This Poor Turtledove (Emblem 20)

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This Poor Turtledove (Emblem 20)

Poem #85

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 Elizabeth Kolkovich.

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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 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 9

 Physical note

“t” may be written over earlier “r”
Line number 11

 Physical note

in left margin: “This Monster liv’d / wthin 2 Miles of – / Amsterdam, Shee – / Survivd 24 Huſbands / My Unckle Edw: P: / did know her”
Line number 15

 Physical note

in left margin: “St: Jerom rembers - / (w:th a holy Scorn) yt. / hee sam a couple – / Maried in Room ye / Man had had 20 Wives / ye Woman 22 Huſbands / It was in the days of / Pope Damaſcus / Doct: Duns sermon / on Easter Day fol: 217”
Line number 25

 Physical note

“s” appears imperfectly blotted or erased
Line number 41

 Physical note

imperfectly erased apostrophe
Line number 48

 Physical note

first “n” crowded between surrounding letters in darker ink
Line number 50

 Physical note

first “e” added in a different hand
Line number 51

 Physical note

imperfectly erased descender visible below “w”
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
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Transcription

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[Emblem 20]
This Poor Turtledove
(Emblem 20)
Turtledove (Emblem 20)
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
In my editions, I prioritize accessibility and multiple interpretive possibilities. To prepare these poems for a wide range of readers, I have modernized erratic early modern spelling, punctuation, and capitalization to conform to standard American usage. I gloss archaic definitions and confusing syntax, and I expand contractions, unless needed to maintain the integrity of the poem’s form. My notes investigate how Pulter’s poems engage with the literature and culture of mid-seventeenth-century England. At the same time, I emphasize how her poems are unique, how they respond to one another and seem to reveal their author’s individual circumstances and philosophies. When a note relies on Alice Eardley’s edition of Pulter’s Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter, 2014), I cite her text generally as “Eardley.” Although my own interests guide my editorial decisions, I aim to facilitate multiple readings rather than to direct interpretation in a restrictive way. It is worth noting that although Pulter’s poems survive in only one known source, they are not necessarily stable texts. The source manuscript features variants and revisions that invite multiple interpretations. I encourage readers to refer to the manuscript transcriptions and images on this site; my notes alert readers when the manuscript’s original spelling or physical features are especially worth considering.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
“This monster … survived twenty-four husbands. My uncle Edward P. did know her.” This marginal note appears in the scribal hand, but is surely in Pulter’s voice; we might therefore feel entitled to presume she proffers herself as both exemplar and counsellor to the women she addresses: “pass your idle times / As I do now, in writing harmless rhymes.” While a widowed bird, loyal to her dead mate, is this rhyme’s opening focus, Pulter’s attention soon shifts from birds to beasts in human form, such as the prolifically wedded woman her uncle once knew. Both the male and female of the species come in for scorn: the men for rambling and gambling in seedy city locales—parks, theaters, taverns—and their wives for following them there. Women are instead enjoined to be loyal like the turtledove: but wouldn’t such loyalty precisely entail following their mates, wherever they might go? Not by Pulter’s lights: her plan calls for staying home and being loyal in love primarily to God. Yet, as so often in Pulter’s verse, this emblem also resists the confinement of such a life, most notably (and startlingly) in characterizing the repeated widowing of the “Belgic beast” as enfranchisement, and marriage as slavery.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This poem invites readers to imagine the turtledove (a small, timid, migratory bird with a plaintive song) as a model of loyalty and mourning. It advises widows to guard their sexual reputations by remaining chaste and avoiding places of ill repute, but also to embrace the creative freedom and time for religious devotion that widowhood enables. The poem is part of a section in Pulter’s manuscript titled “Emblems.” Emblem books were popular in early modern Europe, especially as teaching tools, but few women wrote in the genre. Although emblems typically combine a symbolic picture with text to create a pithy moral message, Pulter’s emblems include no images. Her turtledove emblem embraces the genre’s emphasis on moral instruction but refers more explicitly to contemporary politics and society, including allusions to specific English women and London sites. Toward the end of the poem, Pulter draws attention to her position as a female author when she advises other women to find pleasure in writing “harmless rhymes” as she does. Whereas Pulter writes often to or about her children, she rarely writes about her husband. Together with her description of her nuptial bed and Arthur’s nobility, beauty, and virtue in their early years together in A Solitary Discourse [Poem 44], the following poem is also noteworthy for its insistence that she models marital constancy. Although other Pulter poems prefer the country to London, this emblem’s recommendation that women should remain at home seems odd coming from a poet who regularly lamented her own seclusion at her country estate. We could interpret this poem as rationalizing her own experience or as exposing the limits of a biographical reading that privileges a consistent writing subject.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
20Who can but pitty this poor Turtle Dove
Who can but pity this poor turtledove,
Who can but pity this poor
Critical Note
Pulter elsewhere describes the turtledove as a widow, “Who mourning sits upon a withered spray” (Of a Young Lady at Oxford, 1646 [Poem 43], line 11) and as “The mild and tenderhearted turtledove / That was so constant to her only love / Though she resolves to have no second mate, / Yet she her flight about the air doth take” (Why Must I Thus Forever Be Confined [Poem 57], lines 65-68). Pulter might have drawn on Biblical references that associate the turtledove with poverty, pity, and lamentation. The Psalms provide a pertinent example of mourning turtledoves who escape a sinful city (Psalm 55:1-11, King James Version), along with the line: “O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove unto the multitude of the wicked: forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever” (Psalm 74:19, King James Version). Pulter also might have been familiar with Philemon Holland’s English translation of Pliny’s Natural History, which describes doves as devoted to their mates.
turtledove
,
2
Which was Soe kind and conſtant to her Love
Which was so kind and constant to her love?
Which was so
Gloss Note
loving and considerate, possibly with a hint of submission: obliging, agreeable
kind
and constant to her love?
3
And Since his Death his loſs She doth Deplore
And, since his death, his loss
Gloss Note
the turtledove of the poem’s first line
she
doth
Gloss Note
lament
deplore
;
And since his death, his loss she doth
Gloss Note
mourn; bewail
deplore
;
4
ffor his dear Sake She’el never Couple more
For his dear sake she’ll never
Gloss Note
mate
couple
more.
For his dear sake, she’ll never couple more.
5
When others Wanton blood doth Nimbly fflow
When others’
Gloss Note
The word has many interrelated and relevant connotations: undisciplined; rebellious; without regard for justice, propriety, or the feelings or rights of others; lustful; moving as if alive; free, playful; wasteful; frivolous, pleasure-seeking.
wanton
blood doth nimbly flow,
When others’
Gloss Note
reckless, lively, frivolous, or lustful
wanton
blood doth nimbly flow,
6
Warm’d with the Spring, hers then runs cool and Slow
Warmed with the spring, hers then runs cool and slow.
Warmed with the spring, hers then runs cool and slow.
7
Nor Vallentine though t’is A Tempting Tide
Critical Note
Valentine’s Day is portrayed as a time (“tide”) when it is “tempting” for birds to mate; the day is similarly portrayed in Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls, in which Valentine is the patron saint of mating birds.
Nor Valentine, though ’tis a tempting tide
,
Gloss Note
Valentine’s Day tempts others to mate.
Nor Valentine, though ’tis a tempting tide
,
8
Can make her Say her Chast Reſolv’s aſide
Can make her
Critical Note
Eardley interprets “say” as a scribal error for “lay,” and “resolve’s” as “resolves.” Our thanks to Liza Blake for pointing out the alternative interpretation we offer.
say
Gloss Note
i.e., cannot make the turtledove say that her resolution to be chaste (faithful to her late mate) is set aside.
her chaste resolve’s aside
Critical Note
These seasonal temptations cannot make the turtledove rethink her vow of chastity. Eardley emends to “lay her chaste resolves aside”; I prefer the manuscript’s emphasis (with “say”) on the turtledove’s voice.
Can make her say her chaste resolve’s aside
.
9
Physical Note
“t” may be written over earlier “r”
Not
like that Wanton and Licentious Bird
Not like that wanton and
Gloss Note
unchaste
licentious
Critical Note
No species of licentious bird is specified in this contrast with the chaste turtledove, although a particular species is implied in the phrasing. The sparrow was frequently associated with lust in other texts of the period, such as An history of the wonderful things of nature, which calls the sparrow “the lust fullest almost of all Birds” (Joannes Jonstonus, 1657, p. 190).
bird
Not like that wanton and
Critical Note
From Pulter’s other poetry, we might speculate that this unspecified wanton bird is a cuckoo or a sparrow. The Cuckoo (Emblem 29) [Poem 94] and Why Must I Thus Forever Be Confined [Poem 57] condemn the cuckoo’s selfish, indulgent behavior; Must I Thus Forever Indicted Be [Poem 55] refers to “The wanton sparrow, and the chaster dove” (line 10).
licentious bird
10
Who looſing one a Second and A Third
Who, losing
Gloss Note
one mate
one
, a second, and a third,
Who, losing one, a second, and a third,
11
Physical Note
in left margin: “This Monster liv’d / wthin 2 Miles of – / Amsterdam, Shee – / Survivd 24 Huſbands / My Unckle Edw: P: / did know her”
Like
that Prodigious, Bedlam, Belgick, Beast,
Critical Note
A note in the left margin reads: “This monster lived within two miles of Amsterdam; she survived twenty-four husbands. My uncle Edward P. did know her.” “Prodigious” here means unnatural, abnormal, or extreme and prolific, and “bedlam” means mad or foolish, with reference to the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem, an asylum for the mentally ill in London. “Belgic” refers to the Low Countries generally (including modern Netherlands and Belgium). Alice Eardley notes that Pulter’s husband had an uncle Edward who lived in Amsterdam.
Like that prodigious, bedlam, Belgic beast
,
Like that
Gloss Note
freakishly abnormal
prodigious
,
Gloss Note
fit for Bedlam, the lunatic asylum of the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem in London
bedlam
,
Gloss Note
Netherlandish
Belgic
Critical Note
Marginal notes in Pulter’s manuscript explain that this “beast” was based on a real woman, whom her Uncle Edward knew, who lived near Amsterdam and survived twenty-four husbands. Pulter’s description is also informed by her reading of John Donne’s sermons. A note in the manuscript says: “St. Jerome remembers (with a holy scorn) that he saw a couple married in Rome: the man had had 20 wives, the woman 22 husbands. It was in the days of Pope Damascus. Doct. Donne’s sermon on Easter Day, folio 217.” Donne indeed included this anecdote in an Easter sermon, printed on page 217 of LXXX Sermons Preached by that Reverend and Learned Doctor John Donne (1640).
beast
,
12
Who had a Score of Huſbands at the least
Who had
Gloss Note
twenty
a score
of husbands at the least:
Who had a
Gloss Note
twenty
score
of husbands at the least.
13
A bitter Thraldome Shee deſerves to have
A bitter
Gloss Note
enslavement
thralldom
she deserves to have,
A bitter
Gloss Note
captivity
thralldom
she deserves to have,
14
Who being ffreed Soe Oft, would bee A Slave
Who, being freed so oft, would be a slave!
Who, being freed so oft, would be a slave,
15
Physical Note
in left margin: “St: Jerom rembers - / (w:th a holy Scorn) yt. / hee sam a couple – / Maried in Room ye / Man had had 20 Wives / ye Woman 22 Huſbands / It was in the days of / Pope Damaſcus / Doct: Duns sermon / on Easter Day fol: 217”
Shame
of her Sex! Oh let her Loathed Name
Physical Note
A note in the left margin reads, “St. Jerome remembers (with a holy scorn) that he saw a couple married in Rome: the man had had twenty wives, the woman twenty-two husbands. It was in the days of Pope Damascus.” The note cites as its source “Doctor [John] Donne’s sermon on Easter Day, fol. 217.”
Shame of her sex!
O, let her loathéd name
Shame of her sex! O, let her loathéd name
16
Bee ne’re inroled in the Booke of ffame.
Be ne’er enrolléd in the
Critical Note
the idea, prevalent in the period, of an imaginary record of those deserving the honour of permanent cultural memory (Sarah Wall-Randell, The Immaterial Book: Reading and Romance in Early Modern England [University of Michigan Press, 2013], p. 6).
book of fame
;
Be ne’er enrolléd in the book of fame,
17
But let Alcestis, and Artimitius, Story
But let
Gloss Note
In Greek myth, Alcestis agrees to die in her husband’s place.
Alcestis’s
and
Gloss Note
Artemesia (“Artimitius” in the manuscript) was the wife of King Mausolus, for whom she built a monument at Halicarnassus considered among the seven wonders of the world.
Artimitius’s
story
But let
Gloss Note
Alcestis and Artemisia, both married to kings in Greek mythology, serve as examples of especially devoted wives. Alcestis volunteered to die in her husband’s place, and Artemisia built an impressive burial monument for her husband that became one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Alcestis’s and Artemisia’s story
18
Bee Still Remembred to her endles Glory
Be still remembered to her endless glory.
Be still remembered to her endless glory.
19
Some Deboras, and Annas, Sure have been
Some
Gloss Note
In the Bible, Deborah was a prophet, judge, and military leader who inspired the Israelite army to defeat the Canaanites (Judges 4-5, KJV).
Deborahs
and
Gloss Note
In the Bible, the prophet Anna was a devout widow for 84 years (Luke 2:36-7, KJV).
Annas
sure have been,
Some
Gloss Note
Deborah and Anna are devout Biblical prophets. Deborah was a judge and military leader; long-time widow Anna dedicated herself to fasting and prayer.
Deborahs and Annas
sure have been,
20
But in this Age of ours few Such are Seen
But in this age of ours, few such are seen.
But in this age of ours, few such are seen.
21
Then Ladyes imitate this Turtle Dove
Then, ladies, imitate this turtledove,
Critical Note
Because Pulter writes directly to her children in other poems, the “ladies” here might be her daughters, but this emblem appears to imagine a broader audience of genteel women.
Then, ladies, imitate this turtledove
,
22
And Constant bee unto one onely Love
And constant be unto one only love.
And constant be unto one only love.
then

