The Weeping Wish

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The Weeping Wish

Poem 61

Original Source

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

Versions

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

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

How to cite these versions

Conventions for these editions

The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making

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

 Physical note

This poem is written in the hand of H2.

 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 4

 Physical note

“d” written over smudge or other letter, perhaps “l”
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
Physical Note
This poem is written in the hand of H2.
The Weepeinge Wishe
January . 1665 :
Physical Note
This poem is in a different hand from that of the main scribe, probably Pulter’s. Below the title is the date “January, 1665” also in Pulter’s hand.
The Weeping Wish
Physical Note
“The Weeping Wish” appears in a different hand than the main scribe of the manuscript. This is one of several poems labeled with a date, though it is unclear whether this poem commemorates a specific event. The Hope [Poem 65], which is an apostrophe to Death, is also dated January 1665. Compare also to The Wish [Poem 52], which combines astronomical imagery with wishing to very different effect.
The Weeping Wish, January, 1665
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
I have modernized spelling and punctuation in this poem with the aim of enhancing clarity and readability. The notes gloss unfamiliar words and provide cultural and literary contexts. The notes gloss unfamiliar words and provide cultural and literary contexts.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Each octave of “The Weeping Wish” expresses the speaker’s desire to transform her tears into something more powerful: comets to illuminate the night; flowers which would make her famous; medicine for her friends. She also wishes that the sighs accompanying those tears might reach God. In her tearful seeking of such connections with God, posterity, and friends, the speaker appears alone in a sadness which, by the poem’s end, appears life-threatening.
The poem’s preoccupation with how tears might “turn”—the root of “verse”—into something more links to its self-reflexive concern with the speaker’s “story,” in which her sighs might be identified with poems like this one (since her emblems are figured, a few pages later, as the “sighs of a sad soul”). Similarly, her imagined tear-formed flowers would have been recognizable to her readers as both poetic and medicinal. It seems possible, then, that a poem that first seems hopelessly ambitious in its desire not only to brighten the speaker’s dark mood but speak to God, immortalize her memory, and remedy her friends, might actually (if figuratively) accomplish many if not all of its aims.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
“The Weeping Wish” consists of three, eight-line stanzas, each of which explores a different component of the speaker’s wish that her tears might be transformed into a force powerful enough to intercede on behalf of herself and others. In the first stanza, the speaker wills her tears to become comets, numerous enough to transform the night sky into the brightest of days, a function that Pulter elsewhere attributes to the intercessor figure, “To Aurora [1]” (Poem 22). The second and third stanzas explore the life-giving power of tears. In the second stanza, the speaker desires the power of two pagan gods (Apollo and Iris), whose tears each have the power to create life, and in the third, the speaker’s “dying” tears become a cordial that promises life to her friends through her death, a desire that positions the speaker as a Christ figure. “The Weeping Wish” suggests a reconsideration of the metaphysical conceit; while the poem can be read as an extended metaphor, the speaker’s wishes seek to confound distinctions between literal and figurative.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
O that the tears that tricle from mine eyes
O, that the tears that trickle from mine eyes
Oh that the tears that trickle from mine eyes
2
Were plac’d as blazeinge Commetts in the ſkies
Were placed as blazing comets in the skies:
Were placed as
Critical Note
Pulter’s speaker wills her tears to be transformed into comets. Comets were often considered bad omens, and their periodicity was not understood by European scientists until the predictions of Edmond Halley in the eighteenth century. Pulter’s speaker, however, far from identifying the comet as a bad omen, imagines her comet-tears to be so numerous that they will transform night into day. In this respect, Pulter’s image resembles Margaret Cavendish’s description of the sky of the Blazing World in her utopian text, The Description of a New World Called the Blazing World (1666): "But they answer’d, that they could perceive in that World none other but Blazing-Stars, and from thence it had the name that it was called the Blazing-world; and these Blazing-stars, said they, were such solid, firm, and shining bodies as the Sun and the Moon, not of a Globular, but of several sorts of figures, some had tails, and some other kinds of shapes." (Paper Bodies: A Margaret Cavendish Reader. Ed. Sylvia Bowerbank and Sara Mendelson. (Broadview, 2000), p. 167.)
blazing comets in the skies
;
3
Then would their numerous and illustrous raiſe
Then would their numerous and
Gloss Note
luminous
illustrous
rays
Then would their numerous and
Gloss Note
brilliant or luminous and manifest or evident (see OED illustrious, adj. 1 and 2)
illustrous
rays
4
Turn my ſad nights into the brightest
Physical Note
“d” written over smudge or other letter, perhaps “l”
dayes
Turn my sad nights into the brightest days.
Turn my sad nights into the brightest days.
5
O that the ſighs that breath from my ſad ſoule
O, that the sighs that breathe from my sad soul
Oh that the sighs that breath from my sad soul
6
Might fflie above the higheſt ſtarr or Pole
Might fly above the highest star or
Gloss Note
The pole is the point of reference in the sky around which stars appear to revolve, or the point at which the earth’s axis meets heavens (derived from Ptolemy).
pole
,
Might fly
Gloss Note
one of two points in the sky about which the stars appear to revolve (see OED pole, n.2. 2.)
above the highest star or pole
7
Unto that God that vews my dismalle story
Unto that God that views my dismal story,
Unto that God that views my
Critical Note
Pulter frequently aestheticizes the events of her life as a “story.” For one of many examples, see “Aletheia’s Pearl” (Poem 32) where the speaker’s patron, Aletheia (Truth), reads her “sad story” in the book of fate.
dismal story
,
8
Even Hee that crowns my dieinge hopes with Glory
Even He that crowns my dying hopes with glory.
Even He that crowns my dying hopes with glory.
9
O that my tears that fall down to the earth
O, that my tears that fall down to the earth
Oh that my tears that fall down to the earth
10
Might give ſome noble unknown fflower berth
Might give some noble, unknown flower birth:
Might give some noble
Critical Note
Pulter references Apollo’s transformation of Hyacinth into a flower after his death. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Apollo’s tears stain the flower’s petals (10.143-219).
unknown flower birth
;
11
Then would Hadaſſahs more resplendent ffame
Then would
Gloss Note
The poet takes Hadassah as her pseudonym in the manuscript; the name is the Hebrew version of Esther, which is, in turn, a version of Hester.
Hadassah’s
more resplendent fame
Then would
Critical Note
The manuscript in which this poem is found is titled “Poems Breathed Forth by The Noble Hadassah,” a pen-name that refers to Pulter’s own name (Hester) as well as the Biblical heroine Queen Esther. The Book of Esther tells how Queen Esther revealed Haman’s plot against the Jews. As a result, the king ordered Haman to be hanged and the Jews were saved. Esther is celebrated as a hero of her people, and her actions are commemorated in the holiday of Purim. Here Pulter’s speaker suggests that if her tears could have the power to give life—as Apollo’s did when he transformed a dead boy into a living flower—her fame would exceed that of Artemisia, who was known for her exemplary mourning.
Hadassah’s
more resplendent fame
12
Out live the ffamous Artimitius name
Outlive the famous
Gloss Note
This name is possibly in reference to the ruler in the 4th century BCE who memorialized her husband (Mausolus) with the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, which was renowned as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world
Artimitius’s
name.
Outlive the
Critical Note
This is likely a reference to Artemisia II (d. 350 BCE) who was famous for her extraordinary grief after her husband’s death. She constructed the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and was reputed to have mixed his ashes into her drink. Boccaccio included her biography in De mulieribus claris (“On Famous Women”), praising her as a model of chaste widowhood.
famous Artemisia’s
name.
13
The Iris tricles tears from her ſad eyes
The iris trickles tears from her sad eyes
Critical Note
Iris is the name of the Greek goddess of the rainbow and of a common genus of flowering plant. Pulter explores the lore of the iris, including the legend that the “tears” of the iris propagate new plants, in “The Garden, or The Contention of the Flowers” (Poem 12).
The iris trickles tears
from her sad eyes,
14
And from their ſalt her ofspringe doth ariſe
And, from their salt,
Critical Note
Eardley notes the early modern tendency to conflate the iris with the lily; of the latter, Philemon Holland writes in his translation of Pliny’s natural history, “they will come up of the very liquor that distilleth and droppeth from them.” The History of the World (London, 1601), 2.84. In alchemy, “salt” was supposed to be one of the ultimate elements of all substances.
her offspring doth arise
;
And from their salt her offspring doth arise;
15
But my abortive tears deſcend in vaine
But my
Gloss Note
fruitless
abortive
tears descend in vain,
But my abortive tears descend in vain,
16
ffor I can never ſee thoſe Joyes againe
For I can never see those joys again.
Critical Note
Pulter’s speaker acknowledges that her tears do not have the miraculous effect of her wish. Instead her tears are “abortive” (“failing to produce viable offspring” and “unsuccessful; useless, wasted” OED adj. 1c.; 2.) and unable to assuage a past grief. The references to flowers and unsuccessful birth in this stanza suggest that the “lost joys” Pulter’s speaker will not see again refer to Pulter’s deceased daughters, who are associated with flowers in “The Garden, or The Contention of the Flowers” (Poem 12) as well as in the elegy “Upon the Death of my Dear and Lovely Daughter, Jane Pulter” (Poem 10).
For I can never see those joys again
.
17
Hart’s briny tears a Beazur doth condence
Gloss Note
A bezoar is a hard substance that forms in the stomach or intestines of some animals (like the “hart,” or deer, here) and was considered an antidote to poison.
Hart’s briny tears, a bezoar doth condense
;
Critical Note
referring specifically to a “stone” created in the organs of certain animals, including the deer. The term bezoar now refers to a mass formed as a reaction to indigestible material in almost any animal (including humans), but in the early modern period, the bezoar was highly valued because it was believed to act as an antidote or counter-poison. See Maria Do Sameiro Barrosa, “Bezoar stones, magic, science, and art” in A History of Geology and Medicine, ed. C.J Duffin et. al. (Geological Society of London, 2013), pp. 193-207. Recent testing shows that bezoars can remove certain poisons because some compounds in arsenic bind with the sulphur compounds in the degraded hair that is a component of many bezoars (Barrosa 206).
Hart’s briny tears a bezoar doth condense
,
18
Oh lett mine eyes whole ffloude of tears dispence
O, let mine eyes whole flood of tears dispense,
Oh let mine eyes whole flood of tears dispense
19
That I a cordiall to my ffriends maye give
That I a
Gloss Note
medicine
cordial
to my friends may give;
That I a cordial to my friends may give;
20
Then tho I die, yett I maye make them live
Then, though I die, yet I may make them live.
Then though I die, yet I may make them live.
21
I gladly would this good to them impart
I gladly would this good to them impart,
I gladly would this good to them impart,
22
Tho in the doeinge itt itt breaks my hart
Though in the doing it, it breaks my heart;
Though in the doing it, it breaks my heart;
23
Then lett my dieinge tears a Cordiall prove
Then let my dying tears a cordial prove,
Then let my dying tears a
Gloss Note
“Of medicines, food, or beverages: Stimulating, ‘comforting,’ or invigorating to the heart; restorative, reviving cheering” (OED n. 2.a.). The speaker imagines that her tears will produce a “cordial” that will do her friends “good” as the bezoar does.
cordial
prove,
24
ſeeinge I my ffriends above my liffe doe loue.
Seeing I my friends above my life do love.
Seeing I my friends above my life do love.
horizontal straight line
X (Close panel)Notes: Elemental Edition
Title note

