My Soul, Why Art Thou Full of Trouble?

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My Soul, Why Art Thou Full of Trouble?

Poem #40

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.

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
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X (Close panel)Notes: Transcription

 Editorial note

In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.
Line number 3

 Physical note

imperfectly erased apostrophe between the “d” and “s”
Line number 12

 Physical note

“ſ” possibly added later; “p” written over imperfectly erased letter with ascender
Line number 13

 Physical note

horizontal line above; this line is not separated by a gap from the line above
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Transcription
Transcription
[Untitled]
My Soul, Why Art Thou Full of Trouble?
AE TITLE
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

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

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
How do you comfort a troubled soul? Here, the answer rests in the promise of a future radical change, in metamorphosis as both a religious and poetic principle. While in neighboring poems, the speaker urges the soul to be patient until the glories of the afterlife, or to freely let go of its earthly body, here she offers reassurance that habitation on earth is merely temporary. The consolation offered is superficially cast in terms of a standard Christian duality of body versus soul. But, in fact, Pulter complicates the matter by warning the soul that its “mortal nature” will corrode to ashes and disintegrate to the fundamental Aristotelian elements. The body and soul emerge less as distinctive entities than fungible elements making up a being. This disruption of Christian orthodoxy continues when the speaker conditionally credits the Pythagorean theory that the soul transmigrates at death into the body of another creature. If Pythagoras is right, she reassures her anxious soul, it surely will evolve into a lamb or dove (Christian icons) rather than a lowly toad. Although the poem ends with the comforting finale in which the soul is swallowed into heaven with amnesia about its earthly existence, the core principle celebrated by the poem is the vitality of transmutation, registered in the poem’s content, in its uncertain shifts between first-and second-person address (which confuse soul and body), and in its formal rhyme words: “Then whether dissolution, / Or transmigration, / Or rolling revolution, / All ends in thy salvation.” The final twist is Pulter’s decision to write in what was known as “poulterer’s measure,” a popular ballad form of writing. The move away from rhymed couplets (to quatrains of alternating tetrameter and trimeter) performs Pulter’s investment in revolutions of form; and her playful use of a form that echoes her own name only highlights the witticism of what seems, at first glance, an orthodox lesson about the vanitas of the earthly realm.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
1
My Soul! why art though full of trouble?
My soul, why art thou full of trouble
2
And overwhelm’d with griefe:
And overwhelmed with grief?
3
Dost thou not know this
Physical Note
imperfectly erased apostrophe between the “d” and “s”
Worlds
a bubble?
Dost thou not know this world’s a bubble
4
And cannot Yield Relief.
And cannot yield relief?
5
This life’s a Dream, of Mirth, or Sorrow;
This life’s a dream of mirth or sorrow
6
Inveloped in Night:
Envelopéd in night;
7
The Resurrection’s like the Morrow,
The
Gloss Note
in Christianity, the rising to life of all dead people at the Last Judgment, the time when souls rejoin bodies
Resurrection’s
like the morrow,
8
As full of Life as Light.
As full of life as light.
9
Then Sleight theſe Terren hopes, as toyes;
Then slight these
Gloss Note
earthly
terrene
hopes, as
Gloss Note
trivial things
toys
;
10
Think thou of better things:
Think thou of better things.
11
ffrom all her Pleaſures, and her Joyes,
From all
Gloss Note
the Earth’s
her
pleasures and her joys,
12
Nought but Repentance
Physical Note
“ſ” possibly added later; “p” written over imperfectly erased letter with ascender
ſprings
.
Nought but repentance springs.
13
Physical Note
horizontal line above; this line is not separated by a gap from the line above
Thy
Mortall Nature nere deplore,
Thy mortal nature ne’er deplore,
14
Let Death work all her Spight:
Let Death work all her spite;
15
ffor thou shalt live, when Deaths noe more
For thou shalt live, when Death’s no more,
16
In everlasting Light.
In
Gloss Note
Heaven
everlasting light
.
17
What though thou into Aſhes turn,
What, though thou into ashes turn,
18
Thy Dust will find A Tomb:
Thy dust will find a tomb
19
Within Some (ſafe and) Silent Urn:
Within some safe and silent urn
20
In black Oblivians Womb.
In black Oblivion’s womb.
whether