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23
Then if your Husſbands Rant it high and Game
Then if your husbands
Gloss Note
be boisterously or uproariously merry; lead a riotous or dissolute life
rant it
high, and
Gloss Note
possibly, gamble or waste money and time in pastimes; in this context, more likely the obsolete connotation of indulging in amorous or flirtatious play
game
,
Then if your husbands
Gloss Note
To “rant it high” is to talk wildly, dance merrily, sing loudly, or revel in grandiose ways.
rant it high
and
Gloss Note
to sport, gamble, or flirt
game
,
24
Beſure you Double not their Guilt and Shame
Be sure you double not their guilt and shame!
Gloss Note
This line advises wives not to “double” (amplify) their husbands’ shame by nagging, but also not to “double” (duplicate) their husbands’ bad behavior.
Be sure you double not their guilt and shame
.
25
Leave of Hide Park, Hanes, Oxford Johns and
Physical Note
“s” appears imperfectly blotted or erased
Kates
Leave off
Critical Note
Eardley suggests “Hanes” might be a scribal error for “James,” with reference to St. James’s Park: like Hyde Park, a public place in London of some ill repute.
Hyde Park, Hanes
,
Critical Note
In Pulter’s manuscript, “Kate” is followed by a partially blotted “s,” which suggested the possessive but did not suit the rhyme. The dissolute speaker in Edmund Gayton’s Wil[l] Bagnal’s Ghost[,] Or the Merry Devill of Gadmunton in his Perambulation of the Prisons of London (London, 1655) exclaims, “O Oxford John’s O Oxford Kates” when reminiscing about dishes “which I last night did vomit all up” (p. 10); the impression, there as here, is that these are taverns in London with a low reputation. The same author, in The Art of Longevity, or, A Diaeteticall Instit[ut]ion (London, 1659), praises “dear Oxford Kate” (a name which puns on “cate,” a term for a delicacy) for food and drink which “at the length will bring us unto Dis,” or hell (p. 42).
Oxford John’s and Kate
Leave off
Critical Note
Along with those mentioned in the next line, these are public places in London that attracted pleasure-seekers. Hyde Park was a pleasure garden; in The Invitation into the Country [Poem 2], Pulter calls it “a place of chief delight.” I agree with Eardley that “Hanes” is probably a scribal error for “James,” or St. James’s Park. Oxford Kate’s was a London tavern, and Oxford John’s might have been one as well. The poem implies that all four locations were places of ill repute.
Hyde Park, Hanes, Oxford John’s and Kate
,
26
Spring, Mulbery Garden, let them have a Date
Critical Note
Spring Garden and Mulberry Garden were London parks; in 1654 John Evelyn in his diary referred to Mulberry Garden as “now the only place of refreshment about the town for persons of the best quality to be exceedingly cheated at; Cromwell and his partisans having shut up and seized on Spring Gardens, which till now had been the usual rendezvous for ladies and gallants at this season.” Charles Knight, London (1841), p. 192.
Spring, Mulberry Garden
: let them
Gloss Note
be finished
have a date
.
Critical Note
Spring Garden and Mulberry Garden were London parks. The speaker recommends an end “date” for their use for sinful behavior. The Invitation into the Country [Poem 2] refers to Spring Garden as breeding “pleasures” and advises Pulter’s daughters Margaret and Penelope to escape London in 1647 into the country, where wives are modest. The turtledove emblem, which dates to 1653 or later, returns to the subject of London pleasures with increased scorn.
Spring, Mulberry Garden
: let them have a date.
27
Buy not theſe ffollyes at Soe dear A Rate
Buy not these follies at so
Gloss Note
costly
dear
a rate.
Buy not these
Gloss Note
foolishness, lewdness, or madness
follies
at so dear a rate.
28
Theſe Places I know onely by their names
These places, I know only by their names,
These places I know only by their names,
29
But t’is theſe places which doe blast your ffames
But ’tis these places which do blast your
Gloss Note
reputations
fames
.
But ’tis these places which do blast your fames.
30
Who would with their dear Reputation part
Who would with their dear reputation part
Who would with their dear reputation part
31
To eat a Scurvey Cheeſcak or A Tart
To eat a
Gloss Note
worthless; diseased
scurvy
cheescake or a tart?
To eat a
Gloss Note
vile; shabby
scurvy
cheesecake or a tart?
32
ffor Such poor follyes who A broad would Roame
For such poor follies who abroad would roam?
For such poor follies, who abroad would roam?
33
Have wee not better every day at home
Have we not better every day at home?
Gloss Note
London parks had tea houses that sold cheesecakes, tarts, and other treats (Eardley); this line advises women to eat and entertain themselves at home to avoid temptation and scandal.
Have we not better every day at home?
34
They Say to plays and Taverns Some doe goe
They say, to plays and taverns some do go;
They say to plays and taverns some do go;
35
I say noe Modest Ladyes will doe Soe
I say, no modest ladies will do so.
I say no modest ladies will do so.
36
Though Countis, Dutchis, or Protectors, Daughter,
Though countess, duchess, or
Gloss Note
Lord Protector was the title assumed in 1653 by Oliver Cromwell as head of state. Alice Eardley notes that the eldest of his four daughters, Bridget (1624–62), married her second husband—whom she met in St. James’s Park—only six months after the first had died.
Protector’s daughter
Though countess, duchess, or
Critical Note
Oliver Cromwell held the title of Lord Protector from December 1653 until his death in September 1658. He had four daughters. The eldest, Bridget, met her second husband in St. James’s Park and married him only six months after the death of her first husband (Eardley); Cromwell’s second daughter, Elizabeth, had a reputation for being spoiled and indulgent (Stefan Graham Christian, “The Poems of Lady Hester Pulter [1605?-1678]: An Annotated Edition” [PhD diss., U of Massachusetts Amherst, 2012], 35).
Protector’s daughter
37
Those Places haunt, their ffollyes Run not after
Gloss Note
Though noble ladies haunt those places, do not run after their follies.
Those places haunt, their follies run not after
.
Those places haunt, their follies run not after.
38
Bee Modest then and follow mine advice
Be modest then, and follow mine advice:
Be modest then and follow mine advice;
39
You’l find that vertue’s Pleaſanter then Vice
You’ll find that virtue’s pleasanter than vice.
You’ll find that virtue’s pleasanter than vice.
40
Yet Anchorites I would not have you turn
Yet
Gloss Note
persons secluded from the world for religious reasons
anchorites
I would not have you turn,
Yet
Gloss Note
hermits
anchorites
I would not have you turn,
41
Nor Halcions,
Physical Note
imperfectly erased apostrophe
nor
bee your Huſbands Urn
Nor
Gloss Note
In classical myth, the halcyon was a bird thought to breed in a nest floating at sea and magically calming the wind and waves when brooding; the isolation of the nest is implicitly likened to other constrained and constraining situations in surrounding phrases.
halcyons
, nor be your
Gloss Note
The allusion may again be to Artemesia (see note on "Artimitius’s"), who drank her husband’s ashes, or may simply indicate that one need not mourn forever (as the urn does).
husband’s urn
;
Nor
Gloss Note
birds fabled to breed in a nest floating at sea in winter and to calm the waves. The speaker imagines (and rejects) a model of marriage in which an isolated wife only produces children and calms those around her. Likewise, widows can remain constant without completely isolating themselves.
halcyons
,
Gloss Note
Widows should not see themselves merely as vessels for their husbands’ memory.
nor be your husband’s urn
,
42
But Chastly live and Rather Spend yor dayes
But chastely live, and rather spend your days
But chastely live and rather spend your days
43
In Setting fforth Your great Creator’s praiſe
In setting forth your great Creator’s praise;
In setting forth your great Creator’s praise,
44
And for diverſion pass your I’dle times
And, for diversion, pass your idle times
And for diversion pass your idle times
45
As I doe now in writeing harmles Rimes
As I do now, in writing harmless rhymes.
Critical Note
Many early modern women writers used “modesty tropes,” a strategy Patricia Pender examines at length in Early Modern Women’s Writing and the Rhetoric of Modesty (Palgrave, 2012). Pulter employs one here as she argues that writing “harmless” poetry facilitates modesty by preventing feminine idleness.
As I do now, in writing harmless rhymes
.
46
Then for your Honnours, and your fair Souls Sake,
Then, for your honors’ and your fair souls’ sake,
Gloss Note
The speaker stresses the value of her advice by identifying the stakes as high: a woman’s reputation and eternal resting place.
Then for your honor’s and your fair soul’s sake
,
47
Both my example, and my Councell take,
Both my example and my counsel take.
Both my example and my counsel take:
48
Physical Note
first “n” crowded between surrounding letters in darker ink
Infine
love God, the fountain of all good
Gloss Note
in sum
In fine
, love God, the fountain of all good,
Gloss Note
In sum; to conclude
In fine
, love God, the fountain of all good,
49
Next thoſe ahe’d by Mariage, Grace, and blood,
Next those ahead by marriage, grace, and blood,
Next
Gloss Note
in a more advanced position. Eardley emends to “allied.”
those ahead
by marriage, grace, and blood,
50
Physical Note
first “e” added in a different hand
Toelets
live here in Chast and vertuous love
To let’s live here, in chaste and virtuous love,
Gloss Note
To let us. The speaker says that looking first to God and second to appropriate role models will enable “us” (the speaker and other women) to live virtuously. Eardley emends to “So let’s live here.”
To let’s
live here in chaste and virtuous love,
51
As
Physical Note
imperfectly erased descender visible below “w”
wee’le
goe on Eternally above
Gloss Note
The instruction is for readers to love God first, and then those directly in front of us (“ahead”) here on earth (our families) in order to let us live now as we will in the afterlife. “Next” bore other relevant connotations: it could mean nearest, immediately neighboring, closest in kinship or other association, or following in birth, rank, authority.
As we’ll go on eternally above
.
As we’ll go on eternally above.
52
Then o my God Aſſist mee with thy Grace
Then O, my God, assist me with Thy grace,
Then, O my God, assist me with Thy grace,
53
That when I die I may but chang my place.
That, when I die, I may but change my place.
That when I die, I may but change my place.
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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 monster … survived twenty-four husbands. My uncle Edward P. did know her.” This marginal note appears in the scribal hand, but is surely in Pulter’s voice; we might therefore feel entitled to presume she proffers herself as both exemplar and counsellor to the women she addresses: “pass your idle times / As I do now, in writing harmless rhymes.” While a widowed bird, loyal to her dead mate, is this rhyme’s opening focus, Pulter’s attention soon shifts from birds to beasts in human form, such as the prolifically wedded woman her uncle once knew. Both the male and female of the species come in for scorn: the men for rambling and gambling in seedy city locales—parks, theaters, taverns—and their wives for following them there. Women are instead enjoined to be loyal like the turtledove: but wouldn’t such loyalty precisely entail following their mates, wherever they might go? Not by Pulter’s lights: her plan calls for staying home and being loyal in love primarily to God. Yet, as so often in Pulter’s verse, this emblem also resists the confinement of such a life, most notably (and startlingly) in characterizing the repeated widowing of the “Belgic beast” as enfranchisement, and marriage as slavery.
Line number 3

 Gloss note

the turtledove of the poem’s first line
Line number 3

 Gloss note

lament
Line number 4

 Gloss note

mate
Line number 5

 Gloss note

The word has many interrelated and relevant connotations: undisciplined; rebellious; without regard for justice, propriety, or the feelings or rights of others; lustful; moving as if alive; free, playful; wasteful; frivolous, pleasure-seeking.
Line number 7

 Critical note

Valentine’s Day is portrayed as a time (“tide”) when it is “tempting” for birds to mate; the day is similarly portrayed in Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls, in which Valentine is the patron saint of mating birds.
Line number 8

 Critical note

Eardley interprets “say” as a scribal error for “lay,” and “resolve’s” as “resolves.” Our thanks to Liza Blake for pointing out the alternative interpretation we offer.
Line number 8

 Gloss note

i.e., cannot make the turtledove say that her resolution to be chaste (faithful to her late mate) is set aside.
Line number 9

