The Oyster and the Mouse (Emblem 48)

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The Oyster and the Mouse (Emblem 48)

Poem 113

Original Source

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

Versions

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

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

How to cite these versions

Conventions for these editions

The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making

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

 Editorial note

In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.
Line number 14

 Physical note

“u” written over an “a”
Line number 20

 Physical note

e is smeared over
Line number 28

 Physical note

“n” originally written as “t”
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Transcription
Transcription

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
[Emblem 48]
The Oyster and the Mouse
(Emblem 48)
AE TITLE
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

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

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This poem relates a tale which Pulter’s father may have told about his time as Lord Treasurer to James I or Charles I. At first, it seems a merely amusing anecdote: a mouse, scampering across a dining table, is caught when an oyster (one of the dishes) snaps shut. The ocean’s changing tides bizarrely affect even the dinner table, stimulating the oyster to snap open and release the mouse. Pulter briefly toys with setting this episode in mock-epic form before treating it, instead, in a more characteristic manner. First, she reads the trapped mouse as emblematic of the sinful soul, temporarily walled up in a fleshly shell. Then, she pins this universal scenario to the particular politics of interregnum England, a time when “a vulgar”—presumably, Oliver Cromwell or his son, Richard—had “rise[n] to reign” in place of the “noble spirit” he “restrain[ed].” That usurped spirit is, first and foremost, Charles I (Pulter’s beloved, imprisoned, then beheaded king), but also her royalist compatriots (among them, many nobles) and indeed herself, since she frequently railed against confinement. In the end, the tidal metaphor offers a kind of comfort, since it suggests we must all, mouse-like, merely wait out any uncomfortable but temporary phase, in politics as in mortality.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
When Royall ffergus Line did Rule this Realm
When royal
Gloss Note
descendants of Fergus, the first king of Scotland
Fergus’s line
did rule this realm,
2
My ffather had the Third place at the Helme
Gloss Note
Pulter speaks here in her own voice of her father, James Ley, who served James I and then Charles I as Lord Treasurer from 1624 to 1628.
My father had the third place at the helm
.
3
Out of the Privie Kitchin came his Meat
Out of the
Gloss Note
i.e., the king’s private kitchen
privy kitchen
came his
Gloss Note
food generally as well as flesh specifically
meat
;
4
Of Sixteen Diſhes hee might dayly Eat
Of sixteen dishes he might daily eat.
5
All things that were in Seaſon out were Sought
All things that were in season
Gloss Note
were sought out
out were sought
.
6
Amongst the Rest they Welfleet Oysters Brought
Amongst the rest they
Gloss Note
See John Norden, Speculi Britanniae Pars: An Historical and Chorographical Description of the Country of Essex, Edited from the Original Manuscript in the Marquess of Salisbury’s Library at Hatfield, ed. Henry Ellis (London, 1840), p. 10: “Some part of the sea shore of Essex yieldeth the best oysters in England, which are called Wallfleet oysters.”
Wallfleet oysters
brought;
7
Which being Set Ready till my ffather Comes
Which, being set ready till my father comes,
8
A Mouſ leaps on the Table for the Crumbs
A mouse leaps on the table for the crumbs;
9
Then Skipping up and down her Tayl did Glide
Then, skipping up and down, her tail did glide
10
By chance betwixt the Shels, T’was then full Tide
By chance betwixt the shells;
Gloss Note
Early modern thinking suggested that even an oyster served for dinner could “gapeth for air,” or open, “against the tide” (Thomas Johnson, Cornucopiae, or Diverse Secrets [London, 1595], sig. B4v).
’twas then full tide
.
11
The Oyſter ffeeling one within her Hoſ
The oyster, feeling one within her house,
12
Clapt cloſe her doors, and thus ſhee Catch’d ye Mou’s
Clapped close her doors, and thus she catched the mouse.
13
Oh that I now could Speak the Mecian Tongues
O, that I now could speak the
Gloss Note
imaginary term for the languages spoken by mice
Micean tongues
,
14
Or ffrogian Language but I want Such
Physical Note
“u” written over an “a”
Lungs
Or
Gloss Note
imaginary term for the language spoken by frogs
Frogian language
! But I want such lungs
15
As hee that writ the diſmale bloody ffights
As
Gloss Note
John Ogilby published popular and politicized translations of Aesop’s fables in the 1650s, which included the fable of a battle between the empires of the mouse and frog; the description of animal languages, in lines above, and the heroic dueling of the animals are drawn from this fable.
he that writ the dismal bloody fights
16
Betwixt the ffrogian and the Mecian Lnights
Betwixt the Frogian and the Micean knights.
17
Surely noe Weomen and I think few Men
Surely no women, and I think few men,
18
Can dance Soe well as hee w:th feet and Pen
Can
Gloss Note
Ogilby was a dancing master as well as a translator who (as the next lines indicate) did not learn Latin and Greek until late in life.
dance so well as he
with
Gloss Note
In addition to meaning parts of legs, “feet” refers to units of poetic meter.
feet
and pen;
19
But hee thoſe Tongu’s as I have heard did Seek
But he those tongues, as I have heard, did seek
20
Before hee Learnd the Latin
Physical Note
e is smeared over
e
’or the Greek
Before he learned the Latin or the Greek.
21
But now the Captive Mouſ her dubious ffate
But now the captive mouse her dubious fate
22
In my own Mother Tongue I must Relate
In my own mother tongue I must relate.
As

