The Cockatrice (Emblem 16)

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The Cockatrice (Emblem 16)

Poem 82

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
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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 22

 Physical note

in left margin: "*Psalm 84: v11."
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 16]
The Cockatrice
(Emblem 16)
Emblem 16
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

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

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
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 do a basilisk, Medusa, and sin have in common? In this emblem grappling with the boundaries between internal and external domains, Pulter explains that each has the power to injure and may only be repulsed by a shield used to mirror back that injury. Blending natural history, mythology, and biblical citation, Pulter weaves a fable explaining the need for Christian faith, conventionally symbolized as a shining shield. Just as Perseus had to use his armor to reflect and return Medusa’s deadly glance, and the reader of the poem (addressed as “you”) must protect against a cockatrice (a legendary serpent able to kill by its “visual beams”), the good Christian must invert evil’s force and return it to its source. Appropriate for a poem about mirroring, the speaker suddenly redirects her gaze, in line 19, back onto herself: rather than teaching the reader a lesson, she shows herself in need of her own instruction. Here she she beseeches God for the power to abort an embryonic sinful temptation before it comes to fruition. Only if this destruction fails will she need the shield of Christ’s sacrifice to enable her to face an externalized Sin.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Pulter’s sixteenth emblem takes up the cockatrice, also known as the basilisk. The emblem focuses on the legendary weakness of the basilisk—it can be destroyed with a mirror that turns its poison back upon itself—in order to explore sin and the defenses humans may (or may not) have against it. Identifying the cockatrice as sin, the poem describes two different methods for defeating it: first, the active discovery of its “deceits” and, second, a reliance on the shield of faith.
Consider how this poem functions both as an emblem and also as a performance of the use of emblems. The first eighteen lines of the poem are addressed to an unnamed friend; the repetition of the second-person pronoun “you” suggests that readers should incorporate the lessons of the poem in their own lives. But in the final seven lines, the speaker intrudes into the poem and tests the applicability of the emblem to her own situation, questioning whether she will “crush” sin or rely upon the shield of faith.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
16The Cockatrice as vulgarly Receiv’d
The
Gloss Note
legendary serpent reputed to be able to kill by its mere glance and hatched from a cock’s egg; named as such because of the mark on its head resembling a crown; also known as a basilisk.
cockatrice
, as
Gloss Note
commonly
vulgarly
received,
Critical Note
The cockatrice or basilisk is a mythical serpent believed to be hatched by a toad from the egg of a cock (“against nature. . .conceived”). The basilisk is extremely venomous and poisons its victims with its eyes unless the victim uses a glass or mirror to turn the poison back (“reverberates” (line 10)) upon the creature. Sir Thomas Browne reviews, and rejects, much of the lore of the basilisk in Book 3, Chapter 7 of Pseudodoxia Epidemica, or Enquiries into very many received tenets and commonly presumed truths (1646), also known as Vulgar Errors. Pulter’s poem participates in the same testing of received knowledge that is the subject of Browne’s popular work, eventually turning the cockatrice into an emblem of the relationship between sin and faith.
The cockatrice as vulgarly received
2
Is against nature by a Cock conceiv’d
Is, against nature, by a
Gloss Note
rooster
cock
conceived,
Is against nature by a cock conceived,
3
Whoſe Egs a Toad doth to perfection bring
Whose eggs a toad doth to perfection bring,
Whose eggs a toad doth to perfection bring,
4
Whence comes the Baſalisk the Serpents King
Whence comes the
Gloss Note
cockatrice
basilisk
, the serpent’s king.
Whence comes the basilisk, the serpent’s king.
5
If this fierce Animall doth first See you
If this fierce animal doth first see you,
If this fierce animal doth first see you,
6
Prepare my ffreind to bid this World Adue
Prepare, my friend, to bid this world
Gloss Note
farewell
adieu
.
Prepare, my friend, to bid this world adieu.
7
But if you See him first you are Secure
But if you see him first, you are secure,
But if you see him first, you are secure,
