The Desire

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The Desire

Poem 18

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 Frances E. Dolan.

How to cite these versions

Conventions for these editions

The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making

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

 Physical note

Previous poem concludes at top of page.

 Editorial note

In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
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Transcription

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
Physical Note
Previous poem concludes at top of page.
The desire
The Desire
The Desire
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

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

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
My “amplified” editions seek to make the poems as accessible as possible by modernizing spelling and punctuation and providing only brief definitions for words, while discursive notes and the materials I gather for the “curations” section place Pulter’s poems into conversations. As I build the curations for a given poem—provisional and quirky as they are—I keep returning to the poem, re-reading, rethinking, and adding layers to the notes. I hope to show that Pulter was intellectually and politically embedded rather than isolated, taking up issues, genres, and tropes that also interested her contemporaries and that sometimes accrue unpredictable salience in later periods. Rather than focusing only on possible sources or influences, I cast a wide net both within the seventeenth century and outside it, trying to catch cultural materials Pulter might have engaged, some she excludes or ignores, and even some she probably could never have imagined. Curations don’t precede the poems nor are they implied by the poems—as if the poem gathers them to itself (although it can sometimes feel that way) or hales them forth. Instead, as a curator I weave the poem into a web of relations, seeking to open out rather than close down interpretive possibilities. This extends to including extracts that are long enough that readers might find things therein that I do not anticipate. I also look for a multi-vectored traffic among Pulter’s poetry and the other materials. What might the materials I’ve gathered help readers see in the poems—or notice is not there? But also, how do the poems bring fresh perspectives into the conversations into which I draw them? The more one reads the poems as participants in wider ranging conversations, the more fascinatingly twisty Pulter appears. Often, I don’t grasp how she upends or comes at conventions aslant until I have mucked about composting my “curations.”

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
In this poem addressed to God, the speaker longingly anticipates her death and resurrection. The poem is metrically and rhythmically unusual: it divides into four quatrains, each with three iambic tetrameter lines followed by a final iambic dimeter line. The quatrains form into pairs, each linked by a final rhyming word. The poem also suggests that only after the speaker’s death can her elemental material—the primal dust that marks human birth and dissolution—be raised by God to produce heavenly and yet unknown versions of the speaker’s earthly poems (“lays” or songs). Thus the speaker ends up promising God poems of praise in exchange for personal redemption.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
As we see in some of Pulter’s other poems, including To Aurora [3] [Poem 34], the desire that most interests Pulter is the soul’s desire for spiritual transcendence, not the body’s desire for earthly pleasures, often described as “clogs,” burdens, and distractions. In contrast, consider Sidney’s Astrophil, whose attempt to proceed from adoration of his beloved Stella’s beauty to love of virtue breaks down when sexual desire reasserts itself: “But ‘Ah,’ desire still cries, ‘Give me some food!’” (Astrophil and Stella, sonnet 71). In Pulter’s poem, desire still cries “Give me some death!” not as an end in itself but as the gateway to the “endless joys” of transcending the body altogether. The enjambment of the first long sentence conveys the overflow of longing and need.
Pulter uses direct address in many poems, addressing dear God in two other poems, as well as her dear daughters and dear Death. The address to God here resembles that in Psalm 55, which begins “Give ear to my prayer, O God,” and was paraphrased or translated in 1547 by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, in what many take as his last poem before Henry VIII had him executed for treason (“Give ear to my suit, Lord!”) and by both Sir Thomas Smith and John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, when they were prisoners in the Tower (The Arundel Manuscript of Tudor Poetry, ed. Ruth Hughey, 2 vols. [Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1960]). For all of these imprisoned writers, paraphrasing this psalm became a vehicle for expressing political protest as well as spiritual longing. Mary Sidney also translated it (“My God, most glad to look, most prone to hear, / An open ear, oh, let my prayer find” (The Selected Works of Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, ed. Margaret P. Hannay, Noel J. Kinnamon, and Michael G. Brennan [Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2005], 200).
Consistently depicting death as an object of desire, Pulter’s poems about death pursue a middle path between the martyr’s longing for death and a secular longing for oblivion. Even those who faced martyrdom in the vexed landscape of post-reformation England argued that one should accept but not seek martyrdom. We can find discussions of the martyr’s relation to death in John Foxe’s fervently Protestant Acts and Monuments or in Jesuit Robert Southwell’s “Epistle of Comfort” (Desiring Death in Curations). The secular longing for release and oblivion is most famously captured in a later poem, Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” (1819): “for many a time / I have been half in love with easeful Death, / . . . . / Now more than ever seems it rich to die, / To cease upon the midnight with no pain.” Pulter desires death but not martyrdom; she seeks to “obliviate” the distractions and sufferings of life but not to achieve oblivion in itself. Pulter shares this relationship to death—longing for but not seeking it, depending on it as a waystation but not as an end in itself—with other religious poets across the doctrinal spectrum in the seventeenth century. For example, Richard Crashaw, a convert to Catholicism, articulates a “desire of death” in “A Song”; in “Death,” Anglican George Herbert claims that, since Christ’s crucifixion, death is grown “Much in request, much sought for as a good” (see “Desiring Death” in Curations for both poems).