 Physical note

This poem is in a different hand from that of the main scribe, probably Pulter’s. Below the title is the date “January, 1665” also in Pulter’s hand.

 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

Each octave of “The Weeping Wish” expresses the speaker’s desire to transform her tears into something more powerful: comets to illuminate the night; flowers which would make her famous; medicine for her friends. She also wishes that the sighs accompanying those tears might reach God. In her tearful seeking of such connections with God, posterity, and friends, the speaker appears alone in a sadness which, by the poem’s end, appears life-threatening.
The poem’s preoccupation with how tears might “turn”—the root of “verse”—into something more links to its self-reflexive concern with the speaker’s “story,” in which her sighs might be identified with poems like this one (since her emblems are figured, a few pages later, as the “sighs of a sad soul”). Similarly, her imagined tear-formed flowers would have been recognizable to her readers as both poetic and medicinal. It seems possible, then, that a poem that first seems hopelessly ambitious in its desire not only to brighten the speaker’s dark mood but speak to God, immortalize her memory, and remedy her friends, might actually (if figuratively) accomplish many if not all of its aims.
Line number 3

 Gloss note

luminous
Line number 6

 Gloss note

The pole is the point of reference in the sky around which stars appear to revolve, or the point at which the earth’s axis meets heavens (derived from Ptolemy).
Line number 11

 Gloss note

The poet takes Hadassah as her pseudonym in the manuscript; the name is the Hebrew version of Esther, which is, in turn, a version of Hester.
Line number 12

 Gloss note

This name is possibly in reference to the ruler in the 4th century BCE who memorialized her husband (Mausolus) with the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, which was renowned as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world
Line number 14

 Critical note

Eardley notes the early modern tendency to conflate the iris with the lily; of the latter, Philemon Holland writes in his translation of Pliny’s natural history, “they will come up of the very liquor that distilleth and droppeth from them.” The History of the World (London, 1601), 2.84. In alchemy, “salt” was supposed to be one of the ultimate elements of all substances.
Line number 15

 Gloss note

fruitless
Line number 17

 Gloss note

A bezoar is a hard substance that forms in the stomach or intestines of some animals (like the “hart,” or deer, here) and was considered an antidote to poison.
Line number 19

