Of a Young Lady at Oxford, 1646

X (Close panel) Sources

Of a Young Lady at Oxford, 1646

Poem 43

Original Source

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

Versions

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

  • Transcription of manuscript: By Leah Knight and Wendy Wall.
  • Elemental edition: By Leah Knight and Wendy Wall.
  • Amplified edition: By Lara Dodds.

How to cite these versions

Conventions for these editions

The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making

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

Index of Poems

(loading…)
X (Close panel)Notes: Transcription
Title note

 Physical note

straight line under second half of “Oxford” and all of “1646”; end of previous poem occupies top of page

 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

struck-through with multiple horizontal lines; “noe wonder” directly above “then”
Line number 7

 Physical note

“h” in H2
Line number 19

 Physical note

“y” appears corrected from earlier “i”
Line number 22

 Physical note

in H2
Line number 38

 Physical note

third “i” appears written over “u”
Line number 40

 Physical note

“w” written over other letter
Line number 44

 Physical note

“st” crowded between surrounding words
Line number 56

 Physical note

written over illegible erased word(s)
Line number 56

 Physical note

in H2
Line number 65

 Physical note

"sle" written over earlier letters
Line number 70

 Physical note

“e” imperfectly erased
Line number 74

 Physical note

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

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
Of A young Lady at
Physical Note
straight line under second half of “Oxford” and all of “1646”; end of previous poem occupies top of page
Oxford 1646
Of a Young Lady at
Critical Note
Oxford was a royalist stronghold in the first English civil war, which ended in 1646 with royalist surrender to parliamentary opponents.
Oxford, 1646
Of a Young Lady at
Critical Note
Oxford was a Royalist stronghold and home to King Charles’s court during the First Civil War (1642-46). Oxford was besieged by Parliamentarian forces for three months in Spring 1646, and the Royalist garrison surrendered to General Thomas Fairfax on 24 June 1646. The reference to the death of Sir George Lucas and Sir Charles Lisle later in the poem indicates that the poem must have been completed in 1648 or later; however, the date in the title suggests that the story in the first half of the poem may be associated with the siege of Oxford.
Oxford, 1646
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

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

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

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
What was a young lady doing at Oxford in 1646? Shooting herself, according to Pulter, who reports what sounds like a cross between melodrama and a news bulletin of yet another example of the never-ending collateral damage of war. The speaker’s point, however, is not to regret this instance of self-murder, but to ennoble it through analogy with various other female suicides, before criticizing her own soul for lingering on earth despite allegedly loving Christ and seeking union with him in heaven. As part of a pep-talk to speed her own death, the speaker takes various rhetorical tacks. She recounts her inspired vision of the crucifixion, for instance, and compares Christ’s extraordinary heroism favorably with exemplary male friends who died for one another (since Christ outdid them by dying, not for his friends, but the “foes” of depraved humanity). All this is canvassed as part of the speaker’s somewhat haranguing campaign for her soul to leave her body without delay: a goal the young lady accomplished with the pull of a trigger, but which the Christian speaker, despite her evident admiration of this act and yearning for death, cannot achieve in the same manner while remaining loyal to her self-sacrificing (if not quite suicidal) “Redeemer.”

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
In “Of a Young Lady at Oxford, 1646,” Pulter develops complex relationships between political, erotic, and religious registers. The poem’s title refers to the anecdote that takes up about the first third of the poem, which describes the deaths of an unnamed pair of lovers during the Siege of Oxford in 1646. When the Lady learns that her lover, a Royalist soldier, has died in battle, she takes her own life in imitation of famous female suicides, Lucrece and Thisbe. This exemplum of erotic devotion, which Pulter describes as “earthy love,” prompts the speaker’s reflection upon the state of her soul. In an extended apostrophe to her soul, the speaker questions how her soul can desire to stay on earth when Christ, the soul’s proper companion, has already left it. Pulter mirrors the anecdote in the first part of the poem with the examples of five pairs—brothers, friends, lovers, and soldiers—who are famous for their devotion and willingness to die for one another. These exempla raise questions about whether different forms of human devotion are models for (or imitations of) the soul’s desire for union with Christ. The middle of the poem, however, includes several Biblical allusions that frame and reframe the classical allusions that begin and end the poem. While the unnamed Lady and the famous male heroes sacrifice themselves for friends or lovers, Christ dies for humans who are enemies (“cursed foes”) by dint of their sins (Romans 5: 7-8), a sacrifice that informs the speaker’s final, urgent questioning of her own soul.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
A Noble pair in Love without Compare
A noble pair, in love without compare,
A noble pair in love without compare,
2
Heroick Spirits both Lovly and fair
Heroic spirits both, lovely and fair,
Heroic spirits both lovely and fair,
3
Whoſe Hearts were Counterchanged then
Physical Note
struck-through with multiple horizontal lines; “noe wonder” directly above “then”
then^noe wonder
Whose hearts were
Gloss Note
exchanged
counterchanged
—then no wonder
Whose hearts were counterchanged; then no wonder,
4
They could not poſſible Subsist aſunder
They could not possibly subsist asunder.
They could not possibly subsist asunder.
5
Hee in this Grand Rebellion Late was kild
He, in this grand
Gloss Note
English civil war
rebellion
late was killed
He in this grand rebellion late was killed.
6
ffor his good King his Loyall Blood was ſpild
For his good king; his loyal blood was spilled,
For his good king his loyal blood was spilled,
7
Which from the pregnant
Physical Note
“h” in H2
earth
Sprung up in fame
Which from the pregnant earth sprung up in fame,
Which from the pregnant earth sprung up in fame
8
Honouring him with a never dying Name
Honoring him with a never-dying name.
Honoring him with a never dying name.
9
This Gallant Las, thus having lost her Love
This gallant lass, thus having lost her love,
This gallant lass thus having lost her love,
10
Disdaind to imitate the Turtle Dove
Disdained to imitate the
Critical Note
a bird noted for affection to its mate
turtledove
,
Disdained to imitate the
Critical Note
birds renowned for their monogamy and devotion. The turtledove is the subject of “The Poor Turtledove” (Emblem 20) [Poem 85].
turtledove
,
11
Who mourning Sits upon a withred Spray
Who mourning sits upon a withered
Gloss Note
twig or shoot
spray
:
Who mourning sits upon a withered spray.
12
Her Noble Heart Refuſd to Live one Day
Her noble heart refused to live one day
Her noble heart refused to live one day
13
Without her Love, earth noe contentment yields
Without her love. Earth no contentment yields.
Without her love. Earth no contentment yields.
14
Shee vowes to follow him to the Elizian ffields
She vows to follow him to the
Critical Note
In Greek myth, this was the paradisal place where heroes went after death.
Elysian fields
,
She vows to follow him to the
Critical Note
in Greek mythology, a blessed land where heroes live happily after their deaths.
Elysian fields
;
then

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
15
Then takes a Pistol in her Snowey Hand
Then takes a pistol in her snowy hand.
Then takes a pistol in her snowy hand,
16
Like a Roman Lucrece Soe did Shee Stand
Like a Roman
Critical Note
Lucrece was a married Roman woman who, after being brutally raped, chose to commit suicide rather than live in perceived dishonor.
Lucrece
, so did she stand,
Like a Roman Lucrece so did she stand
17
Who did prefer her Honour ’fore her Life
Who did prefer her honor
Gloss Note
before
’fore
her life,
Who did prefer her honor ’fore her life
18
And in her trembling Boſom thrust her Knife
And in her trembling bosom thrust her knife;
And in her trembling bosom thrust her knife;
19
Or like that
Physical Note
“y” appears corrected from earlier “i”
Babylonish
Virgin Sweet
Or like that
Critical Note
Thisbe, in love with Pyramus, kills herself when she thinks him dead.
Babylonish virgin
sweet
Or like that Babylonish virgin sweet
20
Who Saw her Love lie bleeding at her feet
Who saw her love lie bleeding at her feet—
Who saw her love lie bleeding at her feet
21
Shee with his Sword, her Spotles Breast did pierce
She, with his sword, her spotless breast did pierce,
She with his sword, her spotless breast did pierce
22
Which makes her live Still in
Physical Note
in H2
\im \
Mortal verſ
Which makes her live still in immortal verse—
Which makes her live
Critical Note
the young lady of Oxford is compared to two famous women whose suicides are also memorialized in poetry: Lucrece, who killed herself after she was raped by Tarquin in 510 BCE, and Thisbe (“Babylonish virgin sweet”) who commits suicide after she discovers the death (also a suicide) of her lover Pyramus. The stories of both of these women have repeatedly been the subject of poetry. Ovid writes of Lucrece in book II of Fasti, and Shakespeare adopts the story in The Rape of Lucrece (1594). The earliest version of the Pyramus and Thisbe story is found in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (book 4). Shakespeare uses this story for the plot of the play-within-a-play in A Midsummer’s Night Dream and also adapts it in Romeo and Juliet. Pulter updates these tales of heroic female suicide by including a modern weapon (the pistol).
still in immortal verse
;
23
Soe this Heroick Maid display’d her Breast
So this heroic maid displayed her breast
So this heroic maid displayed her breast,
24
On which the God of Love was proud to Rest
On which the
Gloss Note
Cupid
god of love
was proud to rest;
On which the god of love was proud to rest,
25
The Sulpherus mouth plac’d at her generous Heart
The sulfurous
Gloss Note
i.e., of the gun
mouth
placed at her generous heart,
The sulfurous mouth placed at her generous heart,
26
Her Noble Mind triumphs or’e Death and Smart
Her noble mind triumphs o’er death and
Gloss Note
pain; grief
smart
.
Critical Note
Pulter interprets the Lady’s suicide as heroic, which corresponds to Stoic philosophy but is in conflict with Christian ethics. I have not been able to identify a specific historical analogue for the anecdote of a young lady’s suicide in Oxford during the Civil Wars, though the mixture specific historical details with classical precedent suggests that more research is warranted. If this story is fictional, Pulter has invented her own “fable” to place beside the classical exempla cited in the poem. If the story is historical, it is notable that Pulter does not condemn the Lady’s suicide, but interprets it as evidence of her nobility of spirit.
Her noble mind triumphs o’er death and smart
.
27
To Heaven Shee Rowls her Sparkling dieing Eyes
To Heaven she rolls her sparkling, dying eyes;
To Heaven she rolls her sparkling dying eyes;
28
ffrom her undaunted Breast her Spirit fflyes
From her undaunted breast her spirit flies.
From her undaunted breast her spirit flies,
29
Even Soe a Spotles Lylley ffals and Dies
Even so a spotless lily falls and dies.
Even so a spotless lily falls and dies.
30
As this declares a m^agnanimous Spirit
As this declares a
Gloss Note
noble; courageous
magnanimous
spirit,
As this declares a magnanimous spirit,
31
Soe Shee the Glory of it doth inherit
So she the glory of it doth inherit.
So she the glory of it doth inherit.
32
This Shee did doe to follow Earthey Love
This she did do to follow earthy love,
This she did do to follow
Critical Note
“consisting of earth, or of material resembling earth. Also used fig. of the human body, esp. a dead body” (OED "earthy" n. 1.c.). Pulter’s use of “earthy” rather than the more common “earthly” may reflect the interest in the elements displayed elsewhere in her poetry. See O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul [Poem 28] and The Invocation of the Elements [Poem 41].
earthy
love,
33
And thou my Soule whoſe Joys and Hope’s aboue
And thou, my soul, whose joys and hopes above
And thou, my soul, whose joys and hopes above
34
Are placed Still Hanckrest hovering here below
Are placed, still
Gloss Note
lingers
hank’rest
, hovering here below:
Are placed, still hankerest, hovering here below.
35
Oh when wilt thou to thy Redeemer goe
O, when wilt thou to thy Redeemer go?
Oh, when wilt thou to thy redeemer go?
36
Thou keep’st a ffluttring here bout thiſ baſe earth
Thou keep’st afluttering here ’bout this base earth.
Thou keep’st afluttering here ’bout this base earth;
37
My Soul I doubt thou dos’t forget thy Birth
My soul, I
Gloss Note
fear; suspect
doubt
thou dost forget thy birth:
My soul, I doubt thou dost forget thy birth.
thou