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Dear God, vouchſafe from thy High throne
Dear God, vouchsafe from Thy high throne
Dear God,
Critical Note
deign; “vouchsafe” carries the connotation of condescension, of the high (“from your throne,” “above”) being willing to attend to the low (the “dejected,” “thrown” down, and dusty). The homonyms “throne” and “thrown” capture the contrasting statures of the addressee and the speaker, God and human, high and low.
vouchsafe
from thy high throne
2
To See my tears, and hear my moane,
To see my tears, and hear my moan;
To see my tears, and hear my moan,
3
ffor I in heaven and Earth have none
For I, in heaven and earth, have none
For I in heaven and earth have none
4
To pitty mee
To pity me
To pity me
5
In my dejected Sad Estate,
In my dejected sad
Gloss Note
condition; standing
estate
,
In my dejected sad
Gloss Note
condition
estate
,
6
Wherein I’m thrown by advers fate;
Wherein I’m thrown by adverse fate,
Wherein I’m thrown by adverse fate;
7
And hope in none till my last Date
And hope in none till my last date
And hope in none till my last date
8
But onely thee.
But only Thee.
But only thee.
9
Oh then bee pleaſed my dust to raiſe,
O then be pleased my
Critical Note
“dust” meaning physical being; primal elements; see Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” See also 1 Corinthians 6:14: “And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.”
dust to raise
,
O then be pleased my dust to
Critical Note
The speaker asks God to raise his or her dust or resurrect him/her. After the fall, men cannot rise alone. See Herbert, “Holy Communion,” in “Curations.”
raise
,
10
To Sing thy Everlasting praiſe;
To sing thy everlasting praise
To sing thy everlasting praise,
11
In thoſe Celestiall unknown layes,
In those celestial unknown
Gloss Note
short songs
lays
,
In those celestial unknown
Gloss Note
songs
lays
,
12
With life and love:
With life and love.
With life and love.
13
Then Shall I leave theſe terren toyes,
Then shall I leave these
Gloss Note
earthly
terrene
Gloss Note
amusements; inconsequential things
toys
,
Then shall I leave these
Critical Note
“Terrene” means “belonging to the earth or to this world; earthly; worldly, secular, temporal, material, human (as opposed to heavenly, eternal, spiritual, divine)” (OED). It shares a root with the more commonly used “terrestrial” with a roughly similar meaning and with the more recent coinage “terran,” which can also describe an inhabitant of the earth. In the seventeenth century, the word “toy” was already used to describe objects designed to divert children—and adults. But the connotations of the term were most often negative. Toys are trivial thoughts, feelings, actions, or objects that distract one from what is more important. In The Center [Poem 30], Pulter writes “Methinks this world is but a trundling toy” (line 26). Another religious poet pairs “terrene” and “toys” as Pulter does. William Williams, writing as a prisoner of the King’s Bench when he was in his 60s, reminds the reader that “terrene pleasures are but foolish toys” (sig. B1v) and refers to “some glorious toy / Of terrene pomp” (William Williams, Divine Poems and Meditations in Two Parts [London, 1677], sig. C1v). Herbert, too, uses a similar vocabulary in “Sepulchre” (see “Curations”), in which the speaker asks his body “whither art thou thrown?” and describes his heart as harboring “thousands of toys.”
terrene toys
,
14
Obliviateing past annoyes;
Critical Note
forgetting; committing to oblivion; this is one of the earliest usages of this Latinate word
Obliviating
past annoys,
Critical Note
Sharing a root with oblivion, the verb “obliviating” describes committing something to oblivion or willfully forgetting it. Pulter’s use here appears a decade or more before the first occurence listed in the OED (1661). The word also sounds like “obliterate,” and borrows some of that verb’s physical sense of blotting out or erasing. The syntax assigns agency and volition to the speaker who “leaves” and “obliviates” prior to moving into a passive position of being “involved” with and by God.
Obliviating
past annoys;
15
And bee involv’d in Endles Joyes,
And be
Gloss Note
entangled
involved
in endless joys
And be
Gloss Note
enfolded
involved
in endless joys,
16
With thee aboue.
With Thee above.
With thee above.
X (Close panel)Notes: Elemental Edition

 Editorial note

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

 Headnote

In this poem addressed to God, the speaker longingly anticipates her death and resurrection. The poem is metrically and rhythmically unusual: it divides into four quatrains, each with three iambic tetrameter lines followed by a final iambic dimeter line. The quatrains form into pairs, each linked by a final rhyming word. The poem also suggests that only after the speaker’s death can her elemental material—the primal dust that marks human birth and dissolution—be raised by God to produce heavenly and yet unknown versions of the speaker’s earthly poems (“lays” or songs). Thus the speaker ends up promising God poems of praise in exchange for personal redemption.
Line number 5

 Gloss note

condition; standing
Line number 9

 Critical note

“dust” meaning physical being; primal elements; see Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” See also 1 Corinthians 6:14: “And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.”
Line number 11

 Gloss note

short songs
Line number 13

 Gloss note

earthly
Line number 13

 Gloss note

amusements; inconsequential things
Line number 14

 Critical note

forgetting; committing to oblivion; this is one of the earliest usages of this Latinate word
Line number 15

 Gloss note

entangled
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Elemental Edition
Elemental Edition

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
Physical Note
Previous poem concludes at top of page.
The desire
The Desire
The Desire
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