 Gloss note

unchaste
Line number 9

 Critical note

No species of licentious bird is specified in this contrast with the chaste turtledove, although a particular species is implied in the phrasing. The sparrow was frequently associated with lust in other texts of the period, such as An history of the wonderful things of nature, which calls the sparrow “the lust fullest almost of all Birds” (Joannes Jonstonus, 1657, p. 190).
Line number 10

 Gloss note

one mate
Line number 11

 Critical note

A note in the left margin reads: “This monster lived within two miles of Amsterdam; she survived twenty-four husbands. My uncle Edward P. did know her.” “Prodigious” here means unnatural, abnormal, or extreme and prolific, and “bedlam” means mad or foolish, with reference to the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem, an asylum for the mentally ill in London. “Belgic” refers to the Low Countries generally (including modern Netherlands and Belgium). Alice Eardley notes that Pulter’s husband had an uncle Edward who lived in Amsterdam.
Line number 12

 Gloss note

twenty
Line number 13

 Gloss note

enslavement
Line number 15

 Physical note

A note in the left margin reads, “St. Jerome remembers (with a holy scorn) that he saw a couple married in Rome: the man had had twenty wives, the woman twenty-two husbands. It was in the days of Pope Damascus.” The note cites as its source “Doctor [John] Donne’s sermon on Easter Day, fol. 217.”
Line number 16

 Critical note

the idea, prevalent in the period, of an imaginary record of those deserving the honour of permanent cultural memory (Sarah Wall-Randell, The Immaterial Book: Reading and Romance in Early Modern England [University of Michigan Press, 2013], p. 6).
Line number 17

 Gloss note

In Greek myth, Alcestis agrees to die in her husband’s place.
Line number 17

 Gloss note

Artemesia (“Artimitius” in the manuscript) was the wife of King Mausolus, for whom she built a monument at Halicarnassus considered among the seven wonders of the world.
Line number 19

 Gloss note

In the Bible, Deborah was a prophet, judge, and military leader who inspired the Israelite army to defeat the Canaanites (Judges 4-5, KJV).
Line number 19

 Gloss note

In the Bible, the prophet Anna was a devout widow for 84 years (Luke 2:36-7, KJV).
Line number 23

 Gloss note

be boisterously or uproariously merry; lead a riotous or dissolute life
Line number 23

 Gloss note

possibly, gamble or waste money and time in pastimes; in this context, more likely the obsolete connotation of indulging in amorous or flirtatious play
Line number 25

 Critical note

Eardley suggests “Hanes” might be a scribal error for “James,” with reference to St. James’s Park: like Hyde Park, a public place in London of some ill repute.
Line number 25

 Critical note

In Pulter’s manuscript, “Kate” is followed by a partially blotted “s,” which suggested the possessive but did not suit the rhyme. The dissolute speaker in Edmund Gayton’s Wil[l] Bagnal’s Ghost[,] Or the Merry Devill of Gadmunton in his Perambulation of the Prisons of London (London, 1655) exclaims, “O Oxford John’s O Oxford Kates” when reminiscing about dishes “which I last night did vomit all up” (p. 10); the impression, there as here, is that these are taverns in London with a low reputation. The same author, in The Art of Longevity, or, A Diaeteticall Instit[ut]ion (London, 1659), praises “dear Oxford Kate” (a name which puns on “cate,” a term for a delicacy) for food and drink which “at the length will bring us unto Dis,” or hell (p. 42).
Line number 26

 Critical note

Spring Garden and Mulberry Garden were London parks; in 1654 John Evelyn in his diary referred to Mulberry Garden as “now the only place of refreshment about the town for persons of the best quality to be exceedingly cheated at; Cromwell and his partisans having shut up and seized on Spring Gardens, which till now had been the usual rendezvous for ladies and gallants at this season.” Charles Knight, London (1841), p. 192.
Line number 26

 Gloss note

be finished
Line number 27

 Gloss note

costly
Line number 29

 Gloss note

reputations
Line number 31

 Gloss note

worthless; diseased
Line number 36

 Gloss note

Lord Protector was the title assumed in 1653 by Oliver Cromwell as head of state. Alice Eardley notes that the eldest of his four daughters, Bridget (1624–62), married her second husband—whom she met in St. James’s Park—only six months after the first had died.
Line number 37

 Gloss note

Though noble ladies haunt those places, do not run after their follies.
Line number 40

 Gloss note

persons secluded from the world for religious reasons
Line number 41

 Gloss note

In classical myth, the halcyon was a bird thought to breed in a nest floating at sea and magically calming the wind and waves when brooding; the isolation of the nest is implicitly likened to other constrained and constraining situations in surrounding phrases.
Line number 41

 Gloss note

The allusion may again be to Artemesia (see note on "Artimitius’s"), who drank her husband’s ashes, or may simply indicate that one need not mourn forever (as the urn does).
Line number 48

 Gloss note

in sum
Line number 51

 Gloss note

The instruction is for readers to love God first, and then those directly in front of us (“ahead”) here on earth (our families) in order to let us live now as we will in the afterlife. “Next” bore other relevant connotations: it could mean nearest, immediately neighboring, closest in kinship or other association, or following in birth, rank, authority.
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X (Close panel)Elemental Edition
Elemental Edition

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[Emblem 20]
This Poor Turtledove
(Emblem 20)
Turtledove (Emblem 20)
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
In my editions, I prioritize accessibility and multiple interpretive possibilities. To prepare these poems for a wide range of readers, I have modernized erratic early modern spelling, punctuation, and capitalization to conform to standard American usage. I gloss archaic definitions and confusing syntax, and I expand contractions, unless needed to maintain the integrity of the poem’s form. My notes investigate how Pulter’s poems engage with the literature and culture of mid-seventeenth-century England. At the same time, I emphasize how her poems are unique, how they respond to one another and seem to reveal their author’s individual circumstances and philosophies. When a note relies on Alice Eardley’s edition of Pulter’s Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter, 2014), I cite her text generally as “Eardley.” Although my own interests guide my editorial decisions, I aim to facilitate multiple readings rather than to direct interpretation in a restrictive way. It is worth noting that although Pulter’s poems survive in only one known source, they are not necessarily stable texts. The source manuscript features variants and revisions that invite multiple interpretations. I encourage readers to refer to the manuscript transcriptions and images on this site; my notes alert readers when the manuscript’s original spelling or physical features are especially worth considering.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
“This monster … survived twenty-four husbands. My uncle Edward P. did know her.” This marginal note appears in the scribal hand, but is surely in Pulter’s voice; we might therefore feel entitled to presume she proffers herself as both exemplar and counsellor to the women she addresses: “pass your idle times / As I do now, in writing harmless rhymes.” While a widowed bird, loyal to her dead mate, is this rhyme’s opening focus, Pulter’s attention soon shifts from birds to beasts in human form, such as the prolifically wedded woman her uncle once knew. Both the male and female of the species come in for scorn: the men for rambling and gambling in seedy city locales—parks, theaters, taverns—and their wives for following them there. Women are instead enjoined to be loyal like the turtledove: but wouldn’t such loyalty precisely entail following their mates, wherever they might go? Not by Pulter’s lights: her plan calls for staying home and being loyal in love primarily to God. Yet, as so often in Pulter’s verse, this emblem also resists the confinement of such a life, most notably (and startlingly) in characterizing the repeated widowing of the “Belgic beast” as enfranchisement, and marriage as slavery.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This poem invites readers to imagine the turtledove (a small, timid, migratory bird with a plaintive song) as a model of loyalty and mourning. It advises widows to guard their sexual reputations by remaining chaste and avoiding places of ill repute, but also to embrace the creative freedom and time for religious devotion that widowhood enables. The poem is part of a section in Pulter’s manuscript titled “Emblems.” Emblem books were popular in early modern Europe, especially as teaching tools, but few women wrote in the genre. Although emblems typically combine a symbolic picture with text to create a pithy moral message, Pulter’s emblems include no images. Her turtledove emblem embraces the genre’s emphasis on moral instruction but refers more explicitly to contemporary politics and society, including allusions to specific English women and London sites. Toward the end of the poem, Pulter draws attention to her position as a female author when she advises other women to find pleasure in writing “harmless rhymes” as she does. Whereas Pulter writes often to or about her children, she rarely writes about her husband. Together with her description of her nuptial bed and Arthur’s nobility, beauty, and virtue in their early years together in A Solitary Discourse [Poem 44], the following poem is also noteworthy for its insistence that she models marital constancy. Although other Pulter poems prefer the country to London, this emblem’s recommendation that women should remain at home seems odd coming from a poet who regularly lamented her own seclusion at her country estate. We could interpret this poem as rationalizing her own experience or as exposing the limits of a biographical reading that privileges a consistent writing subject.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
20Who can but pitty this poor Turtle Dove
Who can but pity this poor turtledove,
Who can but pity this poor
Critical Note
Pulter elsewhere describes the turtledove as a widow, “Who mourning sits upon a withered spray” (Of a Young Lady at Oxford, 1646 [Poem 43], line 11) and as “The mild and tenderhearted turtledove / That was so constant to her only love / Though she resolves to have no second mate, / Yet she her flight about the air doth take” (Why Must I Thus Forever Be Confined [Poem 57], lines 65-68). Pulter might have drawn on Biblical references that associate the turtledove with poverty, pity, and lamentation. The Psalms provide a pertinent example of mourning turtledoves who escape a sinful city (Psalm 55:1-11, King James Version), along with the line: “O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove unto the multitude of the wicked: forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever” (Psalm 74:19, King James Version). Pulter also might have been familiar with Philemon Holland’s English translation of Pliny’s Natural History, which describes doves as devoted to their mates.
turtledove
,
2
Which was Soe kind and conſtant to her Love
Which was so kind and constant to her love?
Which was so
Gloss Note
loving and considerate, possibly with a hint of submission: obliging, agreeable
kind
and constant to her love?
3
And Since his Death his loſs She doth Deplore
And, since his death, his loss
Gloss Note
the turtledove of the poem’s first line
she
doth
Gloss Note
lament
deplore
;
And since his death, his loss she doth
Gloss Note
mourn; bewail
deplore
;
4
ffor his dear Sake She’el never Couple more
For his dear sake she’ll never
Gloss Note
mate
couple
more.
For his dear sake, she’ll never couple more.
5
When others Wanton blood doth Nimbly fflow
When others’
Gloss Note
The word has many interrelated and relevant connotations: undisciplined; rebellious; without regard for justice, propriety, or the feelings or rights of others; lustful; moving as if alive; free, playful; wasteful; frivolous, pleasure-seeking.
wanton
blood doth nimbly flow,
When others’
Gloss Note
reckless, lively, frivolous, or lustful
wanton
blood doth nimbly flow,
6
Warm’d with the Spring, hers then runs cool and Slow
Warmed with the spring, hers then runs cool and slow.
Warmed with the spring, hers then runs cool and slow.
7
Nor Vallentine though t’is A Tempting Tide
Critical Note
Valentine’s Day is portrayed as a time (“tide”) when it is “tempting” for birds to mate; the day is similarly portrayed in Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls, in which Valentine is the patron saint of mating birds.
Nor Valentine, though ’tis a tempting tide
,
Gloss Note
Valentine’s Day tempts others to mate.
Nor Valentine, though ’tis a tempting tide
,
8
Can make her Say her Chast Reſolv’s aſide
Can make her
Critical Note
Eardley interprets “say” as a scribal error for “lay,” and “resolve’s” as “resolves.” Our thanks to Liza Blake for pointing out the alternative interpretation we offer.
say
Gloss Note
i.e., cannot make the turtledove say that her resolution to be chaste (faithful to her late mate) is set aside.
her chaste resolve’s aside
Critical Note
These seasonal temptations cannot make the turtledove rethink her vow of chastity. Eardley emends to “lay her chaste resolves aside”; I prefer the manuscript’s emphasis (with “say”) on the turtledove’s voice.
Can make her say her chaste resolve’s aside
.
9
Physical Note
“t” may be written over earlier “r”
Not
like that Wanton and Licentious Bird
Not like that wanton and
Gloss Note
unchaste
licentious
Critical Note
No species of licentious bird is specified in this contrast with the chaste turtledove, although a particular species is implied in the phrasing. The sparrow was frequently associated with lust in other texts of the period, such as An history of the wonderful things of nature, which calls the sparrow “the lust fullest almost of all Birds” (Joannes Jonstonus, 1657, p. 190).
bird
Not like that wanton and
Critical Note
From Pulter’s other poetry, we might speculate that this unspecified wanton bird is a cuckoo or a sparrow. The Cuckoo (Emblem 29) [Poem 94] and Why Must I Thus Forever Be Confined [Poem 57] condemn the cuckoo’s selfish, indulgent behavior; Must I Thus Forever Indicted Be [Poem 55] refers to “The wanton sparrow, and the chaster dove” (line 10).
licentious bird
10
Who looſing one a Second and A Third
Who, losing
Gloss Note
one mate
one
, a second, and a third,
Who, losing one, a second, and a third,
11
Physical Note
in left margin: “This Monster liv’d / wthin 2 Miles of – / Amsterdam, Shee – / Survivd 24 Huſbands / My Unckle Edw: P: / did know her”
Like
that Prodigious, Bedlam, Belgick, Beast,
Critical Note
A note in the left margin reads: “This monster lived within two miles of Amsterdam; she survived twenty-four husbands. My uncle Edward P. did know her.” “Prodigious” here means unnatural, abnormal, or extreme and prolific, and “bedlam” means mad or foolish, with reference to the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem, an asylum for the mentally ill in London. “Belgic” refers to the Low Countries generally (including modern Netherlands and Belgium). Alice Eardley notes that Pulter’s husband had an uncle Edward who lived in Amsterdam.
Like that prodigious, bedlam, Belgic beast
,
Like that
Gloss Note
freakishly abnormal
prodigious
,
Gloss Note
fit for Bedlam, the lunatic asylum of the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem in London
bedlam
,
Gloss Note
Netherlandish
Belgic
Critical Note
Marginal notes in Pulter’s manuscript explain that this “beast” was based on a real woman, whom her Uncle Edward knew, who lived near Amsterdam and survived twenty-four husbands. Pulter’s description is also informed by her reading of John Donne’s sermons. A note in the manuscript says: “St. Jerome remembers (with a holy scorn) that he saw a couple married in Rome: the man had had 20 wives, the woman 22 husbands. It was in the days of Pope Damascus. Doct. Donne’s sermon on Easter Day, folio 217.” Donne indeed included this anecdote in an Easter sermon, printed on page 217 of LXXX Sermons Preached by that Reverend and Learned Doctor John Donne (1640).
beast
,
12
Who had a Score of Huſbands at the least
Who had
Gloss Note
twenty
a score
of husbands at the least:
Who had a
Gloss Note
twenty
score
of husbands at the least.
13
A bitter Thraldome Shee deſerves to have
A bitter
Gloss Note
enslavement
thralldom
she deserves to have,
A bitter
Gloss Note
captivity
thralldom
she deserves to have,
14
Who being ffreed Soe Oft, would bee A Slave
Who, being freed so oft, would be a slave!
Who, being freed so oft, would be a slave,
15
Physical Note
in left margin: “St: Jerom rembers - / (w:th a holy Scorn) yt. / hee sam a couple – / Maried in Room ye / Man had had 20 Wives / ye Woman 22 Huſbands / It was in the days of / Pope Damaſcus / Doct: Duns sermon / on Easter Day fol: 217”
Shame
of her Sex! Oh let her Loathed Name
Physical Note
A note in the left margin reads, “St. Jerome remembers (with a holy scorn) that he saw a couple married in Rome: the man had had twenty wives, the woman twenty-two husbands. It was in the days of Pope Damascus.” The note cites as its source “Doctor [John] Donne’s sermon on Easter Day, fol. 217.”
Shame of her sex!
O, let her loathéd name
Shame of her sex! O, let her loathéd name
16
Bee ne’re inroled in the Booke of ffame.
Be ne’er enrolléd in the
Critical Note
the idea, prevalent in the period, of an imaginary record of those deserving the honour of permanent cultural memory (Sarah Wall-Randell, The Immaterial Book: Reading and Romance in Early Modern England [University of Michigan Press, 2013], p. 6).
book of fame
;
Be ne’er enrolléd in the book of fame,
17
But let Alcestis, and Artimitius, Story
But let
Gloss Note
In Greek myth, Alcestis agrees to die in her husband’s place.
Alcestis’s
and
Gloss Note
Artemesia (“Artimitius” in the manuscript) was the wife of King Mausolus, for whom she built a monument at Halicarnassus considered among the seven wonders of the world.
Artimitius’s
story
But let
Gloss Note
Alcestis and Artemisia, both married to kings in Greek mythology, serve as examples of especially devoted wives. Alcestis volunteered to die in her husband’s place, and Artemisia built an impressive burial monument for her husband that became one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Alcestis’s and Artemisia’s story
18
Bee Still Remembred to her endles Glory
Be still remembered to her endless glory.
Be still remembered to her endless glory.
19
Some Deboras, and Annas, Sure have been
Some
Gloss Note
In the Bible, Deborah was a prophet, judge, and military leader who inspired the Israelite army to defeat the Canaanites (Judges 4-5, KJV).
Deborahs
and
Gloss Note
In the Bible, the prophet Anna was a devout widow for 84 years (Luke 2:36-7, KJV).
Annas
sure have been,
Some
Gloss Note
Deborah and Anna are devout Biblical prophets. Deborah was a judge and military leader; long-time widow Anna dedicated herself to fasting and prayer.
Deborahs and Annas
sure have been,
20
But in this Age of ours few Such are Seen
But in this age of ours, few such are seen.
But in this age of ours, few such are seen.
21
Then Ladyes imitate this Turtle Dove
Then, ladies, imitate this turtledove,
Critical Note
Because Pulter writes directly to her children in other poems, the “ladies” here might be her daughters, but this emblem appears to imagine a broader audience of genteel women.
Then, ladies, imitate this turtledove
,
22
And Constant bee unto one onely Love
And constant be unto one only love.
And constant be unto one only love.
then