8
If with this Cristall you your Selfe imure
If with this
Gloss Note
mirror
crystal
you yourself
Gloss Note
fortify
immure
.
If with this
Critical Note
i.e. the mirror that can be used to turn the basilisk’s poison back on itself.
crystal
you yourself immure.
9
The viſuall beams which Iſſue from his Eyes
The visual beams which issue from his eyes
The visual beams which issue from his eyes
10
Reverberat’s his poyſon Soe hee dies
Gloss Note
repels
Reverberates
his poison, so he dies.
Reverberates his poison so he dies.
11
So Pertius with his Sisters Shineing Shield
So Perseus with his sister’s shining shield
So Perseus with his sister’s shining shield
12
Made Proud Meduſa and the Gorgons Yield
Critical Note
In Greek mythology, the gorgons were three female creatures (Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa) with snakes for hair and the ability to turn anyone to stone who looked at them. Perseus decapitated Medusa by refusing to look directly at her, using instead her reflection in a shield.
Made proud Medusa and the Gorgons yield
.
Critical Note
Analogously to the defeat of the basilisk, Perseus defeats the snake-headed Medusa, who turns enemies to stone with her gaze, with a polished shield provided by Athena, the goddess of wisdom
Made proud Medusa and the Gorgons yield
.
13
Sin is this Curſed Killing Cockatrice
Sin is this curséd, killing cockatrice;
Sin is this cursed killing cockatrice:
14
If you diſcover i’ts deceits it Dies
If you discover its deceits, it dies,
If you discover its deceits it dies,
15
But if you don’t nought but the Splendent Shield
But if you don’t, nought but the splendent shield
But if you don’t, nought but the splendent shield
16
Of ffaith, will make this Helliſh Monſter Yield
Critical Note
see Ephesians 6:13;16: “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day … Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
Of faith
will make this hellish monster yield.
Critical Note
While Athena’s shield defeats Medusa, the “shield of faith” defeats Sin. See Ephesians 6:16: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (AV). Pulter explores the analogies between three different types of lore: natural history, mythology, and Scripture.
Of faith
will make this hellish monster yield.
17
Then with the Christian Armour Arm you
Then with the Christian armor arm you,
Then with the Christian armor arm you,
18
And all the Powers of Hell Shall never harm you
And all the powers of Hell shall never harm you.
And all the powers of Hell shall never harm you.
19
But o let mee diſpoſe my thoughts Soe well
But, O, let me dispose my thoughts so well
But O let me dispose my thoughts so well,
20
That I may Cruſh this Embrion in the Shell
That I may crush this
Gloss Note
embryo, unborn offspring
embryon
in the shell;
That I may crush this
Critical Note
“The unborn, unhatched, or incompletely developed offspring of an animal” OED, embryo, n. 1b. The speaker asks for the power to “crush” the cockatrice, and hence sin, before it can be hatched.
embryon
in the shell.
21
Yet if I doe to Sinfull Motions Yield
Yet if I do to sinful motions yield,
Yet if I do to sinful motions yield,
22
Bee thou to mee dear God
Physical Note
in left margin: "*Psalm 84: v11."
*A
Sun and Shield
Be Thou to me, dear God,
Physical Note
in the left margin is a citation to Psalms 84:11. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
a sun and shield
,
Be thou to me, dear God,
Physical Note
At this point in the manuscript there is an asterisk which points to a marginal note, “Psalms 84:11”: “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (AV) The presence of this note suggests that Pulter wanted readers to see this verse as providing a resolution to the problem posed by the cockatrice.
a
sun and shield.
23
Then as inſlav’d to Sin and Death I lie
Then as enslaved to sin and death I lie,
Then, as enslaved to sin and death I lie,
24
Ile on the Braſen Serpent cast mine Eye
I’ll on the
Gloss Note
strong, shameless
brazen
serpent cast mine eye:
I’ll on the
Critical Note
Numbers 21: 8-9: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” (AV) In John 3:14-15 the brazen serpent is identified as a type of Christ on the cross: “ And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (AV) The speaker will “cast mine eye” upon this spectacle in the hope that it will release her from sin and death.
brazen serpent
cast mine eye,
25
Who conquerd Death and Hell on Calvary.
Gloss Note
Thou who
Who
conquered Death and Hell on
Critical Note
place outside ancient Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified; his resurrection was said to release humans from eternal death and conquer Satan.
Calvary
.
Who conquered death and Hell on
Critical Note
location of Christ’s death
Calvary
.
horizontal straight line
X (Close panel)Notes: Elemental Edition