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

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
My “amplified” editions seek to make the poems as accessible as possible by modernizing spelling and punctuation and providing only brief definitions for words, while discursive notes and the materials I gather for the “curations” section place Pulter’s poems into conversations. As I build the curations for a given poem—provisional and quirky as they are—I keep returning to the poem, re-reading, rethinking, and adding layers to the notes. I hope to show that Pulter was intellectually and politically embedded rather than isolated, taking up issues, genres, and tropes that also interested her contemporaries and that sometimes accrue unpredictable salience in later periods. Rather than focusing only on possible sources or influences, I cast a wide net both within the seventeenth century and outside it, trying to catch cultural materials Pulter might have engaged, some she excludes or ignores, and even some she probably could never have imagined. Curations don’t precede the poems nor are they implied by the poems—as if the poem gathers them to itself (although it can sometimes feel that way) or hales them forth. Instead, as a curator I weave the poem into a web of relations, seeking to open out rather than close down interpretive possibilities. This extends to including extracts that are long enough that readers might find things therein that I do not anticipate. I also look for a multi-vectored traffic among Pulter’s poetry and the other materials. What might the materials I’ve gathered help readers see in the poems—or notice is not there? But also, how do the poems bring fresh perspectives into the conversations into which I draw them? The more one reads the poems as participants in wider ranging conversations, the more fascinatingly twisty Pulter appears. Often, I don’t grasp how she upends or comes at conventions aslant until I have mucked about composting my “curations.”

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
In this poem addressed to God, the speaker longingly anticipates her death and resurrection. The poem is metrically and rhythmically unusual: it divides into four quatrains, each with three iambic tetrameter lines followed by a final iambic dimeter line. The quatrains form into pairs, each linked by a final rhyming word. The poem also suggests that only after the speaker’s death can her elemental material—the primal dust that marks human birth and dissolution—be raised by God to produce heavenly and yet unknown versions of the speaker’s earthly poems (“lays” or songs). Thus the speaker ends up promising God poems of praise in exchange for personal redemption.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
As we see in some of Pulter’s other poems, including To Aurora [3] [Poem 34], the desire that most interests Pulter is the soul’s desire for spiritual transcendence, not the body’s desire for earthly pleasures, often described as “clogs,” burdens, and distractions. In contrast, consider Sidney’s Astrophil, whose attempt to proceed from adoration of his beloved Stella’s beauty to love of virtue breaks down when sexual desire reasserts itself: “But ‘Ah,’ desire still cries, ‘Give me some food!’” (Astrophil and Stella, sonnet 71). In Pulter’s poem, desire still cries “Give me some death!” not as an end in itself but as the gateway to the “endless joys” of transcending the body altogether. The enjambment of the first long sentence conveys the overflow of longing and need.
Pulter uses direct address in many poems, addressing dear God in two other poems, as well as her dear daughters and dear Death. The address to God here resembles that in Psalm 55, which begins “Give ear to my prayer, O God,” and was paraphrased or translated in 1547 by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, in what many take as his last poem before Henry VIII had him executed for treason (“Give ear to my suit, Lord!”) and by both Sir Thomas Smith and John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, when they were prisoners in the Tower (The Arundel Manuscript of Tudor Poetry, ed. Ruth Hughey, 2 vols. [Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1960]). For all of these imprisoned writers, paraphrasing this psalm became a vehicle for expressing political protest as well as spiritual longing. Mary Sidney also translated it (“My God, most glad to look, most prone to hear, / An open ear, oh, let my prayer find” (The Selected Works of Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, ed. Margaret P. Hannay, Noel J. Kinnamon, and Michael G. Brennan [Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2005], 200).
Consistently depicting death as an object of desire, Pulter’s poems about death pursue a middle path between the martyr’s longing for death and a secular longing for oblivion. Even those who faced martyrdom in the vexed landscape of post-reformation England argued that one should accept but not seek martyrdom. We can find discussions of the martyr’s relation to death in John Foxe’s fervently Protestant Acts and Monuments or in Jesuit Robert Southwell’s “Epistle of Comfort” (Desiring Death in Curations). The secular longing for release and oblivion is most famously captured in a later poem, Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” (1819): “for many a time / I have been half in love with easeful Death, / . . . . / Now more than ever seems it rich to die, / To cease upon the midnight with no pain.” Pulter desires death but not martyrdom; she seeks to “obliviate” the distractions and sufferings of life but not to achieve oblivion in itself. Pulter shares this relationship to death—longing for but not seeking it, depending on it as a waystation but not as an end in itself—with other religious poets across the doctrinal spectrum in the seventeenth century. For example, Richard Crashaw, a convert to Catholicism, articulates a “desire of death” in “A Song”; in “Death,” Anglican George Herbert claims that, since Christ’s crucifixion, death is grown “Much in request, much sought for as a good” (see “Desiring Death” in Curations for both poems).