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23
Then if your Husſbands Rant it high and Game
Then if your husbands
Gloss Note
be boisterously or uproariously merry; lead a riotous or dissolute life
rant it
high, and
Gloss Note
possibly, gamble or waste money and time in pastimes; in this context, more likely the obsolete connotation of indulging in amorous or flirtatious play
game
,
Then if your husbands
Gloss Note
To “rant it high” is to talk wildly, dance merrily, sing loudly, or revel in grandiose ways.
rant it high
and
Gloss Note
to sport, gamble, or flirt
game
,
24
Beſure you Double not their Guilt and Shame
Be sure you double not their guilt and shame!
Gloss Note
This line advises wives not to “double” (amplify) their husbands’ shame by nagging, but also not to “double” (duplicate) their husbands’ bad behavior.
Be sure you double not their guilt and shame
.
25
Leave of Hide Park, Hanes, Oxford Johns and
Physical Note
“s” appears imperfectly blotted or erased
Kates
Leave off
Critical Note
Eardley suggests “Hanes” might be a scribal error for “James,” with reference to St. James’s Park: like Hyde Park, a public place in London of some ill repute.
Hyde Park, Hanes
,
Critical Note
In Pulter’s manuscript, “Kate” is followed by a partially blotted “s,” which suggested the possessive but did not suit the rhyme. The dissolute speaker in Edmund Gayton’s Wil[l] Bagnal’s Ghost[,] Or the Merry Devill of Gadmunton in his Perambulation of the Prisons of London (London, 1655) exclaims, “O Oxford John’s O Oxford Kates” when reminiscing about dishes “which I last night did vomit all up” (p. 10); the impression, there as here, is that these are taverns in London with a low reputation. The same author, in The Art of Longevity, or, A Diaeteticall Instit[ut]ion (London, 1659), praises “dear Oxford Kate” (a name which puns on “cate,” a term for a delicacy) for food and drink which “at the length will bring us unto Dis,” or hell (p. 42).
Oxford John’s and Kate
Leave off
Critical Note
Along with those mentioned in the next line, these are public places in London that attracted pleasure-seekers. Hyde Park was a pleasure garden; in The Invitation into the Country [Poem 2], Pulter calls it “a place of chief delight.” I agree with Eardley that “Hanes” is probably a scribal error for “James,” or St. James’s Park. Oxford Kate’s was a London tavern, and Oxford John’s might have been one as well. The poem implies that all four locations were places of ill repute.
Hyde Park, Hanes, Oxford John’s and Kate
,
26
Spring, Mulbery Garden, let them have a Date
Critical Note
Spring Garden and Mulberry Garden were London parks; in 1654 John Evelyn in his diary referred to Mulberry Garden as “now the only place of refreshment about the town for persons of the best quality to be exceedingly cheated at; Cromwell and his partisans having shut up and seized on Spring Gardens, which till now had been the usual rendezvous for ladies and gallants at this season.” Charles Knight, London (1841), p. 192.
Spring, Mulberry Garden
: let them
Gloss Note
be finished
have a date
.
Critical Note
Spring Garden and Mulberry Garden were London parks. The speaker recommends an end “date” for their use for sinful behavior. The Invitation into the Country [Poem 2] refers to Spring Garden as breeding “pleasures” and advises Pulter’s daughters Margaret and Penelope to escape London in 1647 into the country, where wives are modest. The turtledove emblem, which dates to 1653 or later, returns to the subject of London pleasures with increased scorn.
Spring, Mulberry Garden
: let them have a date.
27
Buy not theſe ffollyes at Soe dear A Rate
Buy not these follies at so
Gloss Note
costly
dear
a rate.
Buy not these
Gloss Note
foolishness, lewdness, or madness
follies
at so dear a rate.
28
Theſe Places I know onely by their names
These places, I know only by their names,
These places I know only by their names,
29
But t’is theſe places which doe blast your ffames
But ’tis these places which do blast your
Gloss Note
reputations
fames
.
But ’tis these places which do blast your fames.
30
Who would with their dear Reputation part
Who would with their dear reputation part
Who would with their dear reputation part
31
To eat a Scurvey Cheeſcak or A Tart
To eat a
Gloss Note
worthless; diseased
scurvy
cheescake or a tart?
To eat a
Gloss Note
vile; shabby
scurvy
cheesecake or a tart?
32
ffor Such poor follyes who A broad would Roame
For such poor follies who abroad would roam?
For such poor follies, who abroad would roam?
33
Have wee not better every day at home
Have we not better every day at home?
Gloss Note
London parks had tea houses that sold cheesecakes, tarts, and other treats (Eardley); this line advises women to eat and entertain themselves at home to avoid temptation and scandal.
Have we not better every day at home?
34
They Say to plays and Taverns Some doe goe
They say, to plays and taverns some do go;
They say to plays and taverns some do go;
35
I say noe Modest Ladyes will doe Soe
I say, no modest ladies will do so.
I say no modest ladies will do so.
36
Though Countis, Dutchis, or Protectors, Daughter,
Though countess, duchess, or
Gloss Note
Lord Protector was the title assumed in 1653 by Oliver Cromwell as head of state. Alice Eardley notes that the eldest of his four daughters, Bridget (1624–62), married her second husband—whom she met in St. James’s Park—only six months after the first had died.
Protector’s daughter
Though countess, duchess, or
Critical Note
Oliver Cromwell held the title of Lord Protector from December 1653 until his death in September 1658. He had four daughters. The eldest, Bridget, met her second husband in St. James’s Park and married him only six months after the death of her first husband (Eardley); Cromwell’s second daughter, Elizabeth, had a reputation for being spoiled and indulgent (Stefan Graham Christian, “The Poems of Lady Hester Pulter [1605?-1678]: An Annotated Edition” [PhD diss., U of Massachusetts Amherst, 2012], 35).
Protector’s daughter
37
Those Places haunt, their ffollyes Run not after
Gloss Note
Though noble ladies haunt those places, do not run after their follies.
Those places haunt, their follies run not after
.
Those places haunt, their follies run not after.
38
Bee Modest then and follow mine advice
Be modest then, and follow mine advice:
Be modest then and follow mine advice;
39
You’l find that vertue’s Pleaſanter then Vice
You’ll find that virtue’s pleasanter than vice.
You’ll find that virtue’s pleasanter than vice.
40
Yet Anchorites I would not have you turn
Yet
Gloss Note
persons secluded from the world for religious reasons
anchorites
I would not have you turn,
Yet
Gloss Note
hermits
anchorites
I would not have you turn,
41
Nor Halcions,
Physical Note
imperfectly erased apostrophe
nor
bee your Huſbands Urn
Nor
Gloss Note
In classical myth, the halcyon was a bird thought to breed in a nest floating at sea and magically calming the wind and waves when brooding; the isolation of the nest is implicitly likened to other constrained and constraining situations in surrounding phrases.
halcyons
, nor be your
Gloss Note
The allusion may again be to Artemesia (see note on "Artimitius’s"), who drank her husband’s ashes, or may simply indicate that one need not mourn forever (as the urn does).
husband’s urn
;
Nor
Gloss Note
birds fabled to breed in a nest floating at sea in winter and to calm the waves. The speaker imagines (and rejects) a model of marriage in which an isolated wife only produces children and calms those around her. Likewise, widows can remain constant without completely isolating themselves.
halcyons
,
Gloss Note
Widows should not see themselves merely as vessels for their husbands’ memory.
nor be your husband’s urn
,
42
But Chastly live and Rather Spend yor dayes
But chastely live, and rather spend your days
But chastely live and rather spend your days
43
In Setting fforth Your great Creator’s praiſe
In setting forth your great Creator’s praise;
In setting forth your great Creator’s praise,
44
And for diverſion pass your I’dle times
And, for diversion, pass your idle times
And for diversion pass your idle times
45
As I doe now in writeing harmles Rimes
As I do now, in writing harmless rhymes.
Critical Note
Many early modern women writers used “modesty tropes,” a strategy Patricia Pender examines at length in Early Modern Women’s Writing and the Rhetoric of Modesty (Palgrave, 2012). Pulter employs one here as she argues that writing “harmless” poetry facilitates modesty by preventing feminine idleness.
As I do now, in writing harmless rhymes
.
46
Then for your Honnours, and your fair Souls Sake,
Then, for your honors’ and your fair souls’ sake,
Gloss Note
The speaker stresses the value of her advice by identifying the stakes as high: a woman’s reputation and eternal resting place.
Then for your honor’s and your fair soul’s sake
,
47
Both my example, and my Councell take,
Both my example and my counsel take.
Both my example and my counsel take:
48
Physical Note
first “n” crowded between surrounding letters in darker ink
Infine
love God, the fountain of all good
Gloss Note
in sum
In fine
, love God, the fountain of all good,
Gloss Note
In sum; to conclude
In fine
, love God, the fountain of all good,
49
Next thoſe ahe’d by Mariage, Grace, and blood,
Next those ahead by marriage, grace, and blood,
Next
Gloss Note
in a more advanced position. Eardley emends to “allied.”
those ahead
by marriage, grace, and blood,
50
Physical Note
first “e” added in a different hand
Toelets
live here in Chast and vertuous love
To let’s live here, in chaste and virtuous love,
Gloss Note
To let us. The speaker says that looking first to God and second to appropriate role models will enable “us” (the speaker and other women) to live virtuously. Eardley emends to “So let’s live here.”
To let’s
live here in chaste and virtuous love,
51
As
Physical Note
imperfectly erased descender visible below “w”
wee’le
goe on Eternally above
Gloss Note
The instruction is for readers to love God first, and then those directly in front of us (“ahead”) here on earth (our families) in order to let us live now as we will in the afterlife. “Next” bore other relevant connotations: it could mean nearest, immediately neighboring, closest in kinship or other association, or following in birth, rank, authority.
As we’ll go on eternally above
.
As we’ll go on eternally above.
52
Then o my God Aſſist mee with thy Grace
Then O, my God, assist me with Thy grace,
Then, O my God, assist me with Thy grace,
53
That when I die I may but chang my place.
That, when I die, I may but change my place.
That when I die, I may but change my place.
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X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition

