Dear God, From Thy High Throne Look Down

X (Close panel) Sources

Dear God, From Thy High Throne Look Down

Poem 63

Original Source

Hester Pulter, Poems breathed forth by the nobel Hadassas, University of Leeds Library, Brotherton Collection, MS Lt q 32

Versions

  • Facsimile of manuscript: Photographs provided by University of Leeds, Brotherton Collection

  • Transcription of manuscript: By Leah Knight and Wendy Wall.
  • Elemental edition: By Leah Knight and Wendy Wall.
  • Amplified edition: By Victoria E. Burke.

How to cite these versions

Conventions for these editions

The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making

  • Created by Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
  • Encoded by Katherine Poland, Matthew Taylor, Elizabeth Chou, and Emily Andrey, Northwestern University
  • Website designed by Sergei Kalugin, Northwestern University
  • IT project consultation by Josh Honn, Northwestern University
  • Project sponsored by Northwestern University, Brock University, and University of Leeds
X (Close panel) Index

Index of Poems

(loading…)
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 1

 Physical note

This poem is not in H1 or H2.
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Transcription
Transcription

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

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

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This is a diplomatic transcription in which original spelling, punctuation, and spacing between lines are retained. This poem is one of five poems written near the end of the poetry section of the manuscript in a different hand from the main scribe’s. That scribe makes no use in this poem of any abbreviations or scribal signs and so a pure, diplomatic transcription, in which every original feature of the manuscript is replicated, can be done without leading to any alienation for the modern reader, who may find these features cryptic. These notes point out parallels I see with other writers, and particularly women writers, with the aims of placing Pulter in dialogue with ideas explored by other women around this time, and of tracing a kind of female poetic lineage or alternate canon.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
The taut lines and short stanzas here epitomize the tension in the speaker’s plea to God, which is not simply for God to end but to “crown” her sufferings on earth, perhaps in recognition of what the speaker proceeds to demonstrate: her fervent faith in his mercy and justice, despite her unremitting experience of grief, tears, and sighs. That earthly experience is contrasted with an anticipated dissolution of her corporeal being, one which is (as is typical in Pulter’s poems) not imagined as a loss but as a reconfiguration of particles, or a rewriting of divine poetic “figures.” With this metaphorical term for metaphor, as in subsequent lines, the speaker quietly likens herself and God as writers, each composing a book which features her: “poor wretched me, each part, / E’en all my soul, my thoughts, my heart.” She is confident God reads her aright in either his own records or her verse, wherein her love is made “plain.” The poem’s condensed form contrasts vividly with the expansive plenitude of multiple worlds toward which its vision tends.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This lyric skilfully links discourses of religion, alchemy, and natural philosophy (or science), and demonstrates their congruence for this mid-seventeenth-century writer. Formally this poem is written in nine three-line stanzas, featuring two lines of rhyming tetrameter followed by a line of dimeter that rhymes with the dimeter lines in the following two stanzas. This exact stanzaic structure does not appear to be used elsewhere in Pulter’s poetry, though “How Long Shall My Dejected Soul” (Poem 24) and “My Soul’s Sole Desire” (Poem 29) are similar.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Physical Note
This poem is not in H1 or H2.
Dear God
from thy high Throne look down
Physical Note
This poem is not in the hand of the main scribe nor in the hand we identify as probably Pulter's.
Dear
God, from Thy high throne look down,
Dear God from thy high Throne look down
2
And lett my ſuff’rings haue their Crown
And let my suff’rings have their
Critical Note
Pertinent examples include the mock royal crown made of thorns put on Jesus’s head before his crucifixion and those, symbolizing victory, conceived in Christianity as being conferred on any soul received in heaven, or the reward or glory represented by it; also the consummation or pinnacle of something.
crown
:
And
Gloss Note
The sense of lines 1-2 is that she wishes God would notice her suffering and reward or sanctify it.
lett my suff’rings haue their Crown
3
I thee Implore
I thee implore.
I thee Implore
4
Tho’ greif calcine my Flesh to Duſt
Though grief
Gloss Note
burn to ash or dust; purify or refined by consuming the grosser part
calcine
my flesh to
Critical Note
physical being; primal elements; see Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
dust
Tho’ greif
Gloss Note
burn to ashes or purify, often used as an alchemical term
calcine
my Flesh to Dust
5
Yett in thy Mercy still I Trust
Yet in Thy mercy still I trust
Yett in thy Mercy still I Trust
6
and thee Adore
And Thee adore.
and thee Adore
7
Should I to Tears diſsolved be
Should I to tears dissolvéd be
Should I to Tears
Critical Note
Pulter uses images of dissolution in many of her poems, and the specific image of being dissolved into tears at least five other times in her verse (see “Upon the Imprisonment of his Sacred Majesty” [Poem 13], “The Circle [1]” [Poem 17], “Aletheia’s Pearl” [Poem 32], “The Pismire” [Poem 35], and “The Hunted Hart” [Emblem 22]). Several of her poems depict her earthly body dissolving, dispersing, or being reduced to dust, while her spirit travels to heaven.
dissolved
be
8
Yett will I Still depend on thee
Yet will I still
Gloss Note
rely upon; await”
depend
on Thee
Yett will I Still depend on thee
9
for Evermore
Forevermore.
for Evermore
10
Or ſhould I ſigh away to Air
Or should I sigh away to air,
Or should I sigh away to Air
11
Tho Rarify’d, I’d not Despair
Though
Gloss Note
dissipated, purified
rarefied
, I’d not despair
Tho
Gloss Note
thinner and less dense, but also purified
Rarify’d
, I’d not Despair
12
but in thee trust
But in Thee trust.
but in thee trust
13
Tho’ I to Atomſ am disperſ’d,
Though I to
Gloss Note
indivisible particles
atoms
am dispersed,
Tho’ I to
Critical Note
Atoms are indivisible particles from which matter is composed. As David Norbrook and Reid Barbour explain in their introduction to Lucy Hutchinson’s translation of Lucretius’s De rerum natura, by the 1650s many English natural philosophers were engaging with Epicurean theories such as atomism and were reconciling them with Christianity (The Works of Lucy Hutchinson, volume 1, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. xxix-xxxiii).
Atoms
am dispers’d,
14
I in their dances am unverſ’d,
