Complaint of Thames, 1647

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Complaint of Thames, 1647

Poem 4

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

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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 7

 Physical note

blotted letters, possibly “ar,” between “r” and “a”
Line number 14

 Physical note

struck-through “a” crossed out with two forward slashes
Line number 18

 Physical note

“e”s are unusual in shape
Line number 20

 Physical note

“S” written over initial “K”; final “s” written over imperfectly erased “g”
Line number 33

 Physical note

“w” blotted and crossed with forward slashes; “e” crowded into space before next word
Line number 63

 Physical note

Second “c” overwrites an “a”.
Line number 72

 Physical note

two additional final letters (likely “ed”) corrected or cancelled; “w” could be corrected to or from “o”
Line number 84

 Physical note

to right of line, vertical scribble followed by “f”
Line number 87

 Physical note

cancelled with scribbles
Line number 90

 Physical note

three or four letters cancelled with scribbles, last two likely “gh”
Line number 103

 Physical note

in left margin, ink mark in shape of a check mark
Line number 105

 Physical note

in different hand from main scribe
Line number 108

 Physical note

deleted word, six or seven letters long, starts with “C” and ends with “s”
Line number 109

 Physical note

last “e” crowded into space before next word; “r” appears written over “n”
Line number 118

 Physical note

two “f”s in left margin
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
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Transcription

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The complaint of Thames 1647
when the best of Kings was imprisoned
by the worst of Rebels at Holmbie
The
Critical Note
The complaint, a common poetic form of the day, is voiced by the river Thames, which flows eastwards from Gloucestershire to London (hence the “western spring” in l. 3). The Thames mourns the imprisonment of King Charles at Holmby, a Northamptonshire estate (also known as Holdenby House) where King Charles was imprisoned after his surrender in the civil war in 1647.
Complaint of Thames
, 1647, When the Best of Kings was Imprisoned by the Worst of Rebels at Holmby
The Complaint of Thames, 1647, When the Best of Kings Was Imprisoned By the Worst of Rebels at
Critical Note
Also known as Holdenby House, Holmby is the estate in Northamptonshire where King Charles I was held prisoner during the latter stages of the First Civil War (February to June 1647). This is one of three poems that Pulter dated 1647. See “The Invitation to the Country” (Poem 2) and Made When I Was Sick, 1647 [Poem 31].
Holmby
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
In this political-pastoral complaint (in iambic pentameter couplets), the narrator discovers the river Thames mourning the imprisonment of King Charles I in 1647 and the national crisis that has ensued because of the civil war. The use of a frame tale and an embedded narrator was common in Renaissance complaint poems (by William Shakespeare, Samuel Daniel, Thomas Lodge, and others). In this poem, however, Pulter creates a personification of a topographical feature, who testifies to the decline of England and lauds the glory of Charles I and past English rulers (whose erotically-described travel over her waters made her the envy of all the rivers of the world). After inventorying world rivers and mourning the loss of their admiration, the Thames fantasizes that she might stream underground and transport Cromwell and parliamentary authorities to a hellish classical underworld. She then offers to immortalize the king with the only material she can offer: the watery tears of grief.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Framed by a brief first-person introduction and conclusion, “The Complaint of Thames” voices the lament of the Thames river, personified as a female figure, for the betrayal of the rightful monarch, King Charles I, by the people and city of London. Pulter examines the political consequences of the king’s imprisonment in both national and global contexts through the device of a catalog of rivers. Drawing upon extensive geographical and historical lore, Pulter heightens the pathos of the Thames’s complaint by putting it into dialogue with the famous rivers of England and the world. The rivers alternately envy the Thames and grieve with her, joined, finally, by the speaker who puts off sleep to weep with the rivers of the world.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Late in an evening as I walk’d alone,
Late in an evening as I walked alone,
Late in an evening as I walked alone,
2
I heard the Thames most Sadly make her moane:
I heard the Thames most sadly make her moan.
I heard the Thames most sadly make her moan.
3
As Shee came weeping from her western Spring,
As she came weeping from her western spring,
As she came weeping from her
Critical Note
The Thames flows from west to east across southern England, passing through Oxford and London. Its source is in Gloucestershire.
western spring
,
4
Shee thus bewaild the learned Shepherds King.
She thus bewailed the
Critical Note
King Charles, figured as the head of a courtly flock
learnéd shepherd’s king
:
Critical Note

Pulter personifies the Thames as a feminized figure, thus drawing on the tradition of complaint poetry such as Samuel Daniel’s “The Complaint of Rosamund” and Spenser’s “The Ruines of Time.” In Spenser’s poem, the speaker stands by the river Thames and overhears the complaint of a woman who speaks as the spirit of Verulamium, an ancient Roman city. Some well known poems, such as Michael Drayton’s Poly-Olbion, identified the Thames as masculine. In John Denham’s popular “Cooper’s Hill” (1642), likewise, the Thames is personified as a “son” of the Ocean:

Thames, the most lov’d of all the ocean’s sons,
By his old sire to his embraces runs,
Hasting to pay his tribute to the sea,
Like mortal life to meet eternity. (lines 187-90)
She
thus bewailed the learned shepherds’ king:
5
Amintas Sad Amintas Sits forelorne
Critical Note
common male pastoral name for a shepherd; the female equivalent is Chloris, mentioned in the next line.
Amintas
, sad Amintas, sits forlorn,
Amintas, sad Amintas, sits forlorn,
6
And his faire Cloris now’s become the Scorne
And his fair Chloris now’s become the scorn
And his fair
Critical Note
a pastoral name for Queen Henrietta Maria, paired with Amintas for King Charles.
Chloris
now’s become the scorn
7
Of Troynovants
Physical Note
blotted letters, possibly “ar,” between “r” and “a”
ingrate
licentious Dames
Of
Critical Note
The name given by the early chroniclers to London, which was presumed to be built by Brutus, a Trojan refugee; it indicates the city of the Trinovantes or The New Troy.
Troynovant’s
Gloss Note
ungrateful
ingrate
licentious dames.
Of
Critical Note
New Troy, i.e. London; a name that draws upon the legend that London was founded by the Trojan hero Brutus.
Troynovant
’s
Critical Note
In contrast to the sympathetic Royalism shared by the speaker and the personified Thames, the women of London are represented as immoral and treacherous. During the 1640s some London women did bring petitions before Parliament, political actions that were satirized in sexualized terms in pamphlets such as The Parliament of Women(1646). See Mihoko Suzuki Subordinate Subjects: Gender, the Political Nation, and Literary Form in England, 1588-1688 (Ashgate, 2003), especially chapter 4.
ingrate, licentious dames
.
8
Noe merveile then if poore aflicted Thames
No marvel, then, if poor afflicted Thames
No marvel, then, if poor afflicted Thames
9
With Salt abortive teares dos wash this Citty
With salt,
Gloss Note
fruitless
abortive
tears does wash this city,
With salt abortive tears does wash this city,
10
As full of Blood and lies as voyd of pittie
As full of blood and lies as void of pity.
As full of blood and lies as void of pity.
11
Perfidious Town know thou the power of fate
Gloss Note
untrustworthy
Perfidious
town, know thou the power of fate:
Gloss Note
faithless or treacherous (OED)
Perfidious
town, know thou the power of fate.
12
Thy long felicitie shall find a date
Thy long felicity shall find a
Gloss Note
come to an end
date
,
Thy long felicity shall find a date,
13
And I may live to see another turn
And I may live to see another
Gloss Note
of Fortune’s wheel
turn
,
And I may live to see another turn
14
When thy proud
Physical Note
struck-through “a” crossed out with two forward slashes
fabriack
shall unpittied burn
When thy proud
Gloss Note
edifice; structure
fabric
shall unpitied burn.
When thy proud fabric shall unpitied burn.
15
Then Heaven Just Heaven withhold thy raine
Then Heaven, just Heaven, withhold thy rain,
Then Heaven, just Heaven, withhold thy rain,
16
And I will leave my channill once againe
And I will leave my channel once again,
And I will leave my channel once again,
17
As when my holy Albians blood was spilt
As when my holy
Critical Note
could refer to St. Alban or to Albion. Eardley: St. Alban, killed in the third century AD for harboring a priest; at his urging, God dried up waters so that he could cross a stream to be executed and complete his martyrdom; Albion, another name for Britain, from a giant slain by Hercules, whose spilt blood would reference civil war
Albion’s
blood was spilt;
As when my holy
Critical Note
Saint Alban is known as the first British martyr (3rd or 4th century). Alban harbors a priest and refuses to renounce Christianity. When his execution by beheading is ordered, he approaches his death eagerly and when he reaches a quickly flowing river that cannot be crossed, he prays, and the river dries up. In Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People this event is located at the River Ver in the town of Verulamium (now St. Albans), but in another early source (Gildas, De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae) Alban crosses the Thames before his martyrdom, which corresponds to Pulter’s version of the story.
Albian
’s blood was spilt,
18
Physical Note
“e”s are unusual in shape
Seeing
to wash away thy Horrid guilt
Physical Note
corrected from “seeing” in the manuscript
Seeking
to wash away
Gloss Note
London’s
thy
horrid guilt
Seeing to wash away thy horrid guilt
19
Is more impossible then tis to change
Is more impossible than ’tis to change
Is more impossible than ’tis to change
20
The
Physical Note
“S” written over initial “K”; final “s” written over imperfectly erased “g”
Skins
of Negros that in Aphrick range
Critical Note
Afric, or Africa; this line and the one above it allude to the biblical phrase naming impossibility: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?” (Jerome 13:23), which was proverbial in early modern England
The skins of Negroes that in Afric range
.
Critical Note
Jeremiah 13:23: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil” (AV); i.e. the Londoners’ guilt is immutable.
The skins of Negroes that in Afric’ range
.
21
Then when thou fryest in vengfull flames of fire
Then, when thou fryest in vengeful flames of fire,
Then when thou fryest in vengeful flames of fire,
22
Thy Scorched genious Reddy to expire
Thy scorchéd
Gloss Note
spirit
genius
ready to expire—
Thy scorched
Critical Note
i.e. genius loci, “A guardian spirit or god associated with a place” (OED), in this case, the Thames, which withholds its water to punish the “slander” of the Londoners’ tongues.
genius
ready to expire,
23
Thy Tongue and mouth Sable as Salamander
Thy tongue and mouth
Gloss Note
black
sable
as
Critical Note
lizard-like animal, some of which have a black color, supposedly able to endure fire
salamander
Thy tongue and mouth sable as salamander
24
With Speaking gainst thy King and Queene Such Sland’r
With speaking ’gainst thy king and queen such slander—
With speaking ’gainst thy king and queen such slander,
25
Then not a drop of my coole Cristall Wave
Then not a drop of my cool crystal
Physical Note
modified from "wave" in the manuscript
have
Then not a drop of my cool crystal wave
26
To coole thy Sulpherous Tongue or life to save
To cool thy
Gloss Note
fiery; hellish
sulfurous
tongue, or life to save;
To cool thy sulfurous tongue or life to save,
27
But when I haue of thee Seene all my lust
But when I have of thee seen all my
Gloss Note
pleasure; desire; vigor
lust
But when I have of thee seen all my lust
28
And all thy pride and Glory Turn’d to dust
And all thy pride and glory turned to dust,
And all thy pride and glory turned to dust,
29
Then I Triumphant with my watery traine
Then I, triumphant with my watery train,
Then I triumphant with my watery train
30
Will make this Cittie Quagmires once againe
Will make this city
Gloss Note
wet boggy lands that give way under foot; a situation that is unpleasant or hazardous, or from which it is difficult to extricate oneself
quagmires
once again.
Will make this city
Critical Note
“an area of wet, boggy land that gives way under foot; a quaking bog” (OED, “quagmire,” n. 1.); the Thames first threatens to abandon the city of London to drought because of its betrayal of the king. She will return only when she has witnessed (“seen all my lust”) sufficient humbling and punishment (“all thy pride and glory turned to dust”).
quagmires
once again.