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
23
As her impriſonment came by A fflow
As her imprisonment came by
Gloss Note
of the tide
a flow
,
24
Soe the next happy Tide did let her goe
So the next
Gloss Note
fortunate; fortuitous
happy
tide did let her go.
25
O wonderfull who would have ever thought
Oh, wonderful! Who would have ever thought
26
That from the Deliane Twins help Should bee brought
That from
Gloss Note
Apollo and Artemis, Greek god and goddess of the sun and moon, respectively; tides are caused by the sun and moon.
the Delian twins
help should be brought?
27
Then let us learn while ffleſh doth here immure
Then let us learn, while flesh doth here
Gloss Note
enclose in walls; imprison
immure
28
Our
Physical Note
“n” originally written as “t”
Sinfull
Souls, not think our Selves Secure
Our sinful souls—not think our selves secure.
29
As this dul ffiſh was Torn up from A Rock
As
Gloss Note
the oyster
this dull fish
was torn up from a rock,
30
This Spritely Mous in Priſon thus to Lock
This
Gloss Note
vigorous; energetic
spritely
mouse in prison thus to lock,
31
Soe from A vulgar one may Rise to Raign
So, from a
Gloss Note
a person from the common class in a community, associated with being uneducated; Pulter is referring to Oliver Cromwell, a non-elite statesman who led Parliamentarians against King Charles I during the English civil war, and later became Lord Protector.
vulgar
, one may rise to reign
32
That many a Noble Spirit may Restrain
That many a noble spirit may restrain.
33
This is too true, Yet let them patient bee
This is too true; yet let them patient be,
34
ffor Tide, or Time, or Death, will Set them free.
For tide, or time, or death, will set them free.
35
Then trust in God, Extoll him Day, and Night:
Then trust in God,
Gloss Note
elevate with praise
extol
Him day and night:
36
ffor Sun, and Moon, and Stars, Shall for thee ffight.
For sun, and moon, and stars, shall for thee fight.
curled line
X (Close panel)Notes: Elemental Edition

 Editorial note

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

 Headnote

This poem relates a tale which Pulter’s father may have told about his time as Lord Treasurer to James I or Charles I. At first, it seems a merely amusing anecdote: a mouse, scampering across a dining table, is caught when an oyster (one of the dishes) snaps shut. The ocean’s changing tides bizarrely affect even the dinner table, stimulating the oyster to snap open and release the mouse. Pulter briefly toys with setting this episode in mock-epic form before treating it, instead, in a more characteristic manner. First, she reads the trapped mouse as emblematic of the sinful soul, temporarily walled up in a fleshly shell. Then, she pins this universal scenario to the particular politics of interregnum England, a time when “a vulgar”—presumably, Oliver Cromwell or his son, Richard—had “rise[n] to reign” in place of the “noble spirit” he “restrain[ed].” That usurped spirit is, first and foremost, Charles I (Pulter’s beloved, imprisoned, then beheaded king), but also her royalist compatriots (among them, many nobles) and indeed herself, since she frequently railed against confinement. In the end, the tidal metaphor offers a kind of comfort, since it suggests we must all, mouse-like, merely wait out any uncomfortable but temporary phase, in politics as in mortality.
Line number 1

 Gloss note

descendants of Fergus, the first king of Scotland
Line number 2

 Gloss note

Pulter speaks here in her own voice of her father, James Ley, who served James I and then Charles I as Lord Treasurer from 1624 to 1628.
Line number 3