I in their dances am
Gloss Note
inexperienced; not in verse
unversed
,
I in their
Critical Note
Other early modern writers characterized the movement of atoms as “dancing.” For example, in The darkness of atheisme expelled by the light of nature, or, The existence of a deity, and his creation and government of the world demonstrated from reason and the light of nature only (1683), Henry Care articulates with horror the claims of atheists: “The Beauty and Harmony of the world they’l tell you, is only caused by the curious motion of Dancing Atoms, or the apt, yet fortuitous concurrence of Actives with Passives” (sig. B2v). Lucy Hutchinson, in her polemical manuscript dedication to her translation of Lucretius, which Norbrook and Barbour explain takes the stance of a reformed sinner, writes, “All these, and all the other poore deluded instructors of the Gentiles, are guilty of no lesse Impiety, ignorance & folly then this Lunatick [i.e., Lucretius], who not able to diue into the true Originall & Cause of Beings & Accidents, admires them who devizd this Casuall, Irrationall dance of Attomes” (The Works of Lucy Hutchinson, volume 1, pp. 7-9). But for Margaret Cavendish (many of whose poems in Poems and fancies [1653] treat atoms), the dance of atoms is a more orderly phenomenon: see “A World made by Atomes” and “Motion directs, while Atomes dance” in “Curations.”
dances
am
Gloss Note
untutored
unvers’d
,
15
Yett Shall no Dust
Yet shall no dust
Yett Shall no Dust
16
of my old Carcaſe E’re be lost
Of my old carcass e’er be lost
of my old Carcase E’re be lost
17
tho’ in a thousand Figures tost
Though in a thousand
Gloss Note
shapes; appearances; embodiments; representations; horoscopes; movement of a dance; form of expression
figures
tossed,
tho’ in a thousand
Critical Note
shapes, movements, or configurations. The terminology of “figures” is often used in relation to atomistic movement at this time. For example, Robert Boyle in Certain physiological essays and other tracts written at distant times, and on several occasions (1669) writes, “And because, Pyrophilus, in the Reasons and Explications I offer of Natural Effects, I have not for the most part an immediate recourse to the Magnitude, Figure, and Motion of Atoms, or of the least Particles of Bodies, I hold it not unfit to give You here some account of this Practice” (p. 20). For a playfully gendered perspective, in which she claims that if a male motion had not persuaded female atoms to be his bawds (or procurers of prostitutes) in order to create a variety of young female forms or figures to delight him then they would have stayed unchanged in one shape, see Cavendish’s “Motion makes Atomes a Bawd for Figure” in “Curations.”
Figures
tost,
18
for thou art Just.
For Thou art just.
for thou art Just.
19
What Mortal can or dares to look
What mortal can or dares to look
What Mortal can or dares to look
20
Into thy Gloriouſ Bleſsed Book,
Into Thy glorious
God’s register of those destined to enter heaven; see Revelation 20:12-15: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; … another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. … And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
blessed book
?
Into thy
Critical Note
The book of life into which God has written who will be saved and who damned (Revelation 20:12-15). The terms “unversed” (l. 14), “figures” (l. 17), and God’s “book” (l. 20) may all be puns on writing. The depiction of the speaker as unversed in the ways of atoms and tossed into a thousand figures may capture the impossibility of representing unfathomable truths as a “mortal” (l. 19). God, on the other hand, can read the book of life wherein each part of the speaker is “written” (l. 21).
Glorious Blessed Book
,
21
Where written be
Where written be
Where written be
22
of mee, poor wretched mee, each part
Of me, poor wretched me, each part,
of mee, poor wretched mee, each part
23
E’en all my ſoul my thoughts My Heart.
E’en all my soul, my thoughts, my heart.
E’en all my soul my thoughts My Heart.
24
Thou plain may’st ſee.
Thou plain may’st see
Thou plain may’st
Critical Note
This stanza on God’s knowing each part of her recalls Mary Sidney’s version of Psalm 139 which begins, “O lord in mee, there lieth nought / but to thy search revealed lies / for when I sitt / thou markest it / no lesse thou notest when I rise / yea closest Closett of my thought / hath open windows to thine eyes” (Isabella Whitney, Mary Sidney and Aemilia Lanyer: Renaissance Women Poets, edited by Danielle Clarke, Penguin, 2000, p. 176, ll. 1-7).
see.
25
that I my Gracious God do love
That I my gracious God do love
that I my Gracious God do love
26
A thouſand thouſsand worlds above,
A thousand, thousand worlds above
A thousand thoussand worlds above,
27
and still praiſe thee.
And
Gloss Note
always
still
praise Thee.
and still
Critical Note
The journey in this poem from the speaker imploring God (l. 3) to praising him recalls Anne Locke’s paraphrase of Psalm 51 in her “A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner.” In sonnet 17 Locke’s speaker asks God to “make me pray, and grant when I have prayed. / Lord loose my lips, I may express my moan, / And finding grace with open mouth I may / Thy mercies praise, and holy name display” (l. 11-14; The Broadview Anthology of Sixteenth-Century Poetry and Prose, edited by Marie H. Loughlin, Sandra Bell, and Patricia Brace, Broadview, 2012, p. 218). Pulter’s speaker does not share Locke’s Calvinist anguish about his or her wretchedness without God’s grace. Pulter trusts in God’s mercy (l.5) and knows that he is “Just” (l. 18) in protecting every atom of her being, while Locke begs God for mercy and imagines his justice taking the form of severe punishment for the speaker’s unworthiness.
praise
thee.
Physical Note
reverse of page blank
ascending straight line
X (Close panel)Notes: Elemental Edition

 Editorial note

The aim of the elemental edition 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

The taut lines and short stanzas here epitomize the tension in the speaker’s plea to God, which is not simply for God to end but to “crown” her sufferings on earth, perhaps in recognition of what the speaker proceeds to demonstrate: her fervent faith in his mercy and justice, despite her unremitting experience of grief, tears, and sighs. That earthly experience is contrasted with an anticipated dissolution of her corporeal being, one which is (as is typical in Pulter’s poems) not imagined as a loss but as a reconfiguration of particles, or a rewriting of divine poetic “figures.” With this metaphorical term for metaphor, as in subsequent lines, the speaker quietly likens herself and God as writers, each composing a book which features her: “poor wretched me, each part, / E’en all my soul, my thoughts, my heart.” She is confident God reads her aright in either his own records or her verse, wherein her love is made “plain.” The poem’s condensed form contrasts vividly with the expansive plenitude of multiple worlds toward which its vision tends.
Line number 1