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31
But O thy Blood and Pe^rjuries Repent
But O,
Gloss Note
London
thy
Gloss Note
responsibility for violence or bloodshed
blood
and perjuries repent;
But O, thy blood and perjuries repent,
32
Then Heaven I hope in mercie will Relent
Then Heaven, I hope, in mercy will relent.
Then Heaven I hope in mercy will relent.
33
Thy King Restore call
Physical Note
“w” blotted and crossed with forward slashes; “e” crowded into space before next word
whome
his Queene againe
Thy king restore, call home his
Gloss Note
Henrietta Maria, King Charles’s wife
queen
again,
Thy king restore, call home his queen again,
34
Or all thy prayer and fasting is in vaine
Or all thy prayer and fasting is in vain.
Or all thy prayer and fasting is in vain.
35
Hast thou forgot (Aye me) Soe have not I
Hast thou forgot? Aye me—so have not I—
Hast thou forgot (ay me), so have not I,
36
Those Halcian dayes the Sweete Tranquillity
Those
Gloss Note
peaceful
halcyon
days, the sweet tranquility
Those
Critical Note
a period of calm weather that occurs around the winter solstice (OED “halcyon,” adj. 1) and, by extension, the time of peace and prosperity enjoyed by Britain during the rule of Charles I.
halcyon days
, the sweet tranquility
37
That wee injoyed Under his happy Reigne
That we enjoyed under his happy reign,
That we enjoyed under his happy reign,
38
Which Heaven will once Restore to us againe
Which heaven will once restore to us again,
Which Heaven will once restore to us again,
39
Unles the dismale line of dissolution
Unless the dismal line of dissolution
Unless the
Critical Note
“separation into parts or constituent elements; reduction of any body or mass to elements or atoms; destruction of the existing condition; disintegration, decomposition” OED, "dissolution," n.1a.). The Thames worries that a “dismal line of dissolution” will be brought upon the nation, which perhaps anticipates a break in succession or inheritance.
dismal line of dissolution
40
(Which ô forbid) bee drawn upon this Nation.
(Which O, forbid) be
Gloss Note
forced, traced (figuratively)
drawn
upon this nation.
(Which oh, forbid) be drawn upon this nation.
41
Oft have I born upon my Silver Brest
Oft have I born upon my silver
Gloss Note
forefront, face, swelling or supporting surface
breast
Oft have I borne upon my silver breast
42
His lovely Cloris like Aurora drest
His lovely Chloris, like
Gloss Note
Roman goddess of the dawn
Aurora
dressed
His lovely Chloris
Critical Note
Henrietta Maria costumed as a goddess (Aurora) for a masque, as she was in William Davenant and Inigo Jones’s Luminalia (1638). See note 106 in Alice Eardley, Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda. Pulter addresses and refers to Aurora, the goddess of the dawn, frequently throughout the manuscript, including “Aurora [1]” (Poem 3), “To Aurora [1]” (Poem 22), “To Aurora [2]” (Poem 26), “To Aurora [3]” (Poem 34), and “Aurora [2]” (Poem 37).
like Aurora dressed
,
43
With youth and bevty with her Princely Spouse
With youth and beauty, with her princely spouse.
With youth and beauty, with her princely spouse.
44
Envied I was by Severn Humber Owes
Envied I was by
Gloss Note
major rivers in England
Severn, Humber, Ouse
;
Envied I was by
Critical Note
Pulter here develops an extensive catalog of the world’s rivers. The Thames boasts that the famous rivers of Britain (Severn, Humber, Ouse, and Dee), Europe (Danube, Tagus, Loire, Po, and Tiber), Africa (Nile), Asia (Ganges), and the Middle East (Euphrates) once envied her because she was home to Charles and Henrietta Maria. Pulter draws upon extensive geographical and historical knowledge in her characterization of each river. Each river announces its greatest glory (e.g., the Danube is the longest; Cleopatra traveled on the Nile; the Ganges received sacrifices of its people; the Euphrates bordered Eden), and then admits that it is the Thames that is superior and deserves its “envy.” When the Thames’s fellow rivers learn that the city has betrayed its monarchs, however, they “envy me no more,” and join with the Thames in its mourning (“with their tears my heavy loss deplore”).
Severn, Humber, Ouse
.
45
The Sacred Dee said shee noe more would boast
The sacred
Critical Note
river flowing from Wales across the north of England, sacred because linked to a river goddess
Dee
said she no more would boast
The sacred Dee said she no more would boast
46
Her Shewing Conquest on the conquering Coast
Critical Note
the River Dee flows across Wales and England to reach the North Sea
Her showing conquest on the conquering coast
,
Her showing conquest on the conquering coast,
47
Though Edgares Glory from her River Springs
Though
Critical Note
Edgar, king of England from 959-979; it was reputed that eight other kings signalled submission to Edgar by rowing him down the River Dee.
Edgar’s
glory from her river springs,
Though Edgar’s glory from her river springs
48
When hee in Triumph by eight Captive Kings
When he, in triumph, by eight captive kings
When he in triumph by eight captive kings
49
Was Rowed upon her famous Crist^iall Streame
Was rowed upon her famous crystal stream;
Was rowed upon her famous crystal stream;
50
Those former Honours Shewed now like a dreame
Those former honors showed now like a dream.
Those former honors showed now like a dream.
51
Nay the Danube Said shee would ner’e Rehearse
Nay, the
Gloss Note
second longest European river
Danube
said she would ne’er rehearse
Nay, the Danube said she would ne’er rehearse
52
Her being biggest in the Universe
Her being biggest in the universe.
Her being biggest in the universe.
53
Even Tagus would not brag of Golden Sands
Even
Critical Note
longest river on the Iberian peninsula, famous for gold-bearing sands
Tagus
would not brag of golden sands,
Even Tagus would not brag of golden sands,
54
But said shee envied more my happy Strands
But said she envied more my happy
Gloss Note
shores
strands
.
But said she envied more my happy strands;
55
Soe said the Loyer in envie Poe tooke on
Critical Note
The Loire agreed. The Loire is the longest river in France.
So said the Loire
. In envy
Gloss Note
longest river in Italy
Po
Gloss Note
proceeded; began [talking]; or possibly in sense 5 of “to take on” (OED, take, v.): spoke or acted madly or excitedly; showed great agitation or distress.
took on
;
So said the Loire. In envy Po
Critical Note
MS: “tooke” which appears to be an error.
looked on
56
Though shee were Honour’d by a Phaiton
Though she were honored by a
Critical Note
son of Helios, the sun god; his scorched body fell into the Eridanus River, later known as the River Po of Italy, when he lost control when attempting to drive the sun-chariot.
Phaeton
,
Though she were honored by a Phaeton.
57
And Egipts Glory Nillus Stately Streame
And Egypt’s glory,
Gloss Note
Nile river, longest in the world
Nilus
, stately stream,
And Egypt’s glory, Nilus, stately stream,
58
Said her felicities were but a dreame
Said her felicities were but a dream,
Said her felicities were but a dream
59
When on her or’e flowing waves were seene
When on her o’erflowing waves were seen
When on her o’erflowing waves were seen
60
The Roman Eagles and her black ey’d Queen
The Roman eagles and her
Critical Note
Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt (51-30 BCE); with the eagles, emblems of Rome, pointing to Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, each of whom travelled the Nile
black-eyed queen
.
The Roman eagles and her black-eyed queen.
61
And Silver Gangers Said the Sacrifice
And silver
Gloss Note
sacred river in India
Ganges
said the sacrifice
And silver Ganges said the sacrifice
62
The Banians brought with elevated eyes
The
Gloss Note
Hindu traders
Banians
brought with elevated eyes—
The
Critical Note
used during the seventeenth century to refer to people from India and/or followers of Hinduism (OED, banian, n.). Pulter refers to the Hindu practice of cremation of the dead on the banks of the Ganges.
Banians
brought with elevated eyes,
63
Though all theire
Physical Note
Second “c” overwrites an “a”.
Carcases
by fire calcin’d
Though all their carcasses, by fire
Gloss Note
purified by burning
calcined
,
Though all their carcasses by fire calcined
64
Were in her Purifieing Waves Refin’d
Were in her purifying waves refined;
Were in her purifying waves refined;

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65
Though all theire wealth and Treasure in they hurl’d
Though all their wealth and treasure in they hurled,
Though all their wealth and treasure in they hurled,
66
And Shee were Lady of the Eastern World
And she were Lady of the eastern world—
And she were lady of the eastern world;
67
Yet all that Glory Shee did count a toye
Yet all that glory she did count a toy,
Yet all that glory she did count a toy
68
Compar’d Shee Said with happy Thames her Joy
Compared, she said, with happy
Gloss Note
that is, the Thames’s joy. One common early modern way to signal the possessive form grammatically was called the “his genitive,” in which the word “his” or “her” modified the thing possessed (such as Elizabeth her book).
Thames her joy
.
Compared, she said, with happy Thames her joy.
69
Tiber Said of Horatias vallure brave
Gloss Note
river in Italy flowing through Rome
Tiber
said of
Critical Note
a Roman hero who volunteered to be one of the last defenders of a bridge over the river Tiber against an Etruscan army intent on invading Rome
Horatius
’s valor brave
Tiber said of Horatius’ valor brave
70
Shee ne’re would Speake but I the praise should have
She ne’er would speak, but I the praise should have.
She ne’er would speak but I the praise should have.
71
Cristall Euphratus never did envie
Crystal
Gloss Note
river near Garden of Eden
Euphrates
never did envy
Crystal Euphrates never did envy
72
The Glory of noe other flowd
Physical Note
two additional final letters (likely “ed”) corrected or cancelled; “w” could be corrected to or from “o”
[?]
but I
The glory of no other flood but I;
The glory of no other flood but I,
73
Though from a Thousand ffounts her Streame doth spring
Though from a thousand founts her stream doth spring,
Though from a thousand founts her stream doth spring;
74
Yet did shee never beare soe good a King
Yet did she never bear so good a king.
Yet did she never bear so good a king.
75
Through lofty Babilon her River flowes
Through lofty
Gloss Note
famous city in ancient Mesopotamia
Babylon
her river flows,
Through lofty Babylon her river flows
76
And Earthly Paradice Shee doth inclose
And
Critical Note
Euphrates is associated with the Garden of Eden, Genesis 2:14.
earthly paradise she doth enclose
,
And earthly paradise she doth enclose;
77
Though brave Symerrimus enlarge her fame
Though brave
Gloss Note
queen of Assyria (811-806 BCE)
Semiramis
enlarge her fame,
Though brave Semiramis enlarge her fame,
78
Yet doth shee envie Still the English Thame
Yet doth she envy still the English Thame.
Yet doth she envy still the English Thame.
79
But now alas they envie me noe more
But now, alas, they envy me no more,
But now, alas, they envy me no more,
80
But with theire Teares my heavy loss deplore
But with their tears my heavy loss
Gloss Note
lament
deplore
.
But with their tears my heavy loss deplore.
81
Oft haue I born my Sacred Soveraings Barge
Oft have I born my sacred sovereign’s barge,
Oft have I borne my sacred sovereign’s barge,
82
Being Richly guilt, most proud of such a charge
Being richly gilt, most proud of such a charge.
Being richly gilt, most proud of such a charge.
83
My waves would Swell to see his Princely face
My waves would swell to see his princely face,
My waves would swell to see his princely face,
84
Each billow loth to give his fellow
Physical Note
to right of line, vertical scribble followed by “f”
place
Each billow loath to give his fellow place.
Each billow loth to give his fellow place.
85
Sometimes they would rise to kis his Royall hand
Sometimes they would rise to kiss his royal hand,
Sometimes they would rise to kiss his royal hand,
86
And hardly would give back at my command
And hardly would give back at my command,
And hardly would give back at my command.
87
Billow with billow strive
Physical Note
cancelled with scribbles
with
and ruffling Rore
Billow with billow strive, and ruffling roar,
Billow with billow strive, and ruffling roar,
88
Scorning the blow of either hand or Owre
Scorning the blow of either hand or oar;
Scorning the blow of either hand or oar.
89
But now insulting on my billowes Ride
But now, insulting, on my billows ride
But now insulting on my billows ride
90
Th
Physical Note
three or four letters cancelled with scribbles, last two likely “gh”
[?]
Kingdooms Schourg’s and this Citties pride
Critical Note
Cromwell and parliamentarians in London who had opposed King Charles
The kingdom’s scourges and this city’s pride
,
The kingdom’s scourges and this city’s pride,
91
Which make my Trembling Streame lamenting Rore
Which make my trembling stream lamenting roar,
Which make my trembling stream lamenting roar
92
And her sad loss w:th troubl^ed brest deplore
And her sad loss with troubled breast deplore.
And her sad loss with troubled breast deplore.
93
Com kind Caribdis Com ô com and help’s
Come, kind
Critical Note
In Greek mythology, a whirlpool found on straits, opposite to Scylla, a threatening six-headed monster surrounded by dogs (mentioned in the next line)
Charybdis
, come, O come and
Gloss Note
help us
help’s
;
Come kind Charybdis, come, oh come, and help’s;
94
Sweet louely Scilla bring thy barking whelps
Sweet lovely Scylla, bring thy barking
Gloss Note
dogs
whelps
.
Sweet lovely Scylla, bring thy barking whelps.
95
Then Should they need noe Monument nor Tombe
Then should
Gloss Note
the kingdom’s scourges
they
need no monument nor tomb,
Then should they need no monument nor tomb,
96
But Ocianis darke and Horrid Womb
But
Critical Note
In Greek mythology, the son of Uranus (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth), the personification of the great river believed to encircle the whole world.
Oceanus’s
dark and horrid womb
But Oceanus’ dark and horrid womb
97
Should them involve but wishes are invaine
Should them
Gloss Note
envelop
involve
. But wishes are in vain:
Critical Note
The Thames invokes famous water monsters (Scylla and Charybdis) to aid her in ridding London of the king’s enemies, who will be washed away to unmarked graves in the ocean (“Oceanus’ dark and horrid womb”).
Should them involve
. But wishes are in vain;
98
I will Rore out my griefe unto the Maine
I will roar out my grief unto the
Gloss Note
the open sea
main
.
I will roar out my grief unto the main.

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99
Now all the bewty that my Waves adorne
Now all the beauty that my waves adorn
Now all the beauty that my waves adorn
100
Are Snowey Swans that Sadly Swim forelorne
Are snowy swans that sadly swim, forlorn;
Are snowy swans that sadly swim forlorn;
101
Nor doe they in they Sun theire ffeathers Prune
Nor do they in the sun their feathers prune,
Nor do they in the sun their feathers prune,
102
As they were wont, nor yet theire Voices Tune
As they were
Gloss Note
accustomed to do
wont
, nor yet their voices tune.
As they were wont, nor yet their voices tune,
103
Physical Note
in left margin, ink mark in shape of a check mark
But
in dispaires hanging theire head and wing
But in despairs, hanging their head and wing,
But in despairs, hanging their head and wing,
104
This Kingdoms Derges they expireing Sing
This kingdom’s
Gloss Note
songs of mourning
dirges
they, expiring,
Critical Note
swans traditionally were understood to sing when dying
sing
.
Critical Note

Following the invocations of the mythical Scylla and Charybdis, the Thames turns to a more naturalistic description of swans swimming on the river; however, they sing their own deaths and the death of the kingdom. With this image, Pulter refers to the belief that swans are silent until just before their deaths, when they sing a final song. Thomas Browne examines the origin of and evidence for this belief in Book 3, Chapter 27 of Pseudodoxia Epidemica (Sir Thomas Browne, Selected Writings. Ed. Geoffrey Keynes (University of Chicago Press, 1968), pp. 289-90). Compare Shakespeare’s Othello, where Emilia’s final speech begins:

What did thy song bode, lady?
Hark, canst thou hear me? I will play the swan
And die in music. (5.2.240-42)
Greenblatt, et. al. The Norton Shakespeare, 3rd ed., 2016.
This kingdom’s dirges they expiring sing
.
105
O That
Physical Note
in different hand from main scribe
\itt \
in my Power were to Refuse
O, that it in my power were to refuse
Oh that it in my power were to refuse
106
To see this Towne like Cristall Arethuse
To see this town like crystal
Critical Note
Arethusa, in classical mythology, the nymph with whom Alpheus fell in love, and who flowed underground to escape him, before being turned into a fountain
Arethuse
,
To see this town, like crystal
Critical Note
Arethusa is a nymph transformed into an underground fountain so that she may escape the river god Alpheus. See Ovid, Metamorphoses 5.572-641. While much of the poem describes the envy of the world’s rivers for the Thames, here the Thames expresses envy for Arethuse who is able to escape underground. The Thames wishes to “refuse / To see this town.”
Arethuse
.
107
Below this curssed Earth Iwould hide my head
Below this curséd earth I would hide my head,
Below this cursed Earth I would hide my head,
108
And run amongst the
Physical Note
deleted word, six or seven letters long, starts with “C” and ends with “s”
[?]
^Caverns of the Dead
And run amongst the caverns of the dead,
And run amongst the caverns of the dead,
109
Physical Note
last “e” crowded into space before next word; “r” appears written over “n”
Where
my pure Wave with Acharon should mix
Where my pure wave with
Gloss Note
river of Hades
Acheron
should mix
Where my pure wave with Acheron should mix,
110
With Leathe, Phlegethon, Cocîtus, Stix;
With
Gloss Note
rivers of Hades
Lethe, Phlegethon, Cocytus, Styx
.
With Lethe, Phlegethon, Cocytus, Styx;
111
Then would I wafte them to the Stigian Shade
Then would I
Gloss Note
convey by water
waft
Critical Note
the anti-royalists mentioned as the kingdom’s scourges, above, and three lines below (“they”)
them
to the
Gloss Note
hellish, gloomy, associated with the River Styx
Stygian
shade,
Critical Note
The Thames asks to enter the underworld (“caverns of the dead”) where she can mix her “pure wave” with the five rivers of Hades: Acheron (sorrow or woe), Lethe (forgetfulness), Phlegethon (fire), Cocytus (lamentation), and Styx (hate) and punish the king’s enemies (“rebels”) by ushering them to Hell (“waft them to the stygian shade”).
Then would I waft them to the stygian shade
112
Examples Unto Reybels to be made
Examples unto rebels to be made.
Examples unto rebels to be made.
113
Ô my Sad heart these are but foolish dreames
O my sad heart, these are but foolish dreams,
Oh my sad heart, these are but foolish dreams,
114
ffor they Triumph Upon my Conquer’d Streames
For they triumph upon my conquered streams.
For they triumph upon my conquered streams.
115
Yet this I’le doe while Sighs breaths up my Spring
Yet this I’ll do while sighs
Gloss Note
evaporates; exhales; taints
breathes up
my spring:
Yet this I’ll do while sighs breathes up my spring;
116
I’le trickle teares for my aflicted King
I’ll trickle tears for my afflicted king,
I’ll trickle tears for my afflicted king,
117
And looke how fare one drop of Cristall Thames
And look how far one drop of crystal Thames
And look how far one drop of crystal Thames
118
Physical Note
two “f”s in left margin
Doth
run, so fare I’le Memorise their ffames:
Doth run; so far I’ll memorize their fames,
Doth run, so far I’ll memorize their fames;
119
Soe shall my griefe imortalise them Names.
So shall my grief immortalize
Critical Note
corrected from “them”
their
names.”
So shall my grief immortalize them names.
120
I hearing these complaints Though time to sleepe:
I, hearing these complaints, though time to sleep,
I hearing these complaints, though time to sleep,
121
Satt Sadly Down and with her gan to weepe.
Sat sadly down, and with her ’gan to weep.
Sat sadly down, and with her ’gan to weep.
X (Close panel)Notes: Elemental Edition
Title note

 Critical note

The complaint, a common poetic form of the day, is voiced by the river Thames, which flows eastwards from Gloucestershire to London (hence the “western spring” in l. 3). The Thames mourns the imprisonment of King Charles at Holmby, a Northamptonshire estate (also known as Holdenby House) where King Charles was imprisoned after his surrender in the civil war in 1647.

