Made When I Was Sick, 1647

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Made When I Was Sick, 1647

Poem 31

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 Helen Smith.

How to cite these versions

Conventions for these editions

The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making

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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.

 Critical note

Pulter frequently uses pen lines to mark the beginning and/or the end of her poems. This opening line decisively marks out the year of composition, suggesting the importance, to Pulter, of memorialising the dates of her illness. The curled line that concludes the poem emphasises the last four words; its confident flourish offers a decisive confirmation of the poem’s resonant anticipation of a heavenly reunion.
Line number 18

 Physical note

parentheses in lighter ink
Line number 18

 Physical note

“mn” crowded in and written over earlier letter(s); “C” possibly crowded in later than surrounding letters
Line number 19

 Physical note

in lighter ink, possibly in different hand from main scribe, with subscript caret inverted
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
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Transcription

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Facsimile Image Placeholder

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Made when I was Sick 1647
Made When I Was Sick, 1647
Compare the title of this poem to Donne’s ‘Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness’ (‘Curations’), and to his Devotions upon emergent occasions, and severall steps in my sickness (London, 1624), to which Pulter makes explicit reference in The Welcome [Poem 19]. Pulter follows both a poetic and a devotional tradition in meditating upon her spiritual health at a moment of severe illness. Where Donne’s meditations spiral outwards to take in all of humankind as well as (in ‘Hymn to God’) questions of the shape and composition of the world, Pulter’s focus remains primarily personal and intimate, though also exemplary.
Made when I was Sick 1647
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
My approach to editing is broadly conservative, in the sense that I modernise only very lightly. I have regularised u/v and i/j, which were interchangeable in the period during which Pulter was writing, and have also regularised ‘ff’ to F. Otherwise, I have generally preserved Pulter’s spelling, and have attempted to represent some of Pulter’s characteristic uses of space (especially her lines and flourishes at the beginnings and ends of poems, which frequently contribute to meaning and interpretation). My annotations focus primarily on understanding the idiosyncratic ideas and densely-packed meanings of Pulter’s poems, though I also draw attention to questions of form, especially where I feel this contributes to or reinforces the complex arguments of Pulter’s verse.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
We tend to think the sick want to recover, but this is not always true. This poem’s title asks us to casts a retrospective gaze on its scene of composition during Pulter’s experience as a patient, when she suffered, it seems, less from her illness than from her reluctance to die. After diagnosing the trouble with her heart and soul, she lambasts the latter for clinging to life despite its tragic and dismal nature. Such shaming turns to a rousing pep-talk as she encourages her soul to speed toward death in order to embrace the glory and grace of the afterlife. The poem seems to have achieved its end of turning the speaker’s thoughts resolutely toward her own end, since it winds up with a valediction to all her earthly goods—barring her friends, whom she anticipates meeting in heaven. With its concluding lines focused on dispersing the speaker’s worldly wealth in the company of loving witnesses (those friends), the poem manages to generate the aura of a deathbed scene; so much is belied, however, by the date in the title, which suggests Pulter still had to endure two more decades of life—decades including yet more illness of her own (referred to in "This Was Written in 1648, When I Lay in, With my Son John" (Poem 45) [Poem 45] and "Made When I Was Not Well" (Poem 51) [Poem 51]), the assassination of her beloved monarch ("On the Horrid Murder of that Incomparable Prince" (Poem 14) [Poem 14] and "Let None Sigh More for Lucas or for Lisle [On the Same [2]]" (Poem 15) [Poem 15]), and the deaths of almost all of her fifteen children: a “sable scene” indeed.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This poem fits neatly onto one page, giving a fitting finality to its concluding farewell to the world. Like many of Pulter’s poems it meditates on the frailty of the body, identifying itself as written in a time of illness, in the tradition of Donne’s Devotions upon emergent occasions, but also in line with devotional advice provided by preachers and religious treatises, which instructed the good Christian to prepare for death. The poem engages with a tradition of staged poetic debates between body and soul, and with longstanding theological and natural philosophical traditions that meditated on their relationship, and asked questions about the nature and materiality of the soul.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Critical Note
Pulter frequently uses pen lines to mark the beginning and/or the end of her poems. This opening line decisively marks out the year of composition, suggesting the importance, to Pulter, of memorialising the dates of her illness. The curled line that concludes the poem emphasises the last four words; its confident flourish offers a decisive confirmation of the poem’s resonant anticipation of a heavenly reunion.
horizontal straight line
1
Ôh mee! how Sore! how Sad is my poor heart
O me, how sore, how sad is my poor heart;
‘Oh mee’ makes the ‘sighs’ of Pulter’s volume title and subtitle visible on the page. Throughout her poems, Pulter is alert to the power of sighs, which she frequently writes as ‘Ay mee’ (see, for example, the amplified edition of The Welcome [Poem 19] and O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul [Poem 28]). Sighs and groans were understood to be a fitting accompaniment to heartfelt prayer, as well as expressions of strong, otherwise inexpressible emotion, but they posed a challenge to both writers and printers who wanted to express them on the page. George Herbert frequently reflects on the power of sighs to effect spiritual change: in ‘The Affliction’ he reflects ‘My heart did heave, and there came forth, O God … / Had thou not had thy part, / Sure the unruly sigh had broke my heart’ (The Temple, London, 1633, C8v). Another poem in his devotional collection is titled ‘Sighs and Grones’.
Oh mee
! how
causing bodily pain, but also severe
Sore
! how
Meaning sorrowful, as now, but also, and more powerfully, ‘Dignified, grave, serious’ (OED, ‘sad’, adj. def. 3b). In other contexts, the word has a physical force, linked to heaviness and gravity, in the sense adopted as a term in physics around this time (def. III.8.a).
sad
is my poor heart
2
How loath my Soule is from my fflesh to part;
How loath my soul is from my flesh to part!
How
‘Loath’, meaning reluctant, but with a possible pun on the doctrinally correct attitude of ‘loathing’ towards the body; the speaker oscillates between attachment to and resentment of the flesh. Like O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul [Poem 28], this poem participates in the long tradition of poetic and theological debates about the relationship between the body and soul.
loath
my Soule is from my Flesh to part;
3
Hath forty years acquaintance cauſd Such Love
Hath forty years’ acquaintance caused such love
Hath
A specific reference to Pulter’s age, confirming that this poem was written in or around 1647.
forty years acquaintance
causd Such Love
4
To rottennes; that thou wilt ungratefull prove;
of
To
moral or physical corruption
rottenness
that thou wilt ungrateful prove
To
i.e. to the body, here, by metonymy, equated with its ‘rottenness’ (putrefaction). Pulter insists upon the present ‘rottenness’ of the body, even prior to its posthumous decay. In a treatise on the resurrection of bodies, published in 1640, the popular preacher and scholar Richard Sibbes reminded readers: ‘Those that die in much honour and pompe, and have their bodies imbalmed, doe all what they can with the body, it will come to dust and rottennesse; it will be vile in death’ (Evangellical Sacrifices. In xix. Sermons. … The third tome, Ee4v). The term has spiritual as well as physical connotations, describing ‘The state or quality of being morally corrupt; depravity; lack of integrity’ (OED, ‘rottenness’, def. 3), as in George Herbert’s poem, ‘The Church Porch’, which asks readers to weigh the pleasures of lust against the joys of moderation, and cautions, ‘If rottennesse have more, let Heaven go’ (‘Perirrhanteum’, in The Works of George Herbert, ed. F. E. Hutchinson (Oxford University Press, 1941), 6–24, line 18). Being ‘rotten’ suggests an inner weakness concealed beneath a healthy exterior, as in a rotten bough, or as in medical descriptions of festering sores. The term appears on several occasions in the Bible, most notably in Proverbs 12.4, ‘A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones’; Proverbs 14.30, ‘A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones’; and Habakkuk 3.16, ‘When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones …’ (all KJV).