 Editorial note

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

 Headnote

What do a basilisk, Medusa, and sin have in common? In this emblem grappling with the boundaries between internal and external domains, Pulter explains that each has the power to injure and may only be repulsed by a shield used to mirror back that injury. Blending natural history, mythology, and biblical citation, Pulter weaves a fable explaining the need for Christian faith, conventionally symbolized as a shining shield. Just as Perseus had to use his armor to reflect and return Medusa’s deadly glance, and the reader of the poem (addressed as “you”) must protect against a cockatrice (a legendary serpent able to kill by its “visual beams”), the good Christian must invert evil’s force and return it to its source. Appropriate for a poem about mirroring, the speaker suddenly redirects her gaze, in line 19, back onto herself: rather than teaching the reader a lesson, she shows herself in need of her own instruction. Here she she beseeches God for the power to abort an embryonic sinful temptation before it comes to fruition. Only if this destruction fails will she need the shield of Christ’s sacrifice to enable her to face an externalized Sin.
Line number 1

 Gloss note

legendary serpent reputed to be able to kill by its mere glance and hatched from a cock’s egg; named as such because of the mark on its head resembling a crown; also known as a basilisk.
Line number 1

 Gloss note

commonly
Line number 2

 Gloss note

rooster
Line number 4

 Gloss note

cockatrice
Line number 6

 Gloss note

farewell
Line number 8

 Gloss note

mirror
Line number 8

 Gloss note

fortify
Line number 10

 Gloss note

repels
Line number 12

 Critical note

In Greek mythology, the gorgons were three female creatures (Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa) with snakes for hair and the ability to turn anyone to stone who looked at them. Perseus decapitated Medusa by refusing to look directly at her, using instead her reflection in a shield.
Line number 16

 Critical note

see Ephesians 6:13;16: “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day … Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
Line number 20

 Gloss note

embryo, unborn offspring
Line number 22

 Physical note

in the left margin is a citation to Psalms 84:11. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
Line number 24

 Gloss note

strong, shameless
Line number 25

 Gloss note

Thou who
Line number 25

 Critical note

place outside ancient Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified; his resurrection was said to release humans from eternal death and conquer Satan.
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 16]
The Cockatrice
(Emblem 16)
Emblem 16
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