 Physical note

This poem is not in the hand of the main scribe nor in the hand we identify as probably Pulter's.
Line number 2

 Critical note

Pertinent examples include the mock royal crown made of thorns put on Jesus’s head before his crucifixion and those, symbolizing victory, conceived in Christianity as being conferred on any soul received in heaven, or the reward or glory represented by it; also the consummation or pinnacle of something.
Line number 4

 Gloss note

burn to ash or dust; purify or refined by consuming the grosser part
Line number 4

 Critical note

physical being; primal elements; see Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
Line number 8

 Gloss note

rely upon; await”
Line number 11

 Gloss note

dissipated, purified
Line number 13

 Gloss note

indivisible particles
Line number 14

 Gloss note

inexperienced; not in verse
Line number 17

 Gloss note

shapes; appearances; embodiments; representations; horoscopes; movement of a dance; form of expression
Line number 20
God’s register of those destined to enter heaven; see Revelation 20:12-15: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; … another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. … And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
Line number 27

 Gloss note

always
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Elemental Edition
Elemental Edition

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

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

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This is a diplomatic transcription in which original spelling, punctuation, and spacing between lines are retained. This poem is one of five poems written near the end of the poetry section of the manuscript in a different hand from the main scribe’s. That scribe makes no use in this poem of any abbreviations or scribal signs and so a pure, diplomatic transcription, in which every original feature of the manuscript is replicated, can be done without leading to any alienation for the modern reader, who may find these features cryptic. These notes point out parallels I see with other writers, and particularly women writers, with the aims of placing Pulter in dialogue with ideas explored by other women around this time, and of tracing a kind of female poetic lineage or alternate canon.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
The taut lines and short stanzas here epitomize the tension in the speaker’s plea to God, which is not simply for God to end but to “crown” her sufferings on earth, perhaps in recognition of what the speaker proceeds to demonstrate: her fervent faith in his mercy and justice, despite her unremitting experience of grief, tears, and sighs. That earthly experience is contrasted with an anticipated dissolution of her corporeal being, one which is (as is typical in Pulter’s poems) not imagined as a loss but as a reconfiguration of particles, or a rewriting of divine poetic “figures.” With this metaphorical term for metaphor, as in subsequent lines, the speaker quietly likens herself and God as writers, each composing a book which features her: “poor wretched me, each part, / E’en all my soul, my thoughts, my heart.” She is confident God reads her aright in either his own records or her verse, wherein her love is made “plain.” The poem’s condensed form contrasts vividly with the expansive plenitude of multiple worlds toward which its vision tends.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This lyric skilfully links discourses of religion, alchemy, and natural philosophy (or science), and demonstrates their congruence for this mid-seventeenth-century writer. Formally this poem is written in nine three-line stanzas, featuring two lines of rhyming tetrameter followed by a line of dimeter that rhymes with the dimeter lines in the following two stanzas. This exact stanzaic structure does not appear to be used elsewhere in Pulter’s poetry, though “How Long Shall My Dejected Soul” (Poem 24) and “My Soul’s Sole Desire” (Poem 29) are similar.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Physical Note
This poem is not in H1 or H2.
Dear God
from thy high Throne look down
Physical Note
This poem is not in the hand of the main scribe nor in the hand we identify as probably Pulter's.
Dear
God, from Thy high throne look down,
Dear God from thy high Throne look down
2
And lett my ſuff’rings haue their Crown
And let my suff’rings have their
Critical Note
Pertinent examples include the mock royal crown made of thorns put on Jesus’s head before his crucifixion and those, symbolizing victory, conceived in Christianity as being conferred on any soul received in heaven, or the reward or glory represented by it; also the consummation or pinnacle of something.
crown
:
And
Gloss Note
The sense of lines 1-2 is that she wishes God would notice her suffering and reward or sanctify it.
lett my suff’rings haue their Crown
3
I thee Implore
I thee implore.
I thee Implore
4
Tho’ greif calcine my Flesh to Duſt
Though grief
Gloss Note
burn to ash or dust; purify or refined by consuming the grosser part
calcine
my flesh to
Critical Note
physical being; primal elements; see Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
dust
Tho’ greif
Gloss Note
burn to ashes or purify, often used as an alchemical term
calcine
my Flesh to Dust
5
Yett in thy Mercy still I Trust
Yet in Thy mercy still I trust
Yett in thy Mercy still I Trust
6
and thee Adore
And Thee adore.
and thee Adore
7
Should I to Tears diſsolved be
Should I to tears dissolvéd be
Should I to Tears
Critical Note
Pulter uses images of dissolution in many of her poems, and the specific image of being dissolved into tears at least five other times in her verse (see “Upon the Imprisonment of his Sacred Majesty” [Poem 13], “The Circle [1]” [Poem 17], “Aletheia’s Pearl” [Poem 32], “The Pismire” [Poem 35], and “The Hunted Hart” [Emblem 22]). Several of her poems depict her earthly body dissolving, dispersing, or being reduced to dust, while her spirit travels to heaven.
dissolved
be
8
Yett will I Still depend on thee
Yet will I still
Gloss Note
rely upon; await”
depend
on Thee
Yett will I Still depend on thee
9
for Evermore
Forevermore.
for Evermore
10
Or ſhould I ſigh away to Air
Or should I sigh away to air,
Or should I sigh away to Air
11
Tho Rarify’d, I’d not Despair
Though
Gloss Note
dissipated, purified
rarefied
, I’d not despair
Tho
Gloss Note
thinner and less dense, but also purified
Rarify’d
, I’d not Despair
12
but in thee trust
But in Thee trust.