 Gloss note

i.e., the king’s private kitchen
Line number 3

 Gloss note

food generally as well as flesh specifically
Line number 5

 Gloss note

were sought out
Line number 6

 Gloss note

See John Norden, Speculi Britanniae Pars: An Historical and Chorographical Description of the Country of Essex, Edited from the Original Manuscript in the Marquess of Salisbury’s Library at Hatfield, ed. Henry Ellis (London, 1840), p. 10: “Some part of the sea shore of Essex yieldeth the best oysters in England, which are called Wallfleet oysters.”
Line number 10

 Gloss note

Early modern thinking suggested that even an oyster served for dinner could “gapeth for air,” or open, “against the tide” (Thomas Johnson, Cornucopiae, or Diverse Secrets [London, 1595], sig. B4v).
Line number 13

 Gloss note

imaginary term for the languages spoken by mice
Line number 14

 Gloss note

imaginary term for the language spoken by frogs
Line number 15

 Gloss note

John Ogilby published popular and politicized translations of Aesop’s fables in the 1650s, which included the fable of a battle between the empires of the mouse and frog; the description of animal languages, in lines above, and the heroic dueling of the animals are drawn from this fable.
Line number 18

 Gloss note

Ogilby was a dancing master as well as a translator who (as the next lines indicate) did not learn Latin and Greek until late in life.
Line number 18

 Gloss note

In addition to meaning parts of legs, “feet” refers to units of poetic meter.
Line number 23

 Gloss note

of the tide
Line number 24

 Gloss note

fortunate; fortuitous
Line number 26

 Gloss note

Apollo and Artemis, Greek god and goddess of the sun and moon, respectively; tides are caused by the sun and moon.
Line number 27

 Gloss note

enclose in walls; imprison
Line number 29

 Gloss note

the oyster
Line number 30

 Gloss note

vigorous; energetic
Line number 31

 Gloss note

a person from the common class in a community, associated with being uneducated; Pulter is referring to Oliver Cromwell, a non-elite statesman who led Parliamentarians against King Charles I during the English civil war, and later became Lord Protector.
Line number 35

 Gloss note

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

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
[Emblem 48]
The Oyster and the Mouse
(Emblem 48)
AE TITLE
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