rottennes
; that thou wilt ungratefull prove;
5
To that inviſable Light! of which wee are beams
To that invisible light of which we are beams?
To that
Compare this with O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul [Poem 28], where Pulter describes the soul as ‘a Sparkle of that light / Which is invisible to our Mortall Sight’. The idea of God as invisible light dates back at least to Augustine (354–430), who described ‘That inuisible light … that seethe [seeth] plainely the vnspeakeable depthe of mans harte’ (see "Curations" below). Glossing this passage, William Austin argued that the light which God brought into being on the first day of creation ‘was (the Lux creata) Visible Light: But, he, that made it, is (Lux Increata) Invisible Light; which no man can see. … That Man might (therefore receive Perfection, hee breathed into him (also) an immortall Soule; whereby, he was capable of (Lux, Verbum) that Invisible light, (the word) that made the World’ (Devotionis Augustinianae flamma (1633), F1v–F2r).
invisable Light! of which wee are beams
6
Wilt thou leave Subſtances (my Soul) for dreams
Wilt thou leave substances (my soul) for dreams?
Wilt thou leave
‘Substance’ here has primarily a theological sense, referring to ‘The divine essence or nature, esp. as that in which the three persons of the Trinity are united as one’ (OED, ‘substance’, n.; a theology which Pulter possibly refers to here in her use of the plural rather than the singular). However, it also possessed its modern meaning of something physical or palpable. The irony here (as throughout Christian theology) is that the material stuff of the world, including the body, is insubstantial (‘dreams’, in Pulter’s terms), whilst that which is immaterial (God) is also that which is truly substantial and enduring.
Substances
(my Soul)
Cf. Prospero’s reflection in Shakespeare’sThe Tempest: ‘We are such stuff / As dreams are made on, and our little life / Is rounded with a sleep’ (ed. Alden T. Vaughan and Virginia Mason Vaughan, Arden Shakespeare Third Series, 4.1.156–8), a possible intertext which becomes more potent as Pulter’s next lines turn to the stage.
for dreams
7
The Scene is Sable, horrid Tragedies
The scene is sable; horrid tragedies
The Scene is
black
Sable
, horrid Tragedies
8
Are Acted here before my weeping eyes
Are acted here before my weeping eyes:
Are
Cf. John Clare’s lament that ‘most Nations of Christendome haue become the sable and mournfulle Theaters or stages, whereupon so many blouddy Tragedyes haue bene acted’ (The conuerted Iew, 1630, D3v). This turn of phrase may be influenced by Homer’s Iliad, whose narrator tells us, in Chapman’s famous translation, that the ‘Fates, that order sable death, enforc’t their tragedies’ (The Iliads of Homer prince of poets, 1611, O2v).
Acted
here before my weeping eyes
9
Art thou not weary of this diſmale Stage
Art thou not weary of this dismal stage?
Art thou not weary of this dismale
The world as stage was a commonplace analogy. For modern readers, it is most famously articulated in Jaques’ speech beginning ‘All the world’s a stage’ (As You Like It, 2.7.140; Arden Shakespeare, 3rd series, ed. Juliet Dusinberre, 2006). At least as influential, for Pulter and her contemporaries, was the work of Guillaume de Saluste du Bartas (1544–1590), who reflected, in Josuah Sylvester’s popular translation, ‘The Worlds’ [sic] a Stage, where Gods Omnipotence, / His Iustice, Knowledge, Loue, and Proudience, / Do act their Parts’ (Du Bartas his deuine weekes and workes translated … by Iosuah Syluester, 1611, C3v); and ‘I take the world to be but as a Stage, / Where net-maskt men doo play their personage. / ’Tis but a mummerie, and a pleasant showe; / Sith ouer all, strange vanities doo flowe’ (3D8r).
stage
10
Mee thin^ks I’ve liv’d a tedious pilgrimage
Methinks I’ve lived a tedious pilgrimage,
Mee thinks I’ve liv’d a
The idea of life as a ‘tedious pilgrimage’ draws on the extant Catholic tradition of a physical pilgrimage, which had migrated to a figurative or analogical sense for both Protestants and Catholics by this period. See also Aletheia’s Pearl [Poem 32]: ‘And looking further on from page to Page, / She found I would live a tedious Pilgrimage’). In The Revolution [Poem 16], the speaker terms herself ‘a wretched pilgrim’ (line 3), and in The Wish [Poem 52] ‘a weake and weary Pilgrim’ (line 8). The phrasing is by no means unique to Pulter: a beautifully-designed 1609 volume of collected prayers, for example, instructs Christians to lament to God: ‘I am greatly weary Lord of this life of tedious pilgrimage’ (The sinners glasse collected out of Saint Augustine and other ancient fathers, L1v). In a series of meditations upon du Bartas, Roger Cocks reflects: ‘he that liues the longest age, / Doth waste his life in tedious pilgrimage’ (Hebdomada sacra; A weekes deuotion (1630), C7v).
tedious pilgrimage
11
And now the Sepulcher I’ve reach’d at last
And now the
tomb
sepulchre
I’ve reached at last.
And now the
A tomb or grave, but specifically also the Holy Sepulchre, the cave in which, by tradition, Christ was buried outside the walls of Jerusalem; a key site of pilgrimage for Christians.
Sepulcher
I’ve reach’d at last
12
My Soule for love or feare make thou more hast,
My soul, for love or fear, make thou more haste;
My Soule for love or feare make thou more hast,
13
ffor Shame, rowſ up a little mend thy pace
For shame, rouse up a little! Mend thy pace.
For Shame,
rouse
rows
up a little mend thy pace
14
Tis Glory beckons and thou’rt led by Grace
’Tis glory beckons, and thou’rt led by grace.
Tis Glory beckons and thou’rt led by Grace
15
Then never care, Though Death abru^pt thy Story
Then never care, though death abrupt thy
life
story
;
Then never care, Though Death
sever, interrupt
abrupt
thy story
16
What thou wants here, Shall finish’d bee in Glory
What thou
lacks
wants
here shall finished be in glory.
What thou wants here, shall finish’d bee in
Pulter’s lineation and rhyme scheme here play with the quickening step of her imagined soul; ‘pace’ chimes with ‘Grace’, which leads the reader forward into the lines which follow. The word ‘Glory’ appears both at the start of the quatrain, ‘beckoning’ the soul forward, and, appropriately, at the end, so that, like the soul, these four tightly connected lines finish in ‘Glory’. ‘Story’ meant interchangeably a work of history, myth or fiction.
Glory
.
17
Then farewell Emptie Hono:r, pleaſure, We’lth
Then farewell, empty honor, pleasure, wealth,
Then farewell Emptie
In the manuscript, the word appears as ‘Hono:r’, a contraction which would more usually refer to a person (‘your honor’), and emphasizes the relationship between ‘empty honor’ and worldly titles.
Honor
, pleasure, We’lth
18
Physical Note
parentheses in lighter ink
(
And what
Physical Note
“mn” crowded in and written over earlier letter(s); “C” possibly crowded in later than surrounding letters
Cromns
all,) farewell my Youth, & Health,
And what crowns all, farewell my youth, and health.
Physical Note
Parentheses in lighter ink, possibly indicating that they were added later.
(
And what
Physical Note
“mn” crowded in and written over earlier letter(s); “C” possibly crowded in later than surrounding letters. It is unclear if Pulter had originally used another word, or if this is an error in the manuscript transcription. ‘Crowns all’ is the logical reading of the text as it stands, and Pulter’s characteristically thoughtful use of parentheses marks out this ‘crown’. The term primarily has the sense of that which adorns or finishes all other earthly attributes, but it also refers more generally to a circular shape; a ‘crown’ of sonnets is one in which each sonnet starts with the final line of the preceding poem. At this moment, the poem circles back to its beginning: the age and illness of the writer, recast here as lost ‘Youth, & Health’.
Crowns
all,) farewell my Youth, & Health,
19
To
Physical Note
in lighter ink, possibly in different hand from main scribe, with subscript caret inverted
^you
my Deareffreinds I will not bid Adue
To you, my friends, I will not bid adieu:
Critical Note
The manuscript reads ‘To ^you my Deare ffreinds I will not bid Adue’. ‘You’ is in a lighter ink and possibly a different hand. The substitution of ‘To you my freinds’ for ‘To my Deare freinds’ makes this address more direct, and may suggest Pulter’s awareness of coterie circulation, and the possibility of her ‘friends’ reading and responding to these poems. The speaker is looking forward to being reunited in heaven, although various makers and poets also imagined a more immediate reunification in the grave (see Donne’s ‘The Relic’ and the coffin-shaped jewel pictured in “Memento Mori,” among the Curations for this poem).
To you my Freinds I will not bid Adue
20
ffor in A happier place I Shall meet you.
For in a happier place I shall meet you.
For in A happier place I Shall meet you.
horizontal straight line
horizontal 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