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
21
Whether thou, Water, dos’t increaſe,
Whether thou water dost increase,
22
Or ffier, or Ayer, or Earth:
Or
Critical Note
in classical tradition, the four constitutive elements of the world and body; here Pulter understands her own death as contributing to the expansion and imbalance of one of these elements
fire, or air, or earth
;
23
Yet am I Sure, to Rest in Peace;
Yet am I sure to rest in peace;
24
My Soul aſſumes her Birth.
My soul
Gloss Note
adopts; receives; takes upon oneself; puts on (a garb, aspect, form, or character)
assumes
her birth.
25
And if Pythagoras Saw Clear,
And if
Gloss Note
Greek philosopher known for his theory of the transmigration of souls at death (the word “transmigration” appears in the next stanza). In this theory, souls could transfer across life forms, from human to animal. Pulter assures her soul that it will not take the low form of a frog, even if Pythagoras is right in principle about transmigration.
Pythagoras
saw clear,
26
Of this thou mayest Reſolve;
Of this thou mayest resolve:
27
Som Lamb, or Dove, then to apear,
Some lamb, or dove, then to appear,
28
Noe Toad Shall thee Involve:
No toad shall thee
Gloss Note
entangle, envelop
involve
.
29
Then whether Diſſolution,
Then whether
Critical Note
For the meter to be consistent in the first three lines of this stanza, the word “dissolution” as well as “transmigration,” and “revolution” (in the next lines) may have been pronounced each with five syllables (“tion” stretching into two syllables in each).
dissolution
,
30
Or Tranſmigration:
Or transmigration,
31
Or rowling Revolution,
Or rolling revolution,
32
All ends in thy Salvation.
All ends in thy salvation.
33
Nothing Shall then aflict my Soul,
Nothing shall then afflict my soul
34
That paſſeth here below:
That passeth here below;
35
ffor I above, (the Highest Pole
For I above the highest
Gloss Note
point of reference in the sky around which stars appear to revolve, or the point at which the earth’s axis meets heavens (derived from Ptolemy)
pole
36
Or Star) er’e long shall Goe.
Or star
Gloss Note
before
ere
long shall go.
37
fforget I Shall then my Sad Story,
Forget I shall, then, my
Gloss Note
life, narrative
sad story
;
38
And all my past annoys:
And all my past annoys
39
Shall Swallow’d bee of infinite Glory,
Shall swallowed be
Gloss Note
in
of
infinite glory
40
And Crownd with endleſ Joys.
And
Critical Note
glorified, blessed; adorned with; rewarded. See Revelation 2:10: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
crowned
with endless joys.
horizontal straight line
X (Close panel)Notes: Elemental Edition

 Editorial note

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

 Headnote

How do you comfort a troubled soul? Here, the answer rests in the promise of a future radical change, in metamorphosis as both a religious and poetic principle. While in neighboring poems, the speaker urges the soul to be patient until the glories of the afterlife, or to freely let go of its earthly body, here she offers reassurance that habitation on earth is merely temporary. The consolation offered is superficially cast in terms of a standard Christian duality of body versus soul. But, in fact, Pulter complicates the matter by warning the soul that its “mortal nature” will corrode to ashes and disintegrate to the fundamental Aristotelian elements. The body and soul emerge less as distinctive entities than fungible elements making up a being. This disruption of Christian orthodoxy continues when the speaker conditionally credits the Pythagorean theory that the soul transmigrates at death into the body of another creature. If Pythagoras is right, she reassures her anxious soul, it surely will evolve into a lamb or dove (Christian icons) rather than a lowly toad. Although the poem ends with the comforting finale in which the soul is swallowed into heaven with amnesia about its earthly existence, the core principle celebrated by the poem is the vitality of transmutation, registered in the poem’s content, in its uncertain shifts between first-and second-person address (which confuse soul and body), and in its formal rhyme words: “Then whether dissolution, / Or transmigration, / Or rolling revolution, / All ends in thy salvation.” The final twist is Pulter’s decision to write in what was known as “poulterer’s measure,” a popular ballad form of writing. The move away from rhymed couplets (to quatrains of alternating tetrameter and trimeter) performs Pulter’s investment in revolutions of form; and her playful use of a form that echoes her own name only highlights the witticism of what seems, at first glance, an orthodox lesson about the vanitas of the earthly realm.
Line number 7