but in thee trust
13
Tho’ I to Atomſ am disperſ’d,
Though I to
Gloss Note
indivisible particles
atoms
am dispersed,
Tho’ I to
Critical Note
Atoms are indivisible particles from which matter is composed. As David Norbrook and Reid Barbour explain in their introduction to Lucy Hutchinson’s translation of Lucretius’s De rerum natura, by the 1650s many English natural philosophers were engaging with Epicurean theories such as atomism and were reconciling them with Christianity (The Works of Lucy Hutchinson, volume 1, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. xxix-xxxiii).
Atoms
am dispers’d,
14
I in their dances am unverſ’d,
I in their dances am
Gloss Note
inexperienced; not in verse
unversed
,
I in their
Critical Note
Other early modern writers characterized the movement of atoms as “dancing.” For example, in The darkness of atheisme expelled by the light of nature, or, The existence of a deity, and his creation and government of the world demonstrated from reason and the light of nature only (1683), Henry Care articulates with horror the claims of atheists: “The Beauty and Harmony of the world they’l tell you, is only caused by the curious motion of Dancing Atoms, or the apt, yet fortuitous concurrence of Actives with Passives” (sig. B2v). Lucy Hutchinson, in her polemical manuscript dedication to her translation of Lucretius, which Norbrook and Barbour explain takes the stance of a reformed sinner, writes, “All these, and all the other poore deluded instructors of the Gentiles, are guilty of no lesse Impiety, ignorance & folly then this Lunatick [i.e., Lucretius], who not able to diue into the true Originall & Cause of Beings & Accidents, admires them who devizd this Casuall, Irrationall dance of Attomes” (The Works of Lucy Hutchinson, volume 1, pp. 7-9). But for Margaret Cavendish (many of whose poems in Poems and fancies [1653] treat atoms), the dance of atoms is a more orderly phenomenon: see “A World made by Atomes” and “Motion directs, while Atomes dance” in “Curations.”
dances
am
Gloss Note
untutored
unvers’d
,
15
Yett Shall no Dust
Yet shall no dust
Yett Shall no Dust
16
of my old Carcaſe E’re be lost
Of my old carcass e’er be lost
of my old Carcase E’re be lost
17
tho’ in a thousand Figures tost
Though in a thousand
Gloss Note
shapes; appearances; embodiments; representations; horoscopes; movement of a dance; form of expression
figures
tossed,
tho’ in a thousand
Critical Note
shapes, movements, or configurations. The terminology of “figures” is often used in relation to atomistic movement at this time. For example, Robert Boyle in Certain physiological essays and other tracts written at distant times, and on several occasions (1669) writes, “And because, Pyrophilus, in the Reasons and Explications I offer of Natural Effects, I have not for the most part an immediate recourse to the Magnitude, Figure, and Motion of Atoms, or of the least Particles of Bodies, I hold it not unfit to give You here some account of this Practice” (p. 20). For a playfully gendered perspective, in which she claims that if a male motion had not persuaded female atoms to be his bawds (or procurers of prostitutes) in order to create a variety of young female forms or figures to delight him then they would have stayed unchanged in one shape, see Cavendish’s “Motion makes Atomes a Bawd for Figure” in “Curations.”
Figures
tost,
18
for thou art Just.
For Thou art just.
for thou art Just.
19
What Mortal can or dares to look
What mortal can or dares to look
What Mortal can or dares to look
20
Into thy Gloriouſ Bleſsed Book,
Into Thy glorious
God’s register of those destined to enter heaven; see Revelation 20:12-15: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; … another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. … And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
blessed book
?
Into thy
Critical Note
The book of life into which God has written who will be saved and who damned (Revelation 20:12-15). The terms “unversed” (l. 14), “figures” (l. 17), and God’s “book” (l. 20) may all be puns on writing. The depiction of the speaker as unversed in the ways of atoms and tossed into a thousand figures may capture the impossibility of representing unfathomable truths as a “mortal” (l. 19). God, on the other hand, can read the book of life wherein each part of the speaker is “written” (l. 21).
Glorious Blessed Book
,
21
Where written be
Where written be
Where written be
22
of mee, poor wretched mee, each part
Of me, poor wretched me, each part,
of mee, poor wretched mee, each part
23
E’en all my ſoul my thoughts My Heart.
E’en all my soul, my thoughts, my heart.
E’en all my soul my thoughts My Heart.
24
Thou plain may’st ſee.
Thou plain may’st see
Thou plain may’st
Critical Note
This stanza on God’s knowing each part of her recalls Mary Sidney’s version of Psalm 139 which begins, “O lord in mee, there lieth nought / but to thy search revealed lies / for when I sitt / thou markest it / no lesse thou notest when I rise / yea closest Closett of my thought / hath open windows to thine eyes” (Isabella Whitney, Mary Sidney and Aemilia Lanyer: Renaissance Women Poets, edited by Danielle Clarke, Penguin, 2000, p. 176, ll. 1-7).
see.
25
that I my Gracious God do love
That I my gracious God do love
that I my Gracious God do love
26
A thouſand thouſsand worlds above,
A thousand, thousand worlds above
A thousand thoussand worlds above,
27
and still praiſe thee.
And
Gloss Note
always
still
praise Thee.
and still
Critical Note
The journey in this poem from the speaker imploring God (l. 3) to praising him recalls Anne Locke’s paraphrase of Psalm 51 in her “A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner.” In sonnet 17 Locke’s speaker asks God to “make me pray, and grant when I have prayed. / Lord loose my lips, I may express my moan, / And finding grace with open mouth I may / Thy mercies praise, and holy name display” (l. 11-14; The Broadview Anthology of Sixteenth-Century Poetry and Prose, edited by Marie H. Loughlin, Sandra Bell, and Patricia Brace, Broadview, 2012, p. 218). Pulter’s speaker does not share Locke’s Calvinist anguish about his or her wretchedness without God’s grace. Pulter trusts in God’s mercy (l.5) and knows that he is “Just” (l. 18) in protecting every atom of her being, while Locke begs God for mercy and imagines his justice taking the form of severe punishment for the speaker’s unworthiness.
praise
thee.
Physical Note
reverse of page blank
ascending straight line
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition