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
38
Thou art a Ray of that
Physical Note
third “i” appears written over “u”
inviſible
Light
Thou art a ray of that invisible light:
Thou art a ray of that invisible light,
39
Thy wings noe impeing need, then take thy ffleight
Thy wings no
Gloss Note
engrafting feathers in a bird’s wing to remedy losses or deficiencies, and so restore or improve the powers of flight
imping
need; then take thy flight!
Thy wings no
Critical Note
“to engraft feathers in the wing of a bird, so as to make good losses or deficiencies” (OED "imp," v. 4.). Compare to George Herbert’s “Easter Wings,” in which the speaker desires to “imp” his wing on Christ: “For, if I imp my wing on thine, / Affliction shall advance the flight in me.”
imping
need, then take thy flight.
40
Leav then this
Physical Note
“w” written over other letter
Low
and Gloomey earthly Spheir
Leave then this low and gloomy earthly sphere;
Leave then this low and gloomy earthly sphere.
41
What dost thou mean, what dost thou hope, or fear
What dost thou mean—what dost thou hope, or fear?
What dost thou mean? What dost thou hope, or fear?
42
Tell mee is thy eternall buſines here
Tell me, is thy eternal business here?
Tell me, is thy eternal business here?
43
Hee whom thou lovest is gone, to Heaven hee’s ffled
He whom thou lovest is gone: to Heaven He’s fled.
He whom thou lovest is gone; to Heaven he’s fled.
44
Why dost thou Seek the Living
Physical Note
“st” crowded between surrounding words
amongst
the Dead
Why dost thou seek the living amongst the dead?
Critical Note
Pulter alludes to Luke 24:5: “And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?” (AV)
Why dost thou seek the living amongst the dead?
45
My active ffaith took wing and Late did fly
My active faith took wing and late did fly
My active faith took wing and late did fly
46
Upto the top of Canaans Calvary
Up to the top of
Critical Note
Calvary was where Christ was crucified; Canaan is the biblical promised land.
Canaan’s Calvary
;
Up to the top of Canaan’s
Critical Note
the location of Christ’s crucifixion.
Calvary
.
47
There did I See with ffaiths Resplendent Eye
There did I see, with faith’s
Gloss Note
shining, brilliant
resplendent
eye,
There did I see with
Critical Note
Pulter describes her faith as an “active” aid to vision. The “resplendent” (shining) eye of faith allows her to “see” the crucifixion of Christ. Compare to This Was Written in 1648, When I Lay In, With my Son John [Poem 45] in which the speaker’s “thoughts” allow a vision of the planets.
faith’s resplendent eye
48
The ffountain of all Love my Saviour Die
The fountain of all love, my Saviour, die.
The fountain of all love, my savior, die.
49
There did Longuives Peirce that guiltles brest
There did
Critical Note
Longeus, Longius, or Longinus is the traditional name for the Roman soldier at the Crucifixion who pierced Christ’s side with his spear to ensure that Christ was dead.
Longuives
pierce that guiltless breast
There did
Critical Note
the name traditionally given to the Roman soldier who pierced Jesus with his lance. See John 19:34: “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out of blood and water” (AV).
Longinus
pierce that guiltless brest
50
In which the ffaithfull Shall in Glory Rest
In which the faithful shall in glory rest.
In which the faithful shall in glory rest.
51
Ay mee there did his dieing Quickni^ng Blood
Ay me, there did His dying,
Gloss Note
life-giving
quickening
blood
Ay me! There did his dying
Critical Note
“to come or bring to life” (OED, "quicken," v. 1.); “dying quickening blood” is a paradox, suggesting that Christ’s blood renews life through death.
quickening
blood
52
fflow from his Side for our eternal good
Flow from His side for our eternal good;
Flow from his side for our eternal good.
53
To Heaven his Righteous Soul did take his fflieght
To Heaven His righteous soul did take His flight,
To Heaven his righteous soul did take his flight,
54
Leaving the Univerſ Lapt up in Night
Leaving the universe lapped up in night.
Critical Note
upon the death of his body, Christ’s soul returns to Heaven, leaving all of the created universe in darkness (“lapped up in night”). Compare Of Night and Morning [Poem 5].
Leaving the universe lapped up in night
.
55
O admirable, unparraleld affection
O admirable, unparalleled affection,
O admirable, unparalleled affection;
56
Thus by \
Physical Note
written over illegible erased word(s)
his fall
Physical Note
in H2
his ffall \
recovering o:r defection
Thus, by His fall, recovering our
Gloss Note
imperfection, shortcoming; abandonment of one’s religion, moral duty, cause or country
defection
!
Thus by his fall recovering our defection.
57
I am amazed at his infinite Love
I am amazed at His infinite love;
I am amazed at his infinite love;
58
ffor ^us hee left his Glorious Throne aboue
For us he left his glorious throne above.
For us he left his glorious throne above.
59
Though for a good Man one would Deign to die
Though for a good man one would
Gloss Note
condescend; graciously accept
deign
to die,
Though for a good man one would deign to die,
60
Yet who would doe Soe for his enemie
Yet who would do so for his enemy?
Critical Note
Pulter paraphrases Romans 5:7-8: “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (AV). This allusion frames the exempla that follow because each includes sacrifice on behalf of a friend or “good man” rather than an enemy, while Christ dies for humans who are his “cursed foes.”
Yet who would do so for his enemy
?

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
61
Damon, and Pithias, would Die for one another
Critical Note
In classical legend, these faithful friends each strove to save the other from a sentence of death.
Damon and Pythias
would die for one another;
Damon and Pythias would die for one another,
62
Pollux divided Splendour with his Brother
Critical Note
Zeus changed Pollux and his twin brother, Castor, into the constellation Gemini after Castor died and Pollux refused to part from him.
Pollux
divided splendor with his brother;
Pollux divided splendor with his brother,
63
Patrocles, and Achillis, loues excell
Critical Note
In classical myth, these were Greek soldiers in the Trojan war. When Patroclus is killed by Hector, Achilles (who has until then refused to fight) avenges his best friend’s death by returning to battle and killing Hector.
Patroclus and Achilles
’s loves excel;
Patroclus’ and Achilles’ loves excel,
64
Theſeus reveng’d Perithous death in Hell
Critical Note
Theseus and Pirithous were close comrades who went to Hades; Theseus survived, but Pirithous did not.
Theseus revenged Pirithous’s death in Hell
;
Theseus revenged Pirithous’ death in Hell,
65
When lovly
Physical Note
"sle" written over earlier letters
Liſle
Saw Lucas Bleeding Lie
When lovely
Critical Note
George Lisle and Charles Lucas were Royalist commanders in the siege of Colchester during the English civil war, who were executed by a firing squad without trial after their defeat and capture at Colchester in 1648. See Pulter’s On Those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas.
Lisle saw Lucas
bleeding lie,
When lovely Lisle saw Lucas bleeding lie,
66
Hee on his trembling Booſome Strait did die
He on his trembling bosom straight did die.
He on his trembling bosom straight did die.
67
Thus doe theſe Storyes and theſe ffables teach
Thus do these
Gloss Note
i.e., histories
stories
and these fables teach
Critical Note
Pulter identifies five famous pairs to serve as partial analogues for Christ’s love and sacrifice for humans: 1) Damon offered himself as surety for his friend Pythias; 2) The immortal Pollux offered to share his immortality with his mortal twin Castor; 3) Patroclus is killed by Hector, and Achilles returns to battle to avenge the death of his lover; 4) Theseus and his friend Pirithous attempt travel to the underworld, where they intend to capture Persephone so Pirithous can marry her; when they fail, Pirithous is stranded in the underworld, and Theseus tries, and fails, to rescue him; 5) Lucas and Lisle are well known Royalist soldiers who were captured and executed by Parliamentarian forces at Colchester in 1648. While there is quite a bit of variation in the “love” demonstrated by each of these stories, the final pair is distinct because they are Pulter’s contemporaries. Lucas and Lisle were considered Royalist martyrs and were commemorated in numerous panegyrics and poems. See also Pulter’s On Those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas, Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester [Poem 7].
Thus do these stories and these fables teach
,
68
And Shew to us how fare our Love may Reach
And show to us how far our love may reach;
And show to us how far our love may reach.
69
But^hee (my Soul) his precious Blood did loſe
But He (my soul) His precious blood did lose
But he (my soul) his precious blood did lose
70
ffor us (Ay mee) for us his Curſſed
Physical Note
“e” imperfectly erased
ffoeſe
For us (ay me), for us: His curséd foes.
For us (ay me) for us his cursed foes.
71
Conſidering this my Soul how canst thou Stay
Considering this, my soul, how canst thou stay?
Considering this, my soul, how canst thou stay
72
Now hee is Gon, dost thou not know the way?
Now He is gone, dost thou not know
Critical Note
See John 14:6: "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
the way
Now he is gone? Dost thou not know the way?
73
When little Infants new Created Souls
When little infants’ new-created souls
When little infants’ new created souls
74
Doe eaſily ffly
Physical Note
imperfectly erased ascender suggests final “t” corrected to “e”
aboue
or Star, or Poles,
Do easily fly above
Gloss Note
either
or
star or poles,
Do easily fly above or star, or poles,
75
And ffrom their tender Mothers Ubrious Brest
And from their tender mother’s
Gloss Note
full; nourishing
uberous
breast
And from their tender mother’s
Critical Note
“supplying milk or nourishment in abundance” (OED, “uberous,” adj. 1.a.). Though “tender” mothers nourish their infants with milk from their own breasts, children often die, but unlike the speaker’s own soul, they know the way to heaven. Their souls escape the earth and travel to a “star” or the “poles,” and they “fly to their eternal rest.”
uberous
breast
76
Doe often ffly to their eternall Rest
Do often fly to their eternal rest?
Do often fly to their eternal rest;
77
And thou my Soul witherd and Worn w: th Grief
And thou, my soul, withered and worn with grief:
And thou, my soul, withered and worn with grief,
78
Think’st in this Dunghill earth to find Relief
Think’st in this
Gloss Note
filthy, excrement-like
dunghill
earth to find relief?
Think’st in this dunghill earth to find relief?
79
Believe it Terren hopes are all But vain
Believe it:
Gloss Note
earthly
terrene
hopes are all but vain,
Believe it:
Gloss Note
“belonging to the earth or to this world; earthly, worldly, secular, temporal, material, human” (OED, "terrene," adj. 1.a.)
terrene
hopes are all but vain;
80
ffor thou must cast thy Haccle once again
For thou must
Gloss Note
cast off
cast
thy
Critical Note
covering, as skin, or outer garment; the speaker proposes the skin or other earthly forms must be cast off “again” by way of returning to an original condition.
hackle
once again
For thou must cast thy
Critical Note
“a cloak, a mantle, an outer garment”; or, “A covering or skin of any kind, esp. a snake’s skin” (OED, "hackle," n. 1. and 2.). Here “hackle” refers to the speaker’s body, which serves as a covering or “skin” for the soul.
hackle
once again
81
Before thou canst poſſes thoſe endles Joyes
Before thou canst possess those endless joys,
Before thou canst possess those endless joys,
82
Cōpar’d with which all worldly Pomps are Toyes.
Compared with which all worldly pomps are
Gloss Note
trivial things
toys
.
Compared with which all worldly pomps are toys.
horizontal straight line
X (Close panel)Notes: Elemental Edition
Title note

 Critical note

Oxford was a royalist stronghold in the first English civil war, which ended in 1646 with royalist surrender to parliamentary opponents.