 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

In this political-pastoral complaint (in iambic pentameter couplets), the narrator discovers the river Thames mourning the imprisonment of King Charles I in 1647 and the national crisis that has ensued because of the civil war. The use of a frame tale and an embedded narrator was common in Renaissance complaint poems (by William Shakespeare, Samuel Daniel, Thomas Lodge, and others). In this poem, however, Pulter creates a personification of a topographical feature, who testifies to the decline of England and lauds the glory of Charles I and past English rulers (whose erotically-described travel over her waters made her the envy of all the rivers of the world). After inventorying world rivers and mourning the loss of their admiration, the Thames fantasizes that she might stream underground and transport Cromwell and parliamentary authorities to a hellish classical underworld. She then offers to immortalize the king with the only material she can offer: the watery tears of grief.
Line number 4

 Critical note

King Charles, figured as the head of a courtly flock
Line number 5

 Critical note

common male pastoral name for a shepherd; the female equivalent is Chloris, mentioned in the next line.
Line number 7

 Critical note

The name given by the early chroniclers to London, which was presumed to be built by Brutus, a Trojan refugee; it indicates the city of the Trinovantes or The New Troy.
Line number 7

 Gloss note

ungrateful
Line number 9

 Gloss note

fruitless
Line number 11

 Gloss note

untrustworthy
Line number 12

 Gloss note

come to an end
Line number 13

 Gloss note

of Fortune’s wheel
Line number 14

 Gloss note

edifice; structure
Line number 17

 Critical note

could refer to St. Alban or to Albion. Eardley: St. Alban, killed in the third century AD for harboring a priest; at his urging, God dried up waters so that he could cross a stream to be executed and complete his martyrdom; Albion, another name for Britain, from a giant slain by Hercules, whose spilt blood would reference civil war
Line number 18

 Physical note

corrected from “seeing” in the manuscript
Line number 18

 Gloss note

London’s
Line number 20

 Critical note

Afric, or Africa; this line and the one above it allude to the biblical phrase naming impossibility: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?” (Jerome 13:23), which was proverbial in early modern England
Line number 22

 Gloss note

spirit
Line number 23

 Gloss note

black
Line number 23

 Critical note

lizard-like animal, some of which have a black color, supposedly able to endure fire
Line number 25

 Physical note

modified from "wave" in the manuscript
Line number 26

 Gloss note

fiery; hellish
Line number 27

 Gloss note

pleasure; desire; vigor
Line number 30

 Gloss note

wet boggy lands that give way under foot; a situation that is unpleasant or hazardous, or from which it is difficult to extricate oneself
Line number 31

 Gloss note

London
Line number 31

 Gloss note

responsibility for violence or bloodshed
Line number 33

 Gloss note

Henrietta Maria, King Charles’s wife
Line number 36

 Gloss note

peaceful
Line number 40

 Gloss note

forced, traced (figuratively)
Line number 41

 Gloss note

forefront, face, swelling or supporting surface
Line number 42

 Gloss note

Roman goddess of the dawn
Line number 44

 Gloss note

major rivers in England
Line number 45

 Critical note

river flowing from Wales across the north of England, sacred because linked to a river goddess
Line number 46

 Critical note

the River Dee flows across Wales and England to reach the North Sea
Line number 47

 Critical note

Edgar, king of England from 959-979; it was reputed that eight other kings signalled submission to Edgar by rowing him down the River Dee.
Line number 51

 Gloss note

second longest European river
Line number 53

 Critical note

longest river on the Iberian peninsula, famous for gold-bearing sands
Line number 54

 Gloss note

shores
Line number 55

 Critical note

The Loire agreed. The Loire is the longest river in France.
Line number 55

 Gloss note

longest river in Italy
Line number 55

 Gloss note

proceeded; began [talking]; or possibly in sense 5 of “to take on” (OED, take, v.): spoke or acted madly or excitedly; showed great agitation or distress.
Line number 56

 Critical note

son of Helios, the sun god; his scorched body fell into the Eridanus River, later known as the River Po of Italy, when he lost control when attempting to drive the sun-chariot.
Line number 57

 Gloss note

Nile river, longest in the world
Line number 60

 Critical note

Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt (51-30 BCE); with the eagles, emblems of Rome, pointing to Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, each of whom travelled the Nile
Line number 61

 Gloss note

sacred river in India
Line number 62

 Gloss note

Hindu traders
Line number 63

 Gloss note

purified by burning
Line number 68

 Gloss note

that is, the Thames’s joy. One common early modern way to signal the possessive form grammatically was called the “his genitive,” in which the word “his” or “her” modified the thing possessed (such as Elizabeth her book).
Line number 69

 Gloss note

river in Italy flowing through Rome
Line number 69

 Critical note

a Roman hero who volunteered to be one of the last defenders of a bridge over the river Tiber against an Etruscan army intent on invading Rome
Line number 71

 Gloss note

river near Garden of Eden
Line number 75

 Gloss note

famous city in ancient Mesopotamia
Line number 76

 Critical note

Euphrates is associated with the Garden of Eden, Genesis 2:14.
Line number 77

 Gloss note

queen of Assyria (811-806 BCE)
Line number 80

 Gloss note

lament
Line number 90

 Critical note

Cromwell and parliamentarians in London who had opposed King Charles
Line number 93

 Critical note

In Greek mythology, a whirlpool found on straits, opposite to Scylla, a threatening six-headed monster surrounded by dogs (mentioned in the next line)
Line number 93

 Gloss note

help us
Line number 94

 Gloss note

dogs
Line number 95

 Gloss note

the kingdom’s scourges
Line number 96

 Critical note

In Greek mythology, the son of Uranus (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth), the personification of the great river believed to encircle the whole world.
Line number 97

 Gloss note

envelop
Line number 98

 Gloss note

the open sea
Line number 102

 Gloss note

accustomed to do
Line number 104

 Gloss note

songs of mourning
Line number 104

 Critical note

swans traditionally were understood to sing when dying
Line number 106

 Critical note

Arethusa, in classical mythology, the nymph with whom Alpheus fell in love, and who flowed underground to escape him, before being turned into a fountain
Line number 109

 Gloss note

river of Hades
Line number 110

 Gloss note

rivers of Hades
Line number 111

 Gloss note

convey by water
Line number 111

 Critical note

the anti-royalists mentioned as the kingdom’s scourges, above, and three lines below (“they”)
Line number 111

 Gloss note

hellish, gloomy, associated with the River Styx
Line number 115

 Gloss note

evaporates; exhales; taints
Line number 119

 Critical note

corrected from “them”
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Elemental Edition
Elemental Edition

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The complaint of Thames 1647
when the best of Kings was imprisoned
by the worst of Rebels at Holmbie
The
Critical Note
The complaint, a common poetic form of the day, is voiced by the river Thames, which flows eastwards from Gloucestershire to London (hence the “western spring” in l. 3). The Thames mourns the imprisonment of King Charles at Holmby, a Northamptonshire estate (also known as Holdenby House) where King Charles was imprisoned after his surrender in the civil war in 1647.
Complaint of Thames
, 1647, When the Best of Kings was Imprisoned by the Worst of Rebels at Holmby
The Complaint of Thames, 1647, When the Best of Kings Was Imprisoned By the Worst of Rebels at
Critical Note
Also known as Holdenby House, Holmby is the estate in Northamptonshire where King Charles I was held prisoner during the latter stages of the First Civil War (February to June 1647). This is one of three poems that Pulter dated 1647. See “The Invitation to the Country” (Poem 2) and Made When I Was Sick, 1647 [Poem 31].
Holmby
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
In this political-pastoral complaint (in iambic pentameter couplets), the narrator discovers the river Thames mourning the imprisonment of King Charles I in 1647 and the national crisis that has ensued because of the civil war. The use of a frame tale and an embedded narrator was common in Renaissance complaint poems (by William Shakespeare, Samuel Daniel, Thomas Lodge, and others). In this poem, however, Pulter creates a personification of a topographical feature, who testifies to the decline of England and lauds the glory of Charles I and past English rulers (whose erotically-described travel over her waters made her the envy of all the rivers of the world). After inventorying world rivers and mourning the loss of their admiration, the Thames fantasizes that she might stream underground and transport Cromwell and parliamentary authorities to a hellish classical underworld. She then offers to immortalize the king with the only material she can offer: the watery tears of grief.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Framed by a brief first-person introduction and conclusion, “The Complaint of Thames” voices the lament of the Thames river, personified as a female figure, for the betrayal of the rightful monarch, King Charles I, by the people and city of London. Pulter examines the political consequences of the king’s imprisonment in both national and global contexts through the device of a catalog of rivers. Drawing upon extensive geographical and historical lore, Pulter heightens the pathos of the Thames’s complaint by putting it into dialogue with the famous rivers of England and the world. The rivers alternately envy the Thames and grieve with her, joined, finally, by the speaker who puts off sleep to weep with the rivers of the world.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Late in an evening as I walk’d alone,
Late in an evening as I walked alone,
Late in an evening as I walked alone,
2
I heard the Thames most Sadly make her moane:
I heard the Thames most sadly make her moan.
I heard the Thames most sadly make her moan.
3
As Shee came weeping from her western Spring,
As she came weeping from her western spring,
As she came weeping from her
Critical Note
The Thames flows from west to east across southern England, passing through Oxford and London. Its source is in Gloucestershire.
western spring
,
4
Shee thus bewaild the learned Shepherds King.
She thus bewailed the
Critical Note
King Charles, figured as the head of a courtly flock
learnéd shepherd’s king
:
Critical Note

Pulter personifies the Thames as a feminized figure, thus drawing on the tradition of complaint poetry such as Samuel Daniel’s “The Complaint of Rosamund” and Spenser’s “The Ruines of Time.” In Spenser’s poem, the speaker stands by the river Thames and overhears the complaint of a woman who speaks as the spirit of Verulamium, an ancient Roman city. Some well known poems, such as Michael Drayton’s Poly-Olbion, identified the Thames as masculine. In John Denham’s popular “Cooper’s Hill” (1642), likewise, the Thames is personified as a “son” of the Ocean:

Thames, the most lov’d of all the ocean’s sons,
By his old sire to his embraces runs,
Hasting to pay his tribute to the sea,
Like mortal life to meet eternity. (lines 187-90)
She
thus bewailed the learned shepherds’ king:
5
Amintas Sad Amintas Sits forelorne
Critical Note
common male pastoral name for a shepherd; the female equivalent is Chloris, mentioned in the next line.
Amintas
, sad Amintas, sits forlorn,
Amintas, sad Amintas, sits forlorn,
6
And his faire Cloris now’s become the Scorne
And his fair Chloris now’s become the scorn
And his fair
Critical Note
a pastoral name for Queen Henrietta Maria, paired with Amintas for King Charles.
Chloris
now’s become the scorn
7
Of Troynovants
Physical Note
blotted letters, possibly “ar,” between “r” and “a”
ingrate
licentious Dames
Of
Critical Note
The name given by the early chroniclers to London, which was presumed to be built by Brutus, a Trojan refugee; it indicates the city of the Trinovantes or The New Troy.
Troynovant’s
Gloss Note
ungrateful
ingrate
licentious dames.
Of
Critical Note
New Troy, i.e. London; a name that draws upon the legend that London was founded by the Trojan hero Brutus.
Troynovant
’s
Critical Note
In contrast to the sympathetic Royalism shared by the speaker and the personified Thames, the women of London are represented as immoral and treacherous. During the 1640s some London women did bring petitions before Parliament, political actions that were satirized in sexualized terms in pamphlets such as The Parliament of Women(1646). See Mihoko Suzuki Subordinate Subjects: Gender, the Political Nation, and Literary Form in England, 1588-1688 (Ashgate, 2003), especially chapter 4.
ingrate, licentious dames
.
8
Noe merveile then if poore aflicted Thames
No marvel, then, if poor afflicted Thames
No marvel, then, if poor afflicted Thames
9
With Salt abortive teares dos wash this Citty
With salt,
Gloss Note
fruitless
abortive
tears does wash this city,
With salt abortive tears does wash this city,
10
As full of Blood and lies as voyd of pittie
As full of blood and lies as void of pity.
As full of blood and lies as void of pity.
11
Perfidious Town know thou the power of fate
Gloss Note
untrustworthy
Perfidious
town, know thou the power of fate:
Gloss Note
faithless or treacherous (OED)
Perfidious
town, know thou the power of fate.
12
Thy long felicitie shall find a date
Thy long felicity shall find a
Gloss Note
come to an end
date
,
Thy long felicity shall find a date,
13
And I may live to see another turn
And I may live to see another
Gloss Note
of Fortune’s wheel
turn
,
And I may live to see another turn
14
When thy proud
Physical Note
struck-through “a” crossed out with two forward slashes
fabriack
shall unpittied burn
When thy proud
Gloss Note
edifice; structure
fabric
shall unpitied burn.
When thy proud fabric shall unpitied burn.
15
Then Heaven Just Heaven withhold thy raine
Then Heaven, just Heaven, withhold thy rain,
Then Heaven, just Heaven, withhold thy rain,
16
And I will leave my channill once againe
And I will leave my channel once again,
And I will leave my channel once again,
17
As when my holy Albians blood was spilt
As when my holy
Critical Note
could refer to St. Alban or to Albion. Eardley: St. Alban, killed in the third century AD for harboring a priest; at his urging, God dried up waters so that he could cross a stream to be executed and complete his martyrdom; Albion, another name for Britain, from a giant slain by Hercules, whose spilt blood would reference civil war
Albion’s
blood was spilt;
As when my holy
Critical Note
Saint Alban is known as the first British martyr (3rd or 4th century). Alban harbors a priest and refuses to renounce Christianity. When his execution by beheading is ordered, he approaches his death eagerly and when he reaches a quickly flowing river that cannot be crossed, he prays, and the river dries up. In Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People this event is located at the River Ver in the town of Verulamium (now St. Albans), but in another early source (Gildas, De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae) Alban crosses the Thames before his martyrdom, which corresponds to Pulter’s version of the story.
Albian
’s blood was spilt,
18
Physical Note
“e”s are unusual in shape
Seeing
to wash away thy Horrid guilt
Physical Note
corrected from “seeing” in the manuscript
Seeking
to wash away
Gloss Note
London’s
thy
horrid guilt
Seeing to wash away thy horrid guilt
19
Is more impossible then tis to change
Is more impossible than ’tis to change
Is more impossible than ’tis to change
20
The
Physical Note
“S” written over initial “K”; final “s” written over imperfectly erased “g”
Skins
of Negros that in Aphrick range
Critical Note
Afric, or Africa; this line and the one above it allude to the biblical phrase naming impossibility: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?” (Jerome 13:23), which was proverbial in early modern England
The skins of Negroes that in Afric range
.
Critical Note
Jeremiah 13:23: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil” (AV); i.e. the Londoners’ guilt is immutable.
The skins of Negroes that in Afric’ range
.
21
Then when thou fryest in vengfull flames of fire
Then, when thou fryest in vengeful flames of fire,
Then when thou fryest in vengeful flames of fire,
22
Thy Scorched genious Reddy to expire
Thy scorchéd
Gloss Note
spirit
genius
ready to expire—
Thy scorched
Critical Note
i.e. genius loci, “A guardian spirit or god associated with a place” (OED), in this case, the Thames, which withholds its water to punish the “slander” of the Londoners’ tongues.
genius
ready to expire,
23
Thy Tongue and mouth Sable as Salamander
Thy tongue and mouth
Gloss Note
black
sable
as
Critical Note
lizard-like animal, some of which have a black color, supposedly able to endure fire
salamander
Thy tongue and mouth sable as salamander
24
With Speaking gainst thy King and Queene Such Sland’r
With speaking ’gainst thy king and queen such slander—
With speaking ’gainst thy king and queen such slander,
25
Then not a drop of my coole Cristall Wave
Then not a drop of my cool crystal
Physical Note
modified from "wave" in the manuscript
have
Then not a drop of my cool crystal wave
26
To coole thy Sulpherous Tongue or life to save
To cool thy
Gloss Note
fiery; hellish
sulfurous
tongue, or life to save;
To cool thy sulfurous tongue or life to save,
27
But when I haue of thee Seene all my lust
But when I have of thee seen all my
Gloss Note
pleasure; desire; vigor
lust
But when I have of thee seen all my lust
28
And all thy pride and Glory Turn’d to dust
And all thy pride and glory turned to dust,
And all thy pride and glory turned to dust,
29
Then I Triumphant with my watery traine
Then I, triumphant with my watery train,
Then I triumphant with my watery train
30
Will make this Cittie Quagmires once againe
Will make this city
Gloss Note
wet boggy lands that give way under foot; a situation that is unpleasant or hazardous, or from which it is difficult to extricate oneself
quagmires
once again.
Will make this city
Critical Note
“an area of wet, boggy land that gives way under foot; a quaking bog” (OED, “quagmire,” n. 1.); the Thames first threatens to abandon the city of London to drought because of its betrayal of the king. She will return only when she has witnessed (“seen all my lust”) sufficient humbling and punishment (“all thy pride and glory turned to dust”).
quagmires
once again.