 Editorial note

In my editions, I prioritize accessibility and multiple interpretive possibilities. To prepare these poems for a wide range of readers, I have modernized erratic early modern spelling, punctuation, and capitalization to conform to standard American usage. I gloss archaic definitions and confusing syntax, and I expand contractions, unless needed to maintain the integrity of the poem’s form. My notes investigate how Pulter’s poems engage with the literature and culture of mid-seventeenth-century England. At the same time, I emphasize how her poems are unique, how they respond to one another and seem to reveal their author’s individual circumstances and philosophies. When a note relies on Alice Eardley’s edition of Pulter’s Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter, 2014), I cite her text generally as “Eardley.” Although my own interests guide my editorial decisions, I aim to facilitate multiple readings rather than to direct interpretation in a restrictive way. It is worth noting that although Pulter’s poems survive in only one known source, they are not necessarily stable texts. The source manuscript features variants and revisions that invite multiple interpretations. I encourage readers to refer to the manuscript transcriptions and images on this site; my notes alert readers when the manuscript’s original spelling or physical features are especially worth considering.

 Headnote

This poem invites readers to imagine the turtledove (a small, timid, migratory bird with a plaintive song) as a model of loyalty and mourning. It advises widows to guard their sexual reputations by remaining chaste and avoiding places of ill repute, but also to embrace the creative freedom and time for religious devotion that widowhood enables. The poem is part of a section in Pulter’s manuscript titled “Emblems.” Emblem books were popular in early modern Europe, especially as teaching tools, but few women wrote in the genre. Although emblems typically combine a symbolic picture with text to create a pithy moral message, Pulter’s emblems include no images. Her turtledove emblem embraces the genre’s emphasis on moral instruction but refers more explicitly to contemporary politics and society, including allusions to specific English women and London sites. Toward the end of the poem, Pulter draws attention to her position as a female author when she advises other women to find pleasure in writing “harmless rhymes” as she does. Whereas Pulter writes often to or about her children, she rarely writes about her husband. Together with her description of her nuptial bed and Arthur’s nobility, beauty, and virtue in their early years together in A Solitary Discourse [Poem 44], the following poem is also noteworthy for its insistence that she models marital constancy. Although other Pulter poems prefer the country to London, this emblem’s recommendation that women should remain at home seems odd coming from a poet who regularly lamented her own seclusion at her country estate. We could interpret this poem as rationalizing her own experience or as exposing the limits of a biographical reading that privileges a consistent writing subject.
Line number 1

 Critical note

Pulter elsewhere describes the turtledove as a widow, “Who mourning sits upon a withered spray” (Of a Young Lady at Oxford, 1646 [Poem 43], line 11) and as “The mild and tenderhearted turtledove / That was so constant to her only love / Though she resolves to have no second mate, / Yet she her flight about the air doth take” (Why Must I Thus Forever Be Confined [Poem 57], lines 65-68). Pulter might have drawn on Biblical references that associate the turtledove with poverty, pity, and lamentation. The Psalms provide a pertinent example of mourning turtledoves who escape a sinful city (Psalm 55:1-11, King James Version), along with the line: “O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove unto the multitude of the wicked: forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever” (Psalm 74:19, King James Version). Pulter also might have been familiar with Philemon Holland’s English translation of Pliny’s Natural History, which describes doves as devoted to their mates.
Line number 2

 Gloss note

loving and considerate, possibly with a hint of submission: obliging, agreeable
Line number 3

 Gloss note

mourn; bewail
Line number 5

 Gloss note

reckless, lively, frivolous, or lustful
Line number 7

 Gloss note

Valentine’s Day tempts others to mate.
Line number 8

 Critical note

These seasonal temptations cannot make the turtledove rethink her vow of chastity. Eardley emends to “lay her chaste resolves aside”; I prefer the manuscript’s emphasis (with “say”) on the turtledove’s voice.
Line number 9

 Critical note

From Pulter’s other poetry, we might speculate that this unspecified wanton bird is a cuckoo or a sparrow. The Cuckoo (Emblem 29) [Poem 94] and Why Must I Thus Forever Be Confined [Poem 57] condemn the cuckoo’s selfish, indulgent behavior; Must I Thus Forever Indicted Be [Poem 55] refers to “The wanton sparrow, and the chaster dove” (line 10).
Line number 11

 Gloss note

freakishly abnormal
Line number 11

 Gloss note

fit for Bedlam, the lunatic asylum of the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem in London
Line number 11

 Gloss note

Netherlandish
Line number 11

 Critical note

Marginal notes in Pulter’s manuscript explain that this “beast” was based on a real woman, whom her Uncle Edward knew, who lived near Amsterdam and survived twenty-four husbands. Pulter’s description is also informed by her reading of John Donne’s sermons. A note in the manuscript says: “St. Jerome remembers (with a holy scorn) that he saw a couple married in Rome: the man had had 20 wives, the woman 22 husbands. It was in the days of Pope Damascus. Doct. Donne’s sermon on Easter Day, folio 217.” Donne indeed included this anecdote in an Easter sermon, printed on page 217 of LXXX Sermons Preached by that Reverend and Learned Doctor John Donne (1640).
Line number 12

 Gloss note

twenty
Line number 13

 Gloss note

captivity
Line number 17

 Gloss note

Alcestis and Artemisia, both married to kings in Greek mythology, serve as examples of especially devoted wives. Alcestis volunteered to die in her husband’s place, and Artemisia built an impressive burial monument for her husband that became one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Line number 19

 Gloss note

Deborah and Anna are devout Biblical prophets. Deborah was a judge and military leader; long-time widow Anna dedicated herself to fasting and prayer.
Line number 21

 Critical note

Because Pulter writes directly to her children in other poems, the “ladies” here might be her daughters, but this emblem appears to imagine a broader audience of genteel women.
Line number 23

 Gloss note

To “rant it high” is to talk wildly, dance merrily, sing loudly, or revel in grandiose ways.
Line number 23

 Gloss note

to sport, gamble, or flirt
Line number 24

 Gloss note

This line advises wives not to “double” (amplify) their husbands’ shame by nagging, but also not to “double” (duplicate) their husbands’ bad behavior.
Line number 25

 Critical note

Along with those mentioned in the next line, these are public places in London that attracted pleasure-seekers. Hyde Park was a pleasure garden; in The Invitation into the Country [Poem 2], Pulter calls it “a place of chief delight.” I agree with Eardley that “Hanes” is probably a scribal error for “James,” or St. James’s Park. Oxford Kate’s was a London tavern, and Oxford John’s might have been one as well. The poem implies that all four locations were places of ill repute.
Line number 26

 Critical note

Spring Garden and Mulberry Garden were London parks. The speaker recommends an end “date” for their use for sinful behavior. The Invitation into the Country [Poem 2] refers to Spring Garden as breeding “pleasures” and advises Pulter’s daughters Margaret and Penelope to escape London in 1647 into the country, where wives are modest. The turtledove emblem, which dates to 1653 or later, returns to the subject of London pleasures with increased scorn.
Line number 27

 Gloss note

foolishness, lewdness, or madness
Line number 31

 Gloss note

vile; shabby
Line number 33

 Gloss note

London parks had tea houses that sold cheesecakes, tarts, and other treats (Eardley); this line advises women to eat and entertain themselves at home to avoid temptation and scandal.
Line number 36

 Critical note

Oliver Cromwell held the title of Lord Protector from December 1653 until his death in September 1658. He had four daughters. The eldest, Bridget, met her second husband in St. James’s Park and married him only six months after the death of her first husband (Eardley); Cromwell’s second daughter, Elizabeth, had a reputation for being spoiled and indulgent (Stefan Graham Christian, “The Poems of Lady Hester Pulter [1605?-1678]: An Annotated Edition” [PhD diss., U of Massachusetts Amherst, 2012], 35).
Line number 40

 Gloss note

hermits
Line number 41

 Gloss note

birds fabled to breed in a nest floating at sea in winter and to calm the waves. The speaker imagines (and rejects) a model of marriage in which an isolated wife only produces children and calms those around her. Likewise, widows can remain constant without completely isolating themselves.
Line number 41

 Gloss note

Widows should not see themselves merely as vessels for their husbands’ memory.
Line number 45

 Critical note

Many early modern women writers used “modesty tropes,” a strategy Patricia Pender examines at length in Early Modern Women’s Writing and the Rhetoric of Modesty (Palgrave, 2012). Pulter employs one here as she argues that writing “harmless” poetry facilitates modesty by preventing feminine idleness.
Line number 46

 Gloss note

The speaker stresses the value of her advice by identifying the stakes as high: a woman’s reputation and eternal resting place.
Line number 48

 Gloss note

In sum; to conclude
Line number 49

 Gloss note

in a more advanced position. Eardley emends to “allied.”
Line number 50

 Gloss note

To let us. The speaker says that looking first to God and second to appropriate role models will enable “us” (the speaker and other women) to live virtuously. Eardley emends to “So let’s live here.”
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X (Close panel)Amplified Edition
Amplified Edition

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[Emblem 20]
This Poor Turtledove
(Emblem 20)
Turtledove (Emblem 20)
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.

— Elizabeth Kolkovich
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.

— Elizabeth Kolkovich
In my editions, I prioritize accessibility and multiple interpretive possibilities. To prepare these poems for a wide range of readers, I have modernized erratic early modern spelling, punctuation, and capitalization to conform to standard American usage. I gloss archaic definitions and confusing syntax, and I expand contractions, unless needed to maintain the integrity of the poem’s form. My notes investigate how Pulter’s poems engage with the literature and culture of mid-seventeenth-century England. At the same time, I emphasize how her poems are unique, how they respond to one another and seem to reveal their author’s individual circumstances and philosophies. When a note relies on Alice Eardley’s edition of Pulter’s Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter, 2014), I cite her text generally as “Eardley.” Although my own interests guide my editorial decisions, I aim to facilitate multiple readings rather than to direct interpretation in a restrictive way. It is worth noting that although Pulter’s poems survive in only one known source, they are not necessarily stable texts. The source manuscript features variants and revisions that invite multiple interpretations. I encourage readers to refer to the manuscript transcriptions and images on this site; my notes alert readers when the manuscript’s original spelling or physical features are especially worth considering.

— Elizabeth Kolkovich
“This monster … survived twenty-four husbands. My uncle Edward P. did know her.” This marginal note appears in the scribal hand, but is surely in Pulter’s voice; we might therefore feel entitled to presume she proffers herself as both exemplar and counsellor to the women she addresses: “pass your idle times / As I do now, in writing harmless rhymes.” While a widowed bird, loyal to her dead mate, is this rhyme’s opening focus, Pulter’s attention soon shifts from birds to beasts in human form, such as the prolifically wedded woman her uncle once knew. Both the male and female of the species come in for scorn: the men for rambling and gambling in seedy city locales—parks, theaters, taverns—and their wives for following them there. Women are instead enjoined to be loyal like the turtledove: but wouldn’t such loyalty precisely entail following their mates, wherever they might go? Not by Pulter’s lights: her plan calls for staying home and being loyal in love primarily to God. Yet, as so often in Pulter’s verse, this emblem also resists the confinement of such a life, most notably (and startlingly) in characterizing the repeated widowing of the “Belgic beast” as enfranchisement, and marriage as slavery.