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
Dear God, vouchſafe from thy High throne
Dear God, vouchsafe from Thy high throne
Dear God,
Critical Note
deign; “vouchsafe” carries the connotation of condescension, of the high (“from your throne,” “above”) being willing to attend to the low (the “dejected,” “thrown” down, and dusty). The homonyms “throne” and “thrown” capture the contrasting statures of the addressee and the speaker, God and human, high and low.
vouchsafe
from thy high throne
2
To See my tears, and hear my moane,
To see my tears, and hear my moan;
To see my tears, and hear my moan,
3
ffor I in heaven and Earth have none
For I, in heaven and earth, have none
For I in heaven and earth have none
4
To pitty mee
To pity me
To pity me
5
In my dejected Sad Estate,
In my dejected sad
Gloss Note
condition; standing
estate
,
In my dejected sad
Gloss Note
condition
estate
,
6
Wherein I’m thrown by advers fate;
Wherein I’m thrown by adverse fate,
Wherein I’m thrown by adverse fate;
7
And hope in none till my last Date
And hope in none till my last date
And hope in none till my last date
8
But onely thee.
But only Thee.
But only thee.
9
Oh then bee pleaſed my dust to raiſe,
O then be pleased my
Critical Note
“dust” meaning physical being; primal elements; see Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” See also 1 Corinthians 6:14: “And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.”
dust to raise
,
O then be pleased my dust to
Critical Note
The speaker asks God to raise his or her dust or resurrect him/her. After the fall, men cannot rise alone. See Herbert, “Holy Communion,” in “Curations.”
raise
,
10
To Sing thy Everlasting praiſe;
To sing thy everlasting praise
To sing thy everlasting praise,
11
In thoſe Celestiall unknown layes,
In those celestial unknown
Gloss Note
short songs
lays
,
In those celestial unknown
Gloss Note
songs
lays
,
12
With life and love:
With life and love.
With life and love.
13
Then Shall I leave theſe terren toyes,
Then shall I leave these
Gloss Note
earthly
terrene
Gloss Note
amusements; inconsequential things
toys
,
Then shall I leave these
Critical Note
“Terrene” means “belonging to the earth or to this world; earthly; worldly, secular, temporal, material, human (as opposed to heavenly, eternal, spiritual, divine)” (OED). It shares a root with the more commonly used “terrestrial” with a roughly similar meaning and with the more recent coinage “terran,” which can also describe an inhabitant of the earth. In the seventeenth century, the word “toy” was already used to describe objects designed to divert children—and adults. But the connotations of the term were most often negative. Toys are trivial thoughts, feelings, actions, or objects that distract one from what is more important. In The Center [Poem 30], Pulter writes “Methinks this world is but a trundling toy” (line 26). Another religious poet pairs “terrene” and “toys” as Pulter does. William Williams, writing as a prisoner of the King’s Bench when he was in his 60s, reminds the reader that “terrene pleasures are but foolish toys” (sig. B1v) and refers to “some glorious toy / Of terrene pomp” (William Williams, Divine Poems and Meditations in Two Parts [London, 1677], sig. C1v). Herbert, too, uses a similar vocabulary in “Sepulchre” (see “Curations”), in which the speaker asks his body “whither art thou thrown?” and describes his heart as harboring “thousands of toys.”
terrene toys
,
14
Obliviateing past annoyes;
Critical Note
forgetting; committing to oblivion; this is one of the earliest usages of this Latinate word
Obliviating
past annoys,
Critical Note
Sharing a root with oblivion, the verb “obliviating” describes committing something to oblivion or willfully forgetting it. Pulter’s use here appears a decade or more before the first occurence listed in the OED (1661). The word also sounds like “obliterate,” and borrows some of that verb’s physical sense of blotting out or erasing. The syntax assigns agency and volition to the speaker who “leaves” and “obliviates” prior to moving into a passive position of being “involved” with and by God.
Obliviating
past annoys;
15
And bee involv’d in Endles Joyes,
And be
Gloss Note
entangled
involved
in endless joys
And be
Gloss Note
enfolded
involved
in endless joys,
16
With thee aboue.
With Thee above.
With thee above.
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition

 Editorial note

My “amplified” editions seek to make the poems as accessible as possible by modernizing spelling and punctuation and providing only brief definitions for words, while discursive notes and the materials I gather for the “curations” section place Pulter’s poems into conversations. As I build the curations for a given poem—provisional and quirky as they are—I keep returning to the poem, re-reading, rethinking, and adding layers to the notes. I hope to show that Pulter was intellectually and politically embedded rather than isolated, taking up issues, genres, and tropes that also interested her contemporaries and that sometimes accrue unpredictable salience in later periods. Rather than focusing only on possible sources or influences, I cast a wide net both within the seventeenth century and outside it, trying to catch cultural materials Pulter might have engaged, some she excludes or ignores, and even some she probably could never have imagined. Curations don’t precede the poems nor are they implied by the poems—as if the poem gathers them to itself (although it can sometimes feel that way) or hales them forth. Instead, as a curator I weave the poem into a web of relations, seeking to open out rather than close down interpretive possibilities. This extends to including extracts that are long enough that readers might find things therein that I do not anticipate. I also look for a multi-vectored traffic among Pulter’s poetry and the other materials. What might the materials I’ve gathered help readers see in the poems—or notice is not there? But also, how do the poems bring fresh perspectives into the conversations into which I draw them? The more one reads the poems as participants in wider ranging conversations, the more fascinatingly twisty Pulter appears. Often, I don’t grasp how she upends or comes at conventions aslant until I have mucked about composting my “curations.”