 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

What was a young lady doing at Oxford in 1646? Shooting herself, according to Pulter, who reports what sounds like a cross between melodrama and a news bulletin of yet another example of the never-ending collateral damage of war. The speaker’s point, however, is not to regret this instance of self-murder, but to ennoble it through analogy with various other female suicides, before criticizing her own soul for lingering on earth despite allegedly loving Christ and seeking union with him in heaven. As part of a pep-talk to speed her own death, the speaker takes various rhetorical tacks. She recounts her inspired vision of the crucifixion, for instance, and compares Christ’s extraordinary heroism favorably with exemplary male friends who died for one another (since Christ outdid them by dying, not for his friends, but the “foes” of depraved humanity). All this is canvassed as part of the speaker’s somewhat haranguing campaign for her soul to leave her body without delay: a goal the young lady accomplished with the pull of a trigger, but which the Christian speaker, despite her evident admiration of this act and yearning for death, cannot achieve in the same manner while remaining loyal to her self-sacrificing (if not quite suicidal) “Redeemer.”
Line number 3

 Gloss note

exchanged
Line number 5

 Gloss note

English civil war
Line number 10

 Critical note

a bird noted for affection to its mate
Line number 11

 Gloss note

twig or shoot
Line number 14

 Critical note

In Greek myth, this was the paradisal place where heroes went after death.
Line number 16

 Critical note

Lucrece was a married Roman woman who, after being brutally raped, chose to commit suicide rather than live in perceived dishonor.
Line number 17

 Gloss note

before
Line number 19

 Critical note

Thisbe, in love with Pyramus, kills herself when she thinks him dead.
Line number 24

 Gloss note

Cupid
Line number 25

 Gloss note

i.e., of the gun
Line number 26

 Gloss note

pain; grief
Line number 30

 Gloss note

noble; courageous
Line number 34

 Gloss note

lingers
Line number 37

 Gloss note

fear; suspect
Line number 39

 Gloss note

engrafting feathers in a bird’s wing to remedy losses or deficiencies, and so restore or improve the powers of flight
Line number 46

 Critical note

Calvary was where Christ was crucified; Canaan is the biblical promised land.
Line number 47

 Gloss note

shining, brilliant
Line number 49

 Critical note

Longeus, Longius, or Longinus is the traditional name for the Roman soldier at the Crucifixion who pierced Christ’s side with his spear to ensure that Christ was dead.
Line number 51

 Gloss note

life-giving
Line number 56

 Gloss note

imperfection, shortcoming; abandonment of one’s religion, moral duty, cause or country
Line number 59

 Gloss note

condescend; graciously accept
Line number 61

 Critical note

In classical legend, these faithful friends each strove to save the other from a sentence of death.
Line number 62

 Critical note

Zeus changed Pollux and his twin brother, Castor, into the constellation Gemini after Castor died and Pollux refused to part from him.
Line number 63

 Critical note

In classical myth, these were Greek soldiers in the Trojan war. When Patroclus is killed by Hector, Achilles (who has until then refused to fight) avenges his best friend’s death by returning to battle and killing Hector.
Line number 64

 Critical note

Theseus and Pirithous were close comrades who went to Hades; Theseus survived, but Pirithous did not.
Line number 65

 Critical note

George Lisle and Charles Lucas were Royalist commanders in the siege of Colchester during the English civil war, who were executed by a firing squad without trial after their defeat and capture at Colchester in 1648. See Pulter’s On Those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas.
Line number 67

 Gloss note

i.e., histories
Line number 72

 Critical note

See John 14:6: "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
Line number 74

 Gloss note

either
Line number 75

 Gloss note

full; nourishing
Line number 78

 Gloss note

filthy, excrement-like
Line number 79

 Gloss note

earthly
Line number 80

 Gloss note

cast off
Line number 80

 Critical note

covering, as skin, or outer garment; the speaker proposes the skin or other earthly forms must be cast off “again” by way of returning to an original condition.
Line number 82

 Gloss note

trivial things
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
Of A young Lady at
Physical Note
straight line under second half of “Oxford” and all of “1646”; end of previous poem occupies top of page
Oxford 1646
Of a Young Lady at
Critical Note
Oxford was a royalist stronghold in the first English civil war, which ended in 1646 with royalist surrender to parliamentary opponents.
Oxford, 1646
Of a Young Lady at
Critical Note
Oxford was a Royalist stronghold and home to King Charles’s court during the First Civil War (1642-46). Oxford was besieged by Parliamentarian forces for three months in Spring 1646, and the Royalist garrison surrendered to General Thomas Fairfax on 24 June 1646. The reference to the death of Sir George Lucas and Sir Charles Lisle later in the poem indicates that the poem must have been completed in 1648 or later; however, the date in the title suggests that the story in the first half of the poem may be associated with the siege of Oxford.
Oxford, 1646
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

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

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

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
What was a young lady doing at Oxford in 1646? Shooting herself, according to Pulter, who reports what sounds like a cross between melodrama and a news bulletin of yet another example of the never-ending collateral damage of war. The speaker’s point, however, is not to regret this instance of self-murder, but to ennoble it through analogy with various other female suicides, before criticizing her own soul for lingering on earth despite allegedly loving Christ and seeking union with him in heaven. As part of a pep-talk to speed her own death, the speaker takes various rhetorical tacks. She recounts her inspired vision of the crucifixion, for instance, and compares Christ’s extraordinary heroism favorably with exemplary male friends who died for one another (since Christ outdid them by dying, not for his friends, but the “foes” of depraved humanity). All this is canvassed as part of the speaker’s somewhat haranguing campaign for her soul to leave her body without delay: a goal the young lady accomplished with the pull of a trigger, but which the Christian speaker, despite her evident admiration of this act and yearning for death, cannot achieve in the same manner while remaining loyal to her self-sacrificing (if not quite suicidal) “Redeemer.”

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
In “Of a Young Lady at Oxford, 1646,” Pulter develops complex relationships between political, erotic, and religious registers. The poem’s title refers to the anecdote that takes up about the first third of the poem, which describes the deaths of an unnamed pair of lovers during the Siege of Oxford in 1646. When the Lady learns that her lover, a Royalist soldier, has died in battle, she takes her own life in imitation of famous female suicides, Lucrece and Thisbe. This exemplum of erotic devotion, which Pulter describes as “earthy love,” prompts the speaker’s reflection upon the state of her soul. In an extended apostrophe to her soul, the speaker questions how her soul can desire to stay on earth when Christ, the soul’s proper companion, has already left it. Pulter mirrors the anecdote in the first part of the poem with the examples of five pairs—brothers, friends, lovers, and soldiers—who are famous for their devotion and willingness to die for one another. These exempla raise questions about whether different forms of human devotion are models for (or imitations of) the soul’s desire for union with Christ. The middle of the poem, however, includes several Biblical allusions that frame and reframe the classical allusions that begin and end the poem. While the unnamed Lady and the famous male heroes sacrifice themselves for friends or lovers, Christ dies for humans who are enemies (“cursed foes”) by dint of their sins (Romans 5: 7-8), a sacrifice that informs the speaker’s final, urgent questioning of her own soul.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
A Noble pair in Love without Compare
A noble pair, in love without compare,
A noble pair in love without compare,
2
Heroick Spirits both Lovly and fair
Heroic spirits both, lovely and fair,
Heroic spirits both lovely and fair,
3
Whoſe Hearts were Counterchanged then
Physical Note
struck-through with multiple horizontal lines; “noe wonder” directly above “then”
then^noe wonder
Whose hearts were
Gloss Note
exchanged
counterchanged
—then no wonder
Whose hearts were counterchanged; then no wonder,
4
They could not poſſible Subsist aſunder
They could not possibly subsist asunder.
They could not possibly subsist asunder.
5
Hee in this Grand Rebellion Late was kild
He, in this grand
Gloss Note
English civil war
rebellion
late was killed
He in this grand rebellion late was killed.
6
ffor his good King his Loyall Blood was ſpild
For his good king; his loyal blood was spilled,
For his good king his loyal blood was spilled,
7
Which from the pregnant
Physical Note
“h” in H2
earth
Sprung up in fame
Which from the pregnant earth sprung up in fame,
Which from the pregnant earth sprung up in fame
8
Honouring him with a never dying Name
Honoring him with a never-dying name.
Honoring him with a never dying name.
9
This Gallant Las, thus having lost her Love
This gallant lass, thus having lost her love,
This gallant lass thus having lost her love,
10
Disdaind to imitate the Turtle Dove
Disdained to imitate the
Critical Note
a bird noted for affection to its mate
turtledove
,
Disdained to imitate the
Critical Note
birds renowned for their monogamy and devotion. The turtledove is the subject of “The Poor Turtledove” (Emblem 20) [Poem 85].
turtledove
,
11
Who mourning Sits upon a withred Spray
Who mourning sits upon a withered
Gloss Note
twig or shoot
spray
:
Who mourning sits upon a withered spray.
12
Her Noble Heart Refuſd to Live one Day
Her noble heart refused to live one day
Her noble heart refused to live one day
13
Without her Love, earth noe contentment yields
Without her love. Earth no contentment yields.
Without her love. Earth no contentment yields.
14
Shee vowes to follow him to the Elizian ffields
She vows to follow him to the
Critical Note
In Greek myth, this was the paradisal place where heroes went after death.
Elysian fields
,
She vows to follow him to the
Critical Note
in Greek mythology, a blessed land where heroes live happily after their deaths.
Elysian fields
;
then