 Gloss note

medicine
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
This poem is written in the hand of H2.
The Weepeinge Wishe
January . 1665 :
Physical Note
This poem is in a different hand from that of the main scribe, probably Pulter’s. Below the title is the date “January, 1665” also in Pulter’s hand.
The Weeping Wish
Physical Note
“The Weeping Wish” appears in a different hand than the main scribe of the manuscript. This is one of several poems labeled with a date, though it is unclear whether this poem commemorates a specific event. The Hope [Poem 65], which is an apostrophe to Death, is also dated January 1665. Compare also to The Wish [Poem 52], which combines astronomical imagery with wishing to very different effect.
The Weeping Wish, January, 1665
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
I have modernized spelling and punctuation in this poem with the aim of enhancing clarity and readability. The notes gloss unfamiliar words and provide cultural and literary contexts. The notes gloss unfamiliar words and provide cultural and literary contexts.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Each octave of “The Weeping Wish” expresses the speaker’s desire to transform her tears into something more powerful: comets to illuminate the night; flowers which would make her famous; medicine for her friends. She also wishes that the sighs accompanying those tears might reach God. In her tearful seeking of such connections with God, posterity, and friends, the speaker appears alone in a sadness which, by the poem’s end, appears life-threatening.
The poem’s preoccupation with how tears might “turn”—the root of “verse”—into something more links to its self-reflexive concern with the speaker’s “story,” in which her sighs might be identified with poems like this one (since her emblems are figured, a few pages later, as the “sighs of a sad soul”). Similarly, her imagined tear-formed flowers would have been recognizable to her readers as both poetic and medicinal. It seems possible, then, that a poem that first seems hopelessly ambitious in its desire not only to brighten the speaker’s dark mood but speak to God, immortalize her memory, and remedy her friends, might actually (if figuratively) accomplish many if not all of its aims.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
“The Weeping Wish” consists of three, eight-line stanzas, each of which explores a different component of the speaker’s wish that her tears might be transformed into a force powerful enough to intercede on behalf of herself and others. In the first stanza, the speaker wills her tears to become comets, numerous enough to transform the night sky into the brightest of days, a function that Pulter elsewhere attributes to the intercessor figure, “To Aurora [1]” (Poem 22). The second and third stanzas explore the life-giving power of tears. In the second stanza, the speaker desires the power of two pagan gods (Apollo and Iris), whose tears each have the power to create life, and in the third, the speaker’s “dying” tears become a cordial that promises life to her friends through her death, a desire that positions the speaker as a Christ figure. “The Weeping Wish” suggests a reconsideration of the metaphysical conceit; while the poem can be read as an extended metaphor, the speaker’s wishes seek to confound distinctions between literal and figurative.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
O that the tears that tricle from mine eyes
O, that the tears that trickle from mine eyes
Oh that the tears that trickle from mine eyes
2
Were plac’d as blazeinge Commetts in the ſkies
Were placed as blazing comets in the skies:
Were placed as
Critical Note
Pulter’s speaker wills her tears to be transformed into comets. Comets were often considered bad omens, and their periodicity was not understood by European scientists until the predictions of Edmond Halley in the eighteenth century. Pulter’s speaker, however, far from identifying the comet as a bad omen, imagines her comet-tears to be so numerous that they will transform night into day. In this respect, Pulter’s image resembles Margaret Cavendish’s description of the sky of the Blazing World in her utopian text, The Description of a New World Called the Blazing World (1666): "But they answer’d, that they could perceive in that World none other but Blazing-Stars, and from thence it had the name that it was called the Blazing-world; and these Blazing-stars, said they, were such solid, firm, and shining bodies as the Sun and the Moon, not of a Globular, but of several sorts of figures, some had tails, and some other kinds of shapes." (Paper Bodies: A Margaret Cavendish Reader. Ed. Sylvia Bowerbank and Sara Mendelson. (Broadview, 2000), p. 167.)
blazing comets in the skies
;
3
Then would their numerous and illustrous raiſe
Then would their numerous and
Gloss Note
luminous
illustrous
rays
Then would their numerous and
Gloss Note
brilliant or luminous and manifest or evident (see OED illustrious, adj. 1 and 2)
illustrous
rays
4
Turn my ſad nights into the brightest
Physical Note
“d” written over smudge or other letter, perhaps “l”
dayes
Turn my sad nights into the brightest days.
Turn my sad nights into the brightest days.
5
O that the ſighs that breath from my ſad ſoule
O, that the sighs that breathe from my sad soul
Oh that the sighs that breath from my sad soul
6
Might fflie above the higheſt ſtarr or Pole
Might fly above the highest star or
Gloss Note
The pole is the point of reference in the sky around which stars appear to revolve, or the point at which the earth’s axis meets heavens (derived from Ptolemy).
pole
,
Might fly
Gloss Note
one of two points in the sky about which the stars appear to revolve (see OED pole, n.2. 2.)
above the highest star or pole
7
Unto that God that vews my dismalle story
Unto that God that views my dismal story,
Unto that God that views my
Critical Note
Pulter frequently aestheticizes the events of her life as a “story.” For one of many examples, see “Aletheia’s Pearl” (Poem 32) where the speaker’s patron, Aletheia (Truth), reads her “sad story” in the book of fate.
dismal story
,
8
Even Hee that crowns my dieinge hopes with Glory
Even He that crowns my dying hopes with glory.
Even He that crowns my dying hopes with glory.
9
O that my tears that fall down to the earth
O, that my tears that fall down to the earth
Oh that my tears that fall down to the earth
10
Might give ſome noble unknown fflower berth
Might give some noble, unknown flower birth:
Might give some noble
Critical Note