 Headnote

As we see in some of Pulter’s other poems, including To Aurora [3] [Poem 34], the desire that most interests Pulter is the soul’s desire for spiritual transcendence, not the body’s desire for earthly pleasures, often described as “clogs,” burdens, and distractions. In contrast, consider Sidney’s Astrophil, whose attempt to proceed from adoration of his beloved Stella’s beauty to love of virtue breaks down when sexual desire reasserts itself: “But ‘Ah,’ desire still cries, ‘Give me some food!’” (Astrophil and Stella, sonnet 71). In Pulter’s poem, desire still cries “Give me some death!” not as an end in itself but as the gateway to the “endless joys” of transcending the body altogether. The enjambment of the first long sentence conveys the overflow of longing and need.
Pulter uses direct address in many poems, addressing dear God in two other poems, as well as her dear daughters and dear Death. The address to God here resembles that in Psalm 55, which begins “Give ear to my prayer, O God,” and was paraphrased or translated in 1547 by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, in what many take as his last poem before Henry VIII had him executed for treason (“Give ear to my suit, Lord!”) and by both Sir Thomas Smith and John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, when they were prisoners in the Tower (The Arundel Manuscript of Tudor Poetry, ed. Ruth Hughey, 2 vols. [Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1960]). For all of these imprisoned writers, paraphrasing this psalm became a vehicle for expressing political protest as well as spiritual longing. Mary Sidney also translated it (“My God, most glad to look, most prone to hear, / An open ear, oh, let my prayer find” (The Selected Works of Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, ed. Margaret P. Hannay, Noel J. Kinnamon, and Michael G. Brennan [Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2005], 200).
Consistently depicting death as an object of desire, Pulter’s poems about death pursue a middle path between the martyr’s longing for death and a secular longing for oblivion. Even those who faced martyrdom in the vexed landscape of post-reformation England argued that one should accept but not seek martyrdom. We can find discussions of the martyr’s relation to death in John Foxe’s fervently Protestant Acts and Monuments or in Jesuit Robert Southwell’s “Epistle of Comfort” (Desiring Death in Curations). The secular longing for release and oblivion is most famously captured in a later poem, Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” (1819): “for many a time / I have been half in love with easeful Death, / . . . . / Now more than ever seems it rich to die, / To cease upon the midnight with no pain.” Pulter desires death but not martyrdom; she seeks to “obliviate” the distractions and sufferings of life but not to achieve oblivion in itself. Pulter shares this relationship to death—longing for but not seeking it, depending on it as a waystation but not as an end in itself—with other religious poets across the doctrinal spectrum in the seventeenth century. For example, Richard Crashaw, a convert to Catholicism, articulates a “desire of death” in “A Song”; in “Death,” Anglican George Herbert claims that, since Christ’s crucifixion, death is grown “Much in request, much sought for as a good” (see “Desiring Death” in Curations for both poems).
Line number 1

 Critical note

deign; “vouchsafe” carries the connotation of condescension, of the high (“from your throne,” “above”) being willing to attend to the low (the “dejected,” “thrown” down, and dusty). The homonyms “throne” and “thrown” capture the contrasting statures of the addressee and the speaker, God and human, high and low.
Line number 5

 Gloss note

condition
Line number 9

 Critical note

The speaker asks God to raise his or her dust or resurrect him/her. After the fall, men cannot rise alone. See Herbert, “Holy Communion,” in “Curations.”
Line number 11

 Gloss note

songs
Line number 13

 Critical note

“Terrene” means “belonging to the earth or to this world; earthly; worldly, secular, temporal, material, human (as opposed to heavenly, eternal, spiritual, divine)” (OED). It shares a root with the more commonly used “terrestrial” with a roughly similar meaning and with the more recent coinage “terran,” which can also describe an inhabitant of the earth. In the seventeenth century, the word “toy” was already used to describe objects designed to divert children—and adults. But the connotations of the term were most often negative. Toys are trivial thoughts, feelings, actions, or objects that distract one from what is more important. In The Center [Poem 30], Pulter writes “Methinks this world is but a trundling toy” (line 26). Another religious poet pairs “terrene” and “toys” as Pulter does. William Williams, writing as a prisoner of the King’s Bench when he was in his 60s, reminds the reader that “terrene pleasures are but foolish toys” (sig. B1v) and refers to “some glorious toy / Of terrene pomp” (William Williams, Divine Poems and Meditations in Two Parts [London, 1677], sig. C1v). Herbert, too, uses a similar vocabulary in “Sepulchre” (see “Curations”), in which the speaker asks his body “whither art thou thrown?” and describes his heart as harboring “thousands of toys.”
Line number 14

 Critical note

Sharing a root with oblivion, the verb “obliviating” describes committing something to oblivion or willfully forgetting it. Pulter’s use here appears a decade or more before the first occurence listed in the OED (1661). The word also sounds like “obliterate,” and borrows some of that verb’s physical sense of blotting out or erasing. The syntax assigns agency and volition to the speaker who “leaves” and “obliviates” prior to moving into a passive position of being “involved” with and by God.
Line number 15

 Gloss note

enfolded
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
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Physical Note
Previous poem concludes at top of page.
The desire
The Desire
The Desire
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.

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

— Frances E. Dolan
My “amplified” editions seek to make the poems as accessible as possible by modernizing spelling and punctuation and providing only brief definitions for words, while discursive notes and the materials I gather for the “curations” section place Pulter’s poems into conversations. As I build the curations for a given poem—provisional and quirky as they are—I keep returning to the poem, re-reading, rethinking, and adding layers to the notes. I hope to show that Pulter was intellectually and politically embedded rather than isolated, taking up issues, genres, and tropes that also interested her contemporaries and that sometimes accrue unpredictable salience in later periods. Rather than focusing only on possible sources or influences, I cast a wide net both within the seventeenth century and outside it, trying to catch cultural materials Pulter might have engaged, some she excludes or ignores, and even some she probably could never have imagined. Curations don’t precede the poems nor are they implied by the poems—as if the poem gathers them to itself (although it can sometimes feel that way) or hales them forth. Instead, as a curator I weave the poem into a web of relations, seeking to open out rather than close down interpretive possibilities. This extends to including extracts that are long enough that readers might find things therein that I do not anticipate. I also look for a multi-vectored traffic among Pulter’s poetry and the other materials. What might the materials I’ve gathered help readers see in the poems—or notice is not there? But also, how do the poems bring fresh perspectives into the conversations into which I draw them? The more one reads the poems as participants in wider ranging conversations, the more fascinatingly twisty Pulter appears. Often, I don’t grasp how she upends or comes at conventions aslant until I have mucked about composting my “curations.”