 Gloss note

in Christianity, the rising to life of all dead people at the Last Judgment, the time when souls rejoin bodies
Line number 9

 Gloss note

earthly
Line number 9

 Gloss note

trivial things
Line number 11

 Gloss note

the Earth’s
Line number 16

 Gloss note

Heaven
Line number 22

 Critical note

in classical tradition, the four constitutive elements of the world and body; here Pulter understands her own death as contributing to the expansion and imbalance of one of these elements
Line number 24

 Gloss note

adopts; receives; takes upon oneself; puts on (a garb, aspect, form, or character)
Line number 25

 Gloss note

Greek philosopher known for his theory of the transmigration of souls at death (the word “transmigration” appears in the next stanza). In this theory, souls could transfer across life forms, from human to animal. Pulter assures her soul that it will not take the low form of a frog, even if Pythagoras is right in principle about transmigration.
Line number 28

 Gloss note

entangle, envelop
Line number 29

 Critical note

For the meter to be consistent in the first three lines of this stanza, the word “dissolution” as well as “transmigration,” and “revolution” (in the next lines) may have been pronounced each with five syllables (“tion” stretching into two syllables in each).
Line number 35

 Gloss note

point of reference in the sky around which stars appear to revolve, or the point at which the earth’s axis meets heavens (derived from Ptolemy)
Line number 36

 Gloss note

before
Line number 37

 Gloss note

life, narrative
Line number 39

 Gloss note

in
Line number 40

 Critical note

glorified, blessed; adorned with; rewarded. See Revelation 2:10: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Elemental Edition
Elemental Edition
[Untitled]
My Soul, Why Art Thou Full of Trouble?
AE TITLE
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

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

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
How do you comfort a troubled soul? Here, the answer rests in the promise of a future radical change, in metamorphosis as both a religious and poetic principle. While in neighboring poems, the speaker urges the soul to be patient until the glories of the afterlife, or to freely let go of its earthly body, here she offers reassurance that habitation on earth is merely temporary. The consolation offered is superficially cast in terms of a standard Christian duality of body versus soul. But, in fact, Pulter complicates the matter by warning the soul that its “mortal nature” will corrode to ashes and disintegrate to the fundamental Aristotelian elements. The body and soul emerge less as distinctive entities than fungible elements making up a being. This disruption of Christian orthodoxy continues when the speaker conditionally credits the Pythagorean theory that the soul transmigrates at death into the body of another creature. If Pythagoras is right, she reassures her anxious soul, it surely will evolve into a lamb or dove (Christian icons) rather than a lowly toad. Although the poem ends with the comforting finale in which the soul is swallowed into heaven with amnesia about its earthly existence, the core principle celebrated by the poem is the vitality of transmutation, registered in the poem’s content, in its uncertain shifts between first-and second-person address (which confuse soul and body), and in its formal rhyme words: “Then whether dissolution, / Or transmigration, / Or rolling revolution, / All ends in thy salvation.” The final twist is Pulter’s decision to write in what was known as “poulterer’s measure,” a popular ballad form of writing. The move away from rhymed couplets (to quatrains of alternating tetrameter and trimeter) performs Pulter’s investment in revolutions of form; and her playful use of a form that echoes her own name only highlights the witticism of what seems, at first glance, an orthodox lesson about the vanitas of the earthly realm.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
1
My Soul! why art though full of trouble?
My soul, why art thou full of trouble
2
And overwhelm’d with griefe:
And overwhelmed with grief?
3
Dost thou not know this
Physical Note
imperfectly erased apostrophe between the “d” and “s”
Worlds
a bubble?
Dost thou not know this world’s a bubble
4
And cannot Yield Relief.
And cannot yield relief?
5
This life’s a Dream, of Mirth, or Sorrow;
This life’s a dream of mirth or sorrow
6
Inveloped in Night:
Envelopéd in night;
7
The Resurrection’s like the Morrow,
The
Gloss Note
in Christianity, the rising to life of all dead people at the Last Judgment, the time when souls rejoin bodies
Resurrection’s
like the morrow,
8
As full of Life as Light.
As full of life as light.
9
Then Sleight theſe Terren hopes, as toyes;
Then slight these
Gloss Note
earthly
terrene
hopes, as
Gloss Note
trivial things
toys
;
10
Think thou of better things:
Think thou of better things.
11
ffrom all her Pleaſures, and her Joyes,
From all
Gloss Note
the Earth’s
her
pleasures and her joys,
12
Nought but Repentance
Physical Note
“ſ” possibly added later; “p” written over imperfectly erased letter with ascender
ſprings
.
Nought but repentance springs.
13
Physical Note
horizontal line above; this line is not separated by a gap from the line above
Thy
Mortall Nature nere deplore,
Thy mortal nature ne’er deplore,
14
Let Death work all her Spight:
Let Death work all her spite;
15
ffor thou shalt live, when Deaths noe more
For thou shalt live, when Death’s no more,
16
In everlasting Light.
In
Gloss Note
Heaven
everlasting light
.
17
What though thou into Aſhes turn,
What, though thou into ashes turn,
18
Thy Dust will find A Tomb:
Thy dust will find a tomb
19
Within Some (ſafe and) Silent Urn:
Within some safe and silent urn
20
In black Oblivians Womb.
In black Oblivion’s womb.
whether