Pulter references Apollo’s transformation of Hyacinth into a flower after his death. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Apollo’s tears stain the flower’s petals (10.143-219).
unknown flower birth
;
11
Then would Hadaſſahs more resplendent ffame
Then would
Gloss Note
The poet takes Hadassah as her pseudonym in the manuscript; the name is the Hebrew version of Esther, which is, in turn, a version of Hester.
Hadassah’s
more resplendent fame
Then would
Critical Note
The manuscript in which this poem is found is titled “Poems Breathed Forth by The Noble Hadassah,” a pen-name that refers to Pulter’s own name (Hester) as well as the Biblical heroine Queen Esther. The Book of Esther tells how Queen Esther revealed Haman’s plot against the Jews. As a result, the king ordered Haman to be hanged and the Jews were saved. Esther is celebrated as a hero of her people, and her actions are commemorated in the holiday of Purim. Here Pulter’s speaker suggests that if her tears could have the power to give life—as Apollo’s did when he transformed a dead boy into a living flower—her fame would exceed that of Artemisia, who was known for her exemplary mourning.
Hadassah’s
more resplendent fame
12
Out live the ffamous Artimitius name
Outlive the famous
Gloss Note
This name is possibly in reference to the ruler in the 4th century BCE who memorialized her husband (Mausolus) with the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, which was renowned as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world
Artimitius’s
name.
Outlive the
Critical Note
This is likely a reference to Artemisia II (d. 350 BCE) who was famous for her extraordinary grief after her husband’s death. She constructed the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and was reputed to have mixed his ashes into her drink. Boccaccio included her biography in De mulieribus claris (“On Famous Women”), praising her as a model of chaste widowhood.
famous Artemisia’s
name.
13
The Iris tricles tears from her ſad eyes
The iris trickles tears from her sad eyes
Critical Note
Iris is the name of the Greek goddess of the rainbow and of a common genus of flowering plant. Pulter explores the lore of the iris, including the legend that the “tears” of the iris propagate new plants, in “The Garden, or The Contention of the Flowers” (Poem 12).
The iris trickles tears
from her sad eyes,
14
And from their ſalt her ofspringe doth ariſe
And, from their salt,
Critical Note
Eardley notes the early modern tendency to conflate the iris with the lily; of the latter, Philemon Holland writes in his translation of Pliny’s natural history, “they will come up of the very liquor that distilleth and droppeth from them.” The History of the World (London, 1601), 2.84. In alchemy, “salt” was supposed to be one of the ultimate elements of all substances.
her offspring doth arise
;
And from their salt her offspring doth arise;
15
But my abortive tears deſcend in vaine
But my
Gloss Note
fruitless
abortive
tears descend in vain,
But my abortive tears descend in vain,
16
ffor I can never ſee thoſe Joyes againe
For I can never see those joys again.
Critical Note
Pulter’s speaker acknowledges that her tears do not have the miraculous effect of her wish. Instead her tears are “abortive” (“failing to produce viable offspring” and “unsuccessful; useless, wasted” OED adj. 1c.; 2.) and unable to assuage a past grief. The references to flowers and unsuccessful birth in this stanza suggest that the “lost joys” Pulter’s speaker will not see again refer to Pulter’s deceased daughters, who are associated with flowers in “The Garden, or The Contention of the Flowers” (Poem 12) as well as in the elegy “Upon the Death of my Dear and Lovely Daughter, Jane Pulter” (Poem 10).
For I can never see those joys again
.
17
Hart’s briny tears a Beazur doth condence
Gloss Note
A bezoar is a hard substance that forms in the stomach or intestines of some animals (like the “hart,” or deer, here) and was considered an antidote to poison.
Hart’s briny tears, a bezoar doth condense
;
Critical Note
referring specifically to a “stone” created in the organs of certain animals, including the deer. The term bezoar now refers to a mass formed as a reaction to indigestible material in almost any animal (including humans), but in the early modern period, the bezoar was highly valued because it was believed to act as an antidote or counter-poison. See Maria Do Sameiro Barrosa, “Bezoar stones, magic, science, and art” in A History of Geology and Medicine, ed. C.J Duffin et. al. (Geological Society of London, 2013), pp. 193-207. Recent testing shows that bezoars can remove certain poisons because some compounds in arsenic bind with the sulphur compounds in the degraded hair that is a component of many bezoars (Barrosa 206).
Hart’s briny tears a bezoar doth condense
,
18
Oh lett mine eyes whole ffloude of tears dispence
O, let mine eyes whole flood of tears dispense,
Oh let mine eyes whole flood of tears dispense
19
That I a cordiall to my ffriends maye give
That I a
Gloss Note
medicine
cordial
to my friends may give;
That I a cordial to my friends may give;
20
Then tho I die, yett I maye make them live
Then, though I die, yet I may make them live.
Then though I die, yet I may make them live.
21
I gladly would this good to them impart
I gladly would this good to them impart,
I gladly would this good to them impart,
22
Tho in the doeinge itt itt breaks my hart
Though in the doing it, it breaks my heart;
Though in the doing it, it breaks my heart;
23
Then lett my dieinge tears a Cordiall prove
Then let my dying tears a cordial prove,
Then let my dying tears a
Gloss Note
“Of medicines, food, or beverages: Stimulating, ‘comforting,’ or invigorating to the heart; restorative, reviving cheering” (OED n. 2.a.). The speaker imagines that her tears will produce a “cordial” that will do her friends “good” as the bezoar does.
cordial
prove,
24
ſeeinge I my ffriends above my liffe doe loue.
Seeing I my friends above my life do love.
Seeing I my friends above my life do love.
horizontal straight line
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition
Title note

 Physical note

“The Weeping Wish” appears in a different hand than the main scribe of the manuscript. This is one of several poems labeled with a date, though it is unclear whether this poem commemorates a specific event. The Hope [Poem 65], which is an apostrophe to Death, is also dated January 1665. Compare also to The Wish [Poem 52], which combines astronomical imagery with wishing to very different effect.