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31
But O thy Blood and Pe^rjuries Repent
But O,
Gloss Note
London
thy
Gloss Note
responsibility for violence or bloodshed
blood
and perjuries repent;
But O, thy blood and perjuries repent,
32
Then Heaven I hope in mercie will Relent
Then Heaven, I hope, in mercy will relent.
Then Heaven I hope in mercy will relent.
33
Thy King Restore call
Physical Note
“w” blotted and crossed with forward slashes; “e” crowded into space before next word
whome
his Queene againe
Thy king restore, call home his
Gloss Note
Henrietta Maria, King Charles’s wife
queen
again,
Thy king restore, call home his queen again,
34
Or all thy prayer and fasting is in vaine
Or all thy prayer and fasting is in vain.
Or all thy prayer and fasting is in vain.
35
Hast thou forgot (Aye me) Soe have not I
Hast thou forgot? Aye me—so have not I—
Hast thou forgot (ay me), so have not I,
36
Those Halcian dayes the Sweete Tranquillity
Those
Gloss Note
peaceful
halcyon
days, the sweet tranquility
Those
Critical Note
a period of calm weather that occurs around the winter solstice (OED “halcyon,” adj. 1) and, by extension, the time of peace and prosperity enjoyed by Britain during the rule of Charles I.
halcyon days
, the sweet tranquility
37
That wee injoyed Under his happy Reigne
That we enjoyed under his happy reign,
That we enjoyed under his happy reign,
38
Which Heaven will once Restore to us againe
Which heaven will once restore to us again,
Which Heaven will once restore to us again,
39
Unles the dismale line of dissolution
Unless the dismal line of dissolution
Unless the
Critical Note
“separation into parts or constituent elements; reduction of any body or mass to elements or atoms; destruction of the existing condition; disintegration, decomposition” OED, "dissolution," n.1a.). The Thames worries that a “dismal line of dissolution” will be brought upon the nation, which perhaps anticipates a break in succession or inheritance.
dismal line of dissolution
40
(Which ô forbid) bee drawn upon this Nation.
(Which O, forbid) be
Gloss Note
forced, traced (figuratively)
drawn
upon this nation.
(Which oh, forbid) be drawn upon this nation.
41
Oft have I born upon my Silver Brest
Oft have I born upon my silver
Gloss Note
forefront, face, swelling or supporting surface
breast
Oft have I borne upon my silver breast
42
His lovely Cloris like Aurora drest
His lovely Chloris, like
Gloss Note
Roman goddess of the dawn
Aurora
dressed
His lovely Chloris
Critical Note
Henrietta Maria costumed as a goddess (Aurora) for a masque, as she was in William Davenant and Inigo Jones’s Luminalia (1638). See note 106 in Alice Eardley, Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda. Pulter addresses and refers to Aurora, the goddess of the dawn, frequently throughout the manuscript, including “Aurora [1]” (Poem 3), “To Aurora [1]” (Poem 22), “To Aurora [2]” (Poem 26), “To Aurora [3]” (Poem 34), and “Aurora [2]” (Poem 37).
like Aurora dressed
,
43
With youth and bevty with her Princely Spouse
With youth and beauty, with her princely spouse.
With youth and beauty, with her princely spouse.
44
Envied I was by Severn Humber Owes
Envied I was by
Gloss Note
major rivers in England
Severn, Humber, Ouse
;
Envied I was by
Critical Note
Pulter here develops an extensive catalog of the world’s rivers. The Thames boasts that the famous rivers of Britain (Severn, Humber, Ouse, and Dee), Europe (Danube, Tagus, Loire, Po, and Tiber), Africa (Nile), Asia (Ganges), and the Middle East (Euphrates) once envied her because she was home to Charles and Henrietta Maria. Pulter draws upon extensive geographical and historical knowledge in her characterization of each river. Each river announces its greatest glory (e.g., the Danube is the longest; Cleopatra traveled on the Nile; the Ganges received sacrifices of its people; the Euphrates bordered Eden), and then admits that it is the Thames that is superior and deserves its “envy.” When the Thames’s fellow rivers learn that the city has betrayed its monarchs, however, they “envy me no more,” and join with the Thames in its mourning (“with their tears my heavy loss deplore”).
Severn, Humber, Ouse
.
45
The Sacred Dee said shee noe more would boast
The sacred
Critical Note
river flowing from Wales across the north of England, sacred because linked to a river goddess
Dee
said she no more would boast
The sacred Dee said she no more would boast
46
Her Shewing Conquest on the conquering Coast
Critical Note
the River Dee flows across Wales and England to reach the North Sea
Her showing conquest on the conquering coast
,
Her showing conquest on the conquering coast,
47
Though Edgares Glory from her River Springs
Though
Critical Note
Edgar, king of England from 959-979; it was reputed that eight other kings signalled submission to Edgar by rowing him down the River Dee.
Edgar’s
glory from her river springs,
Though Edgar’s glory from her river springs
48
When hee in Triumph by eight Captive Kings
When he, in triumph, by eight captive kings
When he in triumph by eight captive kings
49
Was Rowed upon her famous Crist^iall Streame
Was rowed upon her famous crystal stream;
Was rowed upon her famous crystal stream;
50
Those former Honours Shewed now like a dreame
Those former honors showed now like a dream.
Those former honors showed now like a dream.
51
Nay the Danube Said shee would ner’e Rehearse
Nay, the
Gloss Note
second longest European river
Danube
said she would ne’er rehearse
Nay, the Danube said she would ne’er rehearse
52
Her being biggest in the Universe
Her being biggest in the universe.
Her being biggest in the universe.
53
Even Tagus would not brag of Golden Sands
Even
Critical Note
longest river on the Iberian peninsula, famous for gold-bearing sands
Tagus
would not brag of golden sands,
Even Tagus would not brag of golden sands,
54
But said shee envied more my happy Strands
But said she envied more my happy
Gloss Note
shores
strands
.
But said she envied more my happy strands;
55
Soe said the Loyer in envie Poe tooke on
Critical Note
The Loire agreed. The Loire is the longest river in France.
So said the Loire
. In envy
Gloss Note
longest river in Italy
Po
Gloss Note
proceeded; began [talking]; or possibly in sense 5 of “to take on” (OED, take, v.): spoke or acted madly or excitedly; showed great agitation or distress.
took on
;
So said the Loire. In envy Po
Critical Note
MS: “tooke” which appears to be an error.
looked on
56
Though shee were Honour’d by a Phaiton
Though she were honored by a
Critical Note
son of Helios, the sun god; his scorched body fell into the Eridanus River, later known as the River Po of Italy, when he lost control when attempting to drive the sun-chariot.
Phaeton
,
Though she were honored by a Phaeton.
57
And Egipts Glory Nillus Stately Streame
And Egypt’s glory,
Gloss Note
Nile river, longest in the world
Nilus
, stately stream,
And Egypt’s glory, Nilus, stately stream,
58
Said her felicities were but a dreame
Said her felicities were but a dream,
Said her felicities were but a dream
59
When on her or’e flowing waves were seene
When on her o’erflowing waves were seen
When on her o’erflowing waves were seen
60
The Roman Eagles and her black ey’d Queen
The Roman eagles and her
Critical Note
Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt (51-30 BCE); with the eagles, emblems of Rome, pointing to Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, each of whom travelled the Nile
black-eyed queen
.
The Roman eagles and her black-eyed queen.
61
And Silver Gangers Said the Sacrifice
And silver
Gloss Note
sacred river in India
Ganges
said the sacrifice
And silver Ganges said the sacrifice
62
The Banians brought with elevated eyes
The
Gloss Note
Hindu traders
Banians
brought with elevated eyes—
The
Critical Note
used during the seventeenth century to refer to people from India and/or followers of Hinduism (OED, banian, n.). Pulter refers to the Hindu practice of cremation of the dead on the banks of the Ganges.
Banians
brought with elevated eyes,
63
Though all theire
Physical Note
Second “c” overwrites an “a”.
Carcases
by fire calcin’d
Though all their carcasses, by fire
Gloss Note
purified by burning
calcined
,
Though all their carcasses by fire calcined
64
Were in her Purifieing Waves Refin’d
Were in her purifying waves refined;
Were in her purifying waves refined;

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65
Though all theire wealth and Treasure in they hurl’d
Though all their wealth and treasure in they hurled,
Though all their wealth and treasure in they hurled,
66
And Shee were Lady of the Eastern World
And she were Lady of the eastern world—
And she were lady of the eastern world;
67
Yet all that Glory Shee did count a toye
Yet all that glory she did count a toy,
Yet all that glory she did count a toy
68
Compar’d Shee Said with happy Thames her Joy
Compared, she said, with happy
Gloss Note
that is, the Thames’s joy. One common early modern way to signal the possessive form grammatically was called the “his genitive,” in which the word “his” or “her” modified the thing possessed (such as Elizabeth her book).
Thames her joy
.
Compared, she said, with happy Thames her joy.
69
Tiber Said of Horatias vallure brave
Gloss Note
river in Italy flowing through Rome
Tiber
said of
Critical Note
a Roman hero who volunteered to be one of the last defenders of a bridge over the river Tiber against an Etruscan army intent on invading Rome
Horatius
’s valor brave
Tiber said of Horatius’ valor brave
70
Shee ne’re would Speake but I the praise should have
She ne’er would speak, but I the praise should have.
She ne’er would speak but I the praise should have.
71
Cristall Euphratus never did envie
Crystal
Gloss Note
river near Garden of Eden
Euphrates
never did envy
Crystal Euphrates never did envy
72
The Glory of noe other flowd
Physical Note
two additional final letters (likely “ed”) corrected or cancelled; “w” could be corrected to or from “o”
[?]
but I
The glory of no other flood but I;
The glory of no other flood but I,
73
Though from a Thousand ffounts her Streame doth spring
Though from a thousand founts her stream doth spring,
Though from a thousand founts her stream doth spring;
74
Yet did shee never beare soe good a King
Yet did she never bear so good a king.
Yet did she never bear so good a king.
75
Through lofty Babilon her River flowes
Through lofty
Gloss Note
famous city in ancient Mesopotamia
Babylon
her river flows,
Through lofty Babylon her river flows
76
And Earthly Paradice Shee doth inclose
And
Critical Note
Euphrates is associated with the Garden of Eden, Genesis 2:14.
earthly paradise she doth enclose
,
And earthly paradise she doth enclose;
77
Though brave Symerrimus enlarge her fame
Though brave
Gloss Note
queen of Assyria (811-806 BCE)
Semiramis
enlarge her fame,
Though brave Semiramis enlarge her fame,
78
Yet doth shee envie Still the English Thame
Yet doth she envy still the English Thame.
Yet doth she envy still the English Thame.
79
But now alas they envie me noe more
But now, alas, they envy me no more,
But now, alas, they envy me no more,
80
But with theire Teares my heavy loss deplore
But with their tears my heavy loss
Gloss Note
lament
deplore
.
But with their tears my heavy loss deplore.
81
Oft haue I born my Sacred Soveraings Barge
Oft have I born my sacred sovereign’s barge,
Oft have I borne my sacred sovereign’s barge,
82
Being Richly guilt, most proud of such a charge
Being richly gilt, most proud of such a charge.
Being richly gilt, most proud of such a charge.
83
My waves would Swell to see his Princely face
My waves would swell to see his princely face,
My waves would swell to see his princely face,
84
Each billow loth to give his fellow
Physical Note
to right of line, vertical scribble followed by “f”
place
Each billow loath to give his fellow place.
Each billow loth to give his fellow place.
85
Sometimes they would rise to kis his Royall hand
Sometimes they would rise to kiss his royal hand,
Sometimes they would rise to kiss his royal hand,
86
And hardly would give back at my command
And hardly would give back at my command,
And hardly would give back at my command.
87
Billow with billow strive
Physical Note
cancelled with scribbles
with
and ruffling Rore
Billow with billow strive, and ruffling roar,
Billow with billow strive, and ruffling roar,
88
Scorning the blow of either hand or Owre
Scorning the blow of either hand or oar;
Scorning the blow of either hand or oar.
89
But now insulting on my billowes Ride
But now, insulting, on my billows ride
But now insulting on my billows ride
90
Th
Physical Note
three or four letters cancelled with scribbles, last two likely “gh”
[?]
Kingdooms Schourg’s and this Citties pride
Critical Note
Cromwell and parliamentarians in London who had opposed King Charles
The kingdom’s scourges and this city’s pride
,
The kingdom’s scourges and this city’s pride,
91
Which make my Trembling Streame lamenting Rore
Which make my trembling stream lamenting roar,
Which make my trembling stream lamenting roar
92
And her sad loss w:th troubl^ed brest deplore
And her sad loss with troubled breast deplore.
And her sad loss with troubled breast deplore.
93
Com kind Caribdis Com ô com and help’s
Come, kind
Critical Note
In Greek mythology, a whirlpool found on straits, opposite to Scylla, a threatening six-headed monster surrounded by dogs (mentioned in the next line)
Charybdis
, come, O come and
Gloss Note
help us
help’s
;
Come kind Charybdis, come, oh come, and help’s;
94
Sweet louely Scilla bring thy barking whelps
Sweet lovely Scylla, bring thy barking
Gloss Note
dogs
whelps
.
Sweet lovely Scylla, bring thy barking whelps.
95
Then Should they need noe Monument nor Tombe
Then should
Gloss Note
the kingdom’s scourges
they
need no monument nor tomb,
Then should they need no monument nor tomb,
96
But Ocianis darke and Horrid Womb
But
Critical Note
In Greek mythology, the son of Uranus (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth), the personification of the great river believed to encircle the whole world.
Oceanus’s
dark and horrid womb
But Oceanus’ dark and horrid womb
97
Should them involve but wishes are invaine
Should them
Gloss Note
envelop
involve
. But wishes are in vain:
Critical Note
The Thames invokes famous water monsters (Scylla and Charybdis) to aid her in ridding London of the king’s enemies, who will be washed away to unmarked graves in the ocean (“Oceanus’ dark and horrid womb”).
Should them involve
. But wishes are in vain;
98
I will Rore out my griefe unto the Maine
I will roar out my grief unto the
Gloss Note
the open sea
main
.
I will roar out my grief unto the main.