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
21
Whether thou, Water, dos’t increaſe,
Whether thou water dost increase,
22
Or ffier, or Ayer, or Earth:
Or
Critical Note
in classical tradition, the four constitutive elements of the world and body; here Pulter understands her own death as contributing to the expansion and imbalance of one of these elements
fire, or air, or earth
;
23
Yet am I Sure, to Rest in Peace;
Yet am I sure to rest in peace;
24
My Soul aſſumes her Birth.
My soul
Gloss Note
adopts; receives; takes upon oneself; puts on (a garb, aspect, form, or character)
assumes
her birth.
25
And if Pythagoras Saw Clear,
And if
Gloss Note
Greek philosopher known for his theory of the transmigration of souls at death (the word “transmigration” appears in the next stanza). In this theory, souls could transfer across life forms, from human to animal. Pulter assures her soul that it will not take the low form of a frog, even if Pythagoras is right in principle about transmigration.
Pythagoras
saw clear,
26
Of this thou mayest Reſolve;
Of this thou mayest resolve:
27
Som Lamb, or Dove, then to apear,
Some lamb, or dove, then to appear,
28
Noe Toad Shall thee Involve:
No toad shall thee
Gloss Note
entangle, envelop
involve
.
29
Then whether Diſſolution,
Then whether
Critical Note
For the meter to be consistent in the first three lines of this stanza, the word “dissolution” as well as “transmigration,” and “revolution” (in the next lines) may have been pronounced each with five syllables (“tion” stretching into two syllables in each).
dissolution
,
30
Or Tranſmigration:
Or transmigration,
31
Or rowling Revolution,
Or rolling revolution,
32
All ends in thy Salvation.
All ends in thy salvation.
33
Nothing Shall then aflict my Soul,
Nothing shall then afflict my soul
34
That paſſeth here below:
That passeth here below;
35
ffor I above, (the Highest Pole
For I above the highest
Gloss Note
point of reference in the sky around which stars appear to revolve, or the point at which the earth’s axis meets heavens (derived from Ptolemy)
pole
36
Or Star) er’e long shall Goe.
Or star
Gloss Note
before
ere
long shall go.
37
fforget I Shall then my Sad Story,
Forget I shall, then, my
Gloss Note
life, narrative
sad story
;
38
And all my past annoys:
And all my past annoys
39
Shall Swallow’d bee of infinite Glory,
Shall swallowed be
Gloss Note
in
of
infinite glory
40
And Crownd with endleſ Joys.
And
Critical Note
glorified, blessed; adorned with; rewarded. See Revelation 2:10: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
crowned
with endless joys.
horizontal 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 is to make the poems accessible to the largest variety of readers, which involves modernizing spelling and punctuation as well as adding basic glosses. Spelling and punctuation reflect current standard American usage; punctuation highlights syntax which might otherwise be obscure. Outmoded but still familiar word forms (“thou,” “‘tis,” “hold’st”) are not modernized, and we do not modernize grammar when the sense remains legible. After a brief headnote aimed at offering a “way in” to the poem’s unique qualities and connections with other verse by Pulter or her contemporaries, the edition features a minimum of notes and interpretative framing to allow more immediate engagement with the poem. Glosses clarify synonyms or showcase various possible meanings in Pulter’s time. Other notes identify named people and places or clarify obscure material. We rely (without citation) primarily on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the Oxford Reference database, and the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. When we rely on Alice Eardley’s edition of Pulter’s work, we cite her text generally (“Eardley”); other sources are cited in full. The result is an edition we consider a springboard for further work on Pulter’s poetry. See full conventions for this edition here.
Amplified Edition