 Editorial note

I have modernized spelling and punctuation in this poem with the aim of enhancing clarity and readability. The notes gloss unfamiliar words and provide cultural and literary contexts. The notes gloss unfamiliar words and provide cultural and literary contexts.

 Headnote

“The Weeping Wish” consists of three, eight-line stanzas, each of which explores a different component of the speaker’s wish that her tears might be transformed into a force powerful enough to intercede on behalf of herself and others. In the first stanza, the speaker wills her tears to become comets, numerous enough to transform the night sky into the brightest of days, a function that Pulter elsewhere attributes to the intercessor figure, “To Aurora [1]” (Poem 22). The second and third stanzas explore the life-giving power of tears. In the second stanza, the speaker desires the power of two pagan gods (Apollo and Iris), whose tears each have the power to create life, and in the third, the speaker’s “dying” tears become a cordial that promises life to her friends through her death, a desire that positions the speaker as a Christ figure. “The Weeping Wish” suggests a reconsideration of the metaphysical conceit; while the poem can be read as an extended metaphor, the speaker’s wishes seek to confound distinctions between literal and figurative.
Line number 2

 Critical note

Pulter’s speaker wills her tears to be transformed into comets. Comets were often considered bad omens, and their periodicity was not understood by European scientists until the predictions of Edmond Halley in the eighteenth century. Pulter’s speaker, however, far from identifying the comet as a bad omen, imagines her comet-tears to be so numerous that they will transform night into day. In this respect, Pulter’s image resembles Margaret Cavendish’s description of the sky of the Blazing World in her utopian text, The Description of a New World Called the Blazing World (1666): "But they answer’d, that they could perceive in that World none other but Blazing-Stars, and from thence it had the name that it was called the Blazing-world; and these Blazing-stars, said they, were such solid, firm, and shining bodies as the Sun and the Moon, not of a Globular, but of several sorts of figures, some had tails, and some other kinds of shapes." (Paper Bodies: A Margaret Cavendish Reader. Ed. Sylvia Bowerbank and Sara Mendelson. (Broadview, 2000), p. 167.)
Line number 3

 Gloss note

brilliant or luminous and manifest or evident (see OED illustrious, adj. 1 and 2)
Line number 6

 Gloss note

one of two points in the sky about which the stars appear to revolve (see OED pole, n.2. 2.)
Line number 7

 Critical note

Pulter frequently aestheticizes the events of her life as a “story.” For one of many examples, see “Aletheia’s Pearl” (Poem 32) where the speaker’s patron, Aletheia (Truth), reads her “sad story” in the book of fate.
Line number 10

 Critical note

Pulter references Apollo’s transformation of Hyacinth into a flower after his death. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Apollo’s tears stain the flower’s petals (10.143-219).
Line number 11

 Critical note

The manuscript in which this poem is found is titled “Poems Breathed Forth by The Noble Hadassah,” a pen-name that refers to Pulter’s own name (Hester) as well as the Biblical heroine Queen Esther. The Book of Esther tells how Queen Esther revealed Haman’s plot against the Jews. As a result, the king ordered Haman to be hanged and the Jews were saved. Esther is celebrated as a hero of her people, and her actions are commemorated in the holiday of Purim. Here Pulter’s speaker suggests that if her tears could have the power to give life—as Apollo’s did when he transformed a dead boy into a living flower—her fame would exceed that of Artemisia, who was known for her exemplary mourning.
Line number 12

 Critical note

This is likely a reference to Artemisia II (d. 350 BCE) who was famous for her extraordinary grief after her husband’s death. She constructed the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and was reputed to have mixed his ashes into her drink. Boccaccio included her biography in De mulieribus claris (“On Famous Women”), praising her as a model of chaste widowhood.
Line number 13

 Critical note

Iris is the name of the Greek goddess of the rainbow and of a common genus of flowering plant. Pulter explores the lore of the iris, including the legend that the “tears” of the iris propagate new plants, in “The Garden, or The Contention of the Flowers” (Poem 12).
Line number 16

 Critical note

Pulter’s speaker acknowledges that her tears do not have the miraculous effect of her wish. Instead her tears are “abortive” (“failing to produce viable offspring” and “unsuccessful; useless, wasted” OED adj. 1c.; 2.) and unable to assuage a past grief. The references to flowers and unsuccessful birth in this stanza suggest that the “lost joys” Pulter’s speaker will not see again refer to Pulter’s deceased daughters, who are associated with flowers in “The Garden, or The Contention of the Flowers” (Poem 12) as well as in the elegy “Upon the Death of my Dear and Lovely Daughter, Jane Pulter” (Poem 10).
Line number 17

 Critical note

referring specifically to a “stone” created in the organs of certain animals, including the deer. The term bezoar now refers to a mass formed as a reaction to indigestible material in almost any animal (including humans), but in the early modern period, the bezoar was highly valued because it was believed to act as an antidote or counter-poison. See Maria Do Sameiro Barrosa, “Bezoar stones, magic, science, and art” in A History of Geology and Medicine, ed. C.J Duffin et. al. (Geological Society of London, 2013), pp. 193-207. Recent testing shows that bezoars can remove certain poisons because some compounds in arsenic bind with the sulphur compounds in the degraded hair that is a component of many bezoars (Barrosa 206).
Line number 23

 Gloss note

“Of medicines, food, or beverages: Stimulating, ‘comforting,’ or invigorating to the heart; restorative, reviving cheering” (OED n. 2.a.). The speaker imagines that her tears will produce a “cordial” that will do her friends “good” as the bezoar does.
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Amplified Edition

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Physical Note
This poem is written in the hand of H2.
The Weepeinge Wishe
January . 1665 :
Physical Note
This poem is in a different hand from that of the main scribe, probably Pulter’s. Below the title is the date “January, 1665” also in Pulter’s hand.
The Weeping Wish
Physical Note
“The Weeping Wish” appears in a different hand than the main scribe of the manuscript. This is one of several poems labeled with a date, though it is unclear whether this poem commemorates a specific event. The Hope [Poem 65], which is an apostrophe to Death, is also dated January 1665. Compare also to The Wish [Poem 52], which combines astronomical imagery with wishing to very different effect.
The Weeping Wish, January, 1665
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

— Lara Dodds
The aim of the elemental edition 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.

— Lara Dodds
I have modernized spelling and punctuation in this poem with the aim of enhancing clarity and readability. The notes gloss unfamiliar words and provide cultural and literary contexts. The notes gloss unfamiliar words and provide cultural and literary contexts.