We tend to think the sick want to recover, but this is not always true. This poem’s title asks us to casts a retrospective gaze on its scene of composition during Pulter’s experience as a patient, when she suffered, it seems, less from her illness than from her reluctance to die. After diagnosing the trouble with her heart and soul, she lambasts the latter for clinging to life despite its tragic and dismal nature. Such shaming turns to a rousing pep-talk as she encourages her soul to speed toward death in order to embrace the glory and grace of the afterlife. The poem seems to have achieved its end of turning the speaker’s thoughts resolutely toward her own end, since it winds up with a valediction to all her earthly goods—barring her friends, whom she anticipates meeting in heaven. With its concluding lines focused on dispersing the speaker’s worldly wealth in the company of loving witnesses (those friends), the poem manages to generate the aura of a deathbed scene; so much is belied, however, by the date in the title, which suggests Pulter still had to endure two more decades of life—decades including yet more illness of her own (referred to in "This Was Written in 1648, When I Lay in, With my Son John" (Poem 45) [Poem 45] and "Made When I Was Not Well" (Poem 51) [Poem 51]), the assassination of her beloved monarch ("On the Horrid Murder of that Incomparable Prince" (Poem 14) [Poem 14] and "Let None Sigh More for Lucas or for Lisle [On the Same [2]]" (Poem 15) [Poem 15]), and the deaths of almost all of her fifteen children: a “sable scene” indeed.
Line number 4
of
Line number 4
moral or physical corruption
Line number 11
tomb
Line number 15
life
Line number 16
lacks
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
Made when I was Sick 1647
Made When I Was Sick, 1647
Compare the title of this poem to Donne’s ‘Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness’ (‘Curations’), and to his Devotions upon emergent occasions, and severall steps in my sickness (London, 1624), to which Pulter makes explicit reference in The Welcome [Poem 19]. Pulter follows both a poetic and a devotional tradition in meditating upon her spiritual health at a moment of severe illness. Where Donne’s meditations spiral outwards to take in all of humankind as well as (in ‘Hymn to God’) questions of the shape and composition of the world, Pulter’s focus remains primarily personal and intimate, though also exemplary.
Made when I was Sick 1647
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
My approach to editing is broadly conservative, in the sense that I modernise only very lightly. I have regularised u/v and i/j, which were interchangeable in the period during which Pulter was writing, and have also regularised ‘ff’ to F. Otherwise, I have generally preserved Pulter’s spelling, and have attempted to represent some of Pulter’s characteristic uses of space (especially her lines and flourishes at the beginnings and ends of poems, which frequently contribute to meaning and interpretation). My annotations focus primarily on understanding the idiosyncratic ideas and densely-packed meanings of Pulter’s poems, though I also draw attention to questions of form, especially where I feel this contributes to or reinforces the complex arguments of Pulter’s verse.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
We tend to think the sick want to recover, but this is not always true. This poem’s title asks us to casts a retrospective gaze on its scene of composition during Pulter’s experience as a patient, when she suffered, it seems, less from her illness than from her reluctance to die. After diagnosing the trouble with her heart and soul, she lambasts the latter for clinging to life despite its tragic and dismal nature. Such shaming turns to a rousing pep-talk as she encourages her soul to speed toward death in order to embrace the glory and grace of the afterlife. The poem seems to have achieved its end of turning the speaker’s thoughts resolutely toward her own end, since it winds up with a valediction to all her earthly goods—barring her friends, whom she anticipates meeting in heaven. With its concluding lines focused on dispersing the speaker’s worldly wealth in the company of loving witnesses (those friends), the poem manages to generate the aura of a deathbed scene; so much is belied, however, by the date in the title, which suggests Pulter still had to endure two more decades of life—decades including yet more illness of her own (referred to in "This Was Written in 1648, When I Lay in, With my Son John" (Poem 45) [Poem 45] and "Made When I Was Not Well" (Poem 51) [Poem 51]), the assassination of her beloved monarch ("On the Horrid Murder of that Incomparable Prince" (Poem 14) [Poem 14] and "Let None Sigh More for Lucas or for Lisle [On the Same [2]]" (Poem 15) [Poem 15]), and the deaths of almost all of her fifteen children: a “sable scene” indeed.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This poem fits neatly onto one page, giving a fitting finality to its concluding farewell to the world. Like many of Pulter’s poems it meditates on the frailty of the body, identifying itself as written in a time of illness, in the tradition of Donne’s Devotions upon emergent occasions, but also in line with devotional advice provided by preachers and religious treatises, which instructed the good Christian to prepare for death. The poem engages with a tradition of staged poetic debates between body and soul, and with longstanding theological and natural philosophical traditions that meditated on their relationship, and asked questions about the nature and materiality of the soul.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Critical Note
Pulter frequently uses pen lines to mark the beginning and/or the end of her poems. This opening line decisively marks out the year of composition, suggesting the importance, to Pulter, of memorialising the dates of her illness. The curled line that concludes the poem emphasises the last four words; its confident flourish offers a decisive confirmation of the poem’s resonant anticipation of a heavenly reunion.
horizontal straight line
1
Ôh mee! how Sore! how Sad is my poor heart
O me, how sore, how sad is my poor heart;
‘Oh mee’ makes the ‘sighs’ of Pulter’s volume title and subtitle visible on the page. Throughout her poems, Pulter is alert to the power of sighs, which she frequently writes as ‘Ay mee’ (see, for example, the amplified edition of The Welcome [Poem 19] and O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul [Poem 28]). Sighs and groans were understood to be a fitting accompaniment to heartfelt prayer, as well as expressions of strong, otherwise inexpressible emotion, but they posed a challenge to both writers and printers who wanted to express them on the page. George Herbert frequently reflects on the power of sighs to effect spiritual change: in ‘The Affliction’ he reflects ‘My heart did heave, and there came forth, O God … / Had thou not had thy part, / Sure the unruly sigh had broke my heart’ (The Temple, London, 1633, C8v). Another poem in his devotional collection is titled ‘Sighs and Grones’.
Oh mee
! how
causing bodily pain, but also severe
Sore
! how
Meaning sorrowful, as now, but also, and more powerfully, ‘Dignified, grave, serious’ (OED, ‘sad’, adj. def. 3b). In other contexts, the word has a physical force, linked to heaviness and gravity, in the sense adopted as a term in physics around this time (def. III.8.a).
sad
is my poor heart
2
How loath my Soule is from my fflesh to part;
How loath my soul is from my flesh to part!
How
‘Loath’, meaning reluctant, but with a possible pun on the doctrinally correct attitude of ‘loathing’ towards the body; the speaker oscillates between attachment to and resentment of the flesh. Like O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul [Poem 28], this poem participates in the long tradition of poetic and theological debates about the relationship between the body and soul.
loath
my Soule is from my Flesh to part;
3
Hath forty years acquaintance cauſd Such Love
Hath forty years’ acquaintance caused such love
Hath
A specific reference to Pulter’s age, confirming that this poem was written in or around 1647.
forty years acquaintance
causd Such Love
4
To rottennes; that thou wilt ungratefull prove;
of
To
moral or physical corruption
rottenness
that thou wilt ungrateful prove
To
i.e. to the body, here, by metonymy, equated with its ‘rottenness’ (putrefaction). Pulter insists upon the present ‘rottenness’ of the body, even prior to its posthumous decay. In a treatise on the resurrection of bodies, published in 1640, the popular preacher and scholar Richard Sibbes reminded readers: ‘Those that die in much honour and pompe, and have their bodies imbalmed, doe all what they can with the body, it will come to dust and rottennesse; it will be vile in death’ (Evangellical Sacrifices. In xix. Sermons. … The third tome, Ee4v). The term has spiritual as well as physical connotations, describing ‘The state or quality of being morally corrupt; depravity; lack of integrity’ (OED, ‘rottenness’, def. 3), as in George Herbert’s poem, ‘The Church Porch’, which asks readers to weigh the pleasures of lust against the joys of moderation, and cautions, ‘If rottennesse have more, let Heaven go’ (‘Perirrhanteum’, in The Works of George Herbert, ed. F. E. Hutchinson (Oxford University Press, 1941), 6–24, line 18). Being ‘rotten’ suggests an inner weakness concealed beneath a healthy exterior, as in a rotten bough, or as in medical descriptions of festering sores. The term appears on several occasions in the Bible, most notably in Proverbs 12.4, ‘A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones’; Proverbs 14.30, ‘A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones’; and Habakkuk 3.16, ‘When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones …’ (all KJV).