— Elizabeth Kolkovich
This poem invites readers to imagine the turtledove (a small, timid, migratory bird with a plaintive song) as a model of loyalty and mourning. It advises widows to guard their sexual reputations by remaining chaste and avoiding places of ill repute, but also to embrace the creative freedom and time for religious devotion that widowhood enables. The poem is part of a section in Pulter’s manuscript titled “Emblems.” Emblem books were popular in early modern Europe, especially as teaching tools, but few women wrote in the genre. Although emblems typically combine a symbolic picture with text to create a pithy moral message, Pulter’s emblems include no images. Her turtledove emblem embraces the genre’s emphasis on moral instruction but refers more explicitly to contemporary politics and society, including allusions to specific English women and London sites. Toward the end of the poem, Pulter draws attention to her position as a female author when she advises other women to find pleasure in writing “harmless rhymes” as she does. Whereas Pulter writes often to or about her children, she rarely writes about her husband. Together with her description of her nuptial bed and Arthur’s nobility, beauty, and virtue in their early years together in A Solitary Discourse [Poem 44], the following poem is also noteworthy for its insistence that she models marital constancy. Although other Pulter poems prefer the country to London, this emblem’s recommendation that women should remain at home seems odd coming from a poet who regularly lamented her own seclusion at her country estate. We could interpret this poem as rationalizing her own experience or as exposing the limits of a biographical reading that privileges a consistent writing subject.

— Elizabeth Kolkovich
1
20Who can but pitty this poor Turtle Dove
Who can but pity this poor turtledove,
Who can but pity this poor
Critical Note
Pulter elsewhere describes the turtledove as a widow, “Who mourning sits upon a withered spray” (Of a Young Lady at Oxford, 1646 [Poem 43], line 11) and as “The mild and tenderhearted turtledove / That was so constant to her only love / Though she resolves to have no second mate, / Yet she her flight about the air doth take” (Why Must I Thus Forever Be Confined [Poem 57], lines 65-68). Pulter might have drawn on Biblical references that associate the turtledove with poverty, pity, and lamentation. The Psalms provide a pertinent example of mourning turtledoves who escape a sinful city (Psalm 55:1-11, King James Version), along with the line: “O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove unto the multitude of the wicked: forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever” (Psalm 74:19, King James Version). Pulter also might have been familiar with Philemon Holland’s English translation of Pliny’s Natural History, which describes doves as devoted to their mates.
turtledove
,
2
Which was Soe kind and conſtant to her Love
Which was so kind and constant to her love?
Which was so
Gloss Note
loving and considerate, possibly with a hint of submission: obliging, agreeable
kind
and constant to her love?
3
And Since his Death his loſs She doth Deplore
And, since his death, his loss
Gloss Note
the turtledove of the poem’s first line
she
doth
Gloss Note
lament
deplore
;
And since his death, his loss she doth
Gloss Note
mourn; bewail
deplore
;
4
ffor his dear Sake She’el never Couple more
For his dear sake she’ll never
Gloss Note
mate
couple
more.
For his dear sake, she’ll never couple more.
5
When others Wanton blood doth Nimbly fflow
When others’
Gloss Note
The word has many interrelated and relevant connotations: undisciplined; rebellious; without regard for justice, propriety, or the feelings or rights of others; lustful; moving as if alive; free, playful; wasteful; frivolous, pleasure-seeking.
wanton
blood doth nimbly flow,
When others’
Gloss Note
reckless, lively, frivolous, or lustful
wanton
blood doth nimbly flow,
6
Warm’d with the Spring, hers then runs cool and Slow
Warmed with the spring, hers then runs cool and slow.
Warmed with the spring, hers then runs cool and slow.
7
Nor Vallentine though t’is A Tempting Tide
Critical Note
Valentine’s Day is portrayed as a time (“tide”) when it is “tempting” for birds to mate; the day is similarly portrayed in Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls, in which Valentine is the patron saint of mating birds.
Nor Valentine, though ’tis a tempting tide
,
Gloss Note
Valentine’s Day tempts others to mate.
Nor Valentine, though ’tis a tempting tide
,
8
Can make her Say her Chast Reſolv’s aſide
Can make her
Critical Note
Eardley interprets “say” as a scribal error for “lay,” and “resolve’s” as “resolves.” Our thanks to Liza Blake for pointing out the alternative interpretation we offer.
say
Gloss Note
i.e., cannot make the turtledove say that her resolution to be chaste (faithful to her late mate) is set aside.
her chaste resolve’s aside
Critical Note
These seasonal temptations cannot make the turtledove rethink her vow of chastity. Eardley emends to “lay her chaste resolves aside”; I prefer the manuscript’s emphasis (with “say”) on the turtledove’s voice.
Can make her say her chaste resolve’s aside
.
9
Physical Note
“t” may be written over earlier “r”
Not
like that Wanton and Licentious Bird
Not like that wanton and
Gloss Note
unchaste
licentious
Critical Note
No species of licentious bird is specified in this contrast with the chaste turtledove, although a particular species is implied in the phrasing. The sparrow was frequently associated with lust in other texts of the period, such as An history of the wonderful things of nature, which calls the sparrow “the lust fullest almost of all Birds” (Joannes Jonstonus, 1657, p. 190).
bird
Not like that wanton and
Critical Note
From Pulter’s other poetry, we might speculate that this unspecified wanton bird is a cuckoo or a sparrow. The Cuckoo (Emblem 29) [Poem 94] and Why Must I Thus Forever Be Confined [Poem 57] condemn the cuckoo’s selfish, indulgent behavior; Must I Thus Forever Indicted Be [Poem 55] refers to “The wanton sparrow, and the chaster dove” (line 10).
licentious bird
10
Who looſing one a Second and A Third
Who, losing
Gloss Note
one mate
one
, a second, and a third,
Who, losing one, a second, and a third,
11
Physical Note
in left margin: “This Monster liv’d / wthin 2 Miles of – / Amsterdam, Shee – / Survivd 24 Huſbands / My Unckle Edw: P: / did know her”
Like
that Prodigious, Bedlam, Belgick, Beast,
Critical Note
A note in the left margin reads: “This monster lived within two miles of Amsterdam; she survived twenty-four husbands. My uncle Edward P. did know her.” “Prodigious” here means unnatural, abnormal, or extreme and prolific, and “bedlam” means mad or foolish, with reference to the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem, an asylum for the mentally ill in London. “Belgic” refers to the Low Countries generally (including modern Netherlands and Belgium). Alice Eardley notes that Pulter’s husband had an uncle Edward who lived in Amsterdam.
Like that prodigious, bedlam, Belgic beast
,
Like that
Gloss Note
freakishly abnormal
prodigious
,
Gloss Note
fit for Bedlam, the lunatic asylum of the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem in London
bedlam
,
Gloss Note
Netherlandish
Belgic
Critical Note
Marginal notes in Pulter’s manuscript explain that this “beast” was based on a real woman, whom her Uncle Edward knew, who lived near Amsterdam and survived twenty-four husbands. Pulter’s description is also informed by her reading of John Donne’s sermons. A note in the manuscript says: “St. Jerome remembers (with a holy scorn) that he saw a couple married in Rome: the man had had 20 wives, the woman 22 husbands. It was in the days of Pope Damascus. Doct. Donne’s sermon on Easter Day, folio 217.” Donne indeed included this anecdote in an Easter sermon, printed on page 217 of LXXX Sermons Preached by that Reverend and Learned Doctor John Donne (1640).
beast
,
12
Who had a Score of Huſbands at the least
Who had
Gloss Note
twenty
a score
of husbands at the least:
Who had a
Gloss Note
twenty
score
of husbands at the least.
13
A bitter Thraldome Shee deſerves to have
A bitter
Gloss Note
enslavement
thralldom
she deserves to have,
A bitter
Gloss Note
captivity
thralldom
she deserves to have,
14
Who being ffreed Soe Oft, would bee A Slave
Who, being freed so oft, would be a slave!
Who, being freed so oft, would be a slave,
15
Physical Note
in left margin: “St: Jerom rembers - / (w:th a holy Scorn) yt. / hee sam a couple – / Maried in Room ye / Man had had 20 Wives / ye Woman 22 Huſbands / It was in the days of / Pope Damaſcus / Doct: Duns sermon / on Easter Day fol: 217”
Shame
of her Sex! Oh let her Loathed Name
Physical Note
A note in the left margin reads, “St. Jerome remembers (with a holy scorn) that he saw a couple married in Rome: the man had had twenty wives, the woman twenty-two husbands. It was in the days of Pope Damascus.” The note cites as its source “Doctor [John] Donne’s sermon on Easter Day, fol. 217.”
Shame of her sex!
O, let her loathéd name
Shame of her sex! O, let her loathéd name
16
Bee ne’re inroled in the Booke of ffame.
Be ne’er enrolléd in the
Critical Note
the idea, prevalent in the period, of an imaginary record of those deserving the honour of permanent cultural memory (Sarah Wall-Randell, The Immaterial Book: Reading and Romance in Early Modern England [University of Michigan Press, 2013], p. 6).
book of fame
;
Be ne’er enrolléd in the book of fame,
17
But let Alcestis, and Artimitius, Story
But let
Gloss Note
In Greek myth, Alcestis agrees to die in her husband’s place.
Alcestis’s
and
Gloss Note
Artemesia (“Artimitius” in the manuscript) was the wife of King Mausolus, for whom she built a monument at Halicarnassus considered among the seven wonders of the world.
Artimitius’s
story
But let
Gloss Note
Alcestis and Artemisia, both married to kings in Greek mythology, serve as examples of especially devoted wives. Alcestis volunteered to die in her husband’s place, and Artemisia built an impressive burial monument for her husband that became one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Alcestis’s and Artemisia’s story
18
Bee Still Remembred to her endles Glory
Be still remembered to her endless glory.
Be still remembered to her endless glory.
19
Some Deboras, and Annas, Sure have been
Some
Gloss Note
In the Bible, Deborah was a prophet, judge, and military leader who inspired the Israelite army to defeat the Canaanites (Judges 4-5, KJV).
Deborahs
and
Gloss Note
In the Bible, the prophet Anna was a devout widow for 84 years (Luke 2:36-7, KJV).
Annas
sure have been,
Some
Gloss Note
Deborah and Anna are devout Biblical prophets. Deborah was a judge and military leader; long-time widow Anna dedicated herself to fasting and prayer.
Deborahs and Annas
sure have been,
20
But in this Age of ours few Such are Seen
But in this age of ours, few such are seen.
But in this age of ours, few such are seen.
21
Then Ladyes imitate this Turtle Dove
Then, ladies, imitate this turtledove,
Critical Note
Because Pulter writes directly to her children in other poems, the “ladies” here might be her daughters, but this emblem appears to imagine a broader audience of genteel women.
Then, ladies, imitate this turtledove
,
22
And Constant bee unto one onely Love
And constant be unto one only love.
And constant be unto one only love.
then