 Editorial note

This is a diplomatic transcription in which original spelling, punctuation, and spacing between lines are retained. This poem is one of five poems written near the end of the poetry section of the manuscript in a different hand from the main scribe’s. That scribe makes no use in this poem of any abbreviations or scribal signs and so a pure, diplomatic transcription, in which every original feature of the manuscript is replicated, can be done without leading to any alienation for the modern reader, who may find these features cryptic. These notes point out parallels I see with other writers, and particularly women writers, with the aims of placing Pulter in dialogue with ideas explored by other women around this time, and of tracing a kind of female poetic lineage or alternate canon.

 Headnote

This lyric skilfully links discourses of religion, alchemy, and natural philosophy (or science), and demonstrates their congruence for this mid-seventeenth-century writer. Formally this poem is written in nine three-line stanzas, featuring two lines of rhyming tetrameter followed by a line of dimeter that rhymes with the dimeter lines in the following two stanzas. This exact stanzaic structure does not appear to be used elsewhere in Pulter’s poetry, though “How Long Shall My Dejected Soul” (Poem 24) and “My Soul’s Sole Desire” (Poem 29) are similar.
Line number 2

 Gloss note

The sense of lines 1-2 is that she wishes God would notice her suffering and reward or sanctify it.
Line number 4

 Gloss note

burn to ashes or purify, often used as an alchemical term
Line number 7

 Critical note

Pulter uses images of dissolution in many of her poems, and the specific image of being dissolved into tears at least five other times in her verse (see “Upon the Imprisonment of his Sacred Majesty” [Poem 13], “The Circle [1]” [Poem 17], “Aletheia’s Pearl” [Poem 32], “The Pismire” [Poem 35], and “The Hunted Hart” [Emblem 22]). Several of her poems depict her earthly body dissolving, dispersing, or being reduced to dust, while her spirit travels to heaven.
Line number 11

 Gloss note

thinner and less dense, but also purified
Line number 13

 Critical note

Atoms are indivisible particles from which matter is composed. As David Norbrook and Reid Barbour explain in their introduction to Lucy Hutchinson’s translation of Lucretius’s De rerum natura, by the 1650s many English natural philosophers were engaging with Epicurean theories such as atomism and were reconciling them with Christianity (The Works of Lucy Hutchinson, volume 1, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. xxix-xxxiii).
Line number 14

 Critical note

Other early modern writers characterized the movement of atoms as “dancing.” For example, in The darkness of atheisme expelled by the light of nature, or, The existence of a deity, and his creation and government of the world demonstrated from reason and the light of nature only (1683), Henry Care articulates with horror the claims of atheists: “The Beauty and Harmony of the world they’l tell you, is only caused by the curious motion of Dancing Atoms, or the apt, yet fortuitous concurrence of Actives with Passives” (sig. B2v). Lucy Hutchinson, in her polemical manuscript dedication to her translation of Lucretius, which Norbrook and Barbour explain takes the stance of a reformed sinner, writes, “All these, and all the other poore deluded instructors of the Gentiles, are guilty of no lesse Impiety, ignorance & folly then this Lunatick [i.e., Lucretius], who not able to diue into the true Originall & Cause of Beings & Accidents, admires them who devizd this Casuall, Irrationall dance of Attomes” (The Works of Lucy Hutchinson, volume 1, pp. 7-9). But for Margaret Cavendish (many of whose poems in Poems and fancies [1653] treat atoms), the dance of atoms is a more orderly phenomenon: see “A World made by Atomes” and “Motion directs, while Atomes dance” in “Curations.”
Line number 14

 Gloss note

untutored
Line number 17

 Critical note

shapes, movements, or configurations. The terminology of “figures” is often used in relation to atomistic movement at this time. For example, Robert Boyle in Certain physiological essays and other tracts written at distant times, and on several occasions (1669) writes, “And because, Pyrophilus, in the Reasons and Explications I offer of Natural Effects, I have not for the most part an immediate recourse to the Magnitude, Figure, and Motion of Atoms, or of the least Particles of Bodies, I hold it not unfit to give You here some account of this Practice” (p. 20). For a playfully gendered perspective, in which she claims that if a male motion had not persuaded female atoms to be his bawds (or procurers of prostitutes) in order to create a variety of young female forms or figures to delight him then they would have stayed unchanged in one shape, see Cavendish’s “Motion makes Atomes a Bawd for Figure” in “Curations.”
Line number 20

 Critical note

The book of life into which God has written who will be saved and who damned (Revelation 20:12-15). The terms “unversed” (l. 14), “figures” (l. 17), and God’s “book” (l. 20) may all be puns on writing. The depiction of the speaker as unversed in the ways of atoms and tossed into a thousand figures may capture the impossibility of representing unfathomable truths as a “mortal” (l. 19). God, on the other hand, can read the book of life wherein each part of the speaker is “written” (l. 21).
Line number 24

 Critical note

This stanza on God’s knowing each part of her recalls Mary Sidney’s version of Psalm 139 which begins, “O lord in mee, there lieth nought / but to thy search revealed lies / for when I sitt / thou markest it / no lesse thou notest when I rise / yea closest Closett of my thought / hath open windows to thine eyes” (Isabella Whitney, Mary Sidney and Aemilia Lanyer: Renaissance Women Poets, edited by Danielle Clarke, Penguin, 2000, p. 176, ll. 1-7).
Line number 27

 Critical note

The journey in this poem from the speaker imploring God (l. 3) to praising him recalls Anne Locke’s paraphrase of Psalm 51 in her “A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner.” In sonnet 17 Locke’s speaker asks God to “make me pray, and grant when I have prayed. / Lord loose my lips, I may express my moan, / And finding grace with open mouth I may / Thy mercies praise, and holy name display” (l. 11-14; The Broadview Anthology of Sixteenth-Century Poetry and Prose, edited by Marie H. Loughlin, Sandra Bell, and Patricia Brace, Broadview, 2012, p. 218). Pulter’s speaker does not share Locke’s Calvinist anguish about his or her wretchedness without God’s grace. Pulter trusts in God’s mercy (l.5) and knows that he is “Just” (l. 18) in protecting every atom of her being, while Locke begs God for mercy and imagines his justice taking the form of severe punishment for the speaker’s unworthiness.
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Amplified Edition
Amplified Edition

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
Dear God, From Thy High Throne Look Down
Dear God from thy high Throne look down
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

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

— Victoria E. Burke
This is a diplomatic transcription in which original spelling, punctuation, and spacing between lines are retained. This poem is one of five poems written near the end of the poetry section of the manuscript in a different hand from the main scribe’s. That scribe makes no use in this poem of any abbreviations or scribal signs and so a pure, diplomatic transcription, in which every original feature of the manuscript is replicated, can be done without leading to any alienation for the modern reader, who may find these features cryptic. These notes point out parallels I see with other writers, and particularly women writers, with the aims of placing Pulter in dialogue with ideas explored by other women around this time, and of tracing a kind of female poetic lineage or alternate canon.

— Victoria E. Burke
The taut lines and short stanzas here epitomize the tension in the speaker’s plea to God, which is not simply for God to end but to “crown” her sufferings on earth, perhaps in recognition of what the speaker proceeds to demonstrate: her fervent faith in his mercy and justice, despite her unremitting experience of grief, tears, and sighs. That earthly experience is contrasted with an anticipated dissolution of her corporeal being, one which is (as is typical in Pulter’s poems) not imagined as a loss but as a reconfiguration of particles, or a rewriting of divine poetic “figures.” With this metaphorical term for metaphor, as in subsequent lines, the speaker quietly likens herself and God as writers, each composing a book which features her: “poor wretched me, each part, / E’en all my soul, my thoughts, my heart.” She is confident God reads her aright in either his own records or her verse, wherein her love is made “plain.” The poem’s condensed form contrasts vividly with the expansive plenitude of multiple worlds toward which its vision tends.