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
15
Then takes a Pistol in her Snowey Hand
Then takes a pistol in her snowy hand.
Then takes a pistol in her snowy hand,
16
Like a Roman Lucrece Soe did Shee Stand
Like a Roman
Critical Note
Lucrece was a married Roman woman who, after being brutally raped, chose to commit suicide rather than live in perceived dishonor.
Lucrece
, so did she stand,
Like a Roman Lucrece so did she stand
17
Who did prefer her Honour ’fore her Life
Who did prefer her honor
Gloss Note
before
’fore
her life,
Who did prefer her honor ’fore her life
18
And in her trembling Boſom thrust her Knife
And in her trembling bosom thrust her knife;
And in her trembling bosom thrust her knife;
19
Or like that
Physical Note
“y” appears corrected from earlier “i”
Babylonish
Virgin Sweet
Or like that
Critical Note
Thisbe, in love with Pyramus, kills herself when she thinks him dead.
Babylonish virgin
sweet
Or like that Babylonish virgin sweet
20
Who Saw her Love lie bleeding at her feet
Who saw her love lie bleeding at her feet—
Who saw her love lie bleeding at her feet
21
Shee with his Sword, her Spotles Breast did pierce
She, with his sword, her spotless breast did pierce,
She with his sword, her spotless breast did pierce
22
Which makes her live Still in
Physical Note
in H2
\im \
Mortal verſ
Which makes her live still in immortal verse—
Which makes her live
Critical Note
the young lady of Oxford is compared to two famous women whose suicides are also memorialized in poetry: Lucrece, who killed herself after she was raped by Tarquin in 510 BCE, and Thisbe (“Babylonish virgin sweet”) who commits suicide after she discovers the death (also a suicide) of her lover Pyramus. The stories of both of these women have repeatedly been the subject of poetry. Ovid writes of Lucrece in book II of Fasti, and Shakespeare adopts the story in The Rape of Lucrece (1594). The earliest version of the Pyramus and Thisbe story is found in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (book 4). Shakespeare uses this story for the plot of the play-within-a-play in A Midsummer’s Night Dream and also adapts it in Romeo and Juliet. Pulter updates these tales of heroic female suicide by including a modern weapon (the pistol).
still in immortal verse
;
23
Soe this Heroick Maid display’d her Breast
So this heroic maid displayed her breast
So this heroic maid displayed her breast,
24
On which the God of Love was proud to Rest
On which the
Gloss Note
Cupid
god of love
was proud to rest;
On which the god of love was proud to rest,
25
The Sulpherus mouth plac’d at her generous Heart
The sulfurous
Gloss Note
i.e., of the gun
mouth
placed at her generous heart,
The sulfurous mouth placed at her generous heart,
26
Her Noble Mind triumphs or’e Death and Smart
Her noble mind triumphs o’er death and
Gloss Note
pain; grief
smart
.
Critical Note
Pulter interprets the Lady’s suicide as heroic, which corresponds to Stoic philosophy but is in conflict with Christian ethics. I have not been able to identify a specific historical analogue for the anecdote of a young lady’s suicide in Oxford during the Civil Wars, though the mixture specific historical details with classical precedent suggests that more research is warranted. If this story is fictional, Pulter has invented her own “fable” to place beside the classical exempla cited in the poem. If the story is historical, it is notable that Pulter does not condemn the Lady’s suicide, but interprets it as evidence of her nobility of spirit.
Her noble mind triumphs o’er death and smart
.
27
To Heaven Shee Rowls her Sparkling dieing Eyes
To Heaven she rolls her sparkling, dying eyes;
To Heaven she rolls her sparkling dying eyes;
28
ffrom her undaunted Breast her Spirit fflyes
From her undaunted breast her spirit flies.
From her undaunted breast her spirit flies,
29
Even Soe a Spotles Lylley ffals and Dies
Even so a spotless lily falls and dies.
Even so a spotless lily falls and dies.
30
As this declares a m^agnanimous Spirit
As this declares a
Gloss Note
noble; courageous
magnanimous
spirit,
As this declares a magnanimous spirit,
31
Soe Shee the Glory of it doth inherit
So she the glory of it doth inherit.
So she the glory of it doth inherit.
32
This Shee did doe to follow Earthey Love
This she did do to follow earthy love,
This she did do to follow
Critical Note
“consisting of earth, or of material resembling earth. Also used fig. of the human body, esp. a dead body” (OED "earthy" n. 1.c.). Pulter’s use of “earthy” rather than the more common “earthly” may reflect the interest in the elements displayed elsewhere in her poetry. See O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul [Poem 28] and The Invocation of the Elements [Poem 41].
earthy
love,
33
And thou my Soule whoſe Joys and Hope’s aboue
And thou, my soul, whose joys and hopes above
And thou, my soul, whose joys and hopes above
34
Are placed Still Hanckrest hovering here below
Are placed, still
Gloss Note
lingers
hank’rest
, hovering here below:
Are placed, still hankerest, hovering here below.
35
Oh when wilt thou to thy Redeemer goe
O, when wilt thou to thy Redeemer go?
Oh, when wilt thou to thy redeemer go?
36
Thou keep’st a ffluttring here bout thiſ baſe earth
Thou keep’st afluttering here ’bout this base earth.
Thou keep’st afluttering here ’bout this base earth;
37
My Soul I doubt thou dos’t forget thy Birth
My soul, I
Gloss Note
fear; suspect
doubt
thou dost forget thy birth:
My soul, I doubt thou dost forget thy birth.
thou

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
38
Thou art a Ray of that
Physical Note
third “i” appears written over “u”
inviſible
Light
Thou art a ray of that invisible light:
Thou art a ray of that invisible light,
39
Thy wings noe impeing need, then take thy ffleight
Thy wings no
Gloss Note
engrafting feathers in a bird’s wing to remedy losses or deficiencies, and so restore or improve the powers of flight
imping
need; then take thy flight!
Thy wings no
Critical Note
“to engraft feathers in the wing of a bird, so as to make good losses or deficiencies” (OED "imp," v. 4.). Compare to George Herbert’s “Easter Wings,” in which the speaker desires to “imp” his wing on Christ: “For, if I imp my wing on thine, / Affliction shall advance the flight in me.”
imping
need, then take thy flight.
40
Leav then this
Physical Note
“w” written over other letter
Low
and Gloomey earthly Spheir
Leave then this low and gloomy earthly sphere;
Leave then this low and gloomy earthly sphere.
41
What dost thou mean, what dost thou hope, or fear
What dost thou mean—what dost thou hope, or fear?
What dost thou mean? What dost thou hope, or fear?
42
Tell mee is thy eternall buſines here
Tell me, is thy eternal business here?
Tell me, is thy eternal business here?
43
Hee whom thou lovest is gone, to Heaven hee’s ffled
He whom thou lovest is gone: to Heaven He’s fled.
He whom thou lovest is gone; to Heaven he’s fled.
44
Why dost thou Seek the Living
Physical Note
“st” crowded between surrounding words
amongst
the Dead
Why dost thou seek the living amongst the dead?
Critical Note
Pulter alludes to Luke 24:5: “And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?” (AV)
Why dost thou seek the living amongst the dead?
45
My active ffaith took wing and Late did fly
My active faith took wing and late did fly
My active faith took wing and late did fly
46
Upto the top of Canaans Calvary
Up to the top of
Critical Note
Calvary was where Christ was crucified; Canaan is the biblical promised land.
Canaan’s Calvary
;
Up to the top of Canaan’s
Critical Note
the location of Christ’s crucifixion.
Calvary
.
47
There did I See with ffaiths Resplendent Eye
There did I see, with faith’s
Gloss Note
shining, brilliant
resplendent
eye,
There did I see with
Critical Note
Pulter describes her faith as an “active” aid to vision. The “resplendent” (shining) eye of faith allows her to “see” the crucifixion of Christ. Compare to This Was Written in 1648, When I Lay In, With my Son John [Poem 45] in which the speaker’s “thoughts” allow a vision of the planets.
faith’s resplendent eye
48
The ffountain of all Love my Saviour Die
The fountain of all love, my Saviour, die.
The fountain of all love, my savior, die.
49
There did Longuives Peirce that guiltles brest
There did
Critical Note
Longeus, Longius, or Longinus is the traditional name for the Roman soldier at the Crucifixion who pierced Christ’s side with his spear to ensure that Christ was dead.
Longuives
pierce that guiltless breast
There did
Critical Note
the name traditionally given to the Roman soldier who pierced Jesus with his lance. See John 19:34: “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out of blood and water” (AV).
Longinus
pierce that guiltless brest
50
In which the ffaithfull Shall in Glory Rest
In which the faithful shall in glory rest.
In which the faithful shall in glory rest.
51
Ay mee there did his dieing Quickni^ng Blood
Ay me, there did His dying,
Gloss Note
life-giving
quickening
blood
Ay me! There did his dying
Critical Note
“to come or bring to life” (OED, "quicken," v. 1.); “dying quickening blood” is a paradox, suggesting that Christ’s blood renews life through death.
quickening
blood
52
fflow from his Side for our eternal good
Flow from His side for our eternal good;
Flow from his side for our eternal good.
53
To Heaven his Righteous Soul did take his fflieght
To Heaven His righteous soul did take His flight,
To Heaven his righteous soul did take his flight,
54
Leaving the Univerſ Lapt up in Night
Leaving the universe lapped up in night.
Critical Note
upon the death of his body, Christ’s soul returns to Heaven, leaving all of the created universe in darkness (“lapped up in night”). Compare Of Night and Morning [Poem 5].
Leaving the universe lapped up in night
.
55
O admirable, unparraleld affection
O admirable, unparalleled affection,
O admirable, unparalleled affection;
56
Thus by \
Physical Note
written over illegible erased word(s)
his fall
Physical Note
in H2
his ffall \
recovering o:r defection
Thus, by His fall, recovering our
Gloss Note
imperfection, shortcoming; abandonment of one’s religion, moral duty, cause or country
defection
!
Thus by his fall recovering our defection.
57
I am amazed at his infinite Love
I am amazed at His infinite love;
I am amazed at his infinite love;
58
ffor ^us hee left his Glorious Throne aboue
For us he left his glorious throne above.
For us he left his glorious throne above.
59
Though for a good Man one would Deign to die
Though for a good man one would
Gloss Note
condescend; graciously accept
deign
to die,
Though for a good man one would deign to die,
60
Yet who would doe Soe for his enemie
Yet who would do so for his enemy?
Critical Note
Pulter paraphrases Romans 5:7-8: “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (AV). This allusion frames the exempla that follow because each includes sacrifice on behalf of a friend or “good man” rather than an enemy, while Christ dies for humans who are his “cursed foes.”
Yet who would do so for his enemy
?