rottennes
; that thou wilt ungratefull prove;
5
To that inviſable Light! of which wee are beams
To that invisible light of which we are beams?
To that
Compare this with O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul [Poem 28], where Pulter describes the soul as ‘a Sparkle of that light / Which is invisible to our Mortall Sight’. The idea of God as invisible light dates back at least to Augustine (354–430), who described ‘That inuisible light … that seethe [seeth] plainely the vnspeakeable depthe of mans harte’ (see "Curations" below). Glossing this passage, William Austin argued that the light which God brought into being on the first day of creation ‘was (the Lux creata) Visible Light: But, he, that made it, is (Lux Increata) Invisible Light; which no man can see. … That Man might (therefore receive Perfection, hee breathed into him (also) an immortall Soule; whereby, he was capable of (Lux, Verbum) that Invisible light, (the word) that made the World’ (Devotionis Augustinianae flamma (1633), F1v–F2r).
invisable Light! of which wee are beams
6
Wilt thou leave Subſtances (my Soul) for dreams
Wilt thou leave substances (my soul) for dreams?
Wilt thou leave
‘Substance’ here has primarily a theological sense, referring to ‘The divine essence or nature, esp. as that in which the three persons of the Trinity are united as one’ (OED, ‘substance’, n.; a theology which Pulter possibly refers to here in her use of the plural rather than the singular). However, it also possessed its modern meaning of something physical or palpable. The irony here (as throughout Christian theology) is that the material stuff of the world, including the body, is insubstantial (‘dreams’, in Pulter’s terms), whilst that which is immaterial (God) is also that which is truly substantial and enduring.
Substances
(my Soul)
Cf. Prospero’s reflection in Shakespeare’sThe Tempest: ‘We are such stuff / As dreams are made on, and our little life / Is rounded with a sleep’ (ed. Alden T. Vaughan and Virginia Mason Vaughan, Arden Shakespeare Third Series, 4.1.156–8), a possible intertext which becomes more potent as Pulter’s next lines turn to the stage.
for dreams
7
The Scene is Sable, horrid Tragedies
The scene is sable; horrid tragedies
The Scene is
black
Sable
, horrid Tragedies
8
Are Acted here before my weeping eyes
Are acted here before my weeping eyes:
Are
Cf. John Clare’s lament that ‘most Nations of Christendome haue become the sable and mournfulle Theaters or stages, whereupon so many blouddy Tragedyes haue bene acted’ (The conuerted Iew, 1630, D3v). This turn of phrase may be influenced by Homer’s Iliad, whose narrator tells us, in Chapman’s famous translation, that the ‘Fates, that order sable death, enforc’t their tragedies’ (The Iliads of Homer prince of poets, 1611, O2v).
Acted
here before my weeping eyes
9
Art thou not weary of this diſmale Stage
Art thou not weary of this dismal stage?
Art thou not weary of this dismale
The world as stage was a commonplace analogy. For modern readers, it is most famously articulated in Jaques’ speech beginning ‘All the world’s a stage’ (As You Like It, 2.7.140; Arden Shakespeare, 3rd series, ed. Juliet Dusinberre, 2006). At least as influential, for Pulter and her contemporaries, was the work of Guillaume de Saluste du Bartas (1544–1590), who reflected, in Josuah Sylvester’s popular translation, ‘The Worlds’ [sic] a Stage, where Gods Omnipotence, / His Iustice, Knowledge, Loue, and Proudience, / Do act their Parts’ (Du Bartas his deuine weekes and workes translated … by Iosuah Syluester, 1611, C3v); and ‘I take the world to be but as a Stage, / Where net-maskt men doo play their personage. / ’Tis but a mummerie, and a pleasant showe; / Sith ouer all, strange vanities doo flowe’ (3D8r).
stage
10
Mee thin^ks I’ve liv’d a tedious pilgrimage
Methinks I’ve lived a tedious pilgrimage,
Mee thinks I’ve liv’d a
The idea of life as a ‘tedious pilgrimage’ draws on the extant Catholic tradition of a physical pilgrimage, which had migrated to a figurative or analogical sense for both Protestants and Catholics by this period. See also Aletheia’s Pearl [Poem 32]: ‘And looking further on from page to Page, / She found I would live a tedious Pilgrimage’). In The Revolution [Poem 16], the speaker terms herself ‘a wretched pilgrim’ (line 3), and in The Wish [Poem 52] ‘a weake and weary Pilgrim’ (line 8). The phrasing is by no means unique to Pulter: a beautifully-designed 1609 volume of collected prayers, for example, instructs Christians to lament to God: ‘I am greatly weary Lord of this life of tedious pilgrimage’ (The sinners glasse collected out of Saint Augustine and other ancient fathers, L1v). In a series of meditations upon du Bartas, Roger Cocks reflects: ‘he that liues the longest age, / Doth waste his life in tedious pilgrimage’ (Hebdomada sacra; A weekes deuotion (1630), C7v).
tedious pilgrimage
11
And now the Sepulcher I’ve reach’d at last
And now the
tomb
sepulchre
I’ve reached at last.
And now the
A tomb or grave, but specifically also the Holy Sepulchre, the cave in which, by tradition, Christ was buried outside the walls of Jerusalem; a key site of pilgrimage for Christians.
Sepulcher
I’ve reach’d at last
12
My Soule for love or feare make thou more hast,
My soul, for love or fear, make thou more haste;
My Soule for love or feare make thou more hast,
13
ffor Shame, rowſ up a little mend thy pace
For shame, rouse up a little! Mend thy pace.
For Shame,
rouse
rows
up a little mend thy pace
14
Tis Glory beckons and thou’rt led by Grace
’Tis glory beckons, and thou’rt led by grace.
Tis Glory beckons and thou’rt led by Grace
15
Then never care, Though Death abru^pt thy Story
Then never care, though death abrupt thy
life
story
;
Then never care, Though Death
sever, interrupt
abrupt
thy story
16
What thou wants here, Shall finish’d bee in Glory
What thou
lacks
wants
here shall finished be in glory.
What thou wants here, shall finish’d bee in
Pulter’s lineation and rhyme scheme here play with the quickening step of her imagined soul; ‘pace’ chimes with ‘Grace’, which leads the reader forward into the lines which follow. The word ‘Glory’ appears both at the start of the quatrain, ‘beckoning’ the soul forward, and, appropriately, at the end, so that, like the soul, these four tightly connected lines finish in ‘Glory’. ‘Story’ meant interchangeably a work of history, myth or fiction.
Glory
.
17
Then farewell Emptie Hono:r, pleaſure, We’lth
Then farewell, empty honor, pleasure, wealth,
Then farewell Emptie
In the manuscript, the word appears as ‘Hono:r’, a contraction which would more usually refer to a person (‘your honor’), and emphasizes the relationship between ‘empty honor’ and worldly titles.
Honor
, pleasure, We’lth
18
Physical Note
parentheses in lighter ink
(
And what
Physical Note
“mn” crowded in and written over earlier letter(s); “C” possibly crowded in later than surrounding letters
Cromns
all,) farewell my Youth, & Health,
And what crowns all, farewell my youth, and health.
Physical Note
Parentheses in lighter ink, possibly indicating that they were added later.
(
And what
Physical Note
“mn” crowded in and written over earlier letter(s); “C” possibly crowded in later than surrounding letters. It is unclear if Pulter had originally used another word, or if this is an error in the manuscript transcription. ‘Crowns all’ is the logical reading of the text as it stands, and Pulter’s characteristically thoughtful use of parentheses marks out this ‘crown’. The term primarily has the sense of that which adorns or finishes all other earthly attributes, but it also refers more generally to a circular shape; a ‘crown’ of sonnets is one in which each sonnet starts with the final line of the preceding poem. At this moment, the poem circles back to its beginning: the age and illness of the writer, recast here as lost ‘Youth, & Health’.
Crowns
all,) farewell my Youth, & Health,
19
To
Physical Note
in lighter ink, possibly in different hand from main scribe, with subscript caret inverted
^you
my Deareffreinds I will not bid Adue
To you, my friends, I will not bid adieu:
Critical Note
The manuscript reads ‘To ^you my Deare ffreinds I will not bid Adue’. ‘You’ is in a lighter ink and possibly a different hand. The substitution of ‘To you my freinds’ for ‘To my Deare freinds’ makes this address more direct, and may suggest Pulter’s awareness of coterie circulation, and the possibility of her ‘friends’ reading and responding to these poems. The speaker is looking forward to being reunited in heaven, although various makers and poets also imagined a more immediate reunification in the grave (see Donne’s ‘The Relic’ and the coffin-shaped jewel pictured in “Memento Mori,” among the Curations for this poem).
To you my Freinds I will not bid Adue
20
ffor in A happier place I Shall meet you.
For in a happier place I shall meet you.
For in A happier place I Shall meet you.
horizontal straight line
horizontal straight line
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition
Title note
Compare the title of this poem to Donne’s ‘Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness’ (‘Curations’), and to his Devotions upon emergent occasions, and severall steps in my sickness (London, 1624), to which Pulter makes explicit reference in The Welcome [Poem 19]. Pulter follows both a poetic and a devotional tradition in meditating upon her spiritual health at a moment of severe illness. Where Donne’s meditations spiral outwards to take in all of humankind as well as (in ‘Hymn to God’) questions of the shape and composition of the world, Pulter’s focus remains primarily personal and intimate, though also exemplary.