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99
Now all the bewty that my Waves adorne
Now all the beauty that my waves adorn
Now all the beauty that my waves adorn
100
Are Snowey Swans that Sadly Swim forelorne
Are snowy swans that sadly swim, forlorn;
Are snowy swans that sadly swim forlorn;
101
Nor doe they in they Sun theire ffeathers Prune
Nor do they in the sun their feathers prune,
Nor do they in the sun their feathers prune,
102
As they were wont, nor yet theire Voices Tune
As they were
Gloss Note
accustomed to do
wont
, nor yet their voices tune.
As they were wont, nor yet their voices tune,
103
Physical Note
in left margin, ink mark in shape of a check mark
But
in dispaires hanging theire head and wing
But in despairs, hanging their head and wing,
But in despairs, hanging their head and wing,
104
This Kingdoms Derges they expireing Sing
This kingdom’s
Gloss Note
songs of mourning
dirges
they, expiring,
Critical Note
swans traditionally were understood to sing when dying
sing
.
Critical Note

Following the invocations of the mythical Scylla and Charybdis, the Thames turns to a more naturalistic description of swans swimming on the river; however, they sing their own deaths and the death of the kingdom. With this image, Pulter refers to the belief that swans are silent until just before their deaths, when they sing a final song. Thomas Browne examines the origin of and evidence for this belief in Book 3, Chapter 27 of Pseudodoxia Epidemica (Sir Thomas Browne, Selected Writings. Ed. Geoffrey Keynes (University of Chicago Press, 1968), pp. 289-90). Compare Shakespeare’s Othello, where Emilia’s final speech begins:

What did thy song bode, lady?
Hark, canst thou hear me? I will play the swan
And die in music. (5.2.240-42)
Greenblatt, et. al. The Norton Shakespeare, 3rd ed., 2016.
This kingdom’s dirges they expiring sing
.
105
O That
Physical Note
in different hand from main scribe
\itt \
in my Power were to Refuse
O, that it in my power were to refuse
Oh that it in my power were to refuse
106
To see this Towne like Cristall Arethuse
To see this town like crystal
Critical Note
Arethusa, in classical mythology, the nymph with whom Alpheus fell in love, and who flowed underground to escape him, before being turned into a fountain
Arethuse
,
To see this town, like crystal
Critical Note
Arethusa is a nymph transformed into an underground fountain so that she may escape the river god Alpheus. See Ovid, Metamorphoses 5.572-641. While much of the poem describes the envy of the world’s rivers for the Thames, here the Thames expresses envy for Arethuse who is able to escape underground. The Thames wishes to “refuse / To see this town.”
Arethuse
.
107
Below this curssed Earth Iwould hide my head
Below this curséd earth I would hide my head,
Below this cursed Earth I would hide my head,
108
And run amongst the
Physical Note
deleted word, six or seven letters long, starts with “C” and ends with “s”
[?]
^Caverns of the Dead
And run amongst the caverns of the dead,
And run amongst the caverns of the dead,
109
Physical Note
last “e” crowded into space before next word; “r” appears written over “n”
Where
my pure Wave with Acharon should mix
Where my pure wave with
Gloss Note
river of Hades
Acheron
should mix
Where my pure wave with Acheron should mix,
110
With Leathe, Phlegethon, Cocîtus, Stix;
With
Gloss Note
rivers of Hades
Lethe, Phlegethon, Cocytus, Styx
.
With Lethe, Phlegethon, Cocytus, Styx;
111
Then would I wafte them to the Stigian Shade
Then would I
Gloss Note
convey by water
waft
Critical Note
the anti-royalists mentioned as the kingdom’s scourges, above, and three lines below (“they”)
them
to the
Gloss Note
hellish, gloomy, associated with the River Styx
Stygian
shade,
Critical Note
The Thames asks to enter the underworld (“caverns of the dead”) where she can mix her “pure wave” with the five rivers of Hades: Acheron (sorrow or woe), Lethe (forgetfulness), Phlegethon (fire), Cocytus (lamentation), and Styx (hate) and punish the king’s enemies (“rebels”) by ushering them to Hell (“waft them to the stygian shade”).
Then would I waft them to the stygian shade
112
Examples Unto Reybels to be made
Examples unto rebels to be made.
Examples unto rebels to be made.
113
Ô my Sad heart these are but foolish dreames
O my sad heart, these are but foolish dreams,
Oh my sad heart, these are but foolish dreams,
114
ffor they Triumph Upon my Conquer’d Streames
For they triumph upon my conquered streams.
For they triumph upon my conquered streams.
115
Yet this I’le doe while Sighs breaths up my Spring
Yet this I’ll do while sighs
Gloss Note
evaporates; exhales; taints
breathes up
my spring:
Yet this I’ll do while sighs breathes up my spring;
116
I’le trickle teares for my aflicted King
I’ll trickle tears for my afflicted king,
I’ll trickle tears for my afflicted king,
117
And looke how fare one drop of Cristall Thames
And look how far one drop of crystal Thames
And look how far one drop of crystal Thames
118
Physical Note
two “f”s in left margin
Doth
run, so fare I’le Memorise their ffames:
Doth run; so far I’ll memorize their fames,
Doth run, so far I’ll memorize their fames;
119
Soe shall my griefe imortalise them Names.
So shall my grief immortalize
Critical Note
corrected from “them”
their
names.”
So shall my grief immortalize them names.
120
I hearing these complaints Though time to sleepe:
I, hearing these complaints, though time to sleep,
I hearing these complaints, though time to sleep,
121
Satt Sadly Down and with her gan to weepe.
Sat sadly down, and with her ’gan to weep.
Sat sadly down, and with her ’gan to weep.
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition
Title note

 Critical note

Also known as Holdenby House, Holmby is the estate in Northamptonshire where King Charles I was held prisoner during the latter stages of the First Civil War (February to June 1647). This is one of three poems that Pulter dated 1647. See “The Invitation to the Country” (Poem 2) and Made When I Was Sick, 1647 [Poem 31].

 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

Framed by a brief first-person introduction and conclusion, “The Complaint of Thames” voices the lament of the Thames river, personified as a female figure, for the betrayal of the rightful monarch, King Charles I, by the people and city of London. Pulter examines the political consequences of the king’s imprisonment in both national and global contexts through the device of a catalog of rivers. Drawing upon extensive geographical and historical lore, Pulter heightens the pathos of the Thames’s complaint by putting it into dialogue with the famous rivers of England and the world. The rivers alternately envy the Thames and grieve with her, joined, finally, by the speaker who puts off sleep to weep with the rivers of the world.
Line number 3

 Critical note

The Thames flows from west to east across southern England, passing through Oxford and London. Its source is in Gloucestershire.
Line number 4

 Critical note


Pulter personifies the Thames as a feminized figure, thus drawing on the tradition of complaint poetry such as Samuel Daniel’s “The Complaint of Rosamund” and Spenser’s “The Ruines of Time.” In Spenser’s poem, the speaker stands by the river Thames and overhears the complaint of a woman who speaks as the spirit of Verulamium, an ancient Roman city. Some well known poems, such as Michael Drayton’s Poly-Olbion, identified the Thames as masculine. In John Denham’s popular “Cooper’s Hill” (1642), likewise, the Thames is personified as a “son” of the Ocean:

Thames, the most lov’d of all the ocean’s sons,
By his old sire to his embraces runs,
Hasting to pay his tribute to the sea,
Like mortal life to meet eternity. (lines 187-90)
Line number 6

 Critical note

a pastoral name for Queen Henrietta Maria, paired with Amintas for King Charles.
Line number 7

 Critical note

New Troy, i.e. London; a name that draws upon the legend that London was founded by the Trojan hero Brutus.
Line number 7

 Critical note

In contrast to the sympathetic Royalism shared by the speaker and the personified Thames, the women of London are represented as immoral and treacherous. During the 1640s some London women did bring petitions before Parliament, political actions that were satirized in sexualized terms in pamphlets such as The Parliament of Women(1646). See Mihoko Suzuki Subordinate Subjects: Gender, the Political Nation, and Literary Form in England, 1588-1688 (Ashgate, 2003), especially chapter 4.
Line number 11

 Gloss note

faithless or treacherous (OED)
Line number 17

 Critical note

Saint Alban is known as the first British martyr (3rd or 4th century). Alban harbors a priest and refuses to renounce Christianity. When his execution by beheading is ordered, he approaches his death eagerly and when he reaches a quickly flowing river that cannot be crossed, he prays, and the river dries up. In Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People this event is located at the River Ver in the town of Verulamium (now St. Albans), but in another early source (Gildas, De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae) Alban crosses the Thames before his martyrdom, which corresponds to Pulter’s version of the story.
Line number 20

 Critical note

Jeremiah 13:23: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil” (AV); i.e. the Londoners’ guilt is immutable.
Line number 22

 Critical note

i.e. genius loci, “A guardian spirit or god associated with a place” (OED), in this case, the Thames, which withholds its water to punish the “slander” of the Londoners’ tongues.
Line number 30

 Critical note

“an area of wet, boggy land that gives way under foot; a quaking bog” (OED, “quagmire,” n. 1.); the Thames first threatens to abandon the city of London to drought because of its betrayal of the king. She will return only when she has witnessed (“seen all my lust”) sufficient humbling and punishment (“all thy pride and glory turned to dust”).
Line number 36

 Critical note

a period of calm weather that occurs around the winter solstice (OED “halcyon,” adj. 1) and, by extension, the time of peace and prosperity enjoyed by Britain during the rule of Charles I.
Line number 39

 Critical note

“separation into parts or constituent elements; reduction of any body or mass to elements or atoms; destruction of the existing condition; disintegration, decomposition” OED, "dissolution," n.1a.). The Thames worries that a “dismal line of dissolution” will be brought upon the nation, which perhaps anticipates a break in succession or inheritance.
Line number 42

 Critical note

Henrietta Maria costumed as a goddess (Aurora) for a masque, as she was in William Davenant and Inigo Jones’s Luminalia (1638). See note 106 in Alice Eardley, Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda. Pulter addresses and refers to Aurora, the goddess of the dawn, frequently throughout the manuscript, including “Aurora [1]” (Poem 3), “To Aurora [1]” (Poem 22), “To Aurora [2]” (Poem 26), “To Aurora [3]” (Poem 34), and “Aurora [2]” (Poem 37).
Line number 44

 Critical note

Pulter here develops an extensive catalog of the world’s rivers. The Thames boasts that the famous rivers of Britain (Severn, Humber, Ouse, and Dee), Europe (Danube, Tagus, Loire, Po, and Tiber), Africa (Nile), Asia (Ganges), and the Middle East (Euphrates) once envied her because she was home to Charles and Henrietta Maria. Pulter draws upon extensive geographical and historical knowledge in her characterization of each river. Each river announces its greatest glory (e.g., the Danube is the longest; Cleopatra traveled on the Nile; the Ganges received sacrifices of its people; the Euphrates bordered Eden), and then admits that it is the Thames that is superior and deserves its “envy.” When the Thames’s fellow rivers learn that the city has betrayed its monarchs, however, they “envy me no more,” and join with the Thames in its mourning (“with their tears my heavy loss deplore”).
Line number 55

 Critical note

MS: “tooke” which appears to be an error.
Line number 62

 Critical note

used during the seventeenth century to refer to people from India and/or followers of Hinduism (OED, banian, n.). Pulter refers to the Hindu practice of cremation of the dead on the banks of the Ganges.
Line number 97

 Critical note

The Thames invokes famous water monsters (Scylla and Charybdis) to aid her in ridding London of the king’s enemies, who will be washed away to unmarked graves in the ocean (“Oceanus’ dark and horrid womb”).
Line number 104

 Critical note


Following the invocations of the mythical Scylla and Charybdis, the Thames turns to a more naturalistic description of swans swimming on the river; however, they sing their own deaths and the death of the kingdom. With this image, Pulter refers to the belief that swans are silent until just before their deaths, when they sing a final song. Thomas Browne examines the origin of and evidence for this belief in Book 3, Chapter 27 of Pseudodoxia Epidemica (Sir Thomas Browne, Selected Writings. Ed. Geoffrey Keynes (University of Chicago Press, 1968), pp. 289-90). Compare Shakespeare’s Othello, where Emilia’s final speech begins:

What did thy song bode, lady?
Hark, canst thou hear me? I will play the swan
And die in music. (5.2.240-42)
Greenblatt, et. al. The Norton Shakespeare, 3rd ed., 2016.
Line number 106

 Critical note

Arethusa is a nymph transformed into an underground fountain so that she may escape the river god Alpheus. See Ovid, Metamorphoses 5.572-641. While much of the poem describes the envy of the world’s rivers for the Thames, here the Thames expresses envy for Arethuse who is able to escape underground. The Thames wishes to “refuse / To see this town.”
Line number 111

 Critical note

The Thames asks to enter the underworld (“caverns of the dead”) where she can mix her “pure wave” with the five rivers of Hades: Acheron (sorrow or woe), Lethe (forgetfulness), Phlegethon (fire), Cocytus (lamentation), and Styx (hate) and punish the king’s enemies (“rebels”) by ushering them to Hell (“waft them to the stygian shade”).
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The complaint of Thames 1647
when the best of Kings was imprisoned
by the worst of Rebels at Holmbie
The
Critical Note
The complaint, a common poetic form of the day, is voiced by the river Thames, which flows eastwards from Gloucestershire to London (hence the “western spring” in l. 3). The Thames mourns the imprisonment of King Charles at Holmby, a Northamptonshire estate (also known as Holdenby House) where King Charles was imprisoned after his surrender in the civil war in 1647.
Complaint of Thames
, 1647, When the Best of Kings was Imprisoned by the Worst of Rebels at Holmby
The Complaint of Thames, 1647, When the Best of Kings Was Imprisoned By the Worst of Rebels at
Critical Note
Also known as Holdenby House, Holmby is the estate in Northamptonshire where King Charles I was held prisoner during the latter stages of the First Civil War (February to June 1647). This is one of three poems that Pulter dated 1647. See “The Invitation to the Country” (Poem 2) and Made When I Was Sick, 1647 [Poem 31].
Holmby
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
In this political-pastoral complaint (in iambic pentameter couplets), the narrator discovers the river Thames mourning the imprisonment of King Charles I in 1647 and the national crisis that has ensued because of the civil war. The use of a frame tale and an embedded narrator was common in Renaissance complaint poems (by William Shakespeare, Samuel Daniel, Thomas Lodge, and others). In this poem, however, Pulter creates a personification of a topographical feature, who testifies to the decline of England and lauds the glory of Charles I and past English rulers (whose erotically-described travel over her waters made her the envy of all the rivers of the world). After inventorying world rivers and mourning the loss of their admiration, the Thames fantasizes that she might stream underground and transport Cromwell and parliamentary authorities to a hellish classical underworld. She then offers to immortalize the king with the only material she can offer: the watery tears of grief.