— Lara Dodds
Each octave of “The Weeping Wish” expresses the speaker’s desire to transform her tears into something more powerful: comets to illuminate the night; flowers which would make her famous; medicine for her friends. She also wishes that the sighs accompanying those tears might reach God. In her tearful seeking of such connections with God, posterity, and friends, the speaker appears alone in a sadness which, by the poem’s end, appears life-threatening.
The poem’s preoccupation with how tears might “turn”—the root of “verse”—into something more links to its self-reflexive concern with the speaker’s “story,” in which her sighs might be identified with poems like this one (since her emblems are figured, a few pages later, as the “sighs of a sad soul”). Similarly, her imagined tear-formed flowers would have been recognizable to her readers as both poetic and medicinal. It seems possible, then, that a poem that first seems hopelessly ambitious in its desire not only to brighten the speaker’s dark mood but speak to God, immortalize her memory, and remedy her friends, might actually (if figuratively) accomplish many if not all of its aims.


— Lara Dodds
“The Weeping Wish” consists of three, eight-line stanzas, each of which explores a different component of the speaker’s wish that her tears might be transformed into a force powerful enough to intercede on behalf of herself and others. In the first stanza, the speaker wills her tears to become comets, numerous enough to transform the night sky into the brightest of days, a function that Pulter elsewhere attributes to the intercessor figure, “To Aurora [1]” (Poem 22). The second and third stanzas explore the life-giving power of tears. In the second stanza, the speaker desires the power of two pagan gods (Apollo and Iris), whose tears each have the power to create life, and in the third, the speaker’s “dying” tears become a cordial that promises life to her friends through her death, a desire that positions the speaker as a Christ figure. “The Weeping Wish” suggests a reconsideration of the metaphysical conceit; while the poem can be read as an extended metaphor, the speaker’s wishes seek to confound distinctions between literal and figurative.

— Lara Dodds
1
O that the tears that tricle from mine eyes
O, that the tears that trickle from mine eyes
Oh that the tears that trickle from mine eyes
2
Were plac’d as blazeinge Commetts in the ſkies
Were placed as blazing comets in the skies:
Were placed as
Critical Note
Pulter’s speaker wills her tears to be transformed into comets. Comets were often considered bad omens, and their periodicity was not understood by European scientists until the predictions of Edmond Halley in the eighteenth century. Pulter’s speaker, however, far from identifying the comet as a bad omen, imagines her comet-tears to be so numerous that they will transform night into day. In this respect, Pulter’s image resembles Margaret Cavendish’s description of the sky of the Blazing World in her utopian text, The Description of a New World Called the Blazing World (1666): "But they answer’d, that they could perceive in that World none other but Blazing-Stars, and from thence it had the name that it was called the Blazing-world; and these Blazing-stars, said they, were such solid, firm, and shining bodies as the Sun and the Moon, not of a Globular, but of several sorts of figures, some had tails, and some other kinds of shapes." (Paper Bodies: A Margaret Cavendish Reader. Ed. Sylvia Bowerbank and Sara Mendelson. (Broadview, 2000), p. 167.)
blazing comets in the skies
;
3
Then would their numerous and illustrous raiſe
Then would their numerous and
Gloss Note
luminous
illustrous
rays
Then would their numerous and
Gloss Note
brilliant or luminous and manifest or evident (see OED illustrious, adj. 1 and 2)
illustrous
rays
4
Turn my ſad nights into the brightest
Physical Note
“d” written over smudge or other letter, perhaps “l”
dayes
Turn my sad nights into the brightest days.
Turn my sad nights into the brightest days.
5
O that the ſighs that breath from my ſad ſoule
O, that the sighs that breathe from my sad soul
Oh that the sighs that breath from my sad soul
6
Might fflie above the higheſt ſtarr or Pole
Might fly above the highest star or
Gloss Note
The pole is the point of reference in the sky around which stars appear to revolve, or the point at which the earth’s axis meets heavens (derived from Ptolemy).
pole
,
Might fly
Gloss Note
one of two points in the sky about which the stars appear to revolve (see OED pole, n.2. 2.)
above the highest star or pole
7
Unto that God that vews my dismalle story
Unto that God that views my dismal story,
Unto that God that views my
Critical Note
Pulter frequently aestheticizes the events of her life as a “story.” For one of many examples, see “Aletheia’s Pearl” (Poem 32) where the speaker’s patron, Aletheia (Truth), reads her “sad story” in the book of fate.
dismal story
,
8
Even Hee that crowns my dieinge hopes with Glory
Even He that crowns my dying hopes with glory.
Even He that crowns my dying hopes with glory.
9
O that my tears that fall down to the earth
O, that my tears that fall down to the earth
Oh that my tears that fall down to the earth
10
Might give ſome noble unknown fflower berth
Might give some noble, unknown flower birth:
Might give some noble
Critical Note
Pulter references Apollo’s transformation of Hyacinth into a flower after his death. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Apollo’s tears stain the flower’s petals (10.143-219).
unknown flower birth
;
11
Then would Hadaſſahs more resplendent ffame
Then would
Gloss Note
The poet takes Hadassah as her pseudonym in the manuscript; the name is the Hebrew version of Esther, which is, in turn, a version of Hester.
Hadassah’s
more resplendent fame
Then would
Critical Note
The manuscript in which this poem is found is titled “Poems Breathed Forth by The Noble Hadassah,” a pen-name that refers to Pulter’s own name (Hester) as well as the Biblical heroine Queen Esther. The Book of Esther tells how Queen Esther revealed Haman’s plot against the Jews. As a result, the king ordered Haman to be hanged and the Jews were saved. Esther is celebrated as a hero of her people, and her actions are commemorated in the holiday of Purim. Here Pulter’s speaker suggests that if her tears could have the power to give life—as Apollo’s did when he transformed a dead boy into a living flower—her fame would exceed that of Artemisia, who was known for her exemplary mourning.
Hadassah’s
more resplendent fame
12
Out live the ffamous Artimitius name
Outlive the famous
Gloss Note
This name is possibly in reference to the ruler in the 4th century BCE who memorialized her husband (Mausolus) with the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, which was renowned as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world
Artimitius’s
name.
Outlive the
Critical Note
This is likely a reference to Artemisia II (d. 350 BCE) who was famous for her extraordinary grief after her husband’s death. She constructed the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and was reputed to have mixed his ashes into her drink. Boccaccio included her biography in De mulieribus claris (“On Famous Women”), praising her as a model of chaste widowhood.
famous Artemisia’s
name.
13
The Iris tricles tears from her ſad eyes
The iris trickles tears from her sad eyes
Critical Note
Iris is the name of the Greek goddess of the rainbow and of a common genus of flowering plant. Pulter explores the lore of the iris, including the legend that the “tears” of the iris propagate new plants, in “The Garden, or The Contention of the Flowers” (Poem 12).
The iris trickles tears
from her sad eyes,
14
And from their ſalt her ofspringe doth ariſe
And, from their salt,
Critical Note
Eardley notes the early modern tendency to conflate the iris with the lily; of the latter, Philemon Holland writes in his translation of Pliny’s natural history, “they will come up of the very liquor that distilleth and droppeth from them.” The History of the World (London, 1601), 2.84. In alchemy, “salt” was supposed to be one of the ultimate elements of all substances.
her offspring doth arise
;
And from their salt her offspring doth arise;
15
But my abortive tears deſcend in vaine
But my
Gloss Note
fruitless
abortive
tears descend in vain,
But my abortive tears descend in vain,
16
ffor I can never ſee thoſe Joyes againe
For I can never see those joys again.
Critical Note
Pulter’s speaker acknowledges that her tears do not have the miraculous effect of her wish. Instead her tears are “abortive” (“failing to produce viable offspring” and “unsuccessful; useless, wasted” OED adj. 1c.; 2.) and unable to assuage a past grief. The references to flowers and unsuccessful birth in this stanza suggest that the “lost joys” Pulter’s speaker will not see again refer to Pulter’s deceased daughters, who are associated with flowers in “The Garden, or The Contention of the Flowers” (Poem 12) as well as in the elegy “Upon the Death of my Dear and Lovely Daughter, Jane Pulter” (Poem 10).
For I can never see those joys again
.
17
Hart’s briny tears a Beazur doth condence
Gloss Note
A bezoar is a hard substance that forms in the stomach or intestines of some animals (like the “hart,” or deer, here) and was considered an antidote to poison.
Hart’s briny tears, a bezoar doth condense
;
Critical Note
referring specifically to a “stone” created in the organs of certain animals, including the deer. The term bezoar now refers to a mass formed as a reaction to indigestible material in almost any animal (including humans), but in the early modern period, the bezoar was highly valued because it was believed to act as an antidote or counter-poison. See Maria Do Sameiro Barrosa, “Bezoar stones, magic, science, and art” in A History of Geology and Medicine, ed. C.J Duffin et. al. (Geological Society of London, 2013), pp. 193-207. Recent testing shows that bezoars can remove certain poisons because some compounds in arsenic bind with the sulphur compounds in the degraded hair that is a component of many bezoars (Barrosa 206).
Hart’s briny tears a bezoar doth condense
,
18
Oh lett mine eyes whole ffloude of tears dispence
O, let mine eyes whole flood of tears dispense,
Oh let mine eyes whole flood of tears dispense
19
That I a cordiall to my ffriends maye give
That I a
Gloss Note
medicine
cordial
to my friends may give;
That I a cordial to my friends may give;
20
Then tho I die, yett I maye make them live
Then, though I die, yet I may make them live.
Then though I die, yet I may make them live.
21
I gladly would this good to them impart
I gladly would this good to them impart,
I gladly would this good to them impart,
22
Tho in the doeinge itt itt breaks my hart
Though in the doing it, it breaks my heart;
Though in the doing it, it breaks my heart;
23
Then lett my dieinge tears a Cordiall prove
Then let my dying tears a cordial prove,
Then let my dying tears a
Gloss Note
“Of medicines, food, or beverages: Stimulating, ‘comforting,’ or invigorating to the heart; restorative, reviving cheering” (OED n. 2.a.). The speaker imagines that her tears will produce a “cordial” that will do her friends “good” as the bezoar does.
cordial
prove,
24
ſeeinge I my ffriends above my liffe doe loue.
Seeing I my friends above my life do love.
Seeing I my friends above my life do love.
horizontal straight line
X (Close panel) All Notes
Transcription
Title note