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
61
Damon, and Pithias, would Die for one another
Critical Note
In classical legend, these faithful friends each strove to save the other from a sentence of death.
Damon and Pythias
would die for one another;
Damon and Pythias would die for one another,
62
Pollux divided Splendour with his Brother
Critical Note
Zeus changed Pollux and his twin brother, Castor, into the constellation Gemini after Castor died and Pollux refused to part from him.
Pollux
divided splendor with his brother;
Pollux divided splendor with his brother,
63
Patrocles, and Achillis, loues excell
Critical Note
In classical myth, these were Greek soldiers in the Trojan war. When Patroclus is killed by Hector, Achilles (who has until then refused to fight) avenges his best friend’s death by returning to battle and killing Hector.
Patroclus and Achilles
’s loves excel;
Patroclus’ and Achilles’ loves excel,
64
Theſeus reveng’d Perithous death in Hell
Critical Note
Theseus and Pirithous were close comrades who went to Hades; Theseus survived, but Pirithous did not.
Theseus revenged Pirithous’s death in Hell
;
Theseus revenged Pirithous’ death in Hell,
65
When lovly
Physical Note
"sle" written over earlier letters
Liſle
Saw Lucas Bleeding Lie
When lovely
Critical Note
George Lisle and Charles Lucas were Royalist commanders in the siege of Colchester during the English civil war, who were executed by a firing squad without trial after their defeat and capture at Colchester in 1648. See Pulter’s On Those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas.
Lisle saw Lucas
bleeding lie,
When lovely Lisle saw Lucas bleeding lie,
66
Hee on his trembling Booſome Strait did die
He on his trembling bosom straight did die.
He on his trembling bosom straight did die.
67
Thus doe theſe Storyes and theſe ffables teach
Thus do these
Gloss Note
i.e., histories
stories
and these fables teach
Critical Note
Pulter identifies five famous pairs to serve as partial analogues for Christ’s love and sacrifice for humans: 1) Damon offered himself as surety for his friend Pythias; 2) The immortal Pollux offered to share his immortality with his mortal twin Castor; 3) Patroclus is killed by Hector, and Achilles returns to battle to avenge the death of his lover; 4) Theseus and his friend Pirithous attempt travel to the underworld, where they intend to capture Persephone so Pirithous can marry her; when they fail, Pirithous is stranded in the underworld, and Theseus tries, and fails, to rescue him; 5) Lucas and Lisle are well known Royalist soldiers who were captured and executed by Parliamentarian forces at Colchester in 1648. While there is quite a bit of variation in the “love” demonstrated by each of these stories, the final pair is distinct because they are Pulter’s contemporaries. Lucas and Lisle were considered Royalist martyrs and were commemorated in numerous panegyrics and poems. See also Pulter’s On Those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas, Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester [Poem 7].
Thus do these stories and these fables teach
,
68
And Shew to us how fare our Love may Reach
And show to us how far our love may reach;
And show to us how far our love may reach.
69
But^hee (my Soul) his precious Blood did loſe
But He (my soul) His precious blood did lose
But he (my soul) his precious blood did lose
70
ffor us (Ay mee) for us his Curſſed
Physical Note
“e” imperfectly erased
ffoeſe
For us (ay me), for us: His curséd foes.
For us (ay me) for us his cursed foes.
71
Conſidering this my Soul how canst thou Stay
Considering this, my soul, how canst thou stay?
Considering this, my soul, how canst thou stay
72
Now hee is Gon, dost thou not know the way?
Now He is gone, dost thou not know
Critical Note
See John 14:6: "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
the way
Now he is gone? Dost thou not know the way?
73
When little Infants new Created Souls
When little infants’ new-created souls
When little infants’ new created souls
74
Doe eaſily ffly
Physical Note
imperfectly erased ascender suggests final “t” corrected to “e”
aboue
or Star, or Poles,
Do easily fly above
Gloss Note
either
or
star or poles,
Do easily fly above or star, or poles,
75
And ffrom their tender Mothers Ubrious Brest
And from their tender mother’s
Gloss Note
full; nourishing
uberous
breast
And from their tender mother’s
Critical Note
“supplying milk or nourishment in abundance” (OED, “uberous,” adj. 1.a.). Though “tender” mothers nourish their infants with milk from their own breasts, children often die, but unlike the speaker’s own soul, they know the way to heaven. Their souls escape the earth and travel to a “star” or the “poles,” and they “fly to their eternal rest.”
uberous
breast
76
Doe often ffly to their eternall Rest
Do often fly to their eternal rest?
Do often fly to their eternal rest;
77
And thou my Soul witherd and Worn w: th Grief
And thou, my soul, withered and worn with grief:
And thou, my soul, withered and worn with grief,
78
Think’st in this Dunghill earth to find Relief
Think’st in this
Gloss Note
filthy, excrement-like
dunghill
earth to find relief?
Think’st in this dunghill earth to find relief?
79
Believe it Terren hopes are all But vain
Believe it:
Gloss Note
earthly
terrene
hopes are all but vain,
Believe it:
Gloss Note
“belonging to the earth or to this world; earthly, worldly, secular, temporal, material, human” (OED, "terrene," adj. 1.a.)
terrene
hopes are all but vain;
80
ffor thou must cast thy Haccle once again
For thou must
Gloss Note
cast off
cast
thy
Critical Note
covering, as skin, or outer garment; the speaker proposes the skin or other earthly forms must be cast off “again” by way of returning to an original condition.
hackle
once again
For thou must cast thy
Critical Note
“a cloak, a mantle, an outer garment”; or, “A covering or skin of any kind, esp. a snake’s skin” (OED, "hackle," n. 1. and 2.). Here “hackle” refers to the speaker’s body, which serves as a covering or “skin” for the soul.
hackle
once again
81
Before thou canst poſſes thoſe endles Joyes
Before thou canst possess those endless joys,
Before thou canst possess those endless joys,
82
Cōpar’d with which all worldly Pomps are Toyes.
Compared with which all worldly pomps are
Gloss Note
trivial things
toys
.
Compared with which all worldly pomps are toys.
horizontal straight line
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition
Title note

 Critical note

Oxford was a Royalist stronghold and home to King Charles’s court during the First Civil War (1642-46). Oxford was besieged by Parliamentarian forces for three months in Spring 1646, and the Royalist garrison surrendered to General Thomas Fairfax on 24 June 1646. The reference to the death of Sir George Lucas and Sir Charles Lisle later in the poem indicates that the poem must have been completed in 1648 or later; however, the date in the title suggests that the story in the first half of the poem may be associated with the siege of Oxford.

 Editorial note

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

 Headnote

In “Of a Young Lady at Oxford, 1646,” Pulter develops complex relationships between political, erotic, and religious registers. The poem’s title refers to the anecdote that takes up about the first third of the poem, which describes the deaths of an unnamed pair of lovers during the Siege of Oxford in 1646. When the Lady learns that her lover, a Royalist soldier, has died in battle, she takes her own life in imitation of famous female suicides, Lucrece and Thisbe. This exemplum of erotic devotion, which Pulter describes as “earthy love,” prompts the speaker’s reflection upon the state of her soul. In an extended apostrophe to her soul, the speaker questions how her soul can desire to stay on earth when Christ, the soul’s proper companion, has already left it. Pulter mirrors the anecdote in the first part of the poem with the examples of five pairs—brothers, friends, lovers, and soldiers—who are famous for their devotion and willingness to die for one another. These exempla raise questions about whether different forms of human devotion are models for (or imitations of) the soul’s desire for union with Christ. The middle of the poem, however, includes several Biblical allusions that frame and reframe the classical allusions that begin and end the poem. While the unnamed Lady and the famous male heroes sacrifice themselves for friends or lovers, Christ dies for humans who are enemies (“cursed foes”) by dint of their sins (Romans 5: 7-8), a sacrifice that informs the speaker’s final, urgent questioning of her own soul.
Line number 10

 Critical note

birds renowned for their monogamy and devotion. The turtledove is the subject of “The Poor Turtledove” (Emblem 20) [Poem 85].
Line number 14

 Critical note

in Greek mythology, a blessed land where heroes live happily after their deaths.
Line number 22

 Critical note

the young lady of Oxford is compared to two famous women whose suicides are also memorialized in poetry: Lucrece, who killed herself after she was raped by Tarquin in 510 BCE, and Thisbe (“Babylonish virgin sweet”) who commits suicide after she discovers the death (also a suicide) of her lover Pyramus. The stories of both of these women have repeatedly been the subject of poetry. Ovid writes of Lucrece in book II of Fasti, and Shakespeare adopts the story in The Rape of Lucrece (1594). The earliest version of the Pyramus and Thisbe story is found in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (book 4). Shakespeare uses this story for the plot of the play-within-a-play in A Midsummer’s Night Dream and also adapts it in Romeo and Juliet. Pulter updates these tales of heroic female suicide by including a modern weapon (the pistol).
Line number 26

 Critical note

Pulter interprets the Lady’s suicide as heroic, which corresponds to Stoic philosophy but is in conflict with Christian ethics. I have not been able to identify a specific historical analogue for the anecdote of a young lady’s suicide in Oxford during the Civil Wars, though the mixture specific historical details with classical precedent suggests that more research is warranted. If this story is fictional, Pulter has invented her own “fable” to place beside the classical exempla cited in the poem. If the story is historical, it is notable that Pulter does not condemn the Lady’s suicide, but interprets it as evidence of her nobility of spirit.
Line number 32

 Critical note

“consisting of earth, or of material resembling earth. Also used fig. of the human body, esp. a dead body” (OED "earthy" n. 1.c.). Pulter’s use of “earthy” rather than the more common “earthly” may reflect the interest in the elements displayed elsewhere in her poetry. See O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul [Poem 28] and The Invocation of the Elements [Poem 41].
Line number 39

 Critical note

“to engraft feathers in the wing of a bird, so as to make good losses or deficiencies” (OED "imp," v. 4.). Compare to George Herbert’s “Easter Wings,” in which the speaker desires to “imp” his wing on Christ: “For, if I imp my wing on thine, / Affliction shall advance the flight in me.”
Line number 44

 Critical note

Pulter alludes to Luke 24:5: “And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?” (AV)
Line number 46

 Critical note

the location of Christ’s crucifixion.
Line number 47

 Critical note

Pulter describes her faith as an “active” aid to vision. The “resplendent” (shining) eye of faith allows her to “see” the crucifixion of Christ. Compare to This Was Written in 1648, When I Lay In, With my Son John [Poem 45] in which the speaker’s “thoughts” allow a vision of the planets.
Line number 49

 Critical note

the name traditionally given to the Roman soldier who pierced Jesus with his lance. See John 19:34: “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out of blood and water” (AV).
Line number 51

 Critical note

“to come or bring to life” (OED, "quicken," v. 1.); “dying quickening blood” is a paradox, suggesting that Christ’s blood renews life through death.
Line number 54

 Critical note

upon the death of his body, Christ’s soul returns to Heaven, leaving all of the created universe in darkness (“lapped up in night”). Compare Of Night and Morning [Poem 5].
Line number 60

 Critical note

Pulter paraphrases Romans 5:7-8: “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (AV). This allusion frames the exempla that follow because each includes sacrifice on behalf of a friend or “good man” rather than an enemy, while Christ dies for humans who are his “cursed foes.”
Line number 67

 Critical note

Pulter identifies five famous pairs to serve as partial analogues for Christ’s love and sacrifice for humans: 1) Damon offered himself as surety for his friend Pythias; 2) The immortal Pollux offered to share his immortality with his mortal twin Castor; 3) Patroclus is killed by Hector, and Achilles returns to battle to avenge the death of his lover; 4) Theseus and his friend Pirithous attempt travel to the underworld, where they intend to capture Persephone so Pirithous can marry her; when they fail, Pirithous is stranded in the underworld, and Theseus tries, and fails, to rescue him; 5) Lucas and Lisle are well known Royalist soldiers who were captured and executed by Parliamentarian forces at Colchester in 1648. While there is quite a bit of variation in the “love” demonstrated by each of these stories, the final pair is distinct because they are Pulter’s contemporaries. Lucas and Lisle were considered Royalist martyrs and were commemorated in numerous panegyrics and poems. See also Pulter’s On Those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas, Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester [Poem 7].
Line number 75

 Critical note

“supplying milk or nourishment in abundance” (OED, “uberous,” adj. 1.a.). Though “tender” mothers nourish their infants with milk from their own breasts, children often die, but unlike the speaker’s own soul, they know the way to heaven. Their souls escape the earth and travel to a “star” or the “poles,” and they “fly to their eternal rest.”
Line number 79

 Gloss note

“belonging to the earth or to this world; earthly, worldly, secular, temporal, material, human” (OED, "terrene," adj. 1.a.)
Line number 80

 Critical note

“a cloak, a mantle, an outer garment”; or, “A covering or skin of any kind, esp. a snake’s skin” (OED, "hackle," n. 1. and 2.). Here “hackle” refers to the speaker’s body, which serves as a covering or “skin” for the soul.
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Amplified Edition
Amplified Edition

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
Of A young Lady at
Physical Note
straight line under second half of “Oxford” and all of “1646”; end of previous poem occupies top of page
Oxford 1646
Of a Young Lady at
Critical Note
Oxford was a royalist stronghold in the first English civil war, which ended in 1646 with royalist surrender to parliamentary opponents.
Oxford, 1646
Of a Young Lady at
Critical Note
Oxford was a Royalist stronghold and home to King Charles’s court during the First Civil War (1642-46). Oxford was besieged by Parliamentarian forces for three months in Spring 1646, and the Royalist garrison surrendered to General Thomas Fairfax on 24 June 1646. The reference to the death of Sir George Lucas and Sir Charles Lisle later in the poem indicates that the poem must have been completed in 1648 or later; however, the date in the title suggests that the story in the first half of the poem may be associated with the siege of Oxford.
Oxford, 1646
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

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

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

— Lara Dodds
What was a young lady doing at Oxford in 1646? Shooting herself, according to Pulter, who reports what sounds like a cross between melodrama and a news bulletin of yet another example of the never-ending collateral damage of war. The speaker’s point, however, is not to regret this instance of self-murder, but to ennoble it through analogy with various other female suicides, before criticizing her own soul for lingering on earth despite allegedly loving Christ and seeking union with him in heaven. As part of a pep-talk to speed her own death, the speaker takes various rhetorical tacks. She recounts her inspired vision of the crucifixion, for instance, and compares Christ’s extraordinary heroism favorably with exemplary male friends who died for one another (since Christ outdid them by dying, not for his friends, but the “foes” of depraved humanity). All this is canvassed as part of the speaker’s somewhat haranguing campaign for her soul to leave her body without delay: a goal the young lady accomplished with the pull of a trigger, but which the Christian speaker, despite her evident admiration of this act and yearning for death, cannot achieve in the same manner while remaining loyal to her self-sacrificing (if not quite suicidal) “Redeemer.”