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

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
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 do a basilisk, Medusa, and sin have in common? In this emblem grappling with the boundaries between internal and external domains, Pulter explains that each has the power to injure and may only be repulsed by a shield used to mirror back that injury. Blending natural history, mythology, and biblical citation, Pulter weaves a fable explaining the need for Christian faith, conventionally symbolized as a shining shield. Just as Perseus had to use his armor to reflect and return Medusa’s deadly glance, and the reader of the poem (addressed as “you”) must protect against a cockatrice (a legendary serpent able to kill by its “visual beams”), the good Christian must invert evil’s force and return it to its source. Appropriate for a poem about mirroring, the speaker suddenly redirects her gaze, in line 19, back onto herself: rather than teaching the reader a lesson, she shows herself in need of her own instruction. Here she she beseeches God for the power to abort an embryonic sinful temptation before it comes to fruition. Only if this destruction fails will she need the shield of Christ’s sacrifice to enable her to face an externalized Sin.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Pulter’s sixteenth emblem takes up the cockatrice, also known as the basilisk. The emblem focuses on the legendary weakness of the basilisk—it can be destroyed with a mirror that turns its poison back upon itself—in order to explore sin and the defenses humans may (or may not) have against it. Identifying the cockatrice as sin, the poem describes two different methods for defeating it: first, the active discovery of its “deceits” and, second, a reliance on the shield of faith.
Consider how this poem functions both as an emblem and also as a performance of the use of emblems. The first eighteen lines of the poem are addressed to an unnamed friend; the repetition of the second-person pronoun “you” suggests that readers should incorporate the lessons of the poem in their own lives. But in the final seven lines, the speaker intrudes into the poem and tests the applicability of the emblem to her own situation, questioning whether she will “crush” sin or rely upon the shield of faith.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
16The Cockatrice as vulgarly Receiv’d
The
Gloss Note
legendary serpent reputed to be able to kill by its mere glance and hatched from a cock’s egg; named as such because of the mark on its head resembling a crown; also known as a basilisk.
cockatrice
, as
Gloss Note
commonly
vulgarly
received,
Critical Note
The cockatrice or basilisk is a mythical serpent believed to be hatched by a toad from the egg of a cock (“against nature. . .conceived”). The basilisk is extremely venomous and poisons its victims with its eyes unless the victim uses a glass or mirror to turn the poison back (“reverberates” (line 10)) upon the creature. Sir Thomas Browne reviews, and rejects, much of the lore of the basilisk in Book 3, Chapter 7 of Pseudodoxia Epidemica, or Enquiries into very many received tenets and commonly presumed truths (1646), also known as Vulgar Errors. Pulter’s poem participates in the same testing of received knowledge that is the subject of Browne’s popular work, eventually turning the cockatrice into an emblem of the relationship between sin and faith.
The cockatrice as vulgarly received
2
Is against nature by a Cock conceiv’d
Is, against nature, by a
Gloss Note
rooster
cock
conceived,
Is against nature by a cock conceived,
3
Whoſe Egs a Toad doth to perfection bring
Whose eggs a toad doth to perfection bring,
Whose eggs a toad doth to perfection bring,
4
Whence comes the Baſalisk the Serpents King
Whence comes the
Gloss Note
cockatrice
basilisk
, the serpent’s king.
Whence comes the basilisk, the serpent’s king.
5
If this fierce Animall doth first See you
If this fierce animal doth first see you,
If this fierce animal doth first see you,
6
Prepare my ffreind to bid this World Adue
Prepare, my friend, to bid this world
Gloss Note
farewell
adieu
.
Prepare, my friend, to bid this world adieu.
7
But if you See him first you are Secure
But if you see him first, you are secure,
But if you see him first, you are secure,
8
If with this Cristall you your Selfe imure
If with this
Gloss Note
mirror
crystal
you yourself
Gloss Note
fortify
immure
.
If with this
Critical Note
i.e. the mirror that can be used to turn the basilisk’s poison back on itself.
crystal
you yourself immure.
9
The viſuall beams which Iſſue from his Eyes
The visual beams which issue from his eyes
The visual beams which issue from his eyes
10
Reverberat’s his poyſon Soe hee dies
Gloss Note
repels
Reverberates
his poison, so he dies.
Reverberates his poison so he dies.
11
So Pertius with his Sisters Shineing Shield
So Perseus with his sister’s shining shield
So Perseus with his sister’s shining shield
12
Made Proud Meduſa and the Gorgons Yield
Critical Note
In Greek mythology, the gorgons were three female creatures (Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa) with snakes for hair and the ability to turn anyone to stone who looked at them. Perseus decapitated Medusa by refusing to look directly at her, using instead her reflection in a shield.
Made proud Medusa and the Gorgons yield
.
Critical Note
Analogously to the defeat of the basilisk, Perseus defeats the snake-headed Medusa, who turns enemies to stone with her gaze, with a polished shield provided by Athena, the goddess of wisdom
Made proud Medusa and the Gorgons yield
.
13
Sin is this Curſed Killing Cockatrice
Sin is this curséd, killing cockatrice;
Sin is this cursed killing cockatrice:
14
If you diſcover i’ts deceits it Dies
If you discover its deceits, it dies,
If you discover its deceits it dies,
15
But if you don’t nought but the Splendent Shield
But if you don’t, nought but the splendent shield
But if you don’t, nought but the splendent shield
16
Of ffaith, will make this Helliſh Monſter Yield
Critical Note
see Ephesians 6:13;16: “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day … Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
Of faith
will make this hellish monster yield.
Critical Note
While Athena’s shield defeats Medusa, the “shield of faith” defeats Sin. See Ephesians 6:16: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (AV). Pulter explores the analogies between three different types of lore: natural history, mythology, and Scripture.
Of faith
will make this hellish monster yield.
17
Then with the Christian Armour Arm you
Then with the Christian armor arm you,
Then with the Christian armor arm you,
18
And all the Powers of Hell Shall never harm you
And all the powers of Hell shall never harm you.
And all the powers of Hell shall never harm you.
19
But o let mee diſpoſe my thoughts Soe well
But, O, let me dispose my thoughts so well
But O let me dispose my thoughts so well,
20
That I may Cruſh this Embrion in the Shell
That I may crush this
Gloss Note
embryo, unborn offspring
embryon
in the shell;
That I may crush this
Critical Note
“The unborn, unhatched, or incompletely developed offspring of an animal” OED, embryo, n. 1b. The speaker asks for the power to “crush” the cockatrice, and hence sin, before it can be hatched.
embryon
in the shell.
21
Yet if I doe to Sinfull Motions Yield
Yet if I do to sinful motions yield,
Yet if I do to sinful motions yield,
22
Bee thou to mee dear God
Physical Note
in left margin: "*Psalm 84: v11."
*A
Sun and Shield
Be Thou to me, dear God,
Physical Note
in the left margin is a citation to Psalms 84:11. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
a sun and shield
,
Be thou to me, dear God,
Physical Note
At this point in the manuscript there is an asterisk which points to a marginal note, “Psalms 84:11”: “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (AV) The presence of this note suggests that Pulter wanted readers to see this verse as providing a resolution to the problem posed by the cockatrice.
a
sun and shield.
23
Then as inſlav’d to Sin and Death I lie
Then as enslaved to sin and death I lie,
Then, as enslaved to sin and death I lie,
24
Ile on the Braſen Serpent cast mine Eye
I’ll on the
Gloss Note
strong, shameless
brazen
serpent cast mine eye:
I’ll on the
Critical Note
Numbers 21: 8-9: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” (AV) In John 3:14-15 the brazen serpent is identified as a type of Christ on the cross: “ And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (AV) The speaker will “cast mine eye” upon this spectacle in the hope that it will release her from sin and death.
brazen serpent
cast mine eye,
25
Who conquerd Death and Hell on Calvary.
Gloss Note
Thou who
Who
conquered Death and Hell on
Critical Note
place outside ancient Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified; his resurrection was said to release humans from eternal death and conquer Satan.
Calvary
.
Who conquered death and Hell on
Critical Note
location of Christ’s death
Calvary
.
horizontal straight line
X (Close panel)Notes: 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.

