The Bishop and the Rats (Emblem 46)

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The Bishop and the Rats (Emblem 46)

Poem #111

Original Source

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

Versions

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

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

How to cite these versions

Conventions for these editions

The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making

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

 Editorial note

In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.
Line number 1

 Physical note

in left margin; previous poem concludes at top of same page, followed by blank space; poem begins mid-page
Line number 1

 Physical note

in different hand from main scribe
Line number 8

 Physical note

no closed parenthesis
Line number 18

 Physical note

“c” possibly written over an “s”
Line number 28

 Physical note

cancelled asterisk above the “S”
Line number 29

 Physical note

in left margin, in H2: “* / Cruell Popula and / his curssed wiffe / [short horizontal line between text] By the ſame dismalle / ſtroake did end / their liffe”
Line number 35

 Physical note

blot near base of decorative descender for “R”
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
[Emblem 46]
The Bishop and the Rats
(Emblem 46)
AE TITLE
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

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

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Is it possible to flee from punishment for your sins? In this emblem, Pulter fuses two of her favorite themes: the danger of underestimating even the seemingly slightest adversaries, (which she commonly typifies by mice, rats, flies, and lice) and the karma-like cycling of the material and spiritual world. Here, Pulter spins these twin arguments out of the folk legend associated with the Mouse Tower in Germany (which echoes the Polish legend of Popiel). The story tells of how the tyrant Hatto, who cruelly denounced peasants as the true vermin of the earth and burned them to death, was then the subject of God’s revenge by literal vermin who chased him to a tower in a river and ate him alive. After describing other famous figures who gruesomely choked on flies or whose bodies were ridden with lice, Pulter unearths the possible silver lining of a world where you can never hide from God’s judgment: the divine will always be able to pierce the worst darkness to offer mercy and comfort. The phantasmagoric fate of being eaten alive by mice prompts Pulter’s resolve to accept the world’s endless cycles: “For should I take Aurora’s golden wings,” she exclaims, in imagining trying to escape the world, “And fly her shining circle, still it brings / Me whence I came.” The frightening prospect of “what goes around comes around” converts, in the end, into an embrace of the inevitable return to divinely mandated origins.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
46
Physical Note
in left margin; previous poem concludes at top of same page, followed by blank space; poem begins mid-page
In
Physical Note
in different hand from main scribe
Ments
when Corn was grown exceſſive dear
In
Gloss Note
a city in Germany
Mainz
, when
Gloss Note
grain in general (not just maize)
corn
was grown excessive
Gloss Note
expensive
dear
2
By Rats, and Mice, which in Huge Swarms apear
By rats and mice, which in huge swarms appear,
3
The Hippocritticall Biſhop of the place
The
Gloss Note
Archbishop Hatto, noted for being wicked and miserly: “hypocritical” should be pronounced as four syllables.
hypocritical bishop
of the place
4
Did Seem to pitty much the peoples Caſe
Did seem to pity much the people’s case;
5
And them unto a gallant ffeast invited
And them unto a
Gloss Note
showy, attractive, splendid
gallant
feast invited,
6
As if in Charity hee had delighted
As if in charity he had delighted;
7
But when hee had gotten them to his deſire
But when he had
Gloss Note
gotten them where he wanted them
gotten them to his desire
,
8
Hee (o
Physical Note
no closed parenthesis
inhumane
Set the Barn on ffire
He (O, inhumane!) set the barn on fire.
9
And thus theſe wretched Creatures all did die
And thus these wretched creatures all did die,
10
ffor which his Curſed Soul in Hell did ffrie
For which
Gloss Note
The poem here points to the bishop’s eventual damnation, while the next ten lines indicate what happened immediately after the barn burning but before his death.
his curséd soul in Hell did fry
.
11
Then pointing to them burning, (Said) look here
Then, pointing to them burning, said, “Look here!
12
Theſe are the Vermine make our Corn Soe dear
These are the vermin make our corn so dear!”
13
But See Gods Judgments doth this wretch purſue
But see, God’s judgments doth this wretch pursue,
14
Which made him Soon thoſe Curſed Actions Rue
Which made him soon those curséd actions
Gloss Note
regret; lament
rue
.
15
ffor Nasty Ratts Still after him did Run
For nasty rats still after him did run,
16
Not to bee Scar’d by Tel’sma or Gun
Not to be scared by
Gloss Note
charm
talisman
or gun.
at