— Victoria E. Burke
This lyric skilfully links discourses of religion, alchemy, and natural philosophy (or science), and demonstrates their congruence for this mid-seventeenth-century writer. Formally this poem is written in nine three-line stanzas, featuring two lines of rhyming tetrameter followed by a line of dimeter that rhymes with the dimeter lines in the following two stanzas. This exact stanzaic structure does not appear to be used elsewhere in Pulter’s poetry, though “How Long Shall My Dejected Soul” (Poem 24) and “My Soul’s Sole Desire” (Poem 29) are similar.

— Victoria E. Burke
1
Physical Note
This poem is not in H1 or H2.
Dear God
from thy high Throne look down
Physical Note
This poem is not in the hand of the main scribe nor in the hand we identify as probably Pulter's.
Dear
God, from Thy high throne look down,
Dear God from thy high Throne look down
2
And lett my ſuff’rings haue their Crown
And let my suff’rings have their
Critical Note
Pertinent examples include the mock royal crown made of thorns put on Jesus’s head before his crucifixion and those, symbolizing victory, conceived in Christianity as being conferred on any soul received in heaven, or the reward or glory represented by it; also the consummation or pinnacle of something.
crown
:
And
Gloss Note
The sense of lines 1-2 is that she wishes God would notice her suffering and reward or sanctify it.
lett my suff’rings haue their Crown
3
I thee Implore
I thee implore.
I thee Implore
4
Tho’ greif calcine my Flesh to Duſt
Though grief
Gloss Note
burn to ash or dust; purify or refined by consuming the grosser part
calcine
my flesh to
Critical Note
physical being; primal elements; see Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
dust
Tho’ greif
Gloss Note
burn to ashes or purify, often used as an alchemical term
calcine
my Flesh to Dust
5
Yett in thy Mercy still I Trust
Yet in Thy mercy still I trust
Yett in thy Mercy still I Trust
6
and thee Adore
And Thee adore.
and thee Adore
7
Should I to Tears diſsolved be
Should I to tears dissolvéd be
Should I to Tears
Critical Note
Pulter uses images of dissolution in many of her poems, and the specific image of being dissolved into tears at least five other times in her verse (see “Upon the Imprisonment of his Sacred Majesty” [Poem 13], “The Circle [1]” [Poem 17], “Aletheia’s Pearl” [Poem 32], “The Pismire” [Poem 35], and “The Hunted Hart” [Emblem 22]). Several of her poems depict her earthly body dissolving, dispersing, or being reduced to dust, while her spirit travels to heaven.
dissolved
be
8
Yett will I Still depend on thee
Yet will I still
Gloss Note
rely upon; await”
depend
on Thee
Yett will I Still depend on thee
9
for Evermore
Forevermore.
for Evermore
10
Or ſhould I ſigh away to Air
Or should I sigh away to air,
Or should I sigh away to Air
11
Tho Rarify’d, I’d not Despair
Though
Gloss Note
dissipated, purified
rarefied
, I’d not despair
Tho
Gloss Note
thinner and less dense, but also purified
Rarify’d
, I’d not Despair
12
but in thee trust
But in Thee trust.
but in thee trust
13
Tho’ I to Atomſ am disperſ’d,
Though I to
Gloss Note
indivisible particles
atoms
am dispersed,
Tho’ I to
Critical Note
Atoms are indivisible particles from which matter is composed. As David Norbrook and Reid Barbour explain in their introduction to Lucy Hutchinson’s translation of Lucretius’s De rerum natura, by the 1650s many English natural philosophers were engaging with Epicurean theories such as atomism and were reconciling them with Christianity (The Works of Lucy Hutchinson, volume 1, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. xxix-xxxiii).
Atoms
am dispers’d,
14
I in their dances am unverſ’d,
I in their dances am
Gloss Note
inexperienced; not in verse
unversed
,
I in their
Critical Note
Other early modern writers characterized the movement of atoms as “dancing.” For example, in The darkness of atheisme expelled by the light of nature, or, The existence of a deity, and his creation and government of the world demonstrated from reason and the light of nature only (1683), Henry Care articulates with horror the claims of atheists: “The Beauty and Harmony of the world they’l tell you, is only caused by the curious motion of Dancing Atoms, or the apt, yet fortuitous concurrence of Actives with Passives” (sig. B2v). Lucy Hutchinson, in her polemical manuscript dedication to her translation of Lucretius, which Norbrook and Barbour explain takes the stance of a reformed sinner, writes, “All these, and all the other poore deluded instructors of the Gentiles, are guilty of no lesse Impiety, ignorance & folly then this Lunatick [i.e., Lucretius], who not able to diue into the true Originall & Cause of Beings & Accidents, admires them who devizd this Casuall, Irrationall dance of Attomes” (The Works of Lucy Hutchinson, volume 1, pp. 7-9). But for Margaret Cavendish (many of whose poems in Poems and fancies [1653] treat atoms), the dance of atoms is a more orderly phenomenon: see “A World made by Atomes” and “Motion directs, while Atomes dance” in “Curations.”
dances
am
Gloss Note
untutored
unvers’d
,
15
Yett Shall no Dust
Yet shall no dust
Yett Shall no Dust
16
of my old Carcaſe E’re be lost
Of my old carcass e’er be lost
of my old Carcase E’re be lost
17
tho’ in a thousand Figures tost
Though in a thousand
Gloss Note
shapes; appearances; embodiments; representations; horoscopes; movement of a dance; form of expression
figures
tossed,
tho’ in a thousand
Critical Note
shapes, movements, or configurations. The terminology of “figures” is often used in relation to atomistic movement at this time. For example, Robert Boyle in Certain physiological essays and other tracts written at distant times, and on several occasions (1669) writes, “And because, Pyrophilus, in the Reasons and Explications I offer of Natural Effects, I have not for the most part an immediate recourse to the Magnitude, Figure, and Motion of Atoms, or of the least Particles of Bodies, I hold it not unfit to give You here some account of this Practice” (p. 20). For a playfully gendered perspective, in which she claims that if a male motion had not persuaded female atoms to be his bawds (or procurers of prostitutes) in order to create a variety of young female forms or figures to delight him then they would have stayed unchanged in one shape, see Cavendish’s “Motion makes Atomes a Bawd for Figure” in “Curations.”
Figures
tost,
18
for thou art Just.
For Thou art just.
for thou art Just.
19
What Mortal can or dares to look
What mortal can or dares to look
What Mortal can or dares to look
20
Into thy Gloriouſ Bleſsed Book,
Into Thy glorious
God’s register of those destined to enter heaven; see Revelation 20:12-15: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; … another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. … And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
blessed book
?
Into thy
Critical Note
The book of life into which God has written who will be saved and who damned (Revelation 20:12-15). The terms “unversed” (l. 14), “figures” (l. 17), and God’s “book” (l. 20) may all be puns on writing. The depiction of the speaker as unversed in the ways of atoms and tossed into a thousand figures may capture the impossibility of representing unfathomable truths as a “mortal” (l. 19). God, on the other hand, can read the book of life wherein each part of the speaker is “written” (l. 21).
Glorious Blessed Book
,
21
Where written be
Where written be
Where written be
22
of mee, poor wretched mee, each part
Of me, poor wretched me, each part,
of mee, poor wretched mee, each part
23
E’en all my ſoul my thoughts My Heart.
E’en all my soul, my thoughts, my heart.
E’en all my soul my thoughts My Heart.
24
Thou plain may’st ſee.
Thou plain may’st see
Thou plain may’st
Critical Note
This stanza on God’s knowing each part of her recalls Mary Sidney’s version of Psalm 139 which begins, “O lord in mee, there lieth nought / but to thy search revealed lies / for when I sitt / thou markest it / no lesse thou notest when I rise / yea closest Closett of my thought / hath open windows to thine eyes” (Isabella Whitney, Mary Sidney and Aemilia Lanyer: Renaissance Women Poets, edited by Danielle Clarke, Penguin, 2000, p. 176, ll. 1-7).
see.
25
that I my Gracious God do love
That I my gracious God do love
that I my Gracious God do love
26
A thouſand thouſsand worlds above,
A thousand, thousand worlds above
A thousand thoussand worlds above,
27
and still praiſe thee.
And
Gloss Note
always
still
praise Thee.
and still
Critical Note
The journey in this poem from the speaker imploring God (l. 3) to praising him recalls Anne Locke’s paraphrase of Psalm 51 in her “A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner.” In sonnet 17 Locke’s speaker asks God to “make me pray, and grant when I have prayed. / Lord loose my lips, I may express my moan, / And finding grace with open mouth I may / Thy mercies praise, and holy name display” (l. 11-14; The Broadview Anthology of Sixteenth-Century Poetry and Prose, edited by Marie H. Loughlin, Sandra Bell, and Patricia Brace, Broadview, 2012, p. 218). Pulter’s speaker does not share Locke’s Calvinist anguish about his or her wretchedness without God’s grace. Pulter trusts in God’s mercy (l.5) and knows that he is “Just” (l. 18) in protecting every atom of her being, while Locke begs God for mercy and imagines his justice taking the form of severe punishment for the speaker’s unworthiness.
praise
thee.
Physical Note
reverse of page blank
ascending straight line
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 to make the poems accessible to the largest variety of readers, which involves modernizing spelling and punctuation as well as adding basic glosses. Spelling and punctuation reflect current standard American usage; punctuation highlights syntax which might otherwise be obscure. Outmoded but still familiar word forms (“thou,” “‘tis,” “hold’st”) are not modernized, and we do not modernize grammar when the sense remains legible. After a brief headnote aimed at offering a “way in” to the poem’s unique qualities and connections with other verse by Pulter or her contemporaries, the edition features a minimum of notes and interpretative framing to allow more immediate engagement with the poem. Glosses clarify synonyms or showcase various possible meanings in Pulter’s time. Other notes identify named people and places or clarify obscure material. We rely (without citation) primarily on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the Oxford Reference database, and the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. When we rely on Alice Eardley’s edition of Pulter’s work, we cite her text generally (“Eardley”); other sources are cited in full. The result is an edition we consider a springboard for further work on Pulter’s poetry. See full conventions for this edition here.
Amplified Edition