 Headnote

Pulter’s sixteenth emblem takes up the cockatrice, also known as the basilisk. The emblem focuses on the legendary weakness of the basilisk—it can be destroyed with a mirror that turns its poison back upon itself—in order to explore sin and the defenses humans may (or may not) have against it. Identifying the cockatrice as sin, the poem describes two different methods for defeating it: first, the active discovery of its “deceits” and, second, a reliance on the shield of faith.
Consider how this poem functions both as an emblem and also as a performance of the use of emblems. The first eighteen lines of the poem are addressed to an unnamed friend; the repetition of the second-person pronoun “you” suggests that readers should incorporate the lessons of the poem in their own lives. But in the final seven lines, the speaker intrudes into the poem and tests the applicability of the emblem to her own situation, questioning whether she will “crush” sin or rely upon the shield of faith.
Line number 1

 Critical note

The cockatrice or basilisk is a mythical serpent believed to be hatched by a toad from the egg of a cock (“against nature. . .conceived”). The basilisk is extremely venomous and poisons its victims with its eyes unless the victim uses a glass or mirror to turn the poison back (“reverberates” (line 10)) upon the creature. Sir Thomas Browne reviews, and rejects, much of the lore of the basilisk in Book 3, Chapter 7 of Pseudodoxia Epidemica, or Enquiries into very many received tenets and commonly presumed truths (1646), also known as Vulgar Errors. Pulter’s poem participates in the same testing of received knowledge that is the subject of Browne’s popular work, eventually turning the cockatrice into an emblem of the relationship between sin and faith.
Line number 8

 Critical note

i.e. the mirror that can be used to turn the basilisk’s poison back on itself.
Line number 12

 Critical note

Analogously to the defeat of the basilisk, Perseus defeats the snake-headed Medusa, who turns enemies to stone with her gaze, with a polished shield provided by Athena, the goddess of wisdom
Line number 16

 Critical note

While Athena’s shield defeats Medusa, the “shield of faith” defeats Sin. See Ephesians 6:16: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (AV). Pulter explores the analogies between three different types of lore: natural history, mythology, and Scripture.
Line number 20

 Critical note

“The unborn, unhatched, or incompletely developed offspring of an animal” OED, embryo, n. 1b. The speaker asks for the power to “crush” the cockatrice, and hence sin, before it can be hatched.
Line number 22

 Physical note

At this point in the manuscript there is an asterisk which points to a marginal note, “Psalms 84:11”: “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (AV) The presence of this note suggests that Pulter wanted readers to see this verse as providing a resolution to the problem posed by the cockatrice.
Line number 24

 Critical note

Numbers 21: 8-9: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” (AV) In John 3:14-15 the brazen serpent is identified as a type of Christ on the cross: “ And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (AV) The speaker will “cast mine eye” upon this spectacle in the hope that it will release her from sin and death.
Line number 25

 Critical note

location of Christ’s death
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
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[Emblem 16]
The Cockatrice
(Emblem 16)
Emblem 16
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 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 do a basilisk, Medusa, and sin have in common? In this emblem grappling with the boundaries between internal and external domains, Pulter explains that each has the power to injure and may only be repulsed by a shield used to mirror back that injury. Blending natural history, mythology, and biblical citation, Pulter weaves a fable explaining the need for Christian faith, conventionally symbolized as a shining shield. Just as Perseus had to use his armor to reflect and return Medusa’s deadly glance, and the reader of the poem (addressed as “you”) must protect against a cockatrice (a legendary serpent able to kill by its “visual beams”), the good Christian must invert evil’s force and return it to its source. Appropriate for a poem about mirroring, the speaker suddenly redirects her gaze, in line 19, back onto herself: rather than teaching the reader a lesson, she shows herself in need of her own instruction. Here she she beseeches God for the power to abort an embryonic sinful temptation before it comes to fruition. Only if this destruction fails will she need the shield of Christ’s sacrifice to enable her to face an externalized Sin.