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
17
At last hee built a Tower in the Seas
At last he built a tower in the seas,
18
Hopeing that there he might Remain in
Physical Note
“c” possibly written over an “s”
peace
Hoping that there he might remain in peace.
19
But infinite Uglie Rats did thither Swim
But infinite ugly rats did thither swim,
20
And to his Horrid pain devoured him
And, to his horrid pain, devouréd him.
21
ffirst let this teach us to compaſſionate
First, let this teach us
Gloss Note
to pity; the object of pity are “those” in the next line who are less fortunate
to compassionate
22
(If wee abound) thoſe whoſe diſaſterous ffate
(If we
Gloss Note
are plentiful, prosperous, rich
abound
) those whose disastrous fate
23
Have made them miſerable, next wee may See
Have made them miserable. Next, we may see
24
ffrom Gods Revenging hand noe place is free
From God’s revenging hand no place is free;
25
ffor each deſpiſed Reptile or Inſect
For each despiséd reptile or insect
26
He can impower, when wee his Laws neglect
He can empower, when we his laws neglect.
27
Pope Alexander was Choked with A fflie
Gloss Note
Legend had it that the twelfth century Pope Adrian IV died because he choked on a fly in his drink. Pulter resituates this incident as happening to one of the popes named Alexander.
Pope Alexander was choked with a fly
;
28
Physical Note
cancelled asterisk above the “S”
Scilla
and Herod, by A Lows did die
Gloss Note
Sulla (a Roman general and politician, 138–78 BCE) and Herod the Great (Roman king of Judaea, 11 BC–44 AD) were both tyrants who reputedly had deaths involved with worms: Sulla died of a lice infestation (phthiriasis) and Herod, according to Acts 12:21-23, was eaten by worms after God struck him dead with lightning.
Sulla and Herod by a louse did die
.
29
Physical Note
in left margin, in H2: “* / Cruell Popula and / his curssed wiffe / [short horizontal line between text] By the ſame dismalle / ſtroake did end / their liffe”
T’is
* neither Earth nor Sea nor Ayr nor Skie
Gloss Note
Popiel (which is corrupted to “Popula’ in the manuscript) was a legendary ninth-century Slavic, ruler who, at the instigation of his wife, poisoned family members conspiring against him. The rats and mice feeding on the corpses of those murdered then pursued and devoured the couple alive. See Sabine Baring-Gould, Curious Myths of the Middle Ages: The Sangreal, Pope Joan, The Wandering Jew, and Others (Mineola, NY: Dover, 2005), 256. Thanks to Katharine Maus and Rob Stauffer for locating this legend.
Cruel Popiel and his curséd wife
30
To which A Sad deſpairing Soul can fflie
By the
Gloss Note
being eaten by rats, as was Hatto
same dismal stroke
did end their life.
31
ffor Should I take Auroras Golden Wings
’Tis neither earth, nor sea, nor air, nor sky
32
And fflie her Shining Circle Still it brings
To which a sad despairing soul can
Gloss Note
flee
fly
;
33
Mee whence I came, or Should Nights Sable Carr
For should I take
Gloss Note
goddess of the dawn’s
Aurora’s
golden wings
34
Mee Hurrie where is neither Moon nor Starr
And fly her shining circle, still it brings
35
Yet would (my Glorious God) one
Physical Note
blot near base of decorative descender for “R”
Raie
Me whence I came; or should Night’s sable
Gloss Note
chariot; Nyx, goddess of Night, was often depicted riding a dark chariot pulled by horses, trailing the sky.
car
36
Of thine involve my Soul in Endles day
Me hurry where is neither moon nor star,
37
Then Seeing noe place will Hide my Sins & mee
Yet would (my glorious God) one ray
38
I’le from thy Justice to thy Mercie fflee.
Of Thine
Gloss Note
entangle, envelop
involve
my soul in endless day.
39
Then, seeing no place will hide my sins and me,
40
I’ll from Thy justice to Thy mercy flee.
horizontal straight line
X (Close panel)Notes: Elemental Edition