 Editorial note

My approach to editing is broadly conservative, in the sense that I modernise only very lightly. I have regularised u/v and i/j, which were interchangeable in the period during which Pulter was writing, and have also regularised ‘ff’ to F. Otherwise, I have generally preserved Pulter’s spelling, and have attempted to represent some of Pulter’s characteristic uses of space (especially her lines and flourishes at the beginnings and ends of poems, which frequently contribute to meaning and interpretation). My annotations focus primarily on understanding the idiosyncratic ideas and densely-packed meanings of Pulter’s poems, though I also draw attention to questions of form, especially where I feel this contributes to or reinforces the complex arguments of Pulter’s verse.

 Headnote

This poem fits neatly onto one page, giving a fitting finality to its concluding farewell to the world. Like many of Pulter’s poems it meditates on the frailty of the body, identifying itself as written in a time of illness, in the tradition of Donne’s Devotions upon emergent occasions, but also in line with devotional advice provided by preachers and religious treatises, which instructed the good Christian to prepare for death. The poem engages with a tradition of staged poetic debates between body and soul, and with longstanding theological and natural philosophical traditions that meditated on their relationship, and asked questions about the nature and materiality of the soul.
Line number 1
‘Oh mee’ makes the ‘sighs’ of Pulter’s volume title and subtitle visible on the page. Throughout her poems, Pulter is alert to the power of sighs, which she frequently writes as ‘Ay mee’ (see, for example, the amplified edition of The Welcome [Poem 19] and O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul [Poem 28]). Sighs and groans were understood to be a fitting accompaniment to heartfelt prayer, as well as expressions of strong, otherwise inexpressible emotion, but they posed a challenge to both writers and printers who wanted to express them on the page. George Herbert frequently reflects on the power of sighs to effect spiritual change: in ‘The Affliction’ he reflects ‘My heart did heave, and there came forth, O God … / Had thou not had thy part, / Sure the unruly sigh had broke my heart’ (The Temple, London, 1633, C8v). Another poem in his devotional collection is titled ‘Sighs and Grones’.
Line number 1
causing bodily pain, but also severe
Line number 1
Meaning sorrowful, as now, but also, and more powerfully, ‘Dignified, grave, serious’ (OED, ‘sad’, adj. def. 3b). In other contexts, the word has a physical force, linked to heaviness and gravity, in the sense adopted as a term in physics around this time (def. III.8.a).
Line number 2
‘Loath’, meaning reluctant, but with a possible pun on the doctrinally correct attitude of ‘loathing’ towards the body; the speaker oscillates between attachment to and resentment of the flesh. Like O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul [Poem 28], this poem participates in the long tradition of poetic and theological debates about the relationship between the body and soul.
Line number 3
A specific reference to Pulter’s age, confirming that this poem was written in or around 1647.
Line number 4
i.e. to the body, here, by metonymy, equated with its ‘rottenness’ (putrefaction). Pulter insists upon the present ‘rottenness’ of the body, even prior to its posthumous decay. In a treatise on the resurrection of bodies, published in 1640, the popular preacher and scholar Richard Sibbes reminded readers: ‘Those that die in much honour and pompe, and have their bodies imbalmed, doe all what they can with the body, it will come to dust and rottennesse; it will be vile in death’ (Evangellical Sacrifices. In xix. Sermons. … The third tome, Ee4v). The term has spiritual as well as physical connotations, describing ‘The state or quality of being morally corrupt; depravity; lack of integrity’ (OED, ‘rottenness’, def. 3), as in George Herbert’s poem, ‘The Church Porch’, which asks readers to weigh the pleasures of lust against the joys of moderation, and cautions, ‘If rottennesse have more, let Heaven go’ (‘Perirrhanteum’, in The Works of George Herbert, ed. F. E. Hutchinson (Oxford University Press, 1941), 6–24, line 18). Being ‘rotten’ suggests an inner weakness concealed beneath a healthy exterior, as in a rotten bough, or as in medical descriptions of festering sores. The term appears on several occasions in the Bible, most notably in Proverbs 12.4, ‘A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones’; Proverbs 14.30, ‘A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones’; and Habakkuk 3.16, ‘When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones …’ (all KJV).
Line number 5
Compare this with O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul [Poem 28], where Pulter describes the soul as ‘a Sparkle of that light / Which is invisible to our Mortall Sight’. The idea of God as invisible light dates back at least to Augustine (354–430), who described ‘That inuisible light … that seethe [seeth] plainely the vnspeakeable depthe of mans harte’ (see "Curations" below). Glossing this passage, William Austin argued that the light which God brought into being on the first day of creation ‘was (the Lux creata) Visible Light: But, he, that made it, is (Lux Increata) Invisible Light; which no man can see. … That Man might (therefore receive Perfection, hee breathed into him (also) an immortall Soule; whereby, he was capable of (Lux, Verbum) that Invisible light, (the word) that made the World’ (Devotionis Augustinianae flamma (1633), F1v–F2r).
Line number 6
‘Substance’ here has primarily a theological sense, referring to ‘The divine essence or nature, esp. as that in which the three persons of the Trinity are united as one’ (OED, ‘substance’, n.; a theology which Pulter possibly refers to here in her use of the plural rather than the singular). However, it also possessed its modern meaning of something physical or palpable. The irony here (as throughout Christian theology) is that the material stuff of the world, including the body, is insubstantial (‘dreams’, in Pulter’s terms), whilst that which is immaterial (God) is also that which is truly substantial and enduring.
Line number 6
Cf. Prospero’s reflection in Shakespeare’sThe Tempest: ‘We are such stuff / As dreams are made on, and our little life / Is rounded with a sleep’ (ed. Alden T. Vaughan and Virginia Mason Vaughan, Arden Shakespeare Third Series, 4.1.156–8), a possible intertext which becomes more potent as Pulter’s next lines turn to the stage.
Line number 7
black
Line number 8
Cf. John Clare’s lament that ‘most Nations of Christendome haue become the sable and mournfulle Theaters or stages, whereupon so many blouddy Tragedyes haue bene acted’ (The conuerted Iew, 1630, D3v). This turn of phrase may be influenced by Homer’s Iliad, whose narrator tells us, in Chapman’s famous translation, that the ‘Fates, that order sable death, enforc’t their tragedies’ (The Iliads of Homer prince of poets, 1611, O2v).
Line number 9
The world as stage was a commonplace analogy. For modern readers, it is most famously articulated in Jaques’ speech beginning ‘All the world’s a stage’ (As You Like It, 2.7.140; Arden Shakespeare, 3rd series, ed. Juliet Dusinberre, 2006). At least as influential, for Pulter and her contemporaries, was the work of Guillaume de Saluste du Bartas (1544–1590), who reflected, in Josuah Sylvester’s popular translation, ‘The Worlds’ [sic] a Stage, where Gods Omnipotence, / His Iustice, Knowledge, Loue, and Proudience, / Do act their Parts’ (Du Bartas his deuine weekes and workes translated … by Iosuah Syluester, 1611, C3v); and ‘I take the world to be but as a Stage, / Where net-maskt men doo play their personage. / ’Tis but a mummerie, and a pleasant showe; / Sith ouer all, strange vanities doo flowe’ (3D8r).
Line number 10
The idea of life as a ‘tedious pilgrimage’ draws on the extant Catholic tradition of a physical pilgrimage, which had migrated to a figurative or analogical sense for both Protestants and Catholics by this period. See also Aletheia’s Pearl [Poem 32]: ‘And looking further on from page to Page, / She found I would live a tedious Pilgrimage’). In The Revolution [Poem 16], the speaker terms herself ‘a wretched pilgrim’ (line 3), and in The Wish [Poem 52] ‘a weake and weary Pilgrim’ (line 8). The phrasing is by no means unique to Pulter: a beautifully-designed 1609 volume of collected prayers, for example, instructs Christians to lament to God: ‘I am greatly weary Lord of this life of tedious pilgrimage’ (The sinners glasse collected out of Saint Augustine and other ancient fathers, L1v). In a series of meditations upon du Bartas, Roger Cocks reflects: ‘he that liues the longest age, / Doth waste his life in tedious pilgrimage’ (Hebdomada sacra; A weekes deuotion (1630), C7v).
Line number 11
A tomb or grave, but specifically also the Holy Sepulchre, the cave in which, by tradition, Christ was buried outside the walls of Jerusalem; a key site of pilgrimage for Christians.
Line number 13
rouse
Line number 15
sever, interrupt
Line number 16
Pulter’s lineation and rhyme scheme here play with the quickening step of her imagined soul; ‘pace’ chimes with ‘Grace’, which leads the reader forward into the lines which follow. The word ‘Glory’ appears both at the start of the quatrain, ‘beckoning’ the soul forward, and, appropriately, at the end, so that, like the soul, these four tightly connected lines finish in ‘Glory’. ‘Story’ meant interchangeably a work of history, myth or fiction.
Line number 17
In the manuscript, the word appears as ‘Hono:r’, a contraction which would more usually refer to a person (‘your honor’), and emphasizes the relationship between ‘empty honor’ and worldly titles.
Line number 18

 Physical note

Parentheses in lighter ink, possibly indicating that they were added later.
Line number 18

 Physical note

“mn” crowded in and written over earlier letter(s); “C” possibly crowded in later than surrounding letters. It is unclear if Pulter had originally used another word, or if this is an error in the manuscript transcription. ‘Crowns all’ is the logical reading of the text as it stands, and Pulter’s characteristically thoughtful use of parentheses marks out this ‘crown’. The term primarily has the sense of that which adorns or finishes all other earthly attributes, but it also refers more generally to a circular shape; a ‘crown’ of sonnets is one in which each sonnet starts with the final line of the preceding poem. At this moment, the poem circles back to its beginning: the age and illness of the writer, recast here as lost ‘Youth, & Health’.
Line number 19

 Critical note

The manuscript reads ‘To ^you my Deare ffreinds I will not bid Adue’. ‘You’ is in a lighter ink and possibly a different hand. The substitution of ‘To you my freinds’ for ‘To my Deare freinds’ makes this address more direct, and may suggest Pulter’s awareness of coterie circulation, and the possibility of her ‘friends’ reading and responding to these poems. The speaker is looking forward to being reunited in heaven, although various makers and poets also imagined a more immediate reunification in the grave (see Donne’s ‘The Relic’ and the coffin-shaped jewel pictured in “Memento Mori,” among the Curations for this poem).
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X (Close panel)Amplified Edition
Amplified Edition

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Made when I was Sick 1647
Made When I Was Sick, 1647
Compare the title of this poem to Donne’s ‘Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness’ (‘Curations’), and to his Devotions upon emergent occasions, and severall steps in my sickness (London, 1624), to which Pulter makes explicit reference in The Welcome [Poem 19]. Pulter follows both a poetic and a devotional tradition in meditating upon her spiritual health at a moment of severe illness. Where Donne’s meditations spiral outwards to take in all of humankind as well as (in ‘Hymn to God’) questions of the shape and composition of the world, Pulter’s focus remains primarily personal and intimate, though also exemplary.
Made when I was Sick 1647
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.

— Helen Smith
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.

— Helen Smith
My approach to editing is broadly conservative, in the sense that I modernise only very lightly. I have regularised u/v and i/j, which were interchangeable in the period during which Pulter was writing, and have also regularised ‘ff’ to F. Otherwise, I have generally preserved Pulter’s spelling, and have attempted to represent some of Pulter’s characteristic uses of space (especially her lines and flourishes at the beginnings and ends of poems, which frequently contribute to meaning and interpretation). My annotations focus primarily on understanding the idiosyncratic ideas and densely-packed meanings of Pulter’s poems, though I also draw attention to questions of form, especially where I feel this contributes to or reinforces the complex arguments of Pulter’s verse.