— Lara Dodds
Framed by a brief first-person introduction and conclusion, “The Complaint of Thames” voices the lament of the Thames river, personified as a female figure, for the betrayal of the rightful monarch, King Charles I, by the people and city of London. Pulter examines the political consequences of the king’s imprisonment in both national and global contexts through the device of a catalog of rivers. Drawing upon extensive geographical and historical lore, Pulter heightens the pathos of the Thames’s complaint by putting it into dialogue with the famous rivers of England and the world. The rivers alternately envy the Thames and grieve with her, joined, finally, by the speaker who puts off sleep to weep with the rivers of the world.

— Lara Dodds
1
Late in an evening as I walk’d alone,
Late in an evening as I walked alone,
Late in an evening as I walked alone,
2
I heard the Thames most Sadly make her moane:
I heard the Thames most sadly make her moan.
I heard the Thames most sadly make her moan.
3
As Shee came weeping from her western Spring,
As she came weeping from her western spring,
As she came weeping from her
Critical Note
The Thames flows from west to east across southern England, passing through Oxford and London. Its source is in Gloucestershire.
western spring
,
4
Shee thus bewaild the learned Shepherds King.
She thus bewailed the
Critical Note
King Charles, figured as the head of a courtly flock
learnéd shepherd’s king
:
Critical Note

Pulter personifies the Thames as a feminized figure, thus drawing on the tradition of complaint poetry such as Samuel Daniel’s “The Complaint of Rosamund” and Spenser’s “The Ruines of Time.” In Spenser’s poem, the speaker stands by the river Thames and overhears the complaint of a woman who speaks as the spirit of Verulamium, an ancient Roman city. Some well known poems, such as Michael Drayton’s Poly-Olbion, identified the Thames as masculine. In John Denham’s popular “Cooper’s Hill” (1642), likewise, the Thames is personified as a “son” of the Ocean:

Thames, the most lov’d of all the ocean’s sons,
By his old sire to his embraces runs,
Hasting to pay his tribute to the sea,
Like mortal life to meet eternity. (lines 187-90)
She
thus bewailed the learned shepherds’ king:
5
Amintas Sad Amintas Sits forelorne
Critical Note
common male pastoral name for a shepherd; the female equivalent is Chloris, mentioned in the next line.
Amintas
, sad Amintas, sits forlorn,
Amintas, sad Amintas, sits forlorn,
6
And his faire Cloris now’s become the Scorne
And his fair Chloris now’s become the scorn
And his fair
Critical Note
a pastoral name for Queen Henrietta Maria, paired with Amintas for King Charles.
Chloris
now’s become the scorn
7
Of Troynovants
Physical Note
blotted letters, possibly “ar,” between “r” and “a”
ingrate
licentious Dames
Of
Critical Note
The name given by the early chroniclers to London, which was presumed to be built by Brutus, a Trojan refugee; it indicates the city of the Trinovantes or The New Troy.
Troynovant’s
Gloss Note
ungrateful
ingrate
licentious dames.
Of
Critical Note
New Troy, i.e. London; a name that draws upon the legend that London was founded by the Trojan hero Brutus.
Troynovant
’s
Critical Note
In contrast to the sympathetic Royalism shared by the speaker and the personified Thames, the women of London are represented as immoral and treacherous. During the 1640s some London women did bring petitions before Parliament, political actions that were satirized in sexualized terms in pamphlets such as The Parliament of Women(1646). See Mihoko Suzuki Subordinate Subjects: Gender, the Political Nation, and Literary Form in England, 1588-1688 (Ashgate, 2003), especially chapter 4.
ingrate, licentious dames
.
8
Noe merveile then if poore aflicted Thames
No marvel, then, if poor afflicted Thames
No marvel, then, if poor afflicted Thames
9
With Salt abortive teares dos wash this Citty
With salt,
Gloss Note
fruitless
abortive
tears does wash this city,
With salt abortive tears does wash this city,
10
As full of Blood and lies as voyd of pittie
As full of blood and lies as void of pity.
As full of blood and lies as void of pity.
11
Perfidious Town know thou the power of fate
Gloss Note
untrustworthy
Perfidious
town, know thou the power of fate:
Gloss Note
faithless or treacherous (OED)
Perfidious
town, know thou the power of fate.
12
Thy long felicitie shall find a date
Thy long felicity shall find a
Gloss Note
come to an end
date
,
Thy long felicity shall find a date,
13
And I may live to see another turn
And I may live to see another
Gloss Note
of Fortune’s wheel
turn
,
And I may live to see another turn
14
When thy proud
Physical Note
struck-through “a” crossed out with two forward slashes
fabriack
shall unpittied burn
When thy proud
Gloss Note
edifice; structure
fabric
shall unpitied burn.
When thy proud fabric shall unpitied burn.
15
Then Heaven Just Heaven withhold thy raine
Then Heaven, just Heaven, withhold thy rain,
Then Heaven, just Heaven, withhold thy rain,
16
And I will leave my channill once againe
And I will leave my channel once again,
And I will leave my channel once again,
17
As when my holy Albians blood was spilt
As when my holy
Critical Note
could refer to St. Alban or to Albion. Eardley: St. Alban, killed in the third century AD for harboring a priest; at his urging, God dried up waters so that he could cross a stream to be executed and complete his martyrdom; Albion, another name for Britain, from a giant slain by Hercules, whose spilt blood would reference civil war
Albion’s
blood was spilt;
As when my holy
Critical Note
Saint Alban is known as the first British martyr (3rd or 4th century). Alban harbors a priest and refuses to renounce Christianity. When his execution by beheading is ordered, he approaches his death eagerly and when he reaches a quickly flowing river that cannot be crossed, he prays, and the river dries up. In Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People this event is located at the River Ver in the town of Verulamium (now St. Albans), but in another early source (Gildas, De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae) Alban crosses the Thames before his martyrdom, which corresponds to Pulter’s version of the story.
Albian
’s blood was spilt,
18
Physical Note
“e”s are unusual in shape
Seeing
to wash away thy Horrid guilt
Physical Note
corrected from “seeing” in the manuscript
Seeking
to wash away
Gloss Note
London’s
thy
horrid guilt
Seeing to wash away thy horrid guilt
19
Is more impossible then tis to change
Is more impossible than ’tis to change
Is more impossible than ’tis to change
20
The
Physical Note
“S” written over initial “K”; final “s” written over imperfectly erased “g”
Skins
of Negros that in Aphrick range
Critical Note
Afric, or Africa; this line and the one above it allude to the biblical phrase naming impossibility: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?” (Jerome 13:23), which was proverbial in early modern England
The skins of Negroes that in Afric range
.
Critical Note
Jeremiah 13:23: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil” (AV); i.e. the Londoners’ guilt is immutable.
The skins of Negroes that in Afric’ range
.
21
Then when thou fryest in vengfull flames of fire
Then, when thou fryest in vengeful flames of fire,
Then when thou fryest in vengeful flames of fire,
22
Thy Scorched genious Reddy to expire
Thy scorchéd
Gloss Note
spirit
genius
ready to expire—
Thy scorched
Critical Note
i.e. genius loci, “A guardian spirit or god associated with a place” (OED), in this case, the Thames, which withholds its water to punish the “slander” of the Londoners’ tongues.
genius
ready to expire,
23
Thy Tongue and mouth Sable as Salamander
Thy tongue and mouth
Gloss Note
black
sable
as
Critical Note
lizard-like animal, some of which have a black color, supposedly able to endure fire
salamander
Thy tongue and mouth sable as salamander
24
With Speaking gainst thy King and Queene Such Sland’r
With speaking ’gainst thy king and queen such slander—
With speaking ’gainst thy king and queen such slander,
25
Then not a drop of my coole Cristall Wave
Then not a drop of my cool crystal
Physical Note
modified from "wave" in the manuscript
have
Then not a drop of my cool crystal wave
26
To coole thy Sulpherous Tongue or life to save
To cool thy
Gloss Note
fiery; hellish
sulfurous
tongue, or life to save;
To cool thy sulfurous tongue or life to save,
27
But when I haue of thee Seene all my lust
But when I have of thee seen all my
Gloss Note
pleasure; desire; vigor
lust
But when I have of thee seen all my lust
28
And all thy pride and Glory Turn’d to dust
And all thy pride and glory turned to dust,
And all thy pride and glory turned to dust,
29
Then I Triumphant with my watery traine
Then I, triumphant with my watery train,
Then I triumphant with my watery train
30
Will make this Cittie Quagmires once againe
Will make this city
Gloss Note
wet boggy lands that give way under foot; a situation that is unpleasant or hazardous, or from which it is difficult to extricate oneself
quagmires
once again.
Will make this city
Critical Note
“an area of wet, boggy land that gives way under foot; a quaking bog” (OED, “quagmire,” n. 1.); the Thames first threatens to abandon the city of London to drought because of its betrayal of the king. She will return only when she has witnessed (“seen all my lust”) sufficient humbling and punishment (“all thy pride and glory turned to dust”).
quagmires
once again.

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31
But O thy Blood and Pe^rjuries Repent
But O,
Gloss Note
London
thy
Gloss Note
responsibility for violence or bloodshed
blood
and perjuries repent;
But O, thy blood and perjuries repent,
32
Then Heaven I hope in mercie will Relent
Then Heaven, I hope, in mercy will relent.
Then Heaven I hope in mercy will relent.
33
Thy King Restore call
Physical Note
“w” blotted and crossed with forward slashes; “e” crowded into space before next word
whome
his Queene againe
Thy king restore, call home his
Gloss Note
Henrietta Maria, King Charles’s wife
queen
again,
Thy king restore, call home his queen again,
34
Or all thy prayer and fasting is in vaine
Or all thy prayer and fasting is in vain.
Or all thy prayer and fasting is in vain.
35
Hast thou forgot (Aye me) Soe have not I
Hast thou forgot? Aye me—so have not I—
Hast thou forgot (ay me), so have not I,
36
Those Halcian dayes the Sweete Tranquillity
Those
Gloss Note
peaceful
halcyon
days, the sweet tranquility
Those
Critical Note
a period of calm weather that occurs around the winter solstice (OED “halcyon,” adj. 1) and, by extension, the time of peace and prosperity enjoyed by Britain during the rule of Charles I.
halcyon days
, the sweet tranquility
37
That wee injoyed Under his happy Reigne
That we enjoyed under his happy reign,
That we enjoyed under his happy reign,
38
Which Heaven will once Restore to us againe
Which heaven will once restore to us again,
Which Heaven will once restore to us again,
39
Unles the dismale line of dissolution
Unless the dismal line of dissolution
Unless the
Critical Note
“separation into parts or constituent elements; reduction of any body or mass to elements or atoms; destruction of the existing condition; disintegration, decomposition” OED, "dissolution," n.1a.). The Thames worries that a “dismal line of dissolution” will be brought upon the nation, which perhaps anticipates a break in succession or inheritance.
dismal line of dissolution
40
(Which ô forbid) bee drawn upon this Nation.
(Which O, forbid) be
Gloss Note
forced, traced (figuratively)
drawn
upon this nation.
(Which oh, forbid) be drawn upon this nation.
41
Oft have I born upon my Silver Brest
Oft have I born upon my silver
Gloss Note
forefront, face, swelling or supporting surface
breast
Oft have I borne upon my silver breast
42
His lovely Cloris like Aurora drest
His lovely Chloris, like
Gloss Note
Roman goddess of the dawn
Aurora
dressed
His lovely Chloris
Critical Note
Henrietta Maria costumed as a goddess (Aurora) for a masque, as she was in William Davenant and Inigo Jones’s Luminalia (1638). See note 106 in Alice Eardley, Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda. Pulter addresses and refers to Aurora, the goddess of the dawn, frequently throughout the manuscript, including “Aurora [1]” (Poem 3), “To Aurora [1]” (Poem 22), “To Aurora [2]” (Poem 26), “To Aurora [3]” (Poem 34), and “Aurora [2]” (Poem 37).
like Aurora dressed
,
43
With youth and bevty with her Princely Spouse
With youth and beauty, with her princely spouse.
With youth and beauty, with her princely spouse.
44
Envied I was by Severn Humber Owes
Envied I was by
Gloss Note
major rivers in England
Severn, Humber, Ouse
;
Envied I was by
Critical Note
Pulter here develops an extensive catalog of the world’s rivers. The Thames boasts that the famous rivers of Britain (Severn, Humber, Ouse, and Dee), Europe (Danube, Tagus, Loire, Po, and Tiber), Africa (Nile), Asia (Ganges), and the Middle East (Euphrates) once envied her because she was home to Charles and Henrietta Maria. Pulter draws upon extensive geographical and historical knowledge in her characterization of each river. Each river announces its greatest glory (e.g., the Danube is the longest; Cleopatra traveled on the Nile; the Ganges received sacrifices of its people; the Euphrates bordered Eden), and then admits that it is the Thames that is superior and deserves its “envy.” When the Thames’s fellow rivers learn that the city has betrayed its monarchs, however, they “envy me no more,” and join with the Thames in its mourning (“with their tears my heavy loss deplore”).
Severn, Humber, Ouse
.
45
The Sacred Dee said shee noe more would boast
The sacred
Critical Note
river flowing from Wales across the north of England, sacred because linked to a river goddess
Dee
said she no more would boast
The sacred Dee said she no more would boast
46
Her Shewing Conquest on the conquering Coast
Critical Note
the River Dee flows across Wales and England to reach the North Sea
Her showing conquest on the conquering coast
,
Her showing conquest on the conquering coast,
47
Though Edgares Glory from her River Springs
Though
Critical Note
Edgar, king of England from 959-979; it was reputed that eight other kings signalled submission to Edgar by rowing him down the River Dee.
Edgar’s
glory from her river springs,
Though Edgar’s glory from her river springs
48
When hee in Triumph by eight Captive Kings
When he, in triumph, by eight captive kings
When he in triumph by eight captive kings
49
Was Rowed upon her famous Crist^iall Streame
Was rowed upon her famous crystal stream;
Was rowed upon her famous crystal stream;
50
Those former Honours Shewed now like a dreame
Those former honors showed now like a dream.
Those former honors showed now like a dream.
51
Nay the Danube Said shee would ner’e Rehearse
Nay, the
Gloss Note
second longest European river
Danube
said she would ne’er rehearse
Nay, the Danube said she would ne’er rehearse
52
Her being biggest in the Universe
Her being biggest in the universe.
Her being biggest in the universe.
53
Even Tagus would not brag of Golden Sands
Even
Critical Note
longest river on the Iberian peninsula, famous for gold-bearing sands
Tagus
would not brag of golden sands,
Even Tagus would not brag of golden sands,
54
But said shee envied more my happy Strands
But said she envied more my happy
Gloss Note
shores
strands
.
But said she envied more my happy strands;
55
Soe said the Loyer in envie Poe tooke on
Critical Note
The Loire agreed. The Loire is the longest river in France.
So said the Loire
. In envy
Gloss Note
longest river in Italy
Po
Gloss Note
proceeded; began [talking]; or possibly in sense 5 of “to take on” (OED, take, v.): spoke or acted madly or excitedly; showed great agitation or distress.
took on
;
So said the Loire. In envy Po
Critical Note
MS: “tooke” which appears to be an error.
looked on
56
Though shee were Honour’d by a Phaiton
Though she were honored by a
Critical Note
son of Helios, the sun god; his scorched body fell into the Eridanus River, later known as the River Po of Italy, when he lost control when attempting to drive the sun-chariot.
Phaeton
,
Though she were honored by a Phaeton.
57
And Egipts Glory Nillus Stately Streame
And Egypt’s glory,
Gloss Note
Nile river, longest in the world
Nilus
, stately stream,
And Egypt’s glory, Nilus, stately stream,
58
Said her felicities were but a dreame
Said her felicities were but a dream,
Said her felicities were but a dream
59
When on her or’e flowing waves were seene
When on her o’erflowing waves were seen
When on her o’erflowing waves were seen
60
The Roman Eagles and her black ey’d Queen
The Roman eagles and her
Critical Note
Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt (51-30 BCE); with the eagles, emblems of Rome, pointing to Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, each of whom travelled the Nile
black-eyed queen
.
The Roman eagles and her black-eyed queen.
61
And Silver Gangers Said the Sacrifice
And silver
Gloss Note
sacred river in India
Ganges
said the sacrifice
And silver Ganges said the sacrifice
62
The Banians brought with elevated eyes
The
Gloss Note
Hindu traders
Banians
brought with elevated eyes—
The
Critical Note
used during the seventeenth century to refer to people from India and/or followers of Hinduism (OED, banian, n.). Pulter refers to the Hindu practice of cremation of the dead on the banks of the Ganges.
Banians
brought with elevated eyes,
63
Though all theire
Physical Note
Second “c” overwrites an “a”.
Carcases
by fire calcin’d
Though all their carcasses, by fire
Gloss Note
purified by burning
calcined
,
Though all their carcasses by fire calcined
64
Were in her Purifieing Waves Refin’d
Were in her purifying waves refined;
Were in her purifying waves refined;