 Editorial note

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

 Headnote

Is it possible to flee from punishment for your sins? In this emblem, Pulter fuses two of her favorite themes: the danger of underestimating even the seemingly slightest adversaries, (which she commonly typifies by mice, rats, flies, and lice) and the karma-like cycling of the material and spiritual world. Here, Pulter spins these twin arguments out of the folk legend associated with the Mouse Tower in Germany (which echoes the Polish legend of Popiel). The story tells of how the tyrant Hatto, who cruelly denounced peasants as the true vermin of the earth and burned them to death, was then the subject of God’s revenge by literal vermin who chased him to a tower in a river and ate him alive. After describing other famous figures who gruesomely choked on flies or whose bodies were ridden with lice, Pulter unearths the possible silver lining of a world where you can never hide from God’s judgment: the divine will always be able to pierce the worst darkness to offer mercy and comfort. The phantasmagoric fate of being eaten alive by mice prompts Pulter’s resolve to accept the world’s endless cycles: “For should I take Aurora’s golden wings,” she exclaims, in imagining trying to escape the world, “And fly her shining circle, still it brings / Me whence I came.” The frightening prospect of “what goes around comes around” converts, in the end, into an embrace of the inevitable return to divinely mandated origins.
Line number 1

 Gloss note

a city in Germany
Line number 1

 Gloss note

grain in general (not just maize)
Line number 1

 Gloss note

expensive
Line number 3

 Gloss note

Archbishop Hatto, noted for being wicked and miserly: “hypocritical” should be pronounced as four syllables.
Line number 5

 Gloss note

showy, attractive, splendid
Line number 7

 Gloss note

gotten them where he wanted them
Line number 10

 Gloss note

The poem here points to the bishop’s eventual damnation, while the next ten lines indicate what happened immediately after the barn burning but before his death.
Line number 14

 Gloss note

regret; lament
Line number 16

 Gloss note

charm
Line number 21

 Gloss note

to pity; the object of pity are “those” in the next line who are less fortunate
Line number 22

 Gloss note

are plentiful, prosperous, rich
Line number 27

 Gloss note

Legend had it that the twelfth century Pope Adrian IV died because he choked on a fly in his drink. Pulter resituates this incident as happening to one of the popes named Alexander.
Line number 28

 Gloss note

Sulla (a Roman general and politician, 138–78 BCE) and Herod the Great (Roman king of Judaea, 11 BC–44 AD) were both tyrants who reputedly had deaths involved with worms: Sulla died of a lice infestation (phthiriasis) and Herod, according to Acts 12:21-23, was eaten by worms after God struck him dead with lightning.
Line number 29

 Gloss note

Popiel (which is corrupted to “Popula’ in the manuscript) was a legendary ninth-century Slavic, ruler who, at the instigation of his wife, poisoned family members conspiring against him. The rats and mice feeding on the corpses of those murdered then pursued and devoured the couple alive. See Sabine Baring-Gould, Curious Myths of the Middle Ages: The Sangreal, Pope Joan, The Wandering Jew, and Others (Mineola, NY: Dover, 2005), 256. Thanks to Katharine Maus and Rob Stauffer for locating this legend.
Line number 30

 Gloss note

being eaten by rats, as was Hatto
Line number 32

 Gloss note

flee
Line number 33

 Gloss note

goddess of the dawn’s
Line number 35

 Gloss note

chariot; Nyx, goddess of Night, was often depicted riding a dark chariot pulled by horses, trailing the sky.
Line number 38

 Gloss note

entangle, envelop
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
[Emblem 46]
The Bishop and the Rats
(Emblem 46)
AE TITLE
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