— Helen Smith
We tend to think the sick want to recover, but this is not always true. This poem’s title asks us to casts a retrospective gaze on its scene of composition during Pulter’s experience as a patient, when she suffered, it seems, less from her illness than from her reluctance to die. After diagnosing the trouble with her heart and soul, she lambasts the latter for clinging to life despite its tragic and dismal nature. Such shaming turns to a rousing pep-talk as she encourages her soul to speed toward death in order to embrace the glory and grace of the afterlife. The poem seems to have achieved its end of turning the speaker’s thoughts resolutely toward her own end, since it winds up with a valediction to all her earthly goods—barring her friends, whom she anticipates meeting in heaven. With its concluding lines focused on dispersing the speaker’s worldly wealth in the company of loving witnesses (those friends), the poem manages to generate the aura of a deathbed scene; so much is belied, however, by the date in the title, which suggests Pulter still had to endure two more decades of life—decades including yet more illness of her own (referred to in "This Was Written in 1648, When I Lay in, With my Son John" (Poem 45) [Poem 45] and "Made When I Was Not Well" (Poem 51) [Poem 51]), the assassination of her beloved monarch ("On the Horrid Murder of that Incomparable Prince" (Poem 14) [Poem 14] and "Let None Sigh More for Lucas or for Lisle [On the Same [2]]" (Poem 15) [Poem 15]), and the deaths of almost all of her fifteen children: a “sable scene” indeed.

— Helen Smith
This poem fits neatly onto one page, giving a fitting finality to its concluding farewell to the world. Like many of Pulter’s poems it meditates on the frailty of the body, identifying itself as written in a time of illness, in the tradition of Donne’s Devotions upon emergent occasions, but also in line with devotional advice provided by preachers and religious treatises, which instructed the good Christian to prepare for death. The poem engages with a tradition of staged poetic debates between body and soul, and with longstanding theological and natural philosophical traditions that meditated on their relationship, and asked questions about the nature and materiality of the soul.

— Helen Smith
Critical Note
Pulter frequently uses pen lines to mark the beginning and/or the end of her poems. This opening line decisively marks out the year of composition, suggesting the importance, to Pulter, of memorialising the dates of her illness. The curled line that concludes the poem emphasises the last four words; its confident flourish offers a decisive confirmation of the poem’s resonant anticipation of a heavenly reunion.
horizontal straight line
1
Ôh mee! how Sore! how Sad is my poor heart
O me, how sore, how sad is my poor heart;
‘Oh mee’ makes the ‘sighs’ of Pulter’s volume title and subtitle visible on the page. Throughout her poems, Pulter is alert to the power of sighs, which she frequently writes as ‘Ay mee’ (see, for example, the amplified edition of The Welcome [Poem 19] and O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul [Poem 28]). Sighs and groans were understood to be a fitting accompaniment to heartfelt prayer, as well as expressions of strong, otherwise inexpressible emotion, but they posed a challenge to both writers and printers who wanted to express them on the page. George Herbert frequently reflects on the power of sighs to effect spiritual change: in ‘The Affliction’ he reflects ‘My heart did heave, and there came forth, O God … / Had thou not had thy part, / Sure the unruly sigh had broke my heart’ (The Temple, London, 1633, C8v). Another poem in his devotional collection is titled ‘Sighs and Grones’.
Oh mee
! how
causing bodily pain, but also severe
Sore
! how
Meaning sorrowful, as now, but also, and more powerfully, ‘Dignified, grave, serious’ (OED, ‘sad’, adj. def. 3b). In other contexts, the word has a physical force, linked to heaviness and gravity, in the sense adopted as a term in physics around this time (def. III.8.a).
sad
is my poor heart
2
How loath my Soule is from my fflesh to part;
How loath my soul is from my flesh to part!
How
‘Loath’, meaning reluctant, but with a possible pun on the doctrinally correct attitude of ‘loathing’ towards the body; the speaker oscillates between attachment to and resentment of the flesh. Like O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul [Poem 28], this poem participates in the long tradition of poetic and theological debates about the relationship between the body and soul.
loath
my Soule is from my Flesh to part;
3
Hath forty years acquaintance cauſd Such Love
Hath forty years’ acquaintance caused such love
Hath
A specific reference to Pulter’s age, confirming that this poem was written in or around 1647.
forty years acquaintance
causd Such Love
4
To rottennes; that thou wilt ungratefull prove;
of
To
moral or physical corruption
rottenness
that thou wilt ungrateful prove
To
i.e. to the body, here, by metonymy, equated with its ‘rottenness’ (putrefaction). Pulter insists upon the present ‘rottenness’ of the body, even prior to its posthumous decay. In a treatise on the resurrection of bodies, published in 1640, the popular preacher and scholar Richard Sibbes reminded readers: ‘Those that die in much honour and pompe, and have their bodies imbalmed, doe all what they can with the body, it will come to dust and rottennesse; it will be vile in death’ (Evangellical Sacrifices. In xix. Sermons. … The third tome, Ee4v). The term has spiritual as well as physical connotations, describing ‘The state or quality of being morally corrupt; depravity; lack of integrity’ (OED, ‘rottenness’, def. 3), as in George Herbert’s poem, ‘The Church Porch’, which asks readers to weigh the pleasures of lust against the joys of moderation, and cautions, ‘If rottennesse have more, let Heaven go’ (‘Perirrhanteum’, in The Works of George Herbert, ed. F. E. Hutchinson (Oxford University Press, 1941), 6–24, line 18). Being ‘rotten’ suggests an inner weakness concealed beneath a healthy exterior, as in a rotten bough, or as in medical descriptions of festering sores. The term appears on several occasions in the Bible, most notably in Proverbs 12.4, ‘A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones’; Proverbs 14.30, ‘A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones’; and Habakkuk 3.16, ‘When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones …’ (all KJV).
rottennes
; that thou wilt ungratefull prove;
5
To that inviſable Light! of which wee are beams
To that invisible light of which we are beams?
To that
Compare this with O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul [Poem 28], where Pulter describes the soul as ‘a Sparkle of that light / Which is invisible to our Mortall Sight’. The idea of God as invisible light dates back at least to Augustine (354–430), who described ‘That inuisible light … that seethe [seeth] plainely the vnspeakeable depthe of mans harte’ (see "Curations" below). Glossing this passage, William Austin argued that the light which God brought into being on the first day of creation ‘was (the Lux creata) Visible Light: But, he, that made it, is (Lux Increata) Invisible Light; which no man can see. … That Man might (therefore receive Perfection, hee breathed into him (also) an immortall Soule; whereby, he was capable of (Lux, Verbum) that Invisible light, (the word) that made the World’ (Devotionis Augustinianae flamma (1633), F1v–F2r).
invisable Light! of which wee are beams
6
Wilt thou leave Subſtances (my Soul) for dreams
Wilt thou leave substances (my soul) for dreams?
Wilt thou leave
‘Substance’ here has primarily a theological sense, referring to ‘The divine essence or nature, esp. as that in which the three persons of the Trinity are united as one’ (OED, ‘substance’, n.; a theology which Pulter possibly refers to here in her use of the plural rather than the singular). However, it also possessed its modern meaning of something physical or palpable. The irony here (as throughout Christian theology) is that the material stuff of the world, including the body, is insubstantial (‘dreams’, in Pulter’s terms), whilst that which is immaterial (God) is also that which is truly substantial and enduring.
Substances
(my Soul)
Cf. Prospero’s reflection in Shakespeare’sThe Tempest: ‘We are such stuff / As dreams are made on, and our little life / Is rounded with a sleep’ (ed. Alden T. Vaughan and Virginia Mason Vaughan, Arden Shakespeare Third Series, 4.1.156–8), a possible intertext which becomes more potent as Pulter’s next lines turn to the stage.
for dreams
7
The Scene is Sable, horrid Tragedies
The scene is sable; horrid tragedies
The Scene is
black
Sable
, horrid Tragedies
8
Are Acted here before my weeping eyes
Are acted here before my weeping eyes:
Are
Cf. John Clare’s lament that ‘most Nations of Christendome haue become the sable and mournfulle Theaters or stages, whereupon so many blouddy Tragedyes haue bene acted’ (The conuerted Iew, 1630, D3v). This turn of phrase may be influenced by Homer’s Iliad, whose narrator tells us, in Chapman’s famous translation, that the ‘Fates, that order sable death, enforc’t their tragedies’ (The Iliads of Homer prince of poets, 1611, O2v).
Acted
here before my weeping eyes
9
Art thou not weary of this diſmale Stage
Art thou not weary of this dismal stage?
Art thou not weary of this dismale
The world as stage was a commonplace analogy. For modern readers, it is most famously articulated in Jaques’ speech beginning ‘All the world’s a stage’ (As You Like It, 2.7.140; Arden Shakespeare, 3rd series, ed. Juliet Dusinberre, 2006). At least as influential, for Pulter and her contemporaries, was the work of Guillaume de Saluste du Bartas (1544–1590), who reflected, in Josuah Sylvester’s popular translation, ‘The Worlds’ [sic] a Stage, where Gods Omnipotence, / His Iustice, Knowledge, Loue, and Proudience, / Do act their Parts’ (Du Bartas his deuine weekes and workes translated … by Iosuah Syluester, 1611, C3v); and ‘I take the world to be but as a Stage, / Where net-maskt men doo play their personage. / ’Tis but a mummerie, and a pleasant showe; / Sith ouer all, strange vanities doo flowe’ (3D8r).
stage
10
Mee thin^ks I’ve liv’d a tedious pilgrimage
Methinks I’ve lived a tedious pilgrimage,
Mee thinks I’ve liv’d a
The idea of life as a ‘tedious pilgrimage’ draws on the extant Catholic tradition of a physical pilgrimage, which had migrated to a figurative or analogical sense for both Protestants and Catholics by this period. See also Aletheia’s Pearl [Poem 32]: ‘And looking further on from page to Page, / She found I would live a tedious Pilgrimage’). In The Revolution [Poem 16], the speaker terms herself ‘a wretched pilgrim’ (line 3), and in The Wish [Poem 52] ‘a weake and weary Pilgrim’ (line 8). The phrasing is by no means unique to Pulter: a beautifully-designed 1609 volume of collected prayers, for example, instructs Christians to lament to God: ‘I am greatly weary Lord of this life of tedious pilgrimage’ (The sinners glasse collected out of Saint Augustine and other ancient fathers, L1v). In a series of meditations upon du Bartas, Roger Cocks reflects: ‘he that liues the longest age, / Doth waste his life in tedious pilgrimage’ (Hebdomada sacra; A weekes deuotion (1630), C7v).
tedious pilgrimage
11
And now the Sepulcher I’ve reach’d at last
And now the
tomb
sepulchre
I’ve reached at last.
And now the
A tomb or grave, but specifically also the Holy Sepulchre, the cave in which, by tradition, Christ was buried outside the walls of Jerusalem; a key site of pilgrimage for Christians.
Sepulcher
I’ve reach’d at last
12
My Soule for love or feare make thou more hast,
My soul, for love or fear, make thou more haste;
My Soule for love or feare make thou more hast,
13
ffor Shame, rowſ up a little mend thy pace
For shame, rouse up a little! Mend thy pace.
For Shame,
rouse
rows
up a little mend thy pace
14
Tis Glory beckons and thou’rt led by Grace
’Tis glory beckons, and thou’rt led by grace.
Tis Glory beckons and thou’rt led by Grace
15
Then never care, Though Death abru^pt thy Story
Then never care, though death abrupt thy
life
story
;
Then never care, Though Death
sever, interrupt
abrupt
thy story
16
What thou wants here, Shall finish’d bee in Glory
What thou
lacks
wants
here shall finished be in glory.
What thou wants here, shall finish’d bee in
Pulter’s lineation and rhyme scheme here play with the quickening step of her imagined soul; ‘pace’ chimes with ‘Grace’, which leads the reader forward into the lines which follow. The word ‘Glory’ appears both at the start of the quatrain, ‘beckoning’ the soul forward, and, appropriately, at the end, so that, like the soul, these four tightly connected lines finish in ‘Glory’. ‘Story’ meant interchangeably a work of history, myth or fiction.
Glory
.
17
Then farewell Emptie Hono:r, pleaſure, We’lth
Then farewell, empty honor, pleasure, wealth,
Then farewell Emptie
In the manuscript, the word appears as ‘Hono:r’, a contraction which would more usually refer to a person (‘your honor’), and emphasizes the relationship between ‘empty honor’ and worldly titles.
Honor
, pleasure, We’lth
18
Physical Note
parentheses in lighter ink
(
And what
Physical Note
“mn” crowded in and written over earlier letter(s); “C” possibly crowded in later than surrounding letters
Cromns
all,) farewell my Youth, & Health,
And what crowns all, farewell my youth, and health.
Physical Note
Parentheses in lighter ink, possibly indicating that they were added later.
(
And what
Physical Note
“mn” crowded in and written over earlier letter(s); “C” possibly crowded in later than surrounding letters. It is unclear if Pulter had originally used another word, or if this is an error in the manuscript transcription. ‘Crowns all’ is the logical reading of the text as it stands, and Pulter’s characteristically thoughtful use of parentheses marks out this ‘crown’. The term primarily has the sense of that which adorns or finishes all other earthly attributes, but it also refers more generally to a circular shape; a ‘crown’ of sonnets is one in which each sonnet starts with the final line of the preceding poem. At this moment, the poem circles back to its beginning: the age and illness of the writer, recast here as lost ‘Youth, & Health’.
Crowns
all,) farewell my Youth, & Health,
19
To
Physical Note
in lighter ink, possibly in different hand from main scribe, with subscript caret inverted
^you
my Deareffreinds I will not bid Adue
To you, my friends, I will not bid adieu:
Critical Note
The manuscript reads ‘To ^you my Deare ffreinds I will not bid Adue’. ‘You’ is in a lighter ink and possibly a different hand. The substitution of ‘To you my freinds’ for ‘To my Deare freinds’ makes this address more direct, and may suggest Pulter’s awareness of coterie circulation, and the possibility of her ‘friends’ reading and responding to these poems. The speaker is looking forward to being reunited in heaven, although various makers and poets also imagined a more immediate reunification in the grave (see Donne’s ‘The Relic’ and the coffin-shaped jewel pictured in “Memento Mori,” among the Curations for this poem).
To you my Freinds I will not bid Adue
20
ffor in A happier place I Shall meet you.
For in a happier place I shall meet you.
For in A happier place I Shall meet you.
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Amplified Edition
Title note
Compare the title of this poem to Donne’s ‘Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness’ (‘Curations’), and to his Devotions upon emergent occasions, and severall steps in my sickness (London, 1624), to which Pulter makes explicit reference in The Welcome [Poem 19]. Pulter follows both a poetic and a devotional tradition in meditating upon her spiritual health at a moment of severe illness. Where Donne’s meditations spiral outwards to take in all of humankind as well as (in ‘Hymn to God’) questions of the shape and composition of the world, Pulter’s focus remains primarily personal and intimate, though also exemplary.
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