 Editorial note

Elemental Edition

 Headnote

How do you comfort a troubled soul? Here, the answer rests in the promise of a future radical change, in metamorphosis as both a religious and poetic principle. While in neighboring poems, the speaker urges the soul to be patient until the glories of the afterlife, or to freely let go of its earthly body, here she offers reassurance that habitation on earth is merely temporary. The consolation offered is superficially cast in terms of a standard Christian duality of body versus soul. But, in fact, Pulter complicates the matter by warning the soul that its “mortal nature” will corrode to ashes and disintegrate to the fundamental Aristotelian elements. The body and soul emerge less as distinctive entities than fungible elements making up a being. This disruption of Christian orthodoxy continues when the speaker conditionally credits the Pythagorean theory that the soul transmigrates at death into the body of another creature. If Pythagoras is right, she reassures her anxious soul, it surely will evolve into a lamb or dove (Christian icons) rather than a lowly toad. Although the poem ends with the comforting finale in which the soul is swallowed into heaven with amnesia about its earthly existence, the core principle celebrated by the poem is the vitality of transmutation, registered in the poem’s content, in its uncertain shifts between first-and second-person address (which confuse soul and body), and in its formal rhyme words: “Then whether dissolution, / Or transmigration, / Or rolling revolution, / All ends in thy salvation.” The final twist is Pulter’s decision to write in what was known as “poulterer’s measure,” a popular ballad form of writing. The move away from rhymed couplets (to quatrains of alternating tetrameter and trimeter) performs Pulter’s investment in revolutions of form; and her playful use of a form that echoes her own name only highlights the witticism of what seems, at first glance, an orthodox lesson about the vanitas of the earthly realm.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

Transcription
Line number 3

 Physical note

imperfectly erased apostrophe between the “d” and “s”
Elemental Edition
Line number 7

 Gloss note

in Christianity, the rising to life of all dead people at the Last Judgment, the time when souls rejoin bodies
Elemental Edition
Line number 9

 Gloss note

earthly
Elemental Edition
Line number 9

 Gloss note

trivial things
Elemental Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

the Earth’s
Transcription
Line number 12

 Physical note

“ſ” possibly added later; “p” written over imperfectly erased letter with ascender
Transcription
Line number 13

 Physical note

horizontal line above; this line is not separated by a gap from the line above
Elemental Edition
Line number 16

 Gloss note

Heaven
Elemental Edition
Line number 22

 Critical note

in classical tradition, the four constitutive elements of the world and body; here Pulter understands her own death as contributing to the expansion and imbalance of one of these elements
Elemental Edition
Line number 24

 Gloss note

adopts; receives; takes upon oneself; puts on (a garb, aspect, form, or character)
Elemental Edition
Line number 25

 Gloss note

Greek philosopher known for his theory of the transmigration of souls at death (the word “transmigration” appears in the next stanza). In this theory, souls could transfer across life forms, from human to animal. Pulter assures her soul that it will not take the low form of a frog, even if Pythagoras is right in principle about transmigration.
Elemental Edition
Line number 28

 Gloss note

entangle, envelop
Elemental Edition
Line number 29

 Critical note

For the meter to be consistent in the first three lines of this stanza, the word “dissolution” as well as “transmigration,” and “revolution” (in the next lines) may have been pronounced each with five syllables (“tion” stretching into two syllables in each).
Elemental Edition
Line number 35

 Gloss note

point of reference in the sky around which stars appear to revolve, or the point at which the earth’s axis meets heavens (derived from Ptolemy)
Elemental Edition
Line number 36

 Gloss note

before
Elemental Edition
Line number 37

 Gloss note

life, narrative
Elemental Edition
Line number 39

 Gloss note

in
Elemental Edition
Line number 40

 Critical note

glorified, blessed; adorned with; rewarded. See Revelation 2:10: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
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