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65
Though all theire wealth and Treasure in they hurl’d
Though all their wealth and treasure in they hurled,
Though all their wealth and treasure in they hurled,
66
And Shee were Lady of the Eastern World
And she were Lady of the eastern world—
And she were lady of the eastern world;
67
Yet all that Glory Shee did count a toye
Yet all that glory she did count a toy,
Yet all that glory she did count a toy
68
Compar’d Shee Said with happy Thames her Joy
Compared, she said, with happy
Gloss Note
that is, the Thames’s joy. One common early modern way to signal the possessive form grammatically was called the “his genitive,” in which the word “his” or “her” modified the thing possessed (such as Elizabeth her book).
Thames her joy
.
Compared, she said, with happy Thames her joy.
69
Tiber Said of Horatias vallure brave
Gloss Note
river in Italy flowing through Rome
Tiber
said of
Critical Note
a Roman hero who volunteered to be one of the last defenders of a bridge over the river Tiber against an Etruscan army intent on invading Rome
Horatius
’s valor brave
Tiber said of Horatius’ valor brave
70
Shee ne’re would Speake but I the praise should have
She ne’er would speak, but I the praise should have.
She ne’er would speak but I the praise should have.
71
Cristall Euphratus never did envie
Crystal
Gloss Note
river near Garden of Eden
Euphrates
never did envy
Crystal Euphrates never did envy
72
The Glory of noe other flowd
Physical Note
two additional final letters (likely “ed”) corrected or cancelled; “w” could be corrected to or from “o”
[?]
but I
The glory of no other flood but I;
The glory of no other flood but I,
73
Though from a Thousand ffounts her Streame doth spring
Though from a thousand founts her stream doth spring,
Though from a thousand founts her stream doth spring;
74
Yet did shee never beare soe good a King
Yet did she never bear so good a king.
Yet did she never bear so good a king.
75
Through lofty Babilon her River flowes
Through lofty
Gloss Note
famous city in ancient Mesopotamia
Babylon
her river flows,
Through lofty Babylon her river flows
76
And Earthly Paradice Shee doth inclose
And
Critical Note
Euphrates is associated with the Garden of Eden, Genesis 2:14.
earthly paradise she doth enclose
,
And earthly paradise she doth enclose;
77
Though brave Symerrimus enlarge her fame
Though brave
Gloss Note
queen of Assyria (811-806 BCE)
Semiramis
enlarge her fame,
Though brave Semiramis enlarge her fame,
78
Yet doth shee envie Still the English Thame
Yet doth she envy still the English Thame.
Yet doth she envy still the English Thame.
79
But now alas they envie me noe more
But now, alas, they envy me no more,
But now, alas, they envy me no more,
80
But with theire Teares my heavy loss deplore
But with their tears my heavy loss
Gloss Note
lament
deplore
.
But with their tears my heavy loss deplore.
81
Oft haue I born my Sacred Soveraings Barge
Oft have I born my sacred sovereign’s barge,
Oft have I borne my sacred sovereign’s barge,
82
Being Richly guilt, most proud of such a charge
Being richly gilt, most proud of such a charge.
Being richly gilt, most proud of such a charge.
83
My waves would Swell to see his Princely face
My waves would swell to see his princely face,
My waves would swell to see his princely face,
84
Each billow loth to give his fellow
Physical Note
to right of line, vertical scribble followed by “f”
place
Each billow loath to give his fellow place.
Each billow loth to give his fellow place.
85
Sometimes they would rise to kis his Royall hand
Sometimes they would rise to kiss his royal hand,
Sometimes they would rise to kiss his royal hand,
86
And hardly would give back at my command
And hardly would give back at my command,
And hardly would give back at my command.
87
Billow with billow strive
Physical Note
cancelled with scribbles
with
and ruffling Rore
Billow with billow strive, and ruffling roar,
Billow with billow strive, and ruffling roar,
88
Scorning the blow of either hand or Owre
Scorning the blow of either hand or oar;
Scorning the blow of either hand or oar.
89
But now insulting on my billowes Ride
But now, insulting, on my billows ride
But now insulting on my billows ride
90
Th
Physical Note
three or four letters cancelled with scribbles, last two likely “gh”
[?]
Kingdooms Schourg’s and this Citties pride
Critical Note
Cromwell and parliamentarians in London who had opposed King Charles
The kingdom’s scourges and this city’s pride
,
The kingdom’s scourges and this city’s pride,
91
Which make my Trembling Streame lamenting Rore
Which make my trembling stream lamenting roar,
Which make my trembling stream lamenting roar
92
And her sad loss w:th troubl^ed brest deplore
And her sad loss with troubled breast deplore.
And her sad loss with troubled breast deplore.
93
Com kind Caribdis Com ô com and help’s
Come, kind
Critical Note
In Greek mythology, a whirlpool found on straits, opposite to Scylla, a threatening six-headed monster surrounded by dogs (mentioned in the next line)
Charybdis
, come, O come and
Gloss Note
help us
help’s
;
Come kind Charybdis, come, oh come, and help’s;
94
Sweet louely Scilla bring thy barking whelps
Sweet lovely Scylla, bring thy barking
Gloss Note
dogs
whelps
.
Sweet lovely Scylla, bring thy barking whelps.
95
Then Should they need noe Monument nor Tombe
Then should
Gloss Note
the kingdom’s scourges
they
need no monument nor tomb,
Then should they need no monument nor tomb,
96
But Ocianis darke and Horrid Womb
But
Critical Note
In Greek mythology, the son of Uranus (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth), the personification of the great river believed to encircle the whole world.
Oceanus’s
dark and horrid womb
But Oceanus’ dark and horrid womb
97
Should them involve but wishes are invaine
Should them
Gloss Note
envelop
involve
. But wishes are in vain:
Critical Note
The Thames invokes famous water monsters (Scylla and Charybdis) to aid her in ridding London of the king’s enemies, who will be washed away to unmarked graves in the ocean (“Oceanus’ dark and horrid womb”).
Should them involve
. But wishes are in vain;
98
I will Rore out my griefe unto the Maine
I will roar out my grief unto the
Gloss Note
the open sea
main
.
I will roar out my grief unto the main.

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
99
Now all the bewty that my Waves adorne
Now all the beauty that my waves adorn
Now all the beauty that my waves adorn
100
Are Snowey Swans that Sadly Swim forelorne
Are snowy swans that sadly swim, forlorn;
Are snowy swans that sadly swim forlorn;
101
Nor doe they in they Sun theire ffeathers Prune
Nor do they in the sun their feathers prune,
Nor do they in the sun their feathers prune,
102
As they were wont, nor yet theire Voices Tune
As they were
Gloss Note
accustomed to do
wont
, nor yet their voices tune.
As they were wont, nor yet their voices tune,
103
Physical Note
in left margin, ink mark in shape of a check mark
But
in dispaires hanging theire head and wing
But in despairs, hanging their head and wing,
But in despairs, hanging their head and wing,
104
This Kingdoms Derges they expireing Sing
This kingdom’s
Gloss Note
songs of mourning
dirges
they, expiring,
Critical Note
swans traditionally were understood to sing when dying
sing
.
Critical Note

Following the invocations of the mythical Scylla and Charybdis, the Thames turns to a more naturalistic description of swans swimming on the river; however, they sing their own deaths and the death of the kingdom. With this image, Pulter refers to the belief that swans are silent until just before their deaths, when they sing a final song. Thomas Browne examines the origin of and evidence for this belief in Book 3, Chapter 27 of Pseudodoxia Epidemica (Sir Thomas Browne, Selected Writings. Ed. Geoffrey Keynes (University of Chicago Press, 1968), pp. 289-90). Compare Shakespeare’s Othello, where Emilia’s final speech begins:

What did thy song bode, lady?
Hark, canst thou hear me? I will play the swan
And die in music. (5.2.240-42)
Greenblatt, et. al. The Norton Shakespeare, 3rd ed., 2016.
This kingdom’s dirges they expiring sing
.
105
O That
Physical Note
in different hand from main scribe
\itt \
in my Power were to Refuse
O, that it in my power were to refuse
Oh that it in my power were to refuse
106
To see this Towne like Cristall Arethuse
To see this town like crystal
Critical Note
Arethusa, in classical mythology, the nymph with whom Alpheus fell in love, and who flowed underground to escape him, before being turned into a fountain
Arethuse
,
To see this town, like crystal
Critical Note
Arethusa is a nymph transformed into an underground fountain so that she may escape the river god Alpheus. See Ovid, Metamorphoses 5.572-641. While much of the poem describes the envy of the world’s rivers for the Thames, here the Thames expresses envy for Arethuse who is able to escape underground. The Thames wishes to “refuse / To see this town.”
Arethuse
.
107
Below this curssed Earth Iwould hide my head
Below this curséd earth I would hide my head,
Below this cursed Earth I would hide my head,
108
And run amongst the
Physical Note
deleted word, six or seven letters long, starts with “C” and ends with “s”
[?]
^Caverns of the Dead
And run amongst the caverns of the dead,
And run amongst the caverns of the dead,
109
Physical Note
last “e” crowded into space before next word; “r” appears written over “n”
Where
my pure Wave with Acharon should mix
Where my pure wave with
Gloss Note
river of Hades
Acheron
should mix
Where my pure wave with Acheron should mix,
110
With Leathe, Phlegethon, Cocîtus, Stix;
With
Gloss Note
rivers of Hades
Lethe, Phlegethon, Cocytus, Styx
.
With Lethe, Phlegethon, Cocytus, Styx;
111
Then would I wafte them to the Stigian Shade
Then would I
Gloss Note
convey by water
waft
Critical Note
the anti-royalists mentioned as the kingdom’s scourges, above, and three lines below (“they”)
them
to the
Gloss Note
hellish, gloomy, associated with the River Styx
Stygian
shade,
Critical Note
The Thames asks to enter the underworld (“caverns of the dead”) where she can mix her “pure wave” with the five rivers of Hades: Acheron (sorrow or woe), Lethe (forgetfulness), Phlegethon (fire), Cocytus (lamentation), and Styx (hate) and punish the king’s enemies (“rebels”) by ushering them to Hell (“waft them to the stygian shade”).
Then would I waft them to the stygian shade
112
Examples Unto Reybels to be made
Examples unto rebels to be made.
Examples unto rebels to be made.
113
Ô my Sad heart these are but foolish dreames
O my sad heart, these are but foolish dreams,
Oh my sad heart, these are but foolish dreams,
114
ffor they Triumph Upon my Conquer’d Streames
For they triumph upon my conquered streams.
For they triumph upon my conquered streams.
115
Yet this I’le doe while Sighs breaths up my Spring
Yet this I’ll do while sighs
Gloss Note
evaporates; exhales; taints
breathes up
my spring:
Yet this I’ll do while sighs breathes up my spring;
116
I’le trickle teares for my aflicted King
I’ll trickle tears for my afflicted king,
I’ll trickle tears for my afflicted king,
117
And looke how fare one drop of Cristall Thames
And look how far one drop of crystal Thames
And look how far one drop of crystal Thames
118
Physical Note
two “f”s in left margin
Doth
run, so fare I’le Memorise their ffames:
Doth run; so far I’ll memorize their fames,
Doth run, so far I’ll memorize their fames;
119
Soe shall my griefe imortalise them Names.
So shall my grief immortalize
Critical Note
corrected from “them”
their
names.”
So shall my grief immortalize them names.
120
I hearing these complaints Though time to sleepe:
I, hearing these complaints, though time to sleep,
I hearing these complaints, though time to sleep,
121
Satt Sadly Down and with her gan to weepe.
Sat sadly down, and with her ’gan to weep.
Sat sadly down, and with her ’gan to weep.
X (Close panel) All Notes
Elemental Edition
Title note

 Critical note

The complaint, a common poetic form of the day, is voiced by the river Thames, which flows eastwards from Gloucestershire to London (hence the “western spring” in l. 3). The Thames mourns the imprisonment of King Charles at Holmby, a Northamptonshire estate (also known as Holdenby House) where King Charles was imprisoned after his surrender in the civil war in 1647.
Amplified Edition
Title note

 Critical note

Also known as Holdenby House, Holmby is the estate in Northamptonshire where King Charles I was held prisoner during the latter stages of the First Civil War (February to June 1647). This is one of three poems that Pulter dated 1647. See “The Invitation to the Country” (Poem 2) and Made When I Was Sick, 1647 [Poem 31].
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

In this political-pastoral complaint (in iambic pentameter couplets), the narrator discovers the river Thames mourning the imprisonment of King Charles I in 1647 and the national crisis that has ensued because of the civil war. The use of a frame tale and an embedded narrator was common in Renaissance complaint poems (by William Shakespeare, Samuel Daniel, Thomas Lodge, and others). In this poem, however, Pulter creates a personification of a topographical feature, who testifies to the decline of England and lauds the glory of Charles I and past English rulers (whose erotically-described travel over her waters made her the envy of all the rivers of the world). After inventorying world rivers and mourning the loss of their admiration, the Thames fantasizes that she might stream underground and transport Cromwell and parliamentary authorities to a hellish classical underworld. She then offers to immortalize the king with the only material she can offer: the watery tears of grief.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

Framed by a brief first-person introduction and conclusion, “The Complaint of Thames” voices the lament of the Thames river, personified as a female figure, for the betrayal of the rightful monarch, King Charles I, by the people and city of London. Pulter examines the political consequences of the king’s imprisonment in both national and global contexts through the device of a catalog of rivers. Drawing upon extensive geographical and historical lore, Pulter heightens the pathos of the Thames’s complaint by putting it into dialogue with the famous rivers of England and the world. The rivers alternately envy the Thames and grieve with her, joined, finally, by the speaker who puts off sleep to weep with the rivers of the world.
Amplified Edition
Line number 3