— Lara Dodds
In “Of a Young Lady at Oxford, 1646,” Pulter develops complex relationships between political, erotic, and religious registers. The poem’s title refers to the anecdote that takes up about the first third of the poem, which describes the deaths of an unnamed pair of lovers during the Siege of Oxford in 1646. When the Lady learns that her lover, a Royalist soldier, has died in battle, she takes her own life in imitation of famous female suicides, Lucrece and Thisbe. This exemplum of erotic devotion, which Pulter describes as “earthy love,” prompts the speaker’s reflection upon the state of her soul. In an extended apostrophe to her soul, the speaker questions how her soul can desire to stay on earth when Christ, the soul’s proper companion, has already left it. Pulter mirrors the anecdote in the first part of the poem with the examples of five pairs—brothers, friends, lovers, and soldiers—who are famous for their devotion and willingness to die for one another. These exempla raise questions about whether different forms of human devotion are models for (or imitations of) the soul’s desire for union with Christ. The middle of the poem, however, includes several Biblical allusions that frame and reframe the classical allusions that begin and end the poem. While the unnamed Lady and the famous male heroes sacrifice themselves for friends or lovers, Christ dies for humans who are enemies (“cursed foes”) by dint of their sins (Romans 5: 7-8), a sacrifice that informs the speaker’s final, urgent questioning of her own soul.

— Lara Dodds
1
A Noble pair in Love without Compare
A noble pair, in love without compare,
A noble pair in love without compare,
2
Heroick Spirits both Lovly and fair
Heroic spirits both, lovely and fair,
Heroic spirits both lovely and fair,
3
Whoſe Hearts were Counterchanged then
Physical Note
struck-through with multiple horizontal lines; “noe wonder” directly above “then”
then^noe wonder
Whose hearts were
Gloss Note
exchanged
counterchanged
—then no wonder
Whose hearts were counterchanged; then no wonder,
4
They could not poſſible Subsist aſunder
They could not possibly subsist asunder.
They could not possibly subsist asunder.
5
Hee in this Grand Rebellion Late was kild
He, in this grand
Gloss Note
English civil war
rebellion
late was killed
He in this grand rebellion late was killed.
6
ffor his good King his Loyall Blood was ſpild
For his good king; his loyal blood was spilled,
For his good king his loyal blood was spilled,
7
Which from the pregnant
Physical Note
“h” in H2
earth
Sprung up in fame
Which from the pregnant earth sprung up in fame,
Which from the pregnant earth sprung up in fame
8
Honouring him with a never dying Name
Honoring him with a never-dying name.
Honoring him with a never dying name.
9
This Gallant Las, thus having lost her Love
This gallant lass, thus having lost her love,
This gallant lass thus having lost her love,
10
Disdaind to imitate the Turtle Dove
Disdained to imitate the
Critical Note
a bird noted for affection to its mate
turtledove
,
Disdained to imitate the
Critical Note
birds renowned for their monogamy and devotion. The turtledove is the subject of “The Poor Turtledove” (Emblem 20) [Poem 85].
turtledove
,
11
Who mourning Sits upon a withred Spray
Who mourning sits upon a withered
Gloss Note
twig or shoot
spray
:
Who mourning sits upon a withered spray.
12
Her Noble Heart Refuſd to Live one Day
Her noble heart refused to live one day
Her noble heart refused to live one day
13
Without her Love, earth noe contentment yields
Without her love. Earth no contentment yields.
Without her love. Earth no contentment yields.
14
Shee vowes to follow him to the Elizian ffields
She vows to follow him to the
Critical Note
In Greek myth, this was the paradisal place where heroes went after death.
Elysian fields
,
She vows to follow him to the
Critical Note
in Greek mythology, a blessed land where heroes live happily after their deaths.
Elysian fields
;
then

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
15
Then takes a Pistol in her Snowey Hand
Then takes a pistol in her snowy hand.
Then takes a pistol in her snowy hand,
16
Like a Roman Lucrece Soe did Shee Stand
Like a Roman
Critical Note
Lucrece was a married Roman woman who, after being brutally raped, chose to commit suicide rather than live in perceived dishonor.
Lucrece
, so did she stand,
Like a Roman Lucrece so did she stand
17
Who did prefer her Honour ’fore her Life
Who did prefer her honor
Gloss Note
before
’fore
her life,
Who did prefer her honor ’fore her life
18
And in her trembling Boſom thrust her Knife
And in her trembling bosom thrust her knife;
And in her trembling bosom thrust her knife;
19
Or like that
Physical Note
“y” appears corrected from earlier “i”
Babylonish
Virgin Sweet
Or like that
Critical Note
Thisbe, in love with Pyramus, kills herself when she thinks him dead.
Babylonish virgin
sweet
Or like that Babylonish virgin sweet
20
Who Saw her Love lie bleeding at her feet
Who saw her love lie bleeding at her feet—
Who saw her love lie bleeding at her feet
21
Shee with his Sword, her Spotles Breast did pierce
She, with his sword, her spotless breast did pierce,
She with his sword, her spotless breast did pierce
22
Which makes her live Still in
Physical Note
in H2
\im \
Mortal verſ
Which makes her live still in immortal verse—
Which makes her live
Critical Note
the young lady of Oxford is compared to two famous women whose suicides are also memorialized in poetry: Lucrece, who killed herself after she was raped by Tarquin in 510 BCE, and Thisbe (“Babylonish virgin sweet”) who commits suicide after she discovers the death (also a suicide) of her lover Pyramus. The stories of both of these women have repeatedly been the subject of poetry. Ovid writes of Lucrece in book II of Fasti, and Shakespeare adopts the story in The Rape of Lucrece (1594). The earliest version of the Pyramus and Thisbe story is found in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (book 4). Shakespeare uses this story for the plot of the play-within-a-play in A Midsummer’s Night Dream and also adapts it in Romeo and Juliet. Pulter updates these tales of heroic female suicide by including a modern weapon (the pistol).
still in immortal verse
;
23
Soe this Heroick Maid display’d her Breast
So this heroic maid displayed her breast
So this heroic maid displayed her breast,
24
On which the God of Love was proud to Rest
On which the
Gloss Note
Cupid
god of love
was proud to rest;
On which the god of love was proud to rest,
25
The Sulpherus mouth plac’d at her generous Heart
The sulfurous
Gloss Note
i.e., of the gun
mouth
placed at her generous heart,
The sulfurous mouth placed at her generous heart,
26
Her Noble Mind triumphs or’e Death and Smart
Her noble mind triumphs o’er death and
Gloss Note
pain; grief
smart
.
Critical Note
Pulter interprets the Lady’s suicide as heroic, which corresponds to Stoic philosophy but is in conflict with Christian ethics. I have not been able to identify a specific historical analogue for the anecdote of a young lady’s suicide in Oxford during the Civil Wars, though the mixture specific historical details with classical precedent suggests that more research is warranted. If this story is fictional, Pulter has invented her own “fable” to place beside the classical exempla cited in the poem. If the story is historical, it is notable that Pulter does not condemn the Lady’s suicide, but interprets it as evidence of her nobility of spirit.
Her noble mind triumphs o’er death and smart
.
27
To Heaven Shee Rowls her Sparkling dieing Eyes
To Heaven she rolls her sparkling, dying eyes;
To Heaven she rolls her sparkling dying eyes;
28
ffrom her undaunted Breast her Spirit fflyes
From her undaunted breast her spirit flies.
From her undaunted breast her spirit flies,
29
Even Soe a Spotles Lylley ffals and Dies
Even so a spotless lily falls and dies.
Even so a spotless lily falls and dies.
30
As this declares a m^agnanimous Spirit
As this declares a
Gloss Note
noble; courageous
magnanimous
spirit,
As this declares a magnanimous spirit,
31
Soe Shee the Glory of it doth inherit
So she the glory of it doth inherit.
So she the glory of it doth inherit.
32
This Shee did doe to follow Earthey Love
This she did do to follow earthy love,
This she did do to follow
Critical Note
“consisting of earth, or of material resembling earth. Also used fig. of the human body, esp. a dead body” (OED "earthy" n. 1.c.). Pulter’s use of “earthy” rather than the more common “earthly” may reflect the interest in the elements displayed elsewhere in her poetry. See O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul [Poem 28] and The Invocation of the Elements [Poem 41].
earthy
love,
33
And thou my Soule whoſe Joys and Hope’s aboue
And thou, my soul, whose joys and hopes above
And thou, my soul, whose joys and hopes above
34
Are placed Still Hanckrest hovering here below
Are placed, still
Gloss Note
lingers
hank’rest
, hovering here below:
Are placed, still hankerest, hovering here below.
35
Oh when wilt thou to thy Redeemer goe
O, when wilt thou to thy Redeemer go?
Oh, when wilt thou to thy redeemer go?
36
Thou keep’st a ffluttring here bout thiſ baſe earth
Thou keep’st afluttering here ’bout this base earth.
Thou keep’st afluttering here ’bout this base earth;
37
My Soul I doubt thou dos’t forget thy Birth
My soul, I
Gloss Note
fear; suspect
doubt
thou dost forget thy birth:
My soul, I doubt thou dost forget thy birth.
thou