— Lara Dodds
Pulter’s sixteenth emblem takes up the cockatrice, also known as the basilisk. The emblem focuses on the legendary weakness of the basilisk—it can be destroyed with a mirror that turns its poison back upon itself—in order to explore sin and the defenses humans may (or may not) have against it. Identifying the cockatrice as sin, the poem describes two different methods for defeating it: first, the active discovery of its “deceits” and, second, a reliance on the shield of faith.
Consider how this poem functions both as an emblem and also as a performance of the use of emblems. The first eighteen lines of the poem are addressed to an unnamed friend; the repetition of the second-person pronoun “you” suggests that readers should incorporate the lessons of the poem in their own lives. But in the final seven lines, the speaker intrudes into the poem and tests the applicability of the emblem to her own situation, questioning whether she will “crush” sin or rely upon the shield of faith.


— Lara Dodds
1
16The Cockatrice as vulgarly Receiv’d
The
Gloss Note
legendary serpent reputed to be able to kill by its mere glance and hatched from a cock’s egg; named as such because of the mark on its head resembling a crown; also known as a basilisk.
cockatrice
, as
Gloss Note
commonly
vulgarly
received,
Critical Note
The cockatrice or basilisk is a mythical serpent believed to be hatched by a toad from the egg of a cock (“against nature. . .conceived”). The basilisk is extremely venomous and poisons its victims with its eyes unless the victim uses a glass or mirror to turn the poison back (“reverberates” (line 10)) upon the creature. Sir Thomas Browne reviews, and rejects, much of the lore of the basilisk in Book 3, Chapter 7 of Pseudodoxia Epidemica, or Enquiries into very many received tenets and commonly presumed truths (1646), also known as Vulgar Errors. Pulter’s poem participates in the same testing of received knowledge that is the subject of Browne’s popular work, eventually turning the cockatrice into an emblem of the relationship between sin and faith.
The cockatrice as vulgarly received
2
Is against nature by a Cock conceiv’d
Is, against nature, by a
Gloss Note
rooster
cock
conceived,
Is against nature by a cock conceived,
3
Whoſe Egs a Toad doth to perfection bring
Whose eggs a toad doth to perfection bring,
Whose eggs a toad doth to perfection bring,
4
Whence comes the Baſalisk the Serpents King
Whence comes the
Gloss Note
cockatrice
basilisk
, the serpent’s king.
Whence comes the basilisk, the serpent’s king.
5
If this fierce Animall doth first See you
If this fierce animal doth first see you,
If this fierce animal doth first see you,
6
Prepare my ffreind to bid this World Adue
Prepare, my friend, to bid this world
Gloss Note
farewell
adieu
.
Prepare, my friend, to bid this world adieu.
7
But if you See him first you are Secure
But if you see him first, you are secure,
But if you see him first, you are secure,
8
If with this Cristall you your Selfe imure
If with this
Gloss Note
mirror
crystal
you yourself
Gloss Note
fortify
immure
.
If with this
Critical Note
i.e. the mirror that can be used to turn the basilisk’s poison back on itself.
crystal
you yourself immure.
9
The viſuall beams which Iſſue from his Eyes
The visual beams which issue from his eyes
The visual beams which issue from his eyes
10
Reverberat’s his poyſon Soe hee dies
Gloss Note
repels
Reverberates
his poison, so he dies.
Reverberates his poison so he dies.
11
So Pertius with his Sisters Shineing Shield
So Perseus with his sister’s shining shield
So Perseus with his sister’s shining shield
12
Made Proud Meduſa and the Gorgons Yield
Critical Note
In Greek mythology, the gorgons were three female creatures (Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa) with snakes for hair and the ability to turn anyone to stone who looked at them. Perseus decapitated Medusa by refusing to look directly at her, using instead her reflection in a shield.
Made proud Medusa and the Gorgons yield
.
Critical Note
Analogously to the defeat of the basilisk, Perseus defeats the snake-headed Medusa, who turns enemies to stone with her gaze, with a polished shield provided by Athena, the goddess of wisdom
Made proud Medusa and the Gorgons yield
.
13
Sin is this Curſed Killing Cockatrice
Sin is this curséd, killing cockatrice;
Sin is this cursed killing cockatrice:
14
If you diſcover i’ts deceits it Dies
If you discover its deceits, it dies,
If you discover its deceits it dies,
15
But if you don’t nought but the Splendent Shield
But if you don’t, nought but the splendent shield