 Editorial note

This is a diplomatic transcription in which original spelling, punctuation, and spacing between lines are retained. This poem is one of five poems written near the end of the poetry section of the manuscript in a different hand from the main scribe’s. That scribe makes no use in this poem of any abbreviations or scribal signs and so a pure, diplomatic transcription, in which every original feature of the manuscript is replicated, can be done without leading to any alienation for the modern reader, who may find these features cryptic. These notes point out parallels I see with other writers, and particularly women writers, with the aims of placing Pulter in dialogue with ideas explored by other women around this time, and of tracing a kind of female poetic lineage or alternate canon.
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

The taut lines and short stanzas here epitomize the tension in the speaker’s plea to God, which is not simply for God to end but to “crown” her sufferings on earth, perhaps in recognition of what the speaker proceeds to demonstrate: her fervent faith in his mercy and justice, despite her unremitting experience of grief, tears, and sighs. That earthly experience is contrasted with an anticipated dissolution of her corporeal being, one which is (as is typical in Pulter’s poems) not imagined as a loss but as a reconfiguration of particles, or a rewriting of divine poetic “figures.” With this metaphorical term for metaphor, as in subsequent lines, the speaker quietly likens herself and God as writers, each composing a book which features her: “poor wretched me, each part, / E’en all my soul, my thoughts, my heart.” She is confident God reads her aright in either his own records or her verse, wherein her love is made “plain.” The poem’s condensed form contrasts vividly with the expansive plenitude of multiple worlds toward which its vision tends.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

This lyric skilfully links discourses of religion, alchemy, and natural philosophy (or science), and demonstrates their congruence for this mid-seventeenth-century writer. Formally this poem is written in nine three-line stanzas, featuring two lines of rhyming tetrameter followed by a line of dimeter that rhymes with the dimeter lines in the following two stanzas. This exact stanzaic structure does not appear to be used elsewhere in Pulter’s poetry, though “How Long Shall My Dejected Soul” (Poem 24) and “My Soul’s Sole Desire” (Poem 29) are similar.
Transcription
Line number 1