 Critical note

The Thames flows from west to east across southern England, passing through Oxford and London. Its source is in Gloucestershire.
Elemental Edition
Line number 4

 Critical note

King Charles, figured as the head of a courtly flock
Amplified Edition
Line number 4

 Critical note


Pulter personifies the Thames as a feminized figure, thus drawing on the tradition of complaint poetry such as Samuel Daniel’s “The Complaint of Rosamund” and Spenser’s “The Ruines of Time.” In Spenser’s poem, the speaker stands by the river Thames and overhears the complaint of a woman who speaks as the spirit of Verulamium, an ancient Roman city. Some well known poems, such as Michael Drayton’s Poly-Olbion, identified the Thames as masculine. In John Denham’s popular “Cooper’s Hill” (1642), likewise, the Thames is personified as a “son” of the Ocean:

Thames, the most lov’d of all the ocean’s sons,
By his old sire to his embraces runs,
Hasting to pay his tribute to the sea,
Like mortal life to meet eternity. (lines 187-90)
Elemental Edition
Line number 5

 Critical note

common male pastoral name for a shepherd; the female equivalent is Chloris, mentioned in the next line.
Amplified Edition
Line number 6

 Critical note

a pastoral name for Queen Henrietta Maria, paired with Amintas for King Charles.
Transcription
Line number 7

 Physical note

blotted letters, possibly “ar,” between “r” and “a”
Elemental Edition
Line number 7

 Critical note

The name given by the early chroniclers to London, which was presumed to be built by Brutus, a Trojan refugee; it indicates the city of the Trinovantes or The New Troy.
Elemental Edition
Line number 7

 Gloss note

ungrateful
Amplified Edition
Line number 7

 Critical note

New Troy, i.e. London; a name that draws upon the legend that London was founded by the Trojan hero Brutus.
Amplified Edition
Line number 7

 Critical note

In contrast to the sympathetic Royalism shared by the speaker and the personified Thames, the women of London are represented as immoral and treacherous. During the 1640s some London women did bring petitions before Parliament, political actions that were satirized in sexualized terms in pamphlets such as The Parliament of Women(1646). See Mihoko Suzuki Subordinate Subjects: Gender, the Political Nation, and Literary Form in England, 1588-1688 (Ashgate, 2003), especially chapter 4.
Elemental Edition
Line number 9

 Gloss note

fruitless
Elemental Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

untrustworthy
Amplified Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

faithless or treacherous (OED)
Elemental Edition
Line number 12

 Gloss note

come to an end
Elemental Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

of Fortune’s wheel
Transcription
Line number 14

 Physical note

struck-through “a” crossed out with two forward slashes
Elemental Edition
Line number 14

 Gloss note

edifice; structure
Elemental Edition
Line number 17

 Critical note

could refer to St. Alban or to Albion. Eardley: St. Alban, killed in the third century AD for harboring a priest; at his urging, God dried up waters so that he could cross a stream to be executed and complete his martyrdom; Albion, another name for Britain, from a giant slain by Hercules, whose spilt blood would reference civil war
Amplified Edition
Line number 17

 Critical note

Saint Alban is known as the first British martyr (3rd or 4th century). Alban harbors a priest and refuses to renounce Christianity. When his execution by beheading is ordered, he approaches his death eagerly and when he reaches a quickly flowing river that cannot be crossed, he prays, and the river dries up. In Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People this event is located at the River Ver in the town of Verulamium (now St. Albans), but in another early source (Gildas, De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae) Alban crosses the Thames before his martyrdom, which corresponds to Pulter’s version of the story.
Transcription
Line number 18

 Physical note

“e”s are unusual in shape
Elemental Edition
Line number 18

 Physical note

corrected from “seeing” in the manuscript
Elemental Edition
Line number 18

 Gloss note

London’s
Transcription
Line number 20

 Physical note

“S” written over initial “K”; final “s” written over imperfectly erased “g”
Elemental Edition
Line number 20

 Critical note

Afric, or Africa; this line and the one above it allude to the biblical phrase naming impossibility: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?” (Jerome 13:23), which was proverbial in early modern England
Amplified Edition
Line number 20

 Critical note

Jeremiah 13:23: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil” (AV); i.e. the Londoners’ guilt is immutable.
Elemental Edition
Line number 22

 Gloss note

spirit
Amplified Edition
Line number 22

 Critical note

i.e. genius loci, “A guardian spirit or god associated with a place” (OED), in this case, the Thames, which withholds its water to punish the “slander” of the Londoners’ tongues.
Elemental Edition
Line number 23

 Gloss note

black
Elemental Edition
Line number 23

 Critical note

lizard-like animal, some of which have a black color, supposedly able to endure fire
Elemental Edition
Line number 25

 Physical note

modified from "wave" in the manuscript
Elemental Edition
Line number 26

 Gloss note

fiery; hellish
Elemental Edition
Line number 27

 Gloss note

pleasure; desire; vigor
Elemental Edition
Line number 30

 Gloss note

wet boggy lands that give way under foot; a situation that is unpleasant or hazardous, or from which it is difficult to extricate oneself
Amplified Edition
Line number 30

 Critical note

“an area of wet, boggy land that gives way under foot; a quaking bog” (OED, “quagmire,” n. 1.); the Thames first threatens to abandon the city of London to drought because of its betrayal of the king. She will return only when she has witnessed (“seen all my lust”) sufficient humbling and punishment (“all thy pride and glory turned to dust”).
Elemental Edition
Line number 31

 Gloss note

London
Elemental Edition
Line number 31

 Gloss note

responsibility for violence or bloodshed
Transcription
Line number 33

 Physical note

“w” blotted and crossed with forward slashes; “e” crowded into space before next word
Elemental Edition
Line number 33

 Gloss note

Henrietta Maria, King Charles’s wife
Elemental Edition
Line number 36

 Gloss note

peaceful
Amplified Edition
Line number 36

 Critical note

a period of calm weather that occurs around the winter solstice (OED “halcyon,” adj. 1) and, by extension, the time of peace and prosperity enjoyed by Britain during the rule of Charles I.
Amplified Edition
Line number 39

 Critical note

“separation into parts or constituent elements; reduction of any body or mass to elements or atoms; destruction of the existing condition; disintegration, decomposition” OED, "dissolution," n.1a.). The Thames worries that a “dismal line of dissolution” will be brought upon the nation, which perhaps anticipates a break in succession or inheritance.
Elemental Edition
Line number 40

 Gloss note

forced, traced (figuratively)
Elemental Edition
Line number 41

 Gloss note

forefront, face, swelling or supporting surface
Elemental Edition
Line number 42

 Gloss note

Roman goddess of the dawn
Amplified Edition
Line number 42

 Critical note

Henrietta Maria costumed as a goddess (Aurora) for a masque, as she was in William Davenant and Inigo Jones’s Luminalia (1638). See note 106 in Alice Eardley, Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda. Pulter addresses and refers to Aurora, the goddess of the dawn, frequently throughout the manuscript, including “Aurora [1]” (Poem 3), “To Aurora [1]” (Poem 22), “To Aurora [2]” (Poem 26), “To Aurora [3]” (Poem 34), and “Aurora [2]” (Poem 37).
Elemental Edition
Line number 44

 Gloss note

major rivers in England
Amplified Edition
Line number 44

 Critical note

Pulter here develops an extensive catalog of the world’s rivers. The Thames boasts that the famous rivers of Britain (Severn, Humber, Ouse, and Dee), Europe (Danube, Tagus, Loire, Po, and Tiber), Africa (Nile), Asia (Ganges), and the Middle East (Euphrates) once envied her because she was home to Charles and Henrietta Maria. Pulter draws upon extensive geographical and historical knowledge in her characterization of each river. Each river announces its greatest glory (e.g., the Danube is the longest; Cleopatra traveled on the Nile; the Ganges received sacrifices of its people; the Euphrates bordered Eden), and then admits that it is the Thames that is superior and deserves its “envy.” When the Thames’s fellow rivers learn that the city has betrayed its monarchs, however, they “envy me no more,” and join with the Thames in its mourning (“with their tears my heavy loss deplore”).
Elemental Edition
Line number 45

 Critical note

river flowing from Wales across the north of England, sacred because linked to a river goddess
Elemental Edition
Line number 46

 Critical note

the River Dee flows across Wales and England to reach the North Sea
Elemental Edition
Line number 47

 Critical note

Edgar, king of England from 959-979; it was reputed that eight other kings signalled submission to Edgar by rowing him down the River Dee.
Elemental Edition
Line number 51

 Gloss note

second longest European river
Elemental Edition
Line number 53

 Critical note

longest river on the Iberian peninsula, famous for gold-bearing sands
Elemental Edition
Line number 54

 Gloss note

shores
Elemental Edition
Line number 55

 Critical note

The Loire agreed. The Loire is the longest river in France.
Elemental Edition
Line number 55

 Gloss note

longest river in Italy
Elemental Edition
Line number 55

 Gloss note

proceeded; began [talking]; or possibly in sense 5 of “to take on” (OED, take, v.): spoke or acted madly or excitedly; showed great agitation or distress.
Amplified Edition
Line number 55

 Critical note

MS: “tooke” which appears to be an error.
Elemental Edition
Line number 56

 Critical note

son of Helios, the sun god; his scorched body fell into the Eridanus River, later known as the River Po of Italy, when he lost control when attempting to drive the sun-chariot.
Elemental Edition
Line number 57

 Gloss note

Nile river, longest in the world
Elemental Edition
Line number 60

 Critical note

Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt (51-30 BCE); with the eagles, emblems of Rome, pointing to Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, each of whom travelled the Nile
Elemental Edition
Line number 61

 Gloss note

sacred river in India
Elemental Edition
Line number 62

 Gloss note

Hindu traders
Amplified Edition
Line number 62

 Critical note

used during the seventeenth century to refer to people from India and/or followers of Hinduism (OED, banian, n.). Pulter refers to the Hindu practice of cremation of the dead on the banks of the Ganges.
Transcription
Line number 63

 Physical note

Second “c” overwrites an “a”.
Elemental Edition
Line number 63

 Gloss note

purified by burning
Elemental Edition
Line number 68

 Gloss note

that is, the Thames’s joy. One common early modern way to signal the possessive form grammatically was called the “his genitive,” in which the word “his” or “her” modified the thing possessed (such as Elizabeth her book).
Elemental Edition
Line number 69

 Gloss note

river in Italy flowing through Rome
Elemental Edition
Line number 69

 Critical note

a Roman hero who volunteered to be one of the last defenders of a bridge over the river Tiber against an Etruscan army intent on invading Rome
Elemental Edition
Line number 71

 Gloss note

river near Garden of Eden
Transcription
Line number 72

 Physical note

two additional final letters (likely “ed”) corrected or cancelled; “w” could be corrected to or from “o”
Elemental Edition
Line number 75

 Gloss note

famous city in ancient Mesopotamia
Elemental Edition
Line number 76

 Critical note

Euphrates is associated with the Garden of Eden, Genesis 2:14.
Elemental Edition
Line number 77

 Gloss note

queen of Assyria (811-806 BCE)
Elemental Edition
Line number 80

 Gloss note

lament
Transcription
Line number 84

 Physical note

to right of line, vertical scribble followed by “f”
Transcription
Line number 87

 Physical note

cancelled with scribbles
Transcription
Line number 90

 Physical note

three or four letters cancelled with scribbles, last two likely “gh”
Elemental Edition
Line number 90

 Critical note

Cromwell and parliamentarians in London who had opposed King Charles
Elemental Edition
Line number 93

 Critical note

In Greek mythology, a whirlpool found on straits, opposite to Scylla, a threatening six-headed monster surrounded by dogs (mentioned in the next line)
Elemental Edition
Line number 93

 Gloss note

help us
Elemental Edition
Line number 94

 Gloss note

dogs
Elemental Edition
Line number 95

 Gloss note

the kingdom’s scourges
Elemental Edition
Line number 96

 Critical note

In Greek mythology, the son of Uranus (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth), the personification of the great river believed to encircle the whole world.
Elemental Edition
Line number 97

 Gloss note

envelop
Amplified Edition
Line number 97

 Critical note

The Thames invokes famous water monsters (Scylla and Charybdis) to aid her in ridding London of the king’s enemies, who will be washed away to unmarked graves in the ocean (“Oceanus’ dark and horrid womb”).
Elemental Edition
Line number 98

 Gloss note

the open sea
Elemental Edition
Line number 102

 Gloss note

accustomed to do
Transcription
Line number 103

 Physical note

in left margin, ink mark in shape of a check mark
Elemental Edition
Line number 104

 Gloss note

songs of mourning
Elemental Edition
Line number 104

 Critical note

swans traditionally were understood to sing when dying
Amplified Edition
Line number 104

 Critical note


Following the invocations of the mythical Scylla and Charybdis, the Thames turns to a more naturalistic description of swans swimming on the river; however, they sing their own deaths and the death of the kingdom. With this image, Pulter refers to the belief that swans are silent until just before their deaths, when they sing a final song. Thomas Browne examines the origin of and evidence for this belief in Book 3, Chapter 27 of Pseudodoxia Epidemica (Sir Thomas Browne, Selected Writings. Ed. Geoffrey Keynes (University of Chicago Press, 1968), pp. 289-90). Compare Shakespeare’s Othello, where Emilia’s final speech begins:

What did thy song bode, lady?
Hark, canst thou hear me? I will play the swan
And die in music. (5.2.240-42)
Greenblatt, et. al. The Norton Shakespeare, 3rd ed., 2016.
Transcription
Line number 105

 Physical note

in different hand from main scribe
Elemental Edition
Line number 106

 Critical note

Arethusa, in classical mythology, the nymph with whom Alpheus fell in love, and who flowed underground to escape him, before being turned into a fountain
Amplified Edition
Line number 106

 Critical note

Arethusa is a nymph transformed into an underground fountain so that she may escape the river god Alpheus. See Ovid, Metamorphoses 5.572-641. While much of the poem describes the envy of the world’s rivers for the Thames, here the Thames expresses envy for Arethuse who is able to escape underground. The Thames wishes to “refuse / To see this town.”
Transcription
Line number 108

 Physical note

deleted word, six or seven letters long, starts with “C” and ends with “s”
Transcription
Line number 109

 Physical note

last “e” crowded into space before next word; “r” appears written over “n”
Elemental Edition
Line number 109

 Gloss note

river of Hades
Elemental Edition
Line number 110

 Gloss note

rivers of Hades
Elemental Edition
Line number 111

 Gloss note

convey by water
Elemental Edition
Line number 111

 Critical note

the anti-royalists mentioned as the kingdom’s scourges, above, and three lines below (“they”)
Elemental Edition
Line number 111

 Gloss note

hellish, gloomy, associated with the River Styx
Amplified Edition
Line number 111

 Critical note

The Thames asks to enter the underworld (“caverns of the dead”) where she can mix her “pure wave” with the five rivers of Hades: Acheron (sorrow or woe), Lethe (forgetfulness), Phlegethon (fire), Cocytus (lamentation), and Styx (hate) and punish the king’s enemies (“rebels”) by ushering them to Hell (“waft them to the stygian shade”).
Elemental Edition
Line number 115

 Gloss note

evaporates; exhales; taints
Transcription
Line number 118

 Physical note

two “f”s in left margin
Elemental Edition
Line number 119

 Critical note

corrected from “them”
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