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23
Then if your Husſbands Rant it high and Game
Then if your husbands
Gloss Note
be boisterously or uproariously merry; lead a riotous or dissolute life
rant it
high, and
Gloss Note
possibly, gamble or waste money and time in pastimes; in this context, more likely the obsolete connotation of indulging in amorous or flirtatious play
game
,
Then if your husbands
Gloss Note
To “rant it high” is to talk wildly, dance merrily, sing loudly, or revel in grandiose ways.
rant it high
and
Gloss Note
to sport, gamble, or flirt
game
,
24
Beſure you Double not their Guilt and Shame
Be sure you double not their guilt and shame!
Gloss Note
This line advises wives not to “double” (amplify) their husbands’ shame by nagging, but also not to “double” (duplicate) their husbands’ bad behavior.
Be sure you double not their guilt and shame
.
25
Leave of Hide Park, Hanes, Oxford Johns and
Physical Note
“s” appears imperfectly blotted or erased
Kates
Leave off
Critical Note
Eardley suggests “Hanes” might be a scribal error for “James,” with reference to St. James’s Park: like Hyde Park, a public place in London of some ill repute.
Hyde Park, Hanes
,
Critical Note
In Pulter’s manuscript, “Kate” is followed by a partially blotted “s,” which suggested the possessive but did not suit the rhyme. The dissolute speaker in Edmund Gayton’s Wil[l] Bagnal’s Ghost[,] Or the Merry Devill of Gadmunton in his Perambulation of the Prisons of London (London, 1655) exclaims, “O Oxford John’s O Oxford Kates” when reminiscing about dishes “which I last night did vomit all up” (p. 10); the impression, there as here, is that these are taverns in London with a low reputation. The same author, in The Art of Longevity, or, A Diaeteticall Instit[ut]ion (London, 1659), praises “dear Oxford Kate” (a name which puns on “cate,” a term for a delicacy) for food and drink which “at the length will bring us unto Dis,” or hell (p. 42).
Oxford John’s and Kate
Leave off
Critical Note
Along with those mentioned in the next line, these are public places in London that attracted pleasure-seekers. Hyde Park was a pleasure garden; in The Invitation into the Country [Poem 2], Pulter calls it “a place of chief delight.” I agree with Eardley that “Hanes” is probably a scribal error for “James,” or St. James’s Park. Oxford Kate’s was a London tavern, and Oxford John’s might have been one as well. The poem implies that all four locations were places of ill repute.
Hyde Park, Hanes, Oxford John’s and Kate
,
26
Spring, Mulbery Garden, let them have a Date
Critical Note
Spring Garden and Mulberry Garden were London parks; in 1654 John Evelyn in his diary referred to Mulberry Garden as “now the only place of refreshment about the town for persons of the best quality to be exceedingly cheated at; Cromwell and his partisans having shut up and seized on Spring Gardens, which till now had been the usual rendezvous for ladies and gallants at this season.” Charles Knight, London (1841), p. 192.
Spring, Mulberry Garden
: let them
Gloss Note
be finished
have a date
.
Critical Note
Spring Garden and Mulberry Garden were London parks. The speaker recommends an end “date” for their use for sinful behavior. The Invitation into the Country [Poem 2] refers to Spring Garden as breeding “pleasures” and advises Pulter’s daughters Margaret and Penelope to escape London in 1647 into the country, where wives are modest. The turtledove emblem, which dates to 1653 or later, returns to the subject of London pleasures with increased scorn.
Spring, Mulberry Garden
: let them have a date.
27
Buy not theſe ffollyes at Soe dear A Rate
Buy not these follies at so
Gloss Note
costly
dear
a rate.
Buy not these
Gloss Note
foolishness, lewdness, or madness
follies
at so dear a rate.
28
Theſe Places I know onely by their names
These places, I know only by their names,
These places I know only by their names,
29
But t’is theſe places which doe blast your ffames
But ’tis these places which do blast your
Gloss Note
reputations
fames
.
But ’tis these places which do blast your fames.
30
Who would with their dear Reputation part
Who would with their dear reputation part
Who would with their dear reputation part
31
To eat a Scurvey Cheeſcak or A Tart
To eat a
Gloss Note
worthless; diseased
scurvy
cheescake or a tart?
To eat a
Gloss Note
vile; shabby
scurvy
cheesecake or a tart?
32
ffor Such poor follyes who A broad would Roame
For such poor follies who abroad would roam?
For such poor follies, who abroad would roam?
33
Have wee not better every day at home
Have we not better every day at home?
Gloss Note
London parks had tea houses that sold cheesecakes, tarts, and other treats (Eardley); this line advises women to eat and entertain themselves at home to avoid temptation and scandal.
Have we not better every day at home?
34
They Say to plays and Taverns Some doe goe
They say, to plays and taverns some do go;
They say to plays and taverns some do go;
35
I say noe Modest Ladyes will doe Soe
I say, no modest ladies will do so.
I say no modest ladies will do so.
36
Though Countis, Dutchis, or Protectors, Daughter,
Though countess, duchess, or
Gloss Note
Lord Protector was the title assumed in 1653 by Oliver Cromwell as head of state. Alice Eardley notes that the eldest of his four daughters, Bridget (1624–62), married her second husband—whom she met in St. James’s Park—only six months after the first had died.
Protector’s daughter
Though countess, duchess, or
Critical Note
Oliver Cromwell held the title of Lord Protector from December 1653 until his death in September 1658. He had four daughters. The eldest, Bridget, met her second husband in St. James’s Park and married him only six months after the death of her first husband (Eardley); Cromwell’s second daughter, Elizabeth, had a reputation for being spoiled and indulgent (Stefan Graham Christian, “The Poems of Lady Hester Pulter [1605?-1678]: An Annotated Edition” [PhD diss., U of Massachusetts Amherst, 2012], 35).
Protector’s daughter
37
Those Places haunt, their ffollyes Run not after
Gloss Note
Though noble ladies haunt those places, do not run after their follies.
Those places haunt, their follies run not after
.
Those places haunt, their follies run not after.
38
Bee Modest then and follow mine advice
Be modest then, and follow mine advice:
Be modest then and follow mine advice;
39
You’l find that vertue’s Pleaſanter then Vice
You’ll find that virtue’s pleasanter than vice.
You’ll find that virtue’s pleasanter than vice.
40
Yet Anchorites I would not have you turn
Yet
Gloss Note
persons secluded from the world for religious reasons
anchorites
I would not have you turn,
Yet
Gloss Note
hermits
anchorites
I would not have you turn,
41
Nor Halcions,
Physical Note
imperfectly erased apostrophe
nor
bee your Huſbands Urn
Nor
Gloss Note
In classical myth, the halcyon was a bird thought to breed in a nest floating at sea and magically calming the wind and waves when brooding; the isolation of the nest is implicitly likened to other constrained and constraining situations in surrounding phrases.
halcyons
, nor be your
Gloss Note
The allusion may again be to Artemesia (see note on "Artimitius’s"), who drank her husband’s ashes, or may simply indicate that one need not mourn forever (as the urn does).
husband’s urn
;
Nor
Gloss Note
birds fabled to breed in a nest floating at sea in winter and to calm the waves. The speaker imagines (and rejects) a model of marriage in which an isolated wife only produces children and calms those around her. Likewise, widows can remain constant without completely isolating themselves.
halcyons
,
Gloss Note
Widows should not see themselves merely as vessels for their husbands’ memory.
nor be your husband’s urn
,
42
But Chastly live and Rather Spend yor dayes
But chastely live, and rather spend your days
But chastely live and rather spend your days
43
In Setting fforth Your great Creator’s praiſe
In setting forth your great Creator’s praise;
In setting forth your great Creator’s praise,
44
And for diverſion pass your I’dle times
And, for diversion, pass your idle times
And for diversion pass your idle times
45
As I doe now in writeing harmles Rimes
As I do now, in writing harmless rhymes.
Critical Note
Many early modern women writers used “modesty tropes,” a strategy Patricia Pender examines at length in Early Modern Women’s Writing and the Rhetoric of Modesty (Palgrave, 2012). Pulter employs one here as she argues that writing “harmless” poetry facilitates modesty by preventing feminine idleness.
As I do now, in writing harmless rhymes
.
46
Then for your Honnours, and your fair Souls Sake,
Then, for your honors’ and your fair souls’ sake,
Gloss Note
The speaker stresses the value of her advice by identifying the stakes as high: a woman’s reputation and eternal resting place.
Then for your honor’s and your fair soul’s sake
,
47
Both my example, and my Councell take,
Both my example and my counsel take.
Both my example and my counsel take:
48
Physical Note
first “n” crowded between surrounding letters in darker ink
Infine
love God, the fountain of all good
Gloss Note
in sum
In fine
, love God, the fountain of all good,
Gloss Note
In sum; to conclude
In fine
, love God, the fountain of all good,
49
Next thoſe ahe’d by Mariage, Grace, and blood,
Next those ahead by marriage, grace, and blood,
Next
Gloss Note
in a more advanced position. Eardley emends to “allied.”
those ahead
by marriage, grace, and blood,
50
Physical Note
first “e” added in a different hand
Toelets
live here in Chast and vertuous love
To let’s live here, in chaste and virtuous love,
Gloss Note
To let us. The speaker says that looking first to God and second to appropriate role models will enable “us” (the speaker and other women) to live virtuously. Eardley emends to “So let’s live here.”
To let’s
live here in chaste and virtuous love,
51
As
Physical Note
imperfectly erased descender visible below “w”
wee’le
goe on Eternally above
Gloss Note
The instruction is for readers to love God first, and then those directly in front of us (“ahead”) here on earth (our families) in order to let us live now as we will in the afterlife. “Next” bore other relevant connotations: it could mean nearest, immediately neighboring, closest in kinship or other association, or following in birth, rank, authority.
As we’ll go on eternally above
.
As we’ll go on eternally above.
52
Then o my God Aſſist mee with thy Grace
Then O, my God, assist me with Thy grace,
Then, O my God, assist me with Thy grace,
53
That when I die I may but chang my place.
That, when I die, I may but change my place.
That when I die, I may but change my place.
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Transcription

 Editorial note

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

 Editorial note

The aim of the elemental edition 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

In my editions, I prioritize accessibility and multiple interpretive possibilities. To prepare these poems for a wide range of readers, I have modernized erratic early modern spelling, punctuation, and capitalization to conform to standard American usage. I gloss archaic definitions and confusing syntax, and I expand contractions, unless needed to maintain the integrity of the poem’s form. My notes investigate how Pulter’s poems engage with the literature and culture of mid-seventeenth-century England. At the same time, I emphasize how her poems are unique, how they respond to one another and seem to reveal their author’s individual circumstances and philosophies. When a note relies on Alice Eardley’s edition of Pulter’s Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Toronto: Iter, 2014), I cite her text generally as “Eardley.” Although my own interests guide my editorial decisions, I aim to facilitate multiple readings rather than to direct interpretation in a restrictive way. It is worth noting that although Pulter’s poems survive in only one known source, they are not necessarily stable texts. The source manuscript features variants and revisions that invite multiple interpretations. I encourage readers to refer to the manuscript transcriptions and images on this site; my notes alert readers when the manuscript’s original spelling or physical features are especially worth considering.
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

“This monster … survived twenty-four husbands. My uncle Edward P. did know her.” This marginal note appears in the scribal hand, but is surely in Pulter’s voice; we might therefore feel entitled to presume she proffers herself as both exemplar and counsellor to the women she addresses: “pass your idle times / As I do now, in writing harmless rhymes.” While a widowed bird, loyal to her dead mate, is this rhyme’s opening focus, Pulter’s attention soon shifts from birds to beasts in human form, such as the prolifically wedded woman her uncle once knew. Both the male and female of the species come in for scorn: the men for rambling and gambling in seedy city locales—parks, theaters, taverns—and their wives for following them there. Women are instead enjoined to be loyal like the turtledove: but wouldn’t such loyalty precisely entail following their mates, wherever they might go? Not by Pulter’s lights: her plan calls for staying home and being loyal in love primarily to God. Yet, as so often in Pulter’s verse, this emblem also resists the confinement of such a life, most notably (and startlingly) in characterizing the repeated widowing of the “Belgic beast” as enfranchisement, and marriage as slavery.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

This poem invites readers to imagine the turtledove (a small, timid, migratory bird with a plaintive song) as a model of loyalty and mourning. It advises widows to guard their sexual reputations by remaining chaste and avoiding places of ill repute, but also to embrace the creative freedom and time for religious devotion that widowhood enables. The poem is part of a section in Pulter’s manuscript titled “Emblems.” Emblem books were popular in early modern Europe, especially as teaching tools, but few women wrote in the genre. Although emblems typically combine a symbolic picture with text to create a pithy moral message, Pulter’s emblems include no images. Her turtledove emblem embraces the genre’s emphasis on moral instruction but refers more explicitly to contemporary politics and society, including allusions to specific English women and London sites. Toward the end of the poem, Pulter draws attention to her position as a female author when she advises other women to find pleasure in writing “harmless rhymes” as she does. Whereas Pulter writes often to or about her children, she rarely writes about her husband. Together with her description of her nuptial bed and Arthur’s nobility, beauty, and virtue in their early years together in A Solitary Discourse [Poem 44], the following poem is also noteworthy for its insistence that she models marital constancy. Although other Pulter poems prefer the country to London, this emblem’s recommendation that women should remain at home seems odd coming from a poet who regularly lamented her own seclusion at her country estate. We could interpret this poem as rationalizing her own experience or as exposing the limits of a biographical reading that privileges a consistent writing subject.
Amplified Edition
Line number 1

 Critical note

Pulter elsewhere describes the turtledove as a widow, “Who mourning sits upon a withered spray” (Of a Young Lady at Oxford, 1646 [Poem 43], line 11) and as “The mild and tenderhearted turtledove / That was so constant to her only love / Though she resolves to have no second mate, / Yet she her flight about the air doth take” (Why Must I Thus Forever Be Confined [Poem 57], lines 65-68). Pulter might have drawn on Biblical references that associate the turtledove with poverty, pity, and lamentation. The Psalms provide a pertinent example of mourning turtledoves who escape a sinful city (Psalm 55:1-11, King James Version), along with the line: “O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove unto the multitude of the wicked: forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever” (Psalm 74:19, King James Version). Pulter also might have been familiar with Philemon Holland’s English translation of Pliny’s Natural History, which describes doves as devoted to their mates.
Amplified Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

loving and considerate, possibly with a hint of submission: obliging, agreeable
Elemental Edition
Line number 3

 Gloss note

the turtledove of the poem’s first line
Elemental Edition
Line number 3

 Gloss note

lament
Amplified Edition
Line number 3

 Gloss note

mourn; bewail
Elemental Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

mate
Elemental Edition
Line number 5

 Gloss note

The word has many interrelated and relevant connotations: undisciplined; rebellious; without regard for justice, propriety, or the feelings or rights of others; lustful; moving as if alive; free, playful; wasteful; frivolous, pleasure-seeking.
Amplified Edition
Line number 5