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

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This poem relates a tale which Pulter’s father may have told about his time as Lord Treasurer to James I or Charles I. At first, it seems a merely amusing anecdote: a mouse, scampering across a dining table, is caught when an oyster (one of the dishes) snaps shut. The ocean’s changing tides bizarrely affect even the dinner table, stimulating the oyster to snap open and release the mouse. Pulter briefly toys with setting this episode in mock-epic form before treating it, instead, in a more characteristic manner. First, she reads the trapped mouse as emblematic of the sinful soul, temporarily walled up in a fleshly shell. Then, she pins this universal scenario to the particular politics of interregnum England, a time when “a vulgar”—presumably, Oliver Cromwell or his son, Richard—had “rise[n] to reign” in place of the “noble spirit” he “restrain[ed].” That usurped spirit is, first and foremost, Charles I (Pulter’s beloved, imprisoned, then beheaded king), but also her royalist compatriots (among them, many nobles) and indeed herself, since she frequently railed against confinement. In the end, the tidal metaphor offers a kind of comfort, since it suggests we must all, mouse-like, merely wait out any uncomfortable but temporary phase, in politics as in mortality.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
When Royall ffergus Line did Rule this Realm
When royal
Gloss Note
descendants of Fergus, the first king of Scotland
Fergus’s line
did rule this realm,
2
My ffather had the Third place at the Helme
Gloss Note
Pulter speaks here in her own voice of her father, James Ley, who served James I and then Charles I as Lord Treasurer from 1624 to 1628.
My father had the third place at the helm
.
3
Out of the Privie Kitchin came his Meat
Out of the
Gloss Note
i.e., the king’s private kitchen
privy kitchen
came his
Gloss Note
food generally as well as flesh specifically
meat
;
4
Of Sixteen Diſhes hee might dayly Eat
Of sixteen dishes he might daily eat.
5
All things that were in Seaſon out were Sought
All things that were in season
Gloss Note
were sought out
out were sought
.
6
Amongst the Rest they Welfleet Oysters Brought
Amongst the rest they
Gloss Note
See John Norden, Speculi Britanniae Pars: An Historical and Chorographical Description of the Country of Essex, Edited from the Original Manuscript in the Marquess of Salisbury’s Library at Hatfield, ed. Henry Ellis (London, 1840), p. 10: “Some part of the sea shore of Essex yieldeth the best oysters in England, which are called Wallfleet oysters.”
Wallfleet oysters
brought;
7
Which being Set Ready till my ffather Comes
Which, being set ready till my father comes,
8
A Mouſ leaps on the Table for the Crumbs
A mouse leaps on the table for the crumbs;
9
Then Skipping up and down her Tayl did Glide
Then, skipping up and down, her tail did glide
10
By chance betwixt the Shels, T’was then full Tide
By chance betwixt the shells;
Gloss Note
Early modern thinking suggested that even an oyster served for dinner could “gapeth for air,” or open, “against the tide” (Thomas Johnson, Cornucopiae, or Diverse Secrets [London, 1595], sig. B4v).
’twas then full tide
.
11
The Oyſter ffeeling one within her Hoſ
The oyster, feeling one within her house,
12
Clapt cloſe her doors, and thus ſhee Catch’d ye Mou’s
Clapped close her doors, and thus she catched the mouse.
13
Oh that I now could Speak the Mecian Tongues
O, that I now could speak the
Gloss Note
imaginary term for the languages spoken by mice
Micean tongues
,
14
Or ffrogian Language but I want Such
Physical Note
“u” written over an “a”
Lungs
Or
Gloss Note
imaginary term for the language spoken by frogs
Frogian language
! But I want such lungs
15
As hee that writ the diſmale bloody ffights
As
Gloss Note
John Ogilby published popular and politicized translations of Aesop’s fables in the 1650s, which included the fable of a battle between the empires of the mouse and frog; the description of animal languages, in lines above, and the heroic dueling of the animals are drawn from this fable.
he that writ the dismal bloody fights
16
Betwixt the ffrogian and the Mecian Lnights
Betwixt the Frogian and the Micean knights.
17
Surely noe Weomen and I think few Men
Surely no women, and I think few men,
18
Can dance Soe well as hee w:th feet and Pen
Can
Gloss Note
Ogilby was a dancing master as well as a translator who (as the next lines indicate) did not learn Latin and Greek until late in life.
dance so well as he
with
Gloss Note
In addition to meaning parts of legs, “feet” refers to units of poetic meter.
feet
and pen;
19
But hee thoſe Tongu’s as I have heard did Seek
But he those tongues, as I have heard, did seek
20
Before hee Learnd the Latin
Physical Note
e is smeared over
e
’or the Greek
Before he learned the Latin or the Greek.
21
But now the Captive Mouſ her dubious ffate
But now the captive mouse her dubious fate
22
In my own Mother Tongue I must Relate
In my own mother tongue I must relate.
As

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
23
As her impriſonment came by A fflow
As her imprisonment came by
Gloss Note
of the tide
a flow
,
24
Soe the next happy Tide did let her goe
So the next
Gloss Note
fortunate; fortuitous
happy
tide did let her go.
25
O wonderfull who would have ever thought
Oh, wonderful! Who would have ever thought
26
That from the Deliane Twins help Should bee brought
That from
Gloss Note
Apollo and Artemis, Greek god and goddess of the sun and moon, respectively; tides are caused by the sun and moon.
the Delian twins
help should be brought?
27
Then let us learn while ffleſh doth here immure
Then let us learn, while flesh doth here
Gloss Note
enclose in walls; imprison
immure
28
Our
Physical Note
“n” originally written as “t”
Sinfull
Souls, not think our Selves Secure
Our sinful souls—not think our selves secure.
29
As this dul ffiſh was Torn up from A Rock
As
Gloss Note
the oyster
this dull fish
was torn up from a rock,
30
This Spritely Mous in Priſon thus to Lock
This
Gloss Note
vigorous; energetic
spritely
mouse in prison thus to lock,
31
Soe from A vulgar one may Rise to Raign
So, from a
Gloss Note
a person from the common class in a community, associated with being uneducated; Pulter is referring to Oliver Cromwell, a non-elite statesman who led Parliamentarians against King Charles I during the English civil war, and later became Lord Protector.
vulgar
, one may rise to reign
32
That many a Noble Spirit may Restrain
That many a noble spirit may restrain.
33
This is too true, Yet let them patient bee
This is too true; yet let them patient be,
34
ffor Tide, or Time, or Death, will Set them free.
For tide, or time, or death, will set them free.
35
Then trust in God, Extoll him Day, and Night:
Then trust in God,
Gloss Note
elevate with praise
extol
Him day and night:
36
ffor Sun, and Moon, and Stars, Shall for thee ffight.
For sun, and moon, and stars, shall for thee fight.
curled line
X (Close panel) All Notes
Transcription