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
38
Thou art a Ray of that
Physical Note
third “i” appears written over “u”
inviſible
Light
Thou art a ray of that invisible light:
Thou art a ray of that invisible light,
39
Thy wings noe impeing need, then take thy ffleight
Thy wings no
Gloss Note
engrafting feathers in a bird’s wing to remedy losses or deficiencies, and so restore or improve the powers of flight
imping
need; then take thy flight!
Thy wings no
Critical Note
“to engraft feathers in the wing of a bird, so as to make good losses or deficiencies” (OED "imp," v. 4.). Compare to George Herbert’s “Easter Wings,” in which the speaker desires to “imp” his wing on Christ: “For, if I imp my wing on thine, / Affliction shall advance the flight in me.”
imping
need, then take thy flight.
40
Leav then this
Physical Note
“w” written over other letter
Low
and Gloomey earthly Spheir
Leave then this low and gloomy earthly sphere;
Leave then this low and gloomy earthly sphere.
41
What dost thou mean, what dost thou hope, or fear
What dost thou mean—what dost thou hope, or fear?
What dost thou mean? What dost thou hope, or fear?
42
Tell mee is thy eternall buſines here
Tell me, is thy eternal business here?
Tell me, is thy eternal business here?
43
Hee whom thou lovest is gone, to Heaven hee’s ffled
He whom thou lovest is gone: to Heaven He’s fled.
He whom thou lovest is gone; to Heaven he’s fled.
44
Why dost thou Seek the Living
Physical Note
“st” crowded between surrounding words
amongst
the Dead
Why dost thou seek the living amongst the dead?
Critical Note
Pulter alludes to Luke 24:5: “And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?” (AV)
Why dost thou seek the living amongst the dead?
45
My active ffaith took wing and Late did fly
My active faith took wing and late did fly
My active faith took wing and late did fly
46
Upto the top of Canaans Calvary
Up to the top of
Critical Note
Calvary was where Christ was crucified; Canaan is the biblical promised land.
Canaan’s Calvary
;
Up to the top of Canaan’s
Critical Note
the location of Christ’s crucifixion.
Calvary
.
47
There did I See with ffaiths Resplendent Eye
There did I see, with faith’s
Gloss Note
shining, brilliant
resplendent
eye,
There did I see with
Critical Note
Pulter describes her faith as an “active” aid to vision. The “resplendent” (shining) eye of faith allows her to “see” the crucifixion of Christ. Compare to This Was Written in 1648, When I Lay In, With my Son John [Poem 45] in which the speaker’s “thoughts” allow a vision of the planets.
faith’s resplendent eye
48
The ffountain of all Love my Saviour Die
The fountain of all love, my Saviour, die.
The fountain of all love, my savior, die.
49
There did Longuives Peirce that guiltles brest
There did
Critical Note
Longeus, Longius, or Longinus is the traditional name for the Roman soldier at the Crucifixion who pierced Christ’s side with his spear to ensure that Christ was dead.
Longuives
pierce that guiltless breast
There did
Critical Note
the name traditionally given to the Roman soldier who pierced Jesus with his lance. See John 19:34: “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out of blood and water” (AV).
Longinus
pierce that guiltless brest
50
In which the ffaithfull Shall in Glory Rest
In which the faithful shall in glory rest.
In which the faithful shall in glory rest.
51
Ay mee there did his dieing Quickni^ng Blood
Ay me, there did His dying,
Gloss Note
life-giving
quickening
blood
Ay me! There did his dying
Critical Note
“to come or bring to life” (OED, "quicken," v. 1.); “dying quickening blood” is a paradox, suggesting that Christ’s blood renews life through death.
quickening
blood
52
fflow from his Side for our eternal good
Flow from His side for our eternal good;
Flow from his side for our eternal good.
53
To Heaven his Righteous Soul did take his fflieght
To Heaven His righteous soul did take His flight,
To Heaven his righteous soul did take his flight,
54
Leaving the Univerſ Lapt up in Night
Leaving the universe lapped up in night.
Critical Note
upon the death of his body, Christ’s soul returns to Heaven, leaving all of the created universe in darkness (“lapped up in night”). Compare Of Night and Morning [Poem 5].
Leaving the universe lapped up in night
.
55
O admirable, unparraleld affection
O admirable, unparalleled affection,
O admirable, unparalleled affection;
56
Thus by \
Physical Note
written over illegible erased word(s)
his fall
Physical Note
in H2
his ffall \
recovering o:r defection
Thus, by His fall, recovering our
Gloss Note
imperfection, shortcoming; abandonment of one’s religion, moral duty, cause or country
defection
!
Thus by his fall recovering our defection.
57
I am amazed at his infinite Love
I am amazed at His infinite love;
I am amazed at his infinite love;
58
ffor ^us hee left his Glorious Throne aboue
For us he left his glorious throne above.
For us he left his glorious throne above.
59
Though for a good Man one would Deign to die
Though for a good man one would
Gloss Note
condescend; graciously accept
deign
to die,
Though for a good man one would deign to die,
60
Yet who would doe Soe for his enemie
Yet who would do so for his enemy?
Critical Note
Pulter paraphrases Romans 5:7-8: “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (AV). This allusion frames the exempla that follow because each includes sacrifice on behalf of a friend or “good man” rather than an enemy, while Christ dies for humans who are his “cursed foes.”
Yet who would do so for his enemy
?

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
61
Damon, and Pithias, would Die for one another
Critical Note
In classical legend, these faithful friends each strove to save the other from a sentence of death.
Damon and Pythias
would die for one another;
Damon and Pythias would die for one another,
62
Pollux divided Splendour with his Brother
Critical Note
Zeus changed Pollux and his twin brother, Castor, into the constellation Gemini after Castor died and Pollux refused to part from him.
Pollux
divided splendor with his brother;
Pollux divided splendor with his brother,
63
Patrocles, and Achillis, loues excell
Critical Note
In classical myth, these were Greek soldiers in the Trojan war. When Patroclus is killed by Hector, Achilles (who has until then refused to fight) avenges his best friend’s death by returning to battle and killing Hector.
Patroclus and Achilles
’s loves excel;
Patroclus’ and Achilles’ loves excel,
64
Theſeus reveng’d Perithous death in Hell
Critical Note
Theseus and Pirithous were close comrades who went to Hades; Theseus survived, but Pirithous did not.
Theseus revenged Pirithous’s death in Hell
;
Theseus revenged Pirithous’ death in Hell,
65
When lovly
Physical Note
"sle" written over earlier letters
Liſle
Saw Lucas Bleeding Lie
When lovely
Critical Note
George Lisle and Charles Lucas were Royalist commanders in the siege of Colchester during the English civil war, who were executed by a firing squad without trial after their defeat and capture at Colchester in 1648. See Pulter’s On Those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas.
Lisle saw Lucas
bleeding lie,
When lovely Lisle saw Lucas bleeding lie,
66
Hee on his trembling Booſome Strait did die
He on his trembling bosom straight did die.
He on his trembling bosom straight did die.
67
Thus doe theſe Storyes and theſe ffables teach
Thus do these
Gloss Note
i.e., histories
stories
and these fables teach
Critical Note
Pulter identifies five famous pairs to serve as partial analogues for Christ’s love and sacrifice for humans: 1) Damon offered himself as surety for his friend Pythias; 2) The immortal Pollux offered to share his immortality with his mortal twin Castor; 3) Patroclus is killed by Hector, and Achilles returns to battle to avenge the death of his lover; 4) Theseus and his friend Pirithous attempt travel to the underworld, where they intend to capture Persephone so Pirithous can marry her; when they fail, Pirithous is stranded in the underworld, and Theseus tries, and fails, to rescue him; 5) Lucas and Lisle are well known Royalist soldiers who were captured and executed by Parliamentarian forces at Colchester in 1648. While there is quite a bit of variation in the “love” demonstrated by each of these stories, the final pair is distinct because they are Pulter’s contemporaries. Lucas and Lisle were considered Royalist martyrs and were commemorated in numerous panegyrics and poems. See also Pulter’s On Those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas, Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester [Poem 7].
Thus do these stories and these fables teach
,
68
And Shew to us how fare our Love may Reach
And show to us how far our love may reach;
And show to us how far our love may reach.
69
But^hee (my Soul) his precious Blood did loſe
But He (my soul) His precious blood did lose
But he (my soul) his precious blood did lose
70
ffor us (Ay mee) for us his Curſſed
Physical Note
“e” imperfectly erased
ffoeſe
For us (ay me), for us: His curséd foes.
For us (ay me) for us his cursed foes.
71
Conſidering this my Soul how canst thou Stay
Considering this, my soul, how canst thou stay?
Considering this, my soul, how canst thou stay
72
Now hee is Gon, dost thou not know the way?
Now He is gone, dost thou not know
Critical Note
See John 14:6: "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
the way
Now he is gone? Dost thou not know the way?
73
When little Infants new Created Souls
When little infants’ new-created souls
When little infants’ new created souls
74
Doe eaſily ffly
Physical Note
imperfectly erased ascender suggests final “t” corrected to “e”
aboue
or Star, or Poles,
Do easily fly above
Gloss Note
either
or
star or poles,
Do easily fly above or star, or poles,
75
And ffrom their tender Mothers Ubrious Brest
And from their tender mother’s
Gloss Note
full; nourishing
uberous
breast
And from their tender mother’s
Critical Note
“supplying milk or nourishment in abundance” (OED, “uberous,” adj. 1.a.). Though “tender” mothers nourish their infants with milk from their own breasts, children often die, but unlike the speaker’s own soul, they know the way to heaven. Their souls escape the earth and travel to a “star” or the “poles,” and they “fly to their eternal rest.”
uberous
breast
76
Doe often ffly to their eternall Rest
Do often fly to their eternal rest?
Do often fly to their eternal rest;
77
And thou my Soul witherd and Worn w: th Grief
And thou, my soul, withered and worn with grief:
And thou, my soul, withered and worn with grief,
78
Think’st in this Dunghill earth to find Relief
Think’st in this
Gloss Note
filthy, excrement-like
dunghill
earth to find relief?
Think’st in this dunghill earth to find relief?
79
Believe it Terren hopes are all But vain
Believe it:
Gloss Note
earthly
terrene
hopes are all but vain,
Believe it:
Gloss Note
“belonging to the earth or to this world; earthly, worldly, secular, temporal, material, human” (OED, "terrene," adj. 1.a.)
terrene
hopes are all but vain;
80
ffor thou must cast thy Haccle once again
For thou must
Gloss Note
cast off
cast
thy
Critical Note
covering, as skin, or outer garment; the speaker proposes the skin or other earthly forms must be cast off “again” by way of returning to an original condition.
hackle
once again
For thou must cast thy
Critical Note
“a cloak, a mantle, an outer garment”; or, “A covering or skin of any kind, esp. a snake’s skin” (OED, "hackle," n. 1. and 2.). Here “hackle” refers to the speaker’s body, which serves as a covering or “skin” for the soul.
hackle
once again
81
Before thou canst poſſes thoſe endles Joyes
Before thou canst possess those endless joys,
Before thou canst possess those endless joys,
82
Cōpar’d with which all worldly Pomps are Toyes.
Compared with which all worldly pomps are
Gloss Note
trivial things
toys
.
Compared with which all worldly pomps are toys.
horizontal straight line
X (Close panel) All Notes
Transcription
Title note

 Physical note

straight line under second half of “Oxford” and all of “1646”; end of previous poem occupies top of page
Elemental Edition
Title note

 Critical note

Oxford was a royalist stronghold in the first English civil war, which ended in 1646 with royalist surrender to parliamentary opponents.
Amplified Edition
Title note

 Critical note

Oxford was a Royalist stronghold and home to King Charles’s court during the First Civil War (1642-46). Oxford was besieged by Parliamentarian forces for three months in Spring 1646, and the Royalist garrison surrendered to General Thomas Fairfax on 24 June 1646. The reference to the death of Sir George Lucas and Sir Charles Lisle later in the poem indicates that the poem must have been completed in 1648 or later; however, the date in the title suggests that the story in the first half of the poem may be associated with the siege of Oxford.
Transcription

 Editorial note

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

 Editorial note

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

 Editorial note

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

 Headnote

What was a young lady doing at Oxford in 1646? Shooting herself, according to Pulter, who reports what sounds like a cross between melodrama and a news bulletin of yet another example of the never-ending collateral damage of war. The speaker’s point, however, is not to regret this instance of self-murder, but to ennoble it through analogy with various other female suicides, before criticizing her own soul for lingering on earth despite allegedly loving Christ and seeking union with him in heaven. As part of a pep-talk to speed her own death, the speaker takes various rhetorical tacks. She recounts her inspired vision of the crucifixion, for instance, and compares Christ’s extraordinary heroism favorably with exemplary male friends who died for one another (since Christ outdid them by dying, not for his friends, but the “foes” of depraved humanity). All this is canvassed as part of the speaker’s somewhat haranguing campaign for her soul to leave her body without delay: a goal the young lady accomplished with the pull of a trigger, but which the Christian speaker, despite her evident admiration of this act and yearning for death, cannot achieve in the same manner while remaining loyal to her self-sacrificing (if not quite suicidal) “Redeemer.”
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