 Gloss note

reckless, lively, frivolous, or lustful
Elemental Edition
Line number 7

 Critical note

Valentine’s Day is portrayed as a time (“tide”) when it is “tempting” for birds to mate; the day is similarly portrayed in Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls, in which Valentine is the patron saint of mating birds.
Amplified Edition
Line number 7

 Gloss note

Valentine’s Day tempts others to mate.
Elemental Edition
Line number 8

 Critical note

Eardley interprets “say” as a scribal error for “lay,” and “resolve’s” as “resolves.” Our thanks to Liza Blake for pointing out the alternative interpretation we offer.
Elemental Edition
Line number 8

 Gloss note

i.e., cannot make the turtledove say that her resolution to be chaste (faithful to her late mate) is set aside.
Amplified Edition
Line number 8

 Critical note

These seasonal temptations cannot make the turtledove rethink her vow of chastity. Eardley emends to “lay her chaste resolves aside”; I prefer the manuscript’s emphasis (with “say”) on the turtledove’s voice.
Transcription
Line number 9

 Physical note

“t” may be written over earlier “r”
Elemental Edition
Line number 9

 Gloss note

unchaste
Elemental Edition
Line number 9

 Critical note

No species of licentious bird is specified in this contrast with the chaste turtledove, although a particular species is implied in the phrasing. The sparrow was frequently associated with lust in other texts of the period, such as An history of the wonderful things of nature, which calls the sparrow “the lust fullest almost of all Birds” (Joannes Jonstonus, 1657, p. 190).
Amplified Edition
Line number 9

 Critical note

From Pulter’s other poetry, we might speculate that this unspecified wanton bird is a cuckoo or a sparrow. The Cuckoo (Emblem 29) [Poem 94] and Why Must I Thus Forever Be Confined [Poem 57] condemn the cuckoo’s selfish, indulgent behavior; Must I Thus Forever Indicted Be [Poem 55] refers to “The wanton sparrow, and the chaster dove” (line 10).
Elemental Edition
Line number 10

 Gloss note

one mate
Transcription
Line number 11

 Physical note

in left margin: “This Monster liv’d / wthin 2 Miles of – / Amsterdam, Shee – / Survivd 24 Huſbands / My Unckle Edw: P: / did know her”
Elemental Edition
Line number 11

 Critical note

A note in the left margin reads: “This monster lived within two miles of Amsterdam; she survived twenty-four husbands. My uncle Edward P. did know her.” “Prodigious” here means unnatural, abnormal, or extreme and prolific, and “bedlam” means mad or foolish, with reference to the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem, an asylum for the mentally ill in London. “Belgic” refers to the Low Countries generally (including modern Netherlands and Belgium). Alice Eardley notes that Pulter’s husband had an uncle Edward who lived in Amsterdam.
Amplified Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

freakishly abnormal
Amplified Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

fit for Bedlam, the lunatic asylum of the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem in London
Amplified Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

Netherlandish
Amplified Edition
Line number 11

 Critical note

Marginal notes in Pulter’s manuscript explain that this “beast” was based on a real woman, whom her Uncle Edward knew, who lived near Amsterdam and survived twenty-four husbands. Pulter’s description is also informed by her reading of John Donne’s sermons. A note in the manuscript says: “St. Jerome remembers (with a holy scorn) that he saw a couple married in Rome: the man had had 20 wives, the woman 22 husbands. It was in the days of Pope Damascus. Doct. Donne’s sermon on Easter Day, folio 217.” Donne indeed included this anecdote in an Easter sermon, printed on page 217 of LXXX Sermons Preached by that Reverend and Learned Doctor John Donne (1640).
Elemental Edition
Line number 12

 Gloss note

twenty
Amplified Edition
Line number 12

 Gloss note

twenty
Elemental Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

enslavement
Amplified Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

captivity
Transcription
Line number 15

 Physical note

in left margin: “St: Jerom rembers - / (w:th a holy Scorn) yt. / hee sam a couple – / Maried in Room ye / Man had had 20 Wives / ye Woman 22 Huſbands / It was in the days of / Pope Damaſcus / Doct: Duns sermon / on Easter Day fol: 217”
Elemental Edition
Line number 15

 Physical note

A note in the left margin reads, “St. Jerome remembers (with a holy scorn) that he saw a couple married in Rome: the man had had twenty wives, the woman twenty-two husbands. It was in the days of Pope Damascus.” The note cites as its source “Doctor [John] Donne’s sermon on Easter Day, fol. 217.”
Elemental Edition
Line number 16

 Critical note

the idea, prevalent in the period, of an imaginary record of those deserving the honour of permanent cultural memory (Sarah Wall-Randell, The Immaterial Book: Reading and Romance in Early Modern England [University of Michigan Press, 2013], p. 6).
Elemental Edition
Line number 17

 Gloss note

In Greek myth, Alcestis agrees to die in her husband’s place.
Elemental Edition
Line number 17

 Gloss note

Artemesia (“Artimitius” in the manuscript) was the wife of King Mausolus, for whom she built a monument at Halicarnassus considered among the seven wonders of the world.
Amplified Edition
Line number 17

 Gloss note

Alcestis and Artemisia, both married to kings in Greek mythology, serve as examples of especially devoted wives. Alcestis volunteered to die in her husband’s place, and Artemisia built an impressive burial monument for her husband that became one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Elemental Edition
Line number 19

 Gloss note

In the Bible, Deborah was a prophet, judge, and military leader who inspired the Israelite army to defeat the Canaanites (Judges 4-5, KJV).
Elemental Edition
Line number 19

 Gloss note

In the Bible, the prophet Anna was a devout widow for 84 years (Luke 2:36-7, KJV).
Amplified Edition
Line number 19

 Gloss note

Deborah and Anna are devout Biblical prophets. Deborah was a judge and military leader; long-time widow Anna dedicated herself to fasting and prayer.
Amplified Edition
Line number 21

 Critical note

Because Pulter writes directly to her children in other poems, the “ladies” here might be her daughters, but this emblem appears to imagine a broader audience of genteel women.
Elemental Edition
Line number 23

 Gloss note

be boisterously or uproariously merry; lead a riotous or dissolute life
Elemental Edition
Line number 23

 Gloss note

possibly, gamble or waste money and time in pastimes; in this context, more likely the obsolete connotation of indulging in amorous or flirtatious play
Amplified Edition
Line number 23

 Gloss note

To “rant it high” is to talk wildly, dance merrily, sing loudly, or revel in grandiose ways.
Amplified Edition
Line number 23

 Gloss note

to sport, gamble, or flirt
Amplified Edition
Line number 24

 Gloss note

This line advises wives not to “double” (amplify) their husbands’ shame by nagging, but also not to “double” (duplicate) their husbands’ bad behavior.
Transcription
Line number 25

 Physical note

“s” appears imperfectly blotted or erased
Elemental Edition
Line number 25

 Critical note

Eardley suggests “Hanes” might be a scribal error for “James,” with reference to St. James’s Park: like Hyde Park, a public place in London of some ill repute.
Elemental Edition
Line number 25

 Critical note

In Pulter’s manuscript, “Kate” is followed by a partially blotted “s,” which suggested the possessive but did not suit the rhyme. The dissolute speaker in Edmund Gayton’s Wil[l] Bagnal’s Ghost[,] Or the Merry Devill of Gadmunton in his Perambulation of the Prisons of London (London, 1655) exclaims, “O Oxford John’s O Oxford Kates” when reminiscing about dishes “which I last night did vomit all up” (p. 10); the impression, there as here, is that these are taverns in London with a low reputation. The same author, in The Art of Longevity, or, A Diaeteticall Instit[ut]ion (London, 1659), praises “dear Oxford Kate” (a name which puns on “cate,” a term for a delicacy) for food and drink which “at the length will bring us unto Dis,” or hell (p. 42).
Amplified Edition
Line number 25

 Critical note

Along with those mentioned in the next line, these are public places in London that attracted pleasure-seekers. Hyde Park was a pleasure garden; in The Invitation into the Country [Poem 2], Pulter calls it “a place of chief delight.” I agree with Eardley that “Hanes” is probably a scribal error for “James,” or St. James’s Park. Oxford Kate’s was a London tavern, and Oxford John’s might have been one as well. The poem implies that all four locations were places of ill repute.
Elemental Edition
Line number 26

 Critical note

Spring Garden and Mulberry Garden were London parks; in 1654 John Evelyn in his diary referred to Mulberry Garden as “now the only place of refreshment about the town for persons of the best quality to be exceedingly cheated at; Cromwell and his partisans having shut up and seized on Spring Gardens, which till now had been the usual rendezvous for ladies and gallants at this season.” Charles Knight, London (1841), p. 192.
Elemental Edition
Line number 26

 Gloss note

be finished
Amplified Edition
Line number 26

 Critical note

Spring Garden and Mulberry Garden were London parks. The speaker recommends an end “date” for their use for sinful behavior. The Invitation into the Country [Poem 2] refers to Spring Garden as breeding “pleasures” and advises Pulter’s daughters Margaret and Penelope to escape London in 1647 into the country, where wives are modest. The turtledove emblem, which dates to 1653 or later, returns to the subject of London pleasures with increased scorn.
Elemental Edition
Line number 27

 Gloss note

costly
Amplified Edition
Line number 27

 Gloss note

foolishness, lewdness, or madness
Elemental Edition
Line number 29

 Gloss note

reputations
Elemental Edition
Line number 31

 Gloss note

worthless; diseased
Amplified Edition
Line number 31

 Gloss note

vile; shabby
Amplified Edition
Line number 33

 Gloss note

London parks had tea houses that sold cheesecakes, tarts, and other treats (Eardley); this line advises women to eat and entertain themselves at home to avoid temptation and scandal.
Elemental Edition
Line number 36

 Gloss note

Lord Protector was the title assumed in 1653 by Oliver Cromwell as head of state. Alice Eardley notes that the eldest of his four daughters, Bridget (1624–62), married her second husband—whom she met in St. James’s Park—only six months after the first had died.
Amplified Edition
Line number 36

 Critical note

Oliver Cromwell held the title of Lord Protector from December 1653 until his death in September 1658. He had four daughters. The eldest, Bridget, met her second husband in St. James’s Park and married him only six months after the death of her first husband (Eardley); Cromwell’s second daughter, Elizabeth, had a reputation for being spoiled and indulgent (Stefan Graham Christian, “The Poems of Lady Hester Pulter [1605?-1678]: An Annotated Edition” [PhD diss., U of Massachusetts Amherst, 2012], 35).
Elemental Edition
Line number 37

 Gloss note

Though noble ladies haunt those places, do not run after their follies.
Elemental Edition
Line number 40

 Gloss note

persons secluded from the world for religious reasons
Amplified Edition
Line number 40

 Gloss note

hermits
Transcription
Line number 41

 Physical note

imperfectly erased apostrophe
Elemental Edition
Line number 41

 Gloss note

In classical myth, the halcyon was a bird thought to breed in a nest floating at sea and magically calming the wind and waves when brooding; the isolation of the nest is implicitly likened to other constrained and constraining situations in surrounding phrases.
Elemental Edition
Line number 41

 Gloss note

The allusion may again be to Artemesia (see note on "Artimitius’s"), who drank her husband’s ashes, or may simply indicate that one need not mourn forever (as the urn does).
Amplified Edition
Line number 41

 Gloss note

birds fabled to breed in a nest floating at sea in winter and to calm the waves. The speaker imagines (and rejects) a model of marriage in which an isolated wife only produces children and calms those around her. Likewise, widows can remain constant without completely isolating themselves.
Amplified Edition
Line number 41

 Gloss note

Widows should not see themselves merely as vessels for their husbands’ memory.
Amplified Edition
Line number 45

 Critical note

Many early modern women writers used “modesty tropes,” a strategy Patricia Pender examines at length in Early Modern Women’s Writing and the Rhetoric of Modesty (Palgrave, 2012). Pulter employs one here as she argues that writing “harmless” poetry facilitates modesty by preventing feminine idleness.
Amplified Edition
Line number 46

 Gloss note

The speaker stresses the value of her advice by identifying the stakes as high: a woman’s reputation and eternal resting place.
Transcription
Line number 48

 Physical note

first “n” crowded between surrounding letters in darker ink
Elemental Edition
Line number 48

 Gloss note

in sum
Amplified Edition
Line number 48

 Gloss note

In sum; to conclude
Amplified Edition
Line number 49

 Gloss note

in a more advanced position. Eardley emends to “allied.”
Transcription
Line number 50

 Physical note

first “e” added in a different hand
Amplified Edition
Line number 50

 Gloss note

To let us. The speaker says that looking first to God and second to appropriate role models will enable “us” (the speaker and other women) to live virtuously. Eardley emends to “So let’s live here.”
Transcription
Line number 51

 Physical note

imperfectly erased descender visible below “w”
Elemental Edition
Line number 51

 Gloss note

The instruction is for readers to love God first, and then those directly in front of us (“ahead”) here on earth (our families) in order to let us live now as we will in the afterlife. “Next” bore other relevant connotations: it could mean nearest, immediately neighboring, closest in kinship or other association, or following in birth, rank, authority.
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