But if you don’t, nought but the splendent shield
16
Of ffaith, will make this Helliſh Monſter Yield
Critical Note
see Ephesians 6:13;16: “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day … Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
Of faith
will make this hellish monster yield.
Critical Note
While Athena’s shield defeats Medusa, the “shield of faith” defeats Sin. See Ephesians 6:16: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (AV). Pulter explores the analogies between three different types of lore: natural history, mythology, and Scripture.
Of faith
will make this hellish monster yield.
17
Then with the Christian Armour Arm you
Then with the Christian armor arm you,
Then with the Christian armor arm you,
18
And all the Powers of Hell Shall never harm you
And all the powers of Hell shall never harm you.
And all the powers of Hell shall never harm you.
19
But o let mee diſpoſe my thoughts Soe well
But, O, let me dispose my thoughts so well
But O let me dispose my thoughts so well,
20
That I may Cruſh this Embrion in the Shell
That I may crush this
Gloss Note
embryo, unborn offspring
embryon
in the shell;
That I may crush this
Critical Note
“The unborn, unhatched, or incompletely developed offspring of an animal” OED, embryo, n. 1b. The speaker asks for the power to “crush” the cockatrice, and hence sin, before it can be hatched.
embryon
in the shell.
21
Yet if I doe to Sinfull Motions Yield
Yet if I do to sinful motions yield,
Yet if I do to sinful motions yield,
22
Bee thou to mee dear God
Physical Note
in left margin: "*Psalm 84: v11."
*A
Sun and Shield
Be Thou to me, dear God,
Physical Note
in the left margin is a citation to Psalms 84:11. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
a sun and shield
,
Be thou to me, dear God,
Physical Note
At this point in the manuscript there is an asterisk which points to a marginal note, “Psalms 84:11”: “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (AV) The presence of this note suggests that Pulter wanted readers to see this verse as providing a resolution to the problem posed by the cockatrice.
a
sun and shield.
23
Then as inſlav’d to Sin and Death I lie
Then as enslaved to sin and death I lie,
Then, as enslaved to sin and death I lie,
24
Ile on the Braſen Serpent cast mine Eye
I’ll on the
Gloss Note
strong, shameless
brazen
serpent cast mine eye:
I’ll on the
Critical Note
Numbers 21: 8-9: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” (AV) In John 3:14-15 the brazen serpent is identified as a type of Christ on the cross: “ And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (AV) The speaker will “cast mine eye” upon this spectacle in the hope that it will release her from sin and death.
brazen serpent
cast mine eye,
25
Who conquerd Death and Hell on Calvary.
Gloss Note
Thou who
Who
conquered Death and Hell on
Critical Note
place outside ancient Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified; his resurrection was said to release humans from eternal death and conquer Satan.
Calvary
.
Who conquered death and Hell on
Critical Note
location of Christ’s death
Calvary
.
horizontal straight line
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Transcription

 Editorial note

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

 Editorial note

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

 Editorial note

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 do a basilisk, Medusa, and sin have in common? In this emblem grappling with the boundaries between internal and external domains, Pulter explains that each has the power to injure and may only be repulsed by a shield used to mirror back that injury. Blending natural history, mythology, and biblical citation, Pulter weaves a fable explaining the need for Christian faith, conventionally symbolized as a shining shield. Just as Perseus had to use his armor to reflect and return Medusa’s deadly glance, and the reader of the poem (addressed as “you”) must protect against a cockatrice (a legendary serpent able to kill by its “visual beams”), the good Christian must invert evil’s force and return it to its source. Appropriate for a poem about mirroring, the speaker suddenly redirects her gaze, in line 19, back onto herself: rather than teaching the reader a lesson, she shows herself in need of her own instruction. Here she she beseeches God for the power to abort an embryonic sinful temptation before it comes to fruition. Only if this destruction fails will she need the shield of Christ’s sacrifice to enable her to face an externalized Sin.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