 Physical note

This poem is written in the hand of H2.
Elemental Edition
Title note

 Physical note

This poem is in a different hand from that of the main scribe, probably Pulter’s. Below the title is the date “January, 1665” also in Pulter’s hand.
Amplified Edition
Title note

 Physical note

“The Weeping Wish” appears in a different hand than the main scribe of the manuscript. This is one of several poems labeled with a date, though it is unclear whether this poem commemorates a specific event. The Hope [Poem 65], which is an apostrophe to Death, is also dated January 1665. Compare also to The Wish [Poem 52], which combines astronomical imagery with wishing to very different effect.
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

I have modernized spelling and punctuation in this poem with the aim of enhancing clarity and readability. The notes gloss unfamiliar words and provide cultural and literary contexts. The notes gloss unfamiliar words and provide cultural and literary contexts.
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

Each octave of “The Weeping Wish” expresses the speaker’s desire to transform her tears into something more powerful: comets to illuminate the night; flowers which would make her famous; medicine for her friends. She also wishes that the sighs accompanying those tears might reach God. In her tearful seeking of such connections with God, posterity, and friends, the speaker appears alone in a sadness which, by the poem’s end, appears life-threatening.
The poem’s preoccupation with how tears might “turn”—the root of “verse”—into something more links to its self-reflexive concern with the speaker’s “story,” in which her sighs might be identified with poems like this one (since her emblems are figured, a few pages later, as the “sighs of a sad soul”). Similarly, her imagined tear-formed flowers would have been recognizable to her readers as both poetic and medicinal. It seems possible, then, that a poem that first seems hopelessly ambitious in its desire not only to brighten the speaker’s dark mood but speak to God, immortalize her memory, and remedy her friends, might actually (if figuratively) accomplish many if not all of its aims.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

“The Weeping Wish” consists of three, eight-line stanzas, each of which explores a different component of the speaker’s wish that her tears might be transformed into a force powerful enough to intercede on behalf of herself and others. In the first stanza, the speaker wills her tears to become comets, numerous enough to transform the night sky into the brightest of days, a function that Pulter elsewhere attributes to the intercessor figure, “To Aurora [1]” (Poem 22). The second and third stanzas explore the life-giving power of tears. In the second stanza, the speaker desires the power of two pagan gods (Apollo and Iris), whose tears each have the power to create life, and in the third, the speaker’s “dying” tears become a cordial that promises life to her friends through her death, a desire that positions the speaker as a Christ figure. “The Weeping Wish” suggests a reconsideration of the metaphysical conceit; while the poem can be read as an extended metaphor, the speaker’s wishes seek to confound distinctions between literal and figurative.
Amplified Edition
Line number 2