My approach to editing is broadly conservative, in the sense that I modernise only very lightly. I have regularised u/v and i/j, which were interchangeable in the period during which Pulter was writing, and have also regularised ‘ff’ to F. Otherwise, I have generally preserved Pulter’s spelling, and have attempted to represent some of Pulter’s characteristic uses of space (especially her lines and flourishes at the beginnings and ends of poems, which frequently contribute to meaning and interpretation). My annotations focus primarily on understanding the idiosyncratic ideas and densely-packed meanings of Pulter’s poems, though I also draw attention to questions of form, especially where I feel this contributes to or reinforces the complex arguments of Pulter’s verse.
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

We tend to think the sick want to recover, but this is not always true. This poem’s title asks us to casts a retrospective gaze on its scene of composition during Pulter’s experience as a patient, when she suffered, it seems, less from her illness than from her reluctance to die. After diagnosing the trouble with her heart and soul, she lambasts the latter for clinging to life despite its tragic and dismal nature. Such shaming turns to a rousing pep-talk as she encourages her soul to speed toward death in order to embrace the glory and grace of the afterlife. The poem seems to have achieved its end of turning the speaker’s thoughts resolutely toward her own end, since it winds up with a valediction to all her earthly goods—barring her friends, whom she anticipates meeting in heaven. With its concluding lines focused on dispersing the speaker’s worldly wealth in the company of loving witnesses (those friends), the poem manages to generate the aura of a deathbed scene; so much is belied, however, by the date in the title, which suggests Pulter still had to endure two more decades of life—decades including yet more illness of her own (referred to in "This Was Written in 1648, When I Lay in, With my Son John" (Poem 45) [Poem 45] and "Made When I Was Not Well" (Poem 51) [Poem 51]), the assassination of her beloved monarch ("On the Horrid Murder of that Incomparable Prince" (Poem 14) [Poem 14] and "Let None Sigh More for Lucas or for Lisle [On the Same [2]]" (Poem 15) [Poem 15]), and the deaths of almost all of her fifteen children: a “sable scene” indeed.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

This poem fits neatly onto one page, giving a fitting finality to its concluding farewell to the world. Like many of Pulter’s poems it meditates on the frailty of the body, identifying itself as written in a time of illness, in the tradition of Donne’s Devotions upon emergent occasions, but also in line with devotional advice provided by preachers and religious treatises, which instructed the good Christian to prepare for death. The poem engages with a tradition of staged poetic debates between body and soul, and with longstanding theological and natural philosophical traditions that meditated on their relationship, and asked questions about the nature and materiality of the soul.
Transcription