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

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Is it possible to flee from punishment for your sins? In this emblem, Pulter fuses two of her favorite themes: the danger of underestimating even the seemingly slightest adversaries, (which she commonly typifies by mice, rats, flies, and lice) and the karma-like cycling of the material and spiritual world. Here, Pulter spins these twin arguments out of the folk legend associated with the Mouse Tower in Germany (which echoes the Polish legend of Popiel). The story tells of how the tyrant Hatto, who cruelly denounced peasants as the true vermin of the earth and burned them to death, was then the subject of God’s revenge by literal vermin who chased him to a tower in a river and ate him alive. After describing other famous figures who gruesomely choked on flies or whose bodies were ridden with lice, Pulter unearths the possible silver lining of a world where you can never hide from God’s judgment: the divine will always be able to pierce the worst darkness to offer mercy and comfort. The phantasmagoric fate of being eaten alive by mice prompts Pulter’s resolve to accept the world’s endless cycles: “For should I take Aurora’s golden wings,” she exclaims, in imagining trying to escape the world, “And fly her shining circle, still it brings / Me whence I came.” The frightening prospect of “what goes around comes around” converts, in the end, into an embrace of the inevitable return to divinely mandated origins.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
46
Physical Note
in left margin; previous poem concludes at top of same page, followed by blank space; poem begins mid-page
In
Physical Note
in different hand from main scribe
Ments
when Corn was grown exceſſive dear
In
Gloss Note
a city in Germany
Mainz
, when
Gloss Note
grain in general (not just maize)
corn
was grown excessive
Gloss Note
expensive
dear
2
By Rats, and Mice, which in Huge Swarms apear
By rats and mice, which in huge swarms appear,
3
The Hippocritticall Biſhop of the place
The
Gloss Note
Archbishop Hatto, noted for being wicked and miserly: “hypocritical” should be pronounced as four syllables.
hypocritical bishop
of the place
4
Did Seem to pitty much the peoples Caſe
Did seem to pity much the people’s case;
5
And them unto a gallant ffeast invited
And them unto a
Gloss Note
showy, attractive, splendid
gallant
feast invited,
6
As if in Charity hee had delighted
As if in charity he had delighted;
7
But when hee had gotten them to his deſire
But when he had
Gloss Note
gotten them where he wanted them
gotten them to his desire
,
8
Hee (o
Physical Note
no closed parenthesis
inhumane
Set the Barn on ffire
He (O, inhumane!) set the barn on fire.
9
And thus theſe wretched Creatures all did die
And thus these wretched creatures all did die,
10
ffor which his Curſed Soul in Hell did ffrie
For which
Gloss Note
The poem here points to the bishop’s eventual damnation, while the next ten lines indicate what happened immediately after the barn burning but before his death.
his curséd soul in Hell did fry
.
11
Then pointing to them burning, (Said) look here
Then, pointing to them burning, said, “Look here!
12
Theſe are the Vermine make our Corn Soe dear
These are the vermin make our corn so dear!”
13
But See Gods Judgments doth this wretch purſue
But see, God’s judgments doth this wretch pursue,
14
Which made him Soon thoſe Curſed Actions Rue
Which made him soon those curséd actions
Gloss Note
regret; lament
rue
.
15
ffor Nasty Ratts Still after him did Run
For nasty rats still after him did run,
16
Not to bee Scar’d by Tel’sma or Gun
Not to be scared by
Gloss Note
charm
talisman
or gun.
at