— Frances E. Dolan
In this poem addressed to God, the speaker longingly anticipates her death and resurrection. The poem is metrically and rhythmically unusual: it divides into four quatrains, each with three iambic tetrameter lines followed by a final iambic dimeter line. The quatrains form into pairs, each linked by a final rhyming word. The poem also suggests that only after the speaker’s death can her elemental material—the primal dust that marks human birth and dissolution—be raised by God to produce heavenly and yet unknown versions of the speaker’s earthly poems (“lays” or songs). Thus the speaker ends up promising God poems of praise in exchange for personal redemption.

— Frances E. Dolan
As we see in some of Pulter’s other poems, including To Aurora [3] [Poem 34], the desire that most interests Pulter is the soul’s desire for spiritual transcendence, not the body’s desire for earthly pleasures, often described as “clogs,” burdens, and distractions. In contrast, consider Sidney’s Astrophil, whose attempt to proceed from adoration of his beloved Stella’s beauty to love of virtue breaks down when sexual desire reasserts itself: “But ‘Ah,’ desire still cries, ‘Give me some food!’” (Astrophil and Stella, sonnet 71). In Pulter’s poem, desire still cries “Give me some death!” not as an end in itself but as the gateway to the “endless joys” of transcending the body altogether. The enjambment of the first long sentence conveys the overflow of longing and need.
Pulter uses direct address in many poems, addressing dear God in two other poems, as well as her dear daughters and dear Death. The address to God here resembles that in Psalm 55, which begins “Give ear to my prayer, O God,” and was paraphrased or translated in 1547 by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, in what many take as his last poem before Henry VIII had him executed for treason (“Give ear to my suit, Lord!”) and by both Sir Thomas Smith and John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, when they were prisoners in the Tower (The Arundel Manuscript of Tudor Poetry, ed. Ruth Hughey, 2 vols. [Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1960]). For all of these imprisoned writers, paraphrasing this psalm became a vehicle for expressing political protest as well as spiritual longing. Mary Sidney also translated it (“My God, most glad to look, most prone to hear, / An open ear, oh, let my prayer find” (The Selected Works of Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, ed. Margaret P. Hannay, Noel J. Kinnamon, and Michael G. Brennan [Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2005], 200).
Consistently depicting death as an object of desire, Pulter’s poems about death pursue a middle path between the martyr’s longing for death and a secular longing for oblivion. Even those who faced martyrdom in the vexed landscape of post-reformation England argued that one should accept but not seek martyrdom. We can find discussions of the martyr’s relation to death in John Foxe’s fervently Protestant Acts and Monuments or in Jesuit Robert Southwell’s “Epistle of Comfort” (Desiring Death in Curations). The secular longing for release and oblivion is most famously captured in a later poem, Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” (1819): “for many a time / I have been half in love with easeful Death, / . . . . / Now more than ever seems it rich to die, / To cease upon the midnight with no pain.” Pulter desires death but not martyrdom; she seeks to “obliviate” the distractions and sufferings of life but not to achieve oblivion in itself. Pulter shares this relationship to death—longing for but not seeking it, depending on it as a waystation but not as an end in itself—with other religious poets across the doctrinal spectrum in the seventeenth century. For example, Richard Crashaw, a convert to Catholicism, articulates a “desire of death” in “A Song”; in “Death,” Anglican George Herbert claims that, since Christ’s crucifixion, death is grown “Much in request, much sought for as a good” (see “Desiring Death” in Curations for both poems).