 Critical note

Pulter frequently uses pen lines to mark the beginning and/or the end of her poems. This opening line decisively marks out the year of composition, suggesting the importance, to Pulter, of memorialising the dates of her illness. The curled line that concludes the poem emphasises the last four words; its confident flourish offers a decisive confirmation of the poem’s resonant anticipation of a heavenly reunion.
Amplified Edition
Line number 1
‘Oh mee’ makes the ‘sighs’ of Pulter’s volume title and subtitle visible on the page. Throughout her poems, Pulter is alert to the power of sighs, which she frequently writes as ‘Ay mee’ (see, for example, the amplified edition of The Welcome [Poem 19] and O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul [Poem 28]). Sighs and groans were understood to be a fitting accompaniment to heartfelt prayer, as well as expressions of strong, otherwise inexpressible emotion, but they posed a challenge to both writers and printers who wanted to express them on the page. George Herbert frequently reflects on the power of sighs to effect spiritual change: in ‘The Affliction’ he reflects ‘My heart did heave, and there came forth, O God … / Had thou not had thy part, / Sure the unruly sigh had broke my heart’ (The Temple, London, 1633, C8v). Another poem in his devotional collection is titled ‘Sighs and Grones’.
Amplified Edition
Line number 1
causing bodily pain, but also severe
Amplified Edition
Line number 1
Meaning sorrowful, as now, but also, and more powerfully, ‘Dignified, grave, serious’ (OED, ‘sad’, adj. def. 3b). In other contexts, the word has a physical force, linked to heaviness and gravity, in the sense adopted as a term in physics around this time (def. III.8.a).
Amplified Edition
Line number 2
‘Loath’, meaning reluctant, but with a possible pun on the doctrinally correct attitude of ‘loathing’ towards the body; the speaker oscillates between attachment to and resentment of the flesh. Like O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul [Poem 28], this poem participates in the long tradition of poetic and theological debates about the relationship between the body and soul.
Amplified Edition
Line number 3
A specific reference to Pulter’s age, confirming that this poem was written in or around 1647.
Elemental Edition
Line number 4
of
Elemental Edition
Line number 4
moral or physical corruption
Amplified Edition
Line number 4
i.e. to the body, here, by metonymy, equated with its ‘rottenness’ (putrefaction). Pulter insists upon the present ‘rottenness’ of the body, even prior to its posthumous decay. In a treatise on the resurrection of bodies, published in 1640, the popular preacher and scholar Richard Sibbes reminded readers: ‘Those that die in much honour and pompe, and have their bodies imbalmed, doe all what they can with the body, it will come to dust and rottennesse; it will be vile in death’ (Evangellical Sacrifices. In xix. Sermons. … The third tome, Ee4v). The term has spiritual as well as physical connotations, describing ‘The state or quality of being morally corrupt; depravity; lack of integrity’ (OED, ‘rottenness’, def. 3), as in George Herbert’s poem, ‘The Church Porch’, which asks readers to weigh the pleasures of lust against the joys of moderation, and cautions, ‘If rottennesse have more, let Heaven go’ (‘Perirrhanteum’, in The Works of George Herbert, ed. F. E. Hutchinson (Oxford University Press, 1941), 6–24, line 18). Being ‘rotten’ suggests an inner weakness concealed beneath a healthy exterior, as in a rotten bough, or as in medical descriptions of festering sores. The term appears on several occasions in the Bible, most notably in Proverbs 12.4, ‘A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones’; Proverbs 14.30, ‘A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones’; and Habakkuk 3.16, ‘When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones …’ (all KJV).
Amplified Edition
Line number 5
Compare this with O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul [Poem 28], where Pulter describes the soul as ‘a Sparkle of that light / Which is invisible to our Mortall Sight’. The idea of God as invisible light dates back at least to Augustine (354–430), who described ‘That inuisible light … that seethe [seeth] plainely the vnspeakeable depthe of mans harte’ (see "Curations" below). Glossing this passage, William Austin argued that the light which God brought into being on the first day of creation ‘was (the Lux creata) Visible Light: But, he, that made it, is (Lux Increata) Invisible Light; which no man can see. … That Man might (therefore receive Perfection, hee breathed into him (also) an immortall Soule; whereby, he was capable of (Lux, Verbum) that Invisible light, (the word) that made the World’ (Devotionis Augustinianae flamma (1633), F1v–F2r).
Amplified Edition
Line number 6
‘Substance’ here has primarily a theological sense, referring to ‘The divine essence or nature, esp. as that in which the three persons of the Trinity are united as one’ (OED, ‘substance’, n.; a theology which Pulter possibly refers to here in her use of the plural rather than the singular). However, it also possessed its modern meaning of something physical or palpable. The irony here (as throughout Christian theology) is that the material stuff of the world, including the body, is insubstantial (‘dreams’, in Pulter’s terms), whilst that which is immaterial (God) is also that which is truly substantial and enduring.
Amplified Edition
Line number 6
Cf. Prospero’s reflection in Shakespeare’sThe Tempest: ‘We are such stuff / As dreams are made on, and our little life / Is rounded with a sleep’ (ed. Alden T. Vaughan and Virginia Mason Vaughan, Arden Shakespeare Third Series, 4.1.156–8), a possible intertext which becomes more potent as Pulter’s next lines turn to the stage.
Amplified Edition
Line number 7
black
Amplified Edition
Line number 8
Cf. John Clare’s lament that ‘most Nations of Christendome haue become the sable and mournfulle Theaters or stages, whereupon so many blouddy Tragedyes haue bene acted’ (The conuerted Iew, 1630, D3v). This turn of phrase may be influenced by Homer’s Iliad, whose narrator tells us, in Chapman’s famous translation, that the ‘Fates, that order sable death, enforc’t their tragedies’ (The Iliads of Homer prince of poets, 1611, O2v).
Amplified Edition
Line number 9
The world as stage was a commonplace analogy. For modern readers, it is most famously articulated in Jaques’ speech beginning ‘All the world’s a stage’ (As You Like It, 2.7.140; Arden Shakespeare, 3rd series, ed. Juliet Dusinberre, 2006). At least as influential, for Pulter and her contemporaries, was the work of Guillaume de Saluste du Bartas (1544–1590), who reflected, in Josuah Sylvester’s popular translation, ‘The Worlds’ [sic] a Stage, where Gods Omnipotence, / His Iustice, Knowledge, Loue, and Proudience, / Do act their Parts’ (Du Bartas his deuine weekes and workes translated … by Iosuah Syluester, 1611, C3v); and ‘I take the world to be but as a Stage, / Where net-maskt men doo play their personage. / ’Tis but a mummerie, and a pleasant showe; / Sith ouer all, strange vanities doo flowe’ (3D8r).
Amplified Edition
Line number 10
The idea of life as a ‘tedious pilgrimage’ draws on the extant Catholic tradition of a physical pilgrimage, which had migrated to a figurative or analogical sense for both Protestants and Catholics by this period. See also Aletheia’s Pearl [Poem 32]: ‘And looking further on from page to Page, / She found I would live a tedious Pilgrimage’). In The Revolution [Poem 16], the speaker terms herself ‘a wretched pilgrim’ (line 3), and in The Wish [Poem 52] ‘a weake and weary Pilgrim’ (line 8). The phrasing is by no means unique to Pulter: a beautifully-designed 1609 volume of collected prayers, for example, instructs Christians to lament to God: ‘I am greatly weary Lord of this life of tedious pilgrimage’ (The sinners glasse collected out of Saint Augustine and other ancient fathers, L1v). In a series of meditations upon du Bartas, Roger Cocks reflects: ‘he that liues the longest age, / Doth waste his life in tedious pilgrimage’ (Hebdomada sacra; A weekes deuotion (1630), C7v).
Elemental Edition
Line number 11
tomb
Amplified Edition
Line number 11
A tomb or grave, but specifically also the Holy Sepulchre, the cave in which, by tradition, Christ was buried outside the walls of Jerusalem; a key site of pilgrimage for Christians.
Amplified Edition
Line number 13
rouse
Elemental Edition
Line number 15
life
Amplified Edition
Line number 15
sever, interrupt
Elemental Edition
Line number 16
lacks
Amplified Edition
Line number 16
Pulter’s lineation and rhyme scheme here play with the quickening step of her imagined soul; ‘pace’ chimes with ‘Grace’, which leads the reader forward into the lines which follow. The word ‘Glory’ appears both at the start of the quatrain, ‘beckoning’ the soul forward, and, appropriately, at the end, so that, like the soul, these four tightly connected lines finish in ‘Glory’. ‘Story’ meant interchangeably a work of history, myth or fiction.
Amplified Edition
Line number 17
In the manuscript, the word appears as ‘Hono:r’, a contraction which would more usually refer to a person (‘your honor’), and emphasizes the relationship between ‘empty honor’ and worldly titles.
Transcription
Line number 18

 Physical note

parentheses in lighter ink
Transcription
Line number 18

 Physical note

“mn” crowded in and written over earlier letter(s); “C” possibly crowded in later than surrounding letters
Amplified Edition
Line number 18

 Physical note

Parentheses in lighter ink, possibly indicating that they were added later.
Amplified Edition
Line number 18

 Physical note

“mn” crowded in and written over earlier letter(s); “C” possibly crowded in later than surrounding letters. It is unclear if Pulter had originally used another word, or if this is an error in the manuscript transcription. ‘Crowns all’ is the logical reading of the text as it stands, and Pulter’s characteristically thoughtful use of parentheses marks out this ‘crown’. The term primarily has the sense of that which adorns or finishes all other earthly attributes, but it also refers more generally to a circular shape; a ‘crown’ of sonnets is one in which each sonnet starts with the final line of the preceding poem. At this moment, the poem circles back to its beginning: the age and illness of the writer, recast here as lost ‘Youth, & Health’.
Transcription
Line number 19

 Physical note

in lighter ink, possibly in different hand from main scribe, with subscript caret inverted
Amplified Edition
Line number 19

 Critical note

The manuscript reads ‘To ^you my Deare ffreinds I will not bid Adue’. ‘You’ is in a lighter ink and possibly a different hand. The substitution of ‘To you my freinds’ for ‘To my Deare freinds’ makes this address more direct, and may suggest Pulter’s awareness of coterie circulation, and the possibility of her ‘friends’ reading and responding to these poems. The speaker is looking forward to being reunited in heaven, although various makers and poets also imagined a more immediate reunification in the grave (see Donne’s ‘The Relic’ and the coffin-shaped jewel pictured in “Memento Mori,” among the Curations for this poem).
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
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