith
Amplified Edition
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 Gloss note

Faith
Amplified Edition
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 Critical note

Earlier in the poem, Pulter identifies “infant, maid, and wife” as the three stages of life. Here the speaker specifies how many years she lived in the second two of those stages. If we identify the speaker with Pulter herself, who was born between 1605 and 1608 and was married in 1623, this line suggests that the poem was written in 1656 when Pulter was between 49 and 51 years old.
Transcription
Line number 120

 Physical note

final “e” imperfectly erased
Elemental Edition
Line number 121

 Critical note

her fragile and vexing earthly life
Amplified Edition
Line number 121

 Critical note

in the final line of the poem, the speaker returns to the metaphor of life as bubble that is introduced earlier and laments that this bubble is strong rather than weak. The image of the bubble echoes the symbol of the pearl: both are spherical, beautiful, and fragile.
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