— Frances E. Dolan
1
Dear God, vouchſafe from thy High throne
Dear God, vouchsafe from Thy high throne
Dear God,
Critical Note
deign; “vouchsafe” carries the connotation of condescension, of the high (“from your throne,” “above”) being willing to attend to the low (the “dejected,” “thrown” down, and dusty). The homonyms “throne” and “thrown” capture the contrasting statures of the addressee and the speaker, God and human, high and low.
vouchsafe
from thy high throne
2
To See my tears, and hear my moane,
To see my tears, and hear my moan;
To see my tears, and hear my moan,
3
ffor I in heaven and Earth have none
For I, in heaven and earth, have none
For I in heaven and earth have none
4
To pitty mee
To pity me
To pity me
5
In my dejected Sad Estate,
In my dejected sad
Gloss Note
condition; standing
estate
,
In my dejected sad
Gloss Note
condition
estate
,
6
Wherein I’m thrown by advers fate;
Wherein I’m thrown by adverse fate,
Wherein I’m thrown by adverse fate;
7
And hope in none till my last Date
And hope in none till my last date
And hope in none till my last date
8
But onely thee.
But only Thee.
But only thee.
9
Oh then bee pleaſed my dust to raiſe,
O then be pleased my
Critical Note
“dust” meaning physical being; primal elements; see Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” See also 1 Corinthians 6:14: “And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.”
dust to raise
,
O then be pleased my dust to
Critical Note
The speaker asks God to raise his or her dust or resurrect him/her. After the fall, men cannot rise alone. See Herbert, “Holy Communion,” in “Curations.”
raise
,
10
To Sing thy Everlasting praiſe;
To sing thy everlasting praise
To sing thy everlasting praise,
11
In thoſe Celestiall unknown layes,
In those celestial unknown
Gloss Note
short songs
lays
,
In those celestial unknown
Gloss Note
songs
lays
,
12
With life and love:
With life and love.
With life and love.
13
Then Shall I leave theſe terren toyes,
Then shall I leave these
Gloss Note
earthly
terrene
Gloss Note
amusements; inconsequential things
toys
,
Then shall I leave these
Critical Note
“Terrene” means “belonging to the earth or to this world; earthly; worldly, secular, temporal, material, human (as opposed to heavenly, eternal, spiritual, divine)” (OED). It shares a root with the more commonly used “terrestrial” with a roughly similar meaning and with the more recent coinage “terran,” which can also describe an inhabitant of the earth. In the seventeenth century, the word “toy” was already used to describe objects designed to divert children—and adults. But the connotations of the term were most often negative. Toys are trivial thoughts, feelings, actions, or objects that distract one from what is more important. In The Center [Poem 30], Pulter writes “Methinks this world is but a trundling toy” (line 26). Another religious poet pairs “terrene” and “toys” as Pulter does. William Williams, writing as a prisoner of the King’s Bench when he was in his 60s, reminds the reader that “terrene pleasures are but foolish toys” (sig. B1v) and refers to “some glorious toy / Of terrene pomp” (William Williams, Divine Poems and Meditations in Two Parts [London, 1677], sig. C1v). Herbert, too, uses a similar vocabulary in “Sepulchre” (see “Curations”), in which the speaker asks his body “whither art thou thrown?” and describes his heart as harboring “thousands of toys.”
terrene toys
,
14
Obliviateing past annoyes;
Critical Note
forgetting; committing to oblivion; this is one of the earliest usages of this Latinate word
Obliviating
past annoys,
Critical Note
Sharing a root with oblivion, the verb “obliviating” describes committing something to oblivion or willfully forgetting it. Pulter’s use here appears a decade or more before the first occurence listed in the OED (1661). The word also sounds like “obliterate,” and borrows some of that verb’s physical sense of blotting out or erasing. The syntax assigns agency and volition to the speaker who “leaves” and “obliviates” prior to moving into a passive position of being “involved” with and by God.
Obliviating
past annoys;
15
And bee involv’d in Endles Joyes,
And be
Gloss Note
entangled
involved
in endless joys
And be
Gloss Note
enfolded
involved
in endless joys,
16
With thee aboue.
With Thee above.
With thee above.
X (Close panel) All Notes
Transcription
Title note

 Physical note

Previous poem concludes at top of page.
Transcription

 Editorial note

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

 Editorial note

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

 Editorial note

My “amplified” editions seek to make the poems as accessible as possible by modernizing spelling and punctuation and providing only brief definitions for words, while discursive notes and the materials I gather for the “curations” section place Pulter’s poems into conversations. As I build the curations for a given poem—provisional and quirky as they are—I keep returning to the poem, re-reading, rethinking, and adding layers to the notes. I hope to show that Pulter was intellectually and politically embedded rather than isolated, taking up issues, genres, and tropes that also interested her contemporaries and that sometimes accrue unpredictable salience in later periods. Rather than focusing only on possible sources or influences, I cast a wide net both within the seventeenth century and outside it, trying to catch cultural materials Pulter might have engaged, some she excludes or ignores, and even some she probably could never have imagined. Curations don’t precede the poems nor are they implied by the poems—as if the poem gathers them to itself (although it can sometimes feel that way) or hales them forth. Instead, as a curator I weave the poem into a web of relations, seeking to open out rather than close down interpretive possibilities. This extends to including extracts that are long enough that readers might find things therein that I do not anticipate. I also look for a multi-vectored traffic among Pulter’s poetry and the other materials. What might the materials I’ve gathered help readers see in the poems—or notice is not there? But also, how do the poems bring fresh perspectives into the conversations into which I draw them? The more one reads the poems as participants in wider ranging conversations, the more fascinatingly twisty Pulter appears. Often, I don’t grasp how she upends or comes at conventions aslant until I have mucked about composting my “curations.”
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

In this poem addressed to God, the speaker longingly anticipates her death and resurrection. The poem is metrically and rhythmically unusual: it divides into four quatrains, each with three iambic tetrameter lines followed by a final iambic dimeter line. The quatrains form into pairs, each linked by a final rhyming word. The poem also suggests that only after the speaker’s death can her elemental material—the primal dust that marks human birth and dissolution—be raised by God to produce heavenly and yet unknown versions of the speaker’s earthly poems (“lays” or songs). Thus the speaker ends up promising God poems of praise in exchange for personal redemption.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