In “Of a Young Lady at Oxford, 1646,” Pulter develops complex relationships between political, erotic, and religious registers. The poem’s title refers to the anecdote that takes up about the first third of the poem, which describes the deaths of an unnamed pair of lovers during the Siege of Oxford in 1646. When the Lady learns that her lover, a Royalist soldier, has died in battle, she takes her own life in imitation of famous female suicides, Lucrece and Thisbe. This exemplum of erotic devotion, which Pulter describes as “earthy love,” prompts the speaker’s reflection upon the state of her soul. In an extended apostrophe to her soul, the speaker questions how her soul can desire to stay on earth when Christ, the soul’s proper companion, has already left it. Pulter mirrors the anecdote in the first part of the poem with the examples of five pairs—brothers, friends, lovers, and soldiers—who are famous for their devotion and willingness to die for one another. These exempla raise questions about whether different forms of human devotion are models for (or imitations of) the soul’s desire for union with Christ. The middle of the poem, however, includes several Biblical allusions that frame and reframe the classical allusions that begin and end the poem. While the unnamed Lady and the famous male heroes sacrifice themselves for friends or lovers, Christ dies for humans who are enemies (“cursed foes”) by dint of their sins (Romans 5: 7-8), a sacrifice that informs the speaker’s final, urgent questioning of her own soul.
Transcription
Line number 3

 Physical note

struck-through with multiple horizontal lines; “noe wonder” directly above “then”
Elemental Edition
Line number 3

 Gloss note

exchanged
Elemental Edition
Line number 5

 Gloss note

English civil war
Transcription
Line number 7

 Physical note

“h” in H2
Elemental Edition
Line number 10

 Critical note

a bird noted for affection to its mate
Amplified Edition
Line number 10

 Critical note

birds renowned for their monogamy and devotion. The turtledove is the subject of “The Poor Turtledove” (Emblem 20) [Poem 85].
Elemental Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

twig or shoot
Elemental Edition
Line number 14

 Critical note

In Greek myth, this was the paradisal place where heroes went after death.
Amplified Edition
Line number 14

 Critical note

in Greek mythology, a blessed land where heroes live happily after their deaths.
Elemental Edition
Line number 16

 Critical note

Lucrece was a married Roman woman who, after being brutally raped, chose to commit suicide rather than live in perceived dishonor.
Elemental Edition
Line number 17

 Gloss note

before
Transcription
Line number 19

 Physical note

“y” appears corrected from earlier “i”
Elemental Edition
Line number 19

 Critical note

Thisbe, in love with Pyramus, kills herself when she thinks him dead.
Transcription
Line number 22

 Physical note

in H2
Amplified Edition
Line number 22

 Critical note

the young lady of Oxford is compared to two famous women whose suicides are also memorialized in poetry: Lucrece, who killed herself after she was raped by Tarquin in 510 BCE, and Thisbe (“Babylonish virgin sweet”) who commits suicide after she discovers the death (also a suicide) of her lover Pyramus. The stories of both of these women have repeatedly been the subject of poetry. Ovid writes of Lucrece in book II of Fasti, and Shakespeare adopts the story in The Rape of Lucrece (1594). The earliest version of the Pyramus and Thisbe story is found in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (book 4). Shakespeare uses this story for the plot of the play-within-a-play in A Midsummer’s Night Dream and also adapts it in Romeo and Juliet. Pulter updates these tales of heroic female suicide by including a modern weapon (the pistol).
Elemental Edition
Line number 24

 Gloss note

Cupid
Elemental Edition
Line number 25

 Gloss note

i.e., of the gun
Elemental Edition
Line number 26

 Gloss note

pain; grief
Amplified Edition
Line number 26

 Critical note

Pulter interprets the Lady’s suicide as heroic, which corresponds to Stoic philosophy but is in conflict with Christian ethics. I have not been able to identify a specific historical analogue for the anecdote of a young lady’s suicide in Oxford during the Civil Wars, though the mixture specific historical details with classical precedent suggests that more research is warranted. If this story is fictional, Pulter has invented her own “fable” to place beside the classical exempla cited in the poem. If the story is historical, it is notable that Pulter does not condemn the Lady’s suicide, but interprets it as evidence of her nobility of spirit.
Elemental Edition
Line number 30

 Gloss note

noble; courageous
Amplified Edition
Line number 32

 Critical note

“consisting of earth, or of material resembling earth. Also used fig. of the human body, esp. a dead body” (OED "earthy" n. 1.c.). Pulter’s use of “earthy” rather than the more common “earthly” may reflect the interest in the elements displayed elsewhere in her poetry. See O, My Afflicted Solitary Soul [Poem 28] and The Invocation of the Elements [Poem 41].
Elemental Edition
Line number 34

 Gloss note

lingers
Elemental Edition
Line number 37

 Gloss note

fear; suspect
Transcription
Line number 38

 Physical note

third “i” appears written over “u”
Elemental Edition
Line number 39

 Gloss note

engrafting feathers in a bird’s wing to remedy losses or deficiencies, and so restore or improve the powers of flight
Amplified Edition
Line number 39

 Critical note

“to engraft feathers in the wing of a bird, so as to make good losses or deficiencies” (OED "imp," v. 4.). Compare to George Herbert’s “Easter Wings,” in which the speaker desires to “imp” his wing on Christ: “For, if I imp my wing on thine, / Affliction shall advance the flight in me.”
Transcription
Line number 40

 Physical note

“w” written over other letter
Transcription
Line number 44

 Physical note

“st” crowded between surrounding words
Amplified Edition
Line number 44

 Critical note

Pulter alludes to Luke 24:5: “And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?” (AV)
Elemental Edition
Line number 46

 Critical note

Calvary was where Christ was crucified; Canaan is the biblical promised land.
Amplified Edition
Line number 46

 Critical note

the location of Christ’s crucifixion.
Elemental Edition
Line number 47

 Gloss note

shining, brilliant
Amplified Edition
Line number 47

 Critical note

Pulter describes her faith as an “active” aid to vision. The “resplendent” (shining) eye of faith allows her to “see” the crucifixion of Christ. Compare to This Was Written in 1648, When I Lay In, With my Son John [Poem 45] in which the speaker’s “thoughts” allow a vision of the planets.
Elemental Edition
Line number 49

 Critical note

Longeus, Longius, or Longinus is the traditional name for the Roman soldier at the Crucifixion who pierced Christ’s side with his spear to ensure that Christ was dead.
Amplified Edition
Line number 49

 Critical note

the name traditionally given to the Roman soldier who pierced Jesus with his lance. See John 19:34: “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out of blood and water” (AV).
Elemental Edition
Line number 51

 Gloss note

life-giving
Amplified Edition
Line number 51

 Critical note

“to come or bring to life” (OED, "quicken," v. 1.); “dying quickening blood” is a paradox, suggesting that Christ’s blood renews life through death.
Amplified Edition
Line number 54

 Critical note

upon the death of his body, Christ’s soul returns to Heaven, leaving all of the created universe in darkness (“lapped up in night”). Compare Of Night and Morning [Poem 5].
Transcription
Line number 56

 Physical note

written over illegible erased word(s)
Transcription
Line number 56

 Physical note

in H2
Elemental Edition
Line number 56

 Gloss note

imperfection, shortcoming; abandonment of one’s religion, moral duty, cause or country
Elemental Edition
Line number 59

 Gloss note

condescend; graciously accept
Amplified Edition
Line number 60

 Critical note

Pulter paraphrases Romans 5:7-8: “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (AV). This allusion frames the exempla that follow because each includes sacrifice on behalf of a friend or “good man” rather than an enemy, while Christ dies for humans who are his “cursed foes.”
Elemental Edition
Line number 61

 Critical note

In classical legend, these faithful friends each strove to save the other from a sentence of death.
Elemental Edition
Line number 62

 Critical note

Zeus changed Pollux and his twin brother, Castor, into the constellation Gemini after Castor died and Pollux refused to part from him.
Elemental Edition
Line number 63

 Critical note

In classical myth, these were Greek soldiers in the Trojan war. When Patroclus is killed by Hector, Achilles (who has until then refused to fight) avenges his best friend’s death by returning to battle and killing Hector.
Elemental Edition
Line number 64

 Critical note

Theseus and Pirithous were close comrades who went to Hades; Theseus survived, but Pirithous did not.
Transcription
Line number 65

 Physical note

"sle" written over earlier letters
Elemental Edition
Line number 65

 Critical note

George Lisle and Charles Lucas were Royalist commanders in the siege of Colchester during the English civil war, who were executed by a firing squad without trial after their defeat and capture at Colchester in 1648. See Pulter’s On Those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas.
Elemental Edition
Line number 67

 Gloss note

i.e., histories
Amplified Edition
Line number 67

 Critical note

Pulter identifies five famous pairs to serve as partial analogues for Christ’s love and sacrifice for humans: 1) Damon offered himself as surety for his friend Pythias; 2) The immortal Pollux offered to share his immortality with his mortal twin Castor; 3) Patroclus is killed by Hector, and Achilles returns to battle to avenge the death of his lover; 4) Theseus and his friend Pirithous attempt travel to the underworld, where they intend to capture Persephone so Pirithous can marry her; when they fail, Pirithous is stranded in the underworld, and Theseus tries, and fails, to rescue him; 5) Lucas and Lisle are well known Royalist soldiers who were captured and executed by Parliamentarian forces at Colchester in 1648. While there is quite a bit of variation in the “love” demonstrated by each of these stories, the final pair is distinct because they are Pulter’s contemporaries. Lucas and Lisle were considered Royalist martyrs and were commemorated in numerous panegyrics and poems. See also Pulter’s On Those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas, Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester [Poem 7].
Transcription
Line number 70

 Physical note

“e” imperfectly erased
Elemental Edition
Line number 72

 Critical note

See John 14:6: "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
Transcription
Line number 74

 Physical note

imperfectly erased ascender suggests final “t” corrected to “e”
Elemental Edition
Line number 74

 Gloss note

either
Elemental Edition
Line number 75

 Gloss note

full; nourishing
Amplified Edition
Line number 75

 Critical note

“supplying milk or nourishment in abundance” (OED, “uberous,” adj. 1.a.). Though “tender” mothers nourish their infants with milk from their own breasts, children often die, but unlike the speaker’s own soul, they know the way to heaven. Their souls escape the earth and travel to a “star” or the “poles,” and they “fly to their eternal rest.”
Elemental Edition
Line number 78

 Gloss note

filthy, excrement-like
Elemental Edition
Line number 79

 Gloss note

earthly
Amplified Edition
Line number 79

 Gloss note

“belonging to the earth or to this world; earthly, worldly, secular, temporal, material, human” (OED, "terrene," adj. 1.a.)
Elemental Edition
Line number 80

 Gloss note

cast off
Elemental Edition
Line number 80

 Critical note

covering, as skin, or outer garment; the speaker proposes the skin or other earthly forms must be cast off “again” by way of returning to an original condition.
Amplified Edition
Line number 80

 Critical note

“a cloak, a mantle, an outer garment”; or, “A covering or skin of any kind, esp. a snake’s skin” (OED, "hackle," n. 1. and 2.). Here “hackle” refers to the speaker’s body, which serves as a covering or “skin” for the soul.
Elemental Edition
Line number 82

 Gloss note

trivial things
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
ManuscriptX (Close panel)
image
ManuscriptX (Close panel)
image
ManuscriptX (Close panel)
image
ManuscriptX (Close panel)
image