 Physical note

This poem is not in H1 or H2.
Elemental Edition
Line number 1

 Physical note

This poem is not in the hand of the main scribe nor in the hand we identify as probably Pulter's.
Elemental Edition
Line number 2

 Critical note

Pertinent examples include the mock royal crown made of thorns put on Jesus’s head before his crucifixion and those, symbolizing victory, conceived in Christianity as being conferred on any soul received in heaven, or the reward or glory represented by it; also the consummation or pinnacle of something.
Amplified Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

The sense of lines 1-2 is that she wishes God would notice her suffering and reward or sanctify it.
Elemental Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

burn to ash or dust; purify or refined by consuming the grosser part
Elemental Edition
Line number 4

 Critical note

physical being; primal elements; see Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
Amplified Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

burn to ashes or purify, often used as an alchemical term
Amplified Edition
Line number 7

 Critical note

Pulter uses images of dissolution in many of her poems, and the specific image of being dissolved into tears at least five other times in her verse (see “Upon the Imprisonment of his Sacred Majesty” [Poem 13], “The Circle [1]” [Poem 17], “Aletheia’s Pearl” [Poem 32], “The Pismire” [Poem 35], and “The Hunted Hart” [Emblem 22]). Several of her poems depict her earthly body dissolving, dispersing, or being reduced to dust, while her spirit travels to heaven.
Elemental Edition
Line number 8

 Gloss note

rely upon; await”
Elemental Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

dissipated, purified
Amplified Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

thinner and less dense, but also purified
Elemental Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

indivisible particles
Amplified Edition
Line number 13

 Critical note

Atoms are indivisible particles from which matter is composed. As David Norbrook and Reid Barbour explain in their introduction to Lucy Hutchinson’s translation of Lucretius’s De rerum natura, by the 1650s many English natural philosophers were engaging with Epicurean theories such as atomism and were reconciling them with Christianity (The Works of Lucy Hutchinson, volume 1, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. xxix-xxxiii).
Elemental Edition
Line number 14

 Gloss note

inexperienced; not in verse
Amplified Edition
Line number 14

 Critical note

Other early modern writers characterized the movement of atoms as “dancing.” For example, in The darkness of atheisme expelled by the light of nature, or, The existence of a deity, and his creation and government of the world demonstrated from reason and the light of nature only (1683), Henry Care articulates with horror the claims of atheists: “The Beauty and Harmony of the world they’l tell you, is only caused by the curious motion of Dancing Atoms, or the apt, yet fortuitous concurrence of Actives with Passives” (sig. B2v). Lucy Hutchinson, in her polemical manuscript dedication to her translation of Lucretius, which Norbrook and Barbour explain takes the stance of a reformed sinner, writes, “All these, and all the other poore deluded instructors of the Gentiles, are guilty of no lesse Impiety, ignorance & folly then this Lunatick [i.e., Lucretius], who not able to diue into the true Originall & Cause of Beings & Accidents, admires them who devizd this Casuall, Irrationall dance of Attomes” (The Works of Lucy Hutchinson, volume 1, pp. 7-9). But for Margaret Cavendish (many of whose poems in Poems and fancies [1653] treat atoms), the dance of atoms is a more orderly phenomenon: see “A World made by Atomes” and “Motion directs, while Atomes dance” in “Curations.”
Amplified Edition
Line number 14

 Gloss note

untutored
Elemental Edition
Line number 17

 Gloss note

shapes; appearances; embodiments; representations; horoscopes; movement of a dance; form of expression
Amplified Edition
Line number 17

 Critical note

shapes, movements, or configurations. The terminology of “figures” is often used in relation to atomistic movement at this time. For example, Robert Boyle in Certain physiological essays and other tracts written at distant times, and on several occasions (1669) writes, “And because, Pyrophilus, in the Reasons and Explications I offer of Natural Effects, I have not for the most part an immediate recourse to the Magnitude, Figure, and Motion of Atoms, or of the least Particles of Bodies, I hold it not unfit to give You here some account of this Practice” (p. 20). For a playfully gendered perspective, in which she claims that if a male motion had not persuaded female atoms to be his bawds (or procurers of prostitutes) in order to create a variety of young female forms or figures to delight him then they would have stayed unchanged in one shape, see Cavendish’s “Motion makes Atomes a Bawd for Figure” in “Curations.”
Elemental Edition
Line number 20
God’s register of those destined to enter heaven; see Revelation 20:12-15: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; … another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. … And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
Amplified Edition
Line number 20

 Critical note

The book of life into which God has written who will be saved and who damned (Revelation 20:12-15). The terms “unversed” (l. 14), “figures” (l. 17), and God’s “book” (l. 20) may all be puns on writing. The depiction of the speaker as unversed in the ways of atoms and tossed into a thousand figures may capture the impossibility of representing unfathomable truths as a “mortal” (l. 19). God, on the other hand, can read the book of life wherein each part of the speaker is “written” (l. 21).
Amplified Edition
Line number 24

 Critical note

This stanza on God’s knowing each part of her recalls Mary Sidney’s version of Psalm 139 which begins, “O lord in mee, there lieth nought / but to thy search revealed lies / for when I sitt / thou markest it / no lesse thou notest when I rise / yea closest Closett of my thought / hath open windows to thine eyes” (Isabella Whitney, Mary Sidney and Aemilia Lanyer: Renaissance Women Poets, edited by Danielle Clarke, Penguin, 2000, p. 176, ll. 1-7).
Elemental Edition
Line number 27

 Gloss note

always
Amplified Edition
Line number 27

 Critical note

The journey in this poem from the speaker imploring God (l. 3) to praising him recalls Anne Locke’s paraphrase of Psalm 51 in her “A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner.” In sonnet 17 Locke’s speaker asks God to “make me pray, and grant when I have prayed. / Lord loose my lips, I may express my moan, / And finding grace with open mouth I may / Thy mercies praise, and holy name display” (l. 11-14; The Broadview Anthology of Sixteenth-Century Poetry and Prose, edited by Marie H. Loughlin, Sandra Bell, and Patricia Brace, Broadview, 2012, p. 218). Pulter’s speaker does not share Locke’s Calvinist anguish about his or her wretchedness without God’s grace. Pulter trusts in God’s mercy (l.5) and knows that he is “Just” (l. 18) in protecting every atom of her being, while Locke begs God for mercy and imagines his justice taking the form of severe punishment for the speaker’s unworthiness.

 Physical note

reverse of page blank
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
ManuscriptX (Close panel)
image