As we see in some of Pulter’s other poems, including To Aurora [3] [Poem 34], the desire that most interests Pulter is the soul’s desire for spiritual transcendence, not the body’s desire for earthly pleasures, often described as “clogs,” burdens, and distractions. In contrast, consider Sidney’s Astrophil, whose attempt to proceed from adoration of his beloved Stella’s beauty to love of virtue breaks down when sexual desire reasserts itself: “But ‘Ah,’ desire still cries, ‘Give me some food!’” (Astrophil and Stella, sonnet 71). In Pulter’s poem, desire still cries “Give me some death!” not as an end in itself but as the gateway to the “endless joys” of transcending the body altogether. The enjambment of the first long sentence conveys the overflow of longing and need.
Pulter uses direct address in many poems, addressing dear God in two other poems, as well as her dear daughters and dear Death. The address to God here resembles that in Psalm 55, which begins “Give ear to my prayer, O God,” and was paraphrased or translated in 1547 by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, in what many take as his last poem before Henry VIII had him executed for treason (“Give ear to my suit, Lord!”) and by both Sir Thomas Smith and John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, when they were prisoners in the Tower (The Arundel Manuscript of Tudor Poetry, ed. Ruth Hughey, 2 vols. [Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1960]). For all of these imprisoned writers, paraphrasing this psalm became a vehicle for expressing political protest as well as spiritual longing. Mary Sidney also translated it (“My God, most glad to look, most prone to hear, / An open ear, oh, let my prayer find” (The Selected Works of Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, ed. Margaret P. Hannay, Noel J. Kinnamon, and Michael G. Brennan [Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2005], 200).
Consistently depicting death as an object of desire, Pulter’s poems about death pursue a middle path between the martyr’s longing for death and a secular longing for oblivion. Even those who faced martyrdom in the vexed landscape of post-reformation England argued that one should accept but not seek martyrdom. We can find discussions of the martyr’s relation to death in John Foxe’s fervently Protestant Acts and Monuments or in Jesuit Robert Southwell’s “Epistle of Comfort” (Desiring Death in Curations). The secular longing for release and oblivion is most famously captured in a later poem, Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” (1819): “for many a time / I have been half in love with easeful Death, / . . . . / Now more than ever seems it rich to die, / To cease upon the midnight with no pain.” Pulter desires death but not martyrdom; she seeks to “obliviate” the distractions and sufferings of life but not to achieve oblivion in itself. Pulter shares this relationship to death—longing for but not seeking it, depending on it as a waystation but not as an end in itself—with other religious poets across the doctrinal spectrum in the seventeenth century. For example, Richard Crashaw, a convert to Catholicism, articulates a “desire of death” in “A Song”; in “Death,” Anglican George Herbert claims that, since Christ’s crucifixion, death is grown “Much in request, much sought for as a good” (see “Desiring Death” in Curations for both poems).
Amplified Edition
Line number 1

 Critical note

deign; “vouchsafe” carries the connotation of condescension, of the high (“from your throne,” “above”) being willing to attend to the low (the “dejected,” “thrown” down, and dusty). The homonyms “throne” and “thrown” capture the contrasting statures of the addressee and the speaker, God and human, high and low.
Elemental Edition
Line number 5

 Gloss note

condition; standing
Amplified Edition
Line number 5

 Gloss note

condition
Elemental Edition
Line number 9

 Critical note

“dust” meaning physical being; primal elements; see Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” See also 1 Corinthians 6:14: “And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.”
Amplified Edition
Line number 9

 Critical note

The speaker asks God to raise his or her dust or resurrect him/her. After the fall, men cannot rise alone. See Herbert, “Holy Communion,” in “Curations.”
Elemental Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

short songs
Amplified Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

songs
Elemental Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

earthly
Elemental Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

amusements; inconsequential things
Amplified Edition
Line number 13

 Critical note

“Terrene” means “belonging to the earth or to this world; earthly; worldly, secular, temporal, material, human (as opposed to heavenly, eternal, spiritual, divine)” (OED). It shares a root with the more commonly used “terrestrial” with a roughly similar meaning and with the more recent coinage “terran,” which can also describe an inhabitant of the earth. In the seventeenth century, the word “toy” was already used to describe objects designed to divert children—and adults. But the connotations of the term were most often negative. Toys are trivial thoughts, feelings, actions, or objects that distract one from what is more important. In The Center [Poem 30], Pulter writes “Methinks this world is but a trundling toy” (line 26). Another religious poet pairs “terrene” and “toys” as Pulter does. William Williams, writing as a prisoner of the King’s Bench when he was in his 60s, reminds the reader that “terrene pleasures are but foolish toys” (sig. B1v) and refers to “some glorious toy / Of terrene pomp” (William Williams, Divine Poems and Meditations in Two Parts [London, 1677], sig. C1v). Herbert, too, uses a similar vocabulary in “Sepulchre” (see “Curations”), in which the speaker asks his body “whither art thou thrown?” and describes his heart as harboring “thousands of toys.”
Elemental Edition
Line number 14

 Critical note

forgetting; committing to oblivion; this is one of the earliest usages of this Latinate word
Amplified Edition
Line number 14

 Critical note

Sharing a root with oblivion, the verb “obliviating” describes committing something to oblivion or willfully forgetting it. Pulter’s use here appears a decade or more before the first occurence listed in the OED (1661). The word also sounds like “obliterate,” and borrows some of that verb’s physical sense of blotting out or erasing. The syntax assigns agency and volition to the speaker who “leaves” and “obliviates” prior to moving into a passive position of being “involved” with and by God.
Elemental Edition
Line number 15

 Gloss note

entangled
Amplified Edition
Line number 15

 Gloss note

enfolded
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
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