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
17
At last hee built a Tower in the Seas
At last he built a tower in the seas,
18
Hopeing that there he might Remain in
Physical Note
“c” possibly written over an “s”
peace
Hoping that there he might remain in peace.
19
But infinite Uglie Rats did thither Swim
But infinite ugly rats did thither swim,
20
And to his Horrid pain devoured him
And, to his horrid pain, devouréd him.
21
ffirst let this teach us to compaſſionate
First, let this teach us
Gloss Note
to pity; the object of pity are “those” in the next line who are less fortunate
to compassionate
22
(If wee abound) thoſe whoſe diſaſterous ffate
(If we
Gloss Note
are plentiful, prosperous, rich
abound
) those whose disastrous fate
23
Have made them miſerable, next wee may See
Have made them miserable. Next, we may see
24
ffrom Gods Revenging hand noe place is free
From God’s revenging hand no place is free;
25
ffor each deſpiſed Reptile or Inſect
For each despiséd reptile or insect
26
He can impower, when wee his Laws neglect
He can empower, when we his laws neglect.
27
Pope Alexander was Choked with A fflie
Gloss Note
Legend had it that the twelfth century Pope Adrian IV died because he choked on a fly in his drink. Pulter resituates this incident as happening to one of the popes named Alexander.
Pope Alexander was choked with a fly
;
28
Physical Note
cancelled asterisk above the “S”
Scilla
and Herod, by A Lows did die
Gloss Note
Sulla (a Roman general and politician, 138–78 BCE) and Herod the Great (Roman king of Judaea, 11 BC–44 AD) were both tyrants who reputedly had deaths involved with worms: Sulla died of a lice infestation (phthiriasis) and Herod, according to Acts 12:21-23, was eaten by worms after God struck him dead with lightning.
Sulla and Herod by a louse did die
.
29
Physical Note
in left margin, in H2: “* / Cruell Popula and / his curssed wiffe / [short horizontal line between text] By the ſame dismalle / ſtroake did end / their liffe”
T’is
* neither Earth nor Sea nor Ayr nor Skie
Gloss Note
Popiel (which is corrupted to “Popula’ in the manuscript) was a legendary ninth-century Slavic, ruler who, at the instigation of his wife, poisoned family members conspiring against him. The rats and mice feeding on the corpses of those murdered then pursued and devoured the couple alive. See Sabine Baring-Gould, Curious Myths of the Middle Ages: The Sangreal, Pope Joan, The Wandering Jew, and Others (Mineola, NY: Dover, 2005), 256. Thanks to Katharine Maus and Rob Stauffer for locating this legend.
Cruel Popiel and his curséd wife
30
To which A Sad deſpairing Soul can fflie
By the
Gloss Note
being eaten by rats, as was Hatto
same dismal stroke
did end their life.
31
ffor Should I take Auroras Golden Wings
’Tis neither earth, nor sea, nor air, nor sky
32
And fflie her Shining Circle Still it brings
To which a sad despairing soul can
Gloss Note
flee
fly
;
33
Mee whence I came, or Should Nights Sable Carr
For should I take
Gloss Note
goddess of the dawn’s
Aurora’s
golden wings
34
Mee Hurrie where is neither Moon nor Starr
And fly her shining circle, still it brings
35
Yet would (my Glorious God) one
Physical Note
blot near base of decorative descender for “R”
Raie
Me whence I came; or should Night’s sable
Gloss Note
chariot; Nyx, goddess of Night, was often depicted riding a dark chariot pulled by horses, trailing the sky.
car
36
Of thine involve my Soul in Endles day
Me hurry where is neither moon nor star,
37
Then Seeing noe place will Hide my Sins & mee
Yet would (my glorious God) one ray
38
I’le from thy Justice to thy Mercie fflee.
Of Thine
Gloss Note
entangle, envelop
involve
my soul in endless day.
39
Then, seeing no place will hide my sins and me,
40
I’ll from Thy justice to Thy mercy flee.
horizontal straight line
X (Close panel) All Notes
Transcription