Pulter’s sixteenth emblem takes up the cockatrice, also known as the basilisk. The emblem focuses on the legendary weakness of the basilisk—it can be destroyed with a mirror that turns its poison back upon itself—in order to explore sin and the defenses humans may (or may not) have against it. Identifying the cockatrice as sin, the poem describes two different methods for defeating it: first, the active discovery of its “deceits” and, second, a reliance on the shield of faith.
Consider how this poem functions both as an emblem and also as a performance of the use of emblems. The first eighteen lines of the poem are addressed to an unnamed friend; the repetition of the second-person pronoun “you” suggests that readers should incorporate the lessons of the poem in their own lives. But in the final seven lines, the speaker intrudes into the poem and tests the applicability of the emblem to her own situation, questioning whether she will “crush” sin or rely upon the shield of faith.
Elemental Edition
Line number 1

 Gloss note

legendary serpent reputed to be able to kill by its mere glance and hatched from a cock’s egg; named as such because of the mark on its head resembling a crown; also known as a basilisk.
Elemental Edition
Line number 1

 Gloss note

commonly
Amplified Edition
Line number 1

 Critical note

The cockatrice or basilisk is a mythical serpent believed to be hatched by a toad from the egg of a cock (“against nature. . .conceived”). The basilisk is extremely venomous and poisons its victims with its eyes unless the victim uses a glass or mirror to turn the poison back (“reverberates” (line 10)) upon the creature. Sir Thomas Browne reviews, and rejects, much of the lore of the basilisk in Book 3, Chapter 7 of Pseudodoxia Epidemica, or Enquiries into very many received tenets and commonly presumed truths (1646), also known as Vulgar Errors. Pulter’s poem participates in the same testing of received knowledge that is the subject of Browne’s popular work, eventually turning the cockatrice into an emblem of the relationship between sin and faith.
Elemental Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

rooster
Elemental Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

cockatrice
Elemental Edition
Line number 6

 Gloss note

farewell
Elemental Edition
Line number 8

 Gloss note

mirror
Elemental Edition
Line number 8

 Gloss note

fortify
Amplified Edition
Line number 8

 Critical note

i.e. the mirror that can be used to turn the basilisk’s poison back on itself.
Elemental Edition
Line number 10

 Gloss note

repels
Elemental Edition
Line number 12

 Critical note

In Greek mythology, the gorgons were three female creatures (Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa) with snakes for hair and the ability to turn anyone to stone who looked at them. Perseus decapitated Medusa by refusing to look directly at her, using instead her reflection in a shield.
Amplified Edition
Line number 12

 Critical note

Analogously to the defeat of the basilisk, Perseus defeats the snake-headed Medusa, who turns enemies to stone with her gaze, with a polished shield provided by Athena, the goddess of wisdom
Elemental Edition
Line number 16

 Critical note

see Ephesians 6:13;16: “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day … Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
Amplified Edition
Line number 16

 Critical note

While Athena’s shield defeats Medusa, the “shield of faith” defeats Sin. See Ephesians 6:16: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (AV). Pulter explores the analogies between three different types of lore: natural history, mythology, and Scripture.
Elemental Edition
Line number 20

 Gloss note

embryo, unborn offspring
Amplified Edition
Line number 20

 Critical note

“The unborn, unhatched, or incompletely developed offspring of an animal” OED, embryo, n. 1b. The speaker asks for the power to “crush” the cockatrice, and hence sin, before it can be hatched.
Transcription
Line number 22

 Physical note

in left margin: "*Psalm 84: v11."
Elemental Edition
Line number 22

 Physical note

in the left margin is a citation to Psalms 84:11. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
Amplified Edition
Line number 22

 Physical note

At this point in the manuscript there is an asterisk which points to a marginal note, “Psalms 84:11”: “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (AV) The presence of this note suggests that Pulter wanted readers to see this verse as providing a resolution to the problem posed by the cockatrice.
Elemental Edition
Line number 24

 Gloss note

strong, shameless
Amplified Edition
Line number 24

 Critical note

Numbers 21: 8-9: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” (AV) In John 3:14-15 the brazen serpent is identified as a type of Christ on the cross: “ And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (AV) The speaker will “cast mine eye” upon this spectacle in the hope that it will release her from sin and death.
Elemental Edition
Line number 25

 Gloss note

Thou who
Elemental Edition
Line number 25

 Critical note

place outside ancient Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified; his resurrection was said to release humans from eternal death and conquer Satan.
Amplified Edition
Line number 25

 Critical note

location of Christ’s death
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
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