 Critical note

Pulter’s speaker wills her tears to be transformed into comets. Comets were often considered bad omens, and their periodicity was not understood by European scientists until the predictions of Edmond Halley in the eighteenth century. Pulter’s speaker, however, far from identifying the comet as a bad omen, imagines her comet-tears to be so numerous that they will transform night into day. In this respect, Pulter’s image resembles Margaret Cavendish’s description of the sky of the Blazing World in her utopian text, The Description of a New World Called the Blazing World (1666): "But they answer’d, that they could perceive in that World none other but Blazing-Stars, and from thence it had the name that it was called the Blazing-world; and these Blazing-stars, said they, were such solid, firm, and shining bodies as the Sun and the Moon, not of a Globular, but of several sorts of figures, some had tails, and some other kinds of shapes." (Paper Bodies: A Margaret Cavendish Reader. Ed. Sylvia Bowerbank and Sara Mendelson. (Broadview, 2000), p. 167.)
Elemental Edition
Line number 3

 Gloss note

luminous
Amplified Edition
Line number 3

 Gloss note

brilliant or luminous and manifest or evident (see OED illustrious, adj. 1 and 2)
Transcription
Line number 4

 Physical note

“d” written over smudge or other letter, perhaps “l”
Elemental Edition
Line number 6

 Gloss note

The pole is the point of reference in the sky around which stars appear to revolve, or the point at which the earth’s axis meets heavens (derived from Ptolemy).
Amplified Edition
Line number 6

 Gloss note

one of two points in the sky about which the stars appear to revolve (see OED pole, n.2. 2.)
Amplified Edition
Line number 7

 Critical note

Pulter frequently aestheticizes the events of her life as a “story.” For one of many examples, see “Aletheia’s Pearl” (Poem 32) where the speaker’s patron, Aletheia (Truth), reads her “sad story” in the book of fate.
Amplified Edition
Line number 10

 Critical note

Pulter references Apollo’s transformation of Hyacinth into a flower after his death. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Apollo’s tears stain the flower’s petals (10.143-219).
Elemental Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

The poet takes Hadassah as her pseudonym in the manuscript; the name is the Hebrew version of Esther, which is, in turn, a version of Hester.
Amplified Edition
Line number 11

 Critical note

The manuscript in which this poem is found is titled “Poems Breathed Forth by The Noble Hadassah,” a pen-name that refers to Pulter’s own name (Hester) as well as the Biblical heroine Queen Esther. The Book of Esther tells how Queen Esther revealed Haman’s plot against the Jews. As a result, the king ordered Haman to be hanged and the Jews were saved. Esther is celebrated as a hero of her people, and her actions are commemorated in the holiday of Purim. Here Pulter’s speaker suggests that if her tears could have the power to give life—as Apollo’s did when he transformed a dead boy into a living flower—her fame would exceed that of Artemisia, who was known for her exemplary mourning.
Elemental Edition
Line number 12

 Gloss note

This name is possibly in reference to the ruler in the 4th century BCE who memorialized her husband (Mausolus) with the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, which was renowned as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world
Amplified Edition
Line number 12

 Critical note

This is likely a reference to Artemisia II (d. 350 BCE) who was famous for her extraordinary grief after her husband’s death. She constructed the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and was reputed to have mixed his ashes into her drink. Boccaccio included her biography in De mulieribus claris (“On Famous Women”), praising her as a model of chaste widowhood.
Amplified Edition
Line number 13

 Critical note

Iris is the name of the Greek goddess of the rainbow and of a common genus of flowering plant. Pulter explores the lore of the iris, including the legend that the “tears” of the iris propagate new plants, in “The Garden, or The Contention of the Flowers” (Poem 12).
Elemental Edition
Line number 14

 Critical note

Eardley notes the early modern tendency to conflate the iris with the lily; of the latter, Philemon Holland writes in his translation of Pliny’s natural history, “they will come up of the very liquor that distilleth and droppeth from them.” The History of the World (London, 1601), 2.84. In alchemy, “salt” was supposed to be one of the ultimate elements of all substances.
Elemental Edition
Line number 15

 Gloss note

fruitless
Amplified Edition
Line number 16

 Critical note

Pulter’s speaker acknowledges that her tears do not have the miraculous effect of her wish. Instead her tears are “abortive” (“failing to produce viable offspring” and “unsuccessful; useless, wasted” OED adj. 1c.; 2.) and unable to assuage a past grief. The references to flowers and unsuccessful birth in this stanza suggest that the “lost joys” Pulter’s speaker will not see again refer to Pulter’s deceased daughters, who are associated with flowers in “The Garden, or The Contention of the Flowers” (Poem 12) as well as in the elegy “Upon the Death of my Dear and Lovely Daughter, Jane Pulter” (Poem 10).
Elemental Edition
Line number 17

 Gloss note

A bezoar is a hard substance that forms in the stomach or intestines of some animals (like the “hart,” or deer, here) and was considered an antidote to poison.
Amplified Edition
Line number 17

 Critical note

referring specifically to a “stone” created in the organs of certain animals, including the deer. The term bezoar now refers to a mass formed as a reaction to indigestible material in almost any animal (including humans), but in the early modern period, the bezoar was highly valued because it was believed to act as an antidote or counter-poison. See Maria Do Sameiro Barrosa, “Bezoar stones, magic, science, and art” in A History of Geology and Medicine, ed. C.J Duffin et. al. (Geological Society of London, 2013), pp. 193-207. Recent testing shows that bezoars can remove certain poisons because some compounds in arsenic bind with the sulphur compounds in the degraded hair that is a component of many bezoars (Barrosa 206).
Elemental Edition
Line number 19

 Gloss note

medicine
Amplified Edition
Line number 23

 Gloss note

“Of medicines, food, or beverages: Stimulating, ‘comforting,’ or invigorating to the heart; restorative, reviving cheering” (OED n. 2.a.). The speaker imagines that her tears will produce a “cordial” that will do her friends “good” as the bezoar does.
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