 Editorial note

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

 Editorial note

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

 Editorial note

Elemental Edition

 Headnote

Is it possible to flee from punishment for your sins? In this emblem, Pulter fuses two of her favorite themes: the danger of underestimating even the seemingly slightest adversaries, (which she commonly typifies by mice, rats, flies, and lice) and the karma-like cycling of the material and spiritual world. Here, Pulter spins these twin arguments out of the folk legend associated with the Mouse Tower in Germany (which echoes the Polish legend of Popiel). The story tells of how the tyrant Hatto, who cruelly denounced peasants as the true vermin of the earth and burned them to death, was then the subject of God’s revenge by literal vermin who chased him to a tower in a river and ate him alive. After describing other famous figures who gruesomely choked on flies or whose bodies were ridden with lice, Pulter unearths the possible silver lining of a world where you can never hide from God’s judgment: the divine will always be able to pierce the worst darkness to offer mercy and comfort. The phantasmagoric fate of being eaten alive by mice prompts Pulter’s resolve to accept the world’s endless cycles: “For should I take Aurora’s golden wings,” she exclaims, in imagining trying to escape the world, “And fly her shining circle, still it brings / Me whence I came.” The frightening prospect of “what goes around comes around” converts, in the end, into an embrace of the inevitable return to divinely mandated origins.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

Transcription
Line number 1

 Physical note

in left margin; previous poem concludes at top of same page, followed by blank space; poem begins mid-page
Transcription
Line number 1

 Physical note

in different hand from main scribe
Elemental Edition
Line number 1

 Gloss note

a city in Germany
Elemental Edition
Line number 1

 Gloss note

grain in general (not just maize)
Elemental Edition
Line number 1

 Gloss note

expensive
Elemental Edition
Line number 3

 Gloss note

Archbishop Hatto, noted for being wicked and miserly: “hypocritical” should be pronounced as four syllables.
Elemental Edition
Line number 5

 Gloss note

showy, attractive, splendid
Elemental Edition
Line number 7

 Gloss note

gotten them where he wanted them
Transcription
Line number 8

 Physical note

no closed parenthesis
Elemental Edition
Line number 10

 Gloss note

The poem here points to the bishop’s eventual damnation, while the next ten lines indicate what happened immediately after the barn burning but before his death.
Elemental Edition
Line number 14

 Gloss note

regret; lament
Elemental Edition
Line number 16

 Gloss note

charm
Transcription
Line number 18

 Physical note

“c” possibly written over an “s”
Elemental Edition
Line number 21

 Gloss note

to pity; the object of pity are “those” in the next line who are less fortunate
Elemental Edition
Line number 22

 Gloss note

are plentiful, prosperous, rich
Elemental Edition
Line number 27

 Gloss note

Legend had it that the twelfth century Pope Adrian IV died because he choked on a fly in his drink. Pulter resituates this incident as happening to one of the popes named Alexander.
Transcription
Line number 28

 Physical note

cancelled asterisk above the “S”
Elemental Edition
Line number 28

 Gloss note

Sulla (a Roman general and politician, 138–78 BCE) and Herod the Great (Roman king of Judaea, 11 BC–44 AD) were both tyrants who reputedly had deaths involved with worms: Sulla died of a lice infestation (phthiriasis) and Herod, according to Acts 12:21-23, was eaten by worms after God struck him dead with lightning.
Transcription
Line number 29

 Physical note

in left margin, in H2: “* / Cruell Popula and / his curssed wiffe / [short horizontal line between text] By the ſame dismalle / ſtroake did end / their liffe”
Elemental Edition
Line number 29

 Gloss note

Popiel (which is corrupted to “Popula’ in the manuscript) was a legendary ninth-century Slavic, ruler who, at the instigation of his wife, poisoned family members conspiring against him. The rats and mice feeding on the corpses of those murdered then pursued and devoured the couple alive. See Sabine Baring-Gould, Curious Myths of the Middle Ages: The Sangreal, Pope Joan, The Wandering Jew, and Others (Mineola, NY: Dover, 2005), 256. Thanks to Katharine Maus and Rob Stauffer for locating this legend.
Elemental Edition
Line number 30

 Gloss note

being eaten by rats, as was Hatto
Elemental Edition
Line number 32

 Gloss note

flee
Elemental Edition
Line number 33

 Gloss note

goddess of the dawn’s
Transcription
Line number 35

 Physical note

blot near base of decorative descender for “R”
Elemental Edition
Line number 35

 Gloss note

chariot; Nyx, goddess of Night, was often depicted riding a dark chariot pulled by horses, trailing the sky.
Elemental Edition
Line number 38

 Gloss note

entangle, envelop
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