 Editorial note

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

 Editorial note

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

 Editorial note

Elemental Edition

 Headnote

This poem relates a tale which Pulter’s father may have told about his time as Lord Treasurer to James I or Charles I. At first, it seems a merely amusing anecdote: a mouse, scampering across a dining table, is caught when an oyster (one of the dishes) snaps shut. The ocean’s changing tides bizarrely affect even the dinner table, stimulating the oyster to snap open and release the mouse. Pulter briefly toys with setting this episode in mock-epic form before treating it, instead, in a more characteristic manner. First, she reads the trapped mouse as emblematic of the sinful soul, temporarily walled up in a fleshly shell. Then, she pins this universal scenario to the particular politics of interregnum England, a time when “a vulgar”—presumably, Oliver Cromwell or his son, Richard—had “rise[n] to reign” in place of the “noble spirit” he “restrain[ed].” That usurped spirit is, first and foremost, Charles I (Pulter’s beloved, imprisoned, then beheaded king), but also her royalist compatriots (among them, many nobles) and indeed herself, since she frequently railed against confinement. In the end, the tidal metaphor offers a kind of comfort, since it suggests we must all, mouse-like, merely wait out any uncomfortable but temporary phase, in politics as in mortality.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

Elemental Edition
Line number 1

 Gloss note

descendants of Fergus, the first king of Scotland
Elemental Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

Pulter speaks here in her own voice of her father, James Ley, who served James I and then Charles I as Lord Treasurer from 1624 to 1628.
Elemental Edition
Line number 3

 Gloss note

i.e., the king’s private kitchen
Elemental Edition
Line number 3

 Gloss note

food generally as well as flesh specifically
Elemental Edition
Line number 5

 Gloss note

were sought out
Elemental Edition
Line number 6

 Gloss note

See John Norden, Speculi Britanniae Pars: An Historical and Chorographical Description of the Country of Essex, Edited from the Original Manuscript in the Marquess of Salisbury’s Library at Hatfield, ed. Henry Ellis (London, 1840), p. 10: “Some part of the sea shore of Essex yieldeth the best oysters in England, which are called Wallfleet oysters.”
Elemental Edition
Line number 10

 Gloss note

Early modern thinking suggested that even an oyster served for dinner could “gapeth for air,” or open, “against the tide” (Thomas Johnson, Cornucopiae, or Diverse Secrets [London, 1595], sig. B4v).
Elemental Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

imaginary term for the languages spoken by mice
Transcription
Line number 14

 Physical note

“u” written over an “a”
Elemental Edition
Line number 14

 Gloss note

imaginary term for the language spoken by frogs
Elemental Edition
Line number 15

 Gloss note

John Ogilby published popular and politicized translations of Aesop’s fables in the 1650s, which included the fable of a battle between the empires of the mouse and frog; the description of animal languages, in lines above, and the heroic dueling of the animals are drawn from this fable.
Elemental Edition
Line number 18

 Gloss note

Ogilby was a dancing master as well as a translator who (as the next lines indicate) did not learn Latin and Greek until late in life.
Elemental Edition
Line number 18

 Gloss note

In addition to meaning parts of legs, “feet” refers to units of poetic meter.
Transcription
Line number 20

 Physical note

e is smeared over
Elemental Edition
Line number 23

 Gloss note

of the tide
Elemental Edition
Line number 24

 Gloss note

fortunate; fortuitous
Elemental Edition
Line number 26

 Gloss note

Apollo and Artemis, Greek god and goddess of the sun and moon, respectively; tides are caused by the sun and moon.
Elemental Edition
Line number 27

 Gloss note

enclose in walls; imprison
Transcription
Line number 28

 Physical note

“n” originally written as “t”
Elemental Edition
Line number 29

 Gloss note

the oyster
Elemental Edition
Line number 30

 Gloss note

vigorous; energetic
Elemental Edition
Line number 31

 Gloss note

a person from the common class in a community, associated with being uneducated; Pulter is referring to Oliver Cromwell, a non-elite statesman who led Parliamentarians against King Charles I during the English civil war, and later became Lord Protector.
Elemental Edition
Line number 35

 Gloss note

elevate with praise
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