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"About the.....attend": Pulter uses the planets' eternal oribit of the "Fount of Life, and light, and love" to draw a parallel with her own situation. She manifests her God within the sun, begging that she wants to worship God eternally in the same way the planets ceaselessly orbit the sun ; thus pleading for her soul to be turned into a star so she can follow God evermore. Charlie Cosham.
In Greek myth, one of the rivers of the Underworld across which the dead (providing they have been duly buried) are ferried. (LION; Oxford Reference online). Jeni Christie-Brown.
Adonis blood the Enymonie

In Ovid's Metamorphoses, each drop of the blood of Adonis, who died at the tusks of a wild boar, was transformed into a red anemone by Aphrodite, who sprinkled his dead body with nectar (X.708-39).

At the close of book ten, Orpheus sings that;

"...the blood began to swell:
Like shining bubbles, which from drops of blood ascend.
And e'r an houre was fully at an end,
From thence a Flowre, alike in colour, rose.
Such as those trees produce, whose fruits inclose
Within the limber rine their purple grain.
And yet their beauty but a while remaines:
For those light-hanging leaues, infirmely plac't,
The winds that blow on all things, quickly blast." (X. 731-9)


Agrippina was wife to the Roman Emperor Claudius and mother to Nero, his sucessor (Hurley, par. 4; 9).

The reference is to the Roman Empress Agrippina (37 AD), an infamously ruthless, alluring and manipulative woman. She supposedly toyed with the powers of Rome to maintain her own political powers, plotting against her brother Caligula, murdering her husband Claudius and sleeping with her son Nero. She was told by astrologers her son would become emperor and kill her; she was willing to let this happen so the power would be his. Nero, indeed, devised many plans and eventually killed his mother. Along with the reference to Jezabell, we see Pulter drawing on evocative biblical and historical myths of sexually transgressive, powerful women, whose behaviour leaves them to unfortunate ends. The just punishment of their moral depravity reveals her certainty that those who deceived and plotted against the crown will be reprimanded.

"Briskness, cheerful readiness, liveliness, promptitude, sprightliness" (OED).
In Greek mythology, Alcestis was the beautiful daughter of Pelias, the king of Iolcus in Thessaly. Pelias promised his daughter in marriage to any man who came to get her in a chariot pulled by a lion and a boar. Admetus, the king of Pherae in Thessaly, performed this feat with the help of the god Apollo. In punishment for angering Zeus, Apollo had been sent to work as a shepherd for Admetus. Because the king had treated him well, Apollo agreed to help him win Alcestis. When Admetus was near death, Apollo asked the Fates to save his life. They agreed, as long as someone else would volunteer to die in his place. Everyone refused but Alcestis, who offered to sacrifice herself to save her husband. Some stories say that Persephone, goddess of the underworld, intervened and allowed Alcestis to live because she admired the woman's devotion to Admetus. Other tales relate that the hero Hercules, a guest at Admetus's palace, wrestled with Death when it came to take Alcestis. He won, forcing Death to let her live. Gemma Connell.
"Alithea", or "Alithia", is a Greek word meaning "the truth". Unlikely to refer to Aletheia Howard (nee Talbot) who was (falsely) accused of treason in 1622. N.J.S. Collins.

Altar: Used in Henry Ainsworth’s Covnterpoyson (1642) several times as God’s sacramental place, whereupon things are to be given: “offrings vpon his alter”, “layd vpon his alter for spiriritual sacrifices” (EEBO). In Emblem 11 Pulter creates an image of God’s alter covered in tears from all the pain and sorrow in the world thus creating an image of God taking every man’s burden. Pulter exalts God for his goodness in the poem.


“And Jehoash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trode down the thistle”, 2 Kings, chapter 14:9, King James Bible (Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia).

Amaziah was a king of Judah, ( 2Kings 14:1-21; 2 Chronicles 25). Amaziah first act as king was to punish by death those who had murdered his father. But he deviated from the custom of also executing the criminals’ heirs, instead executing only the conspirators themselves, according to the Bible’s prohibition.

Pulter is possibly referring to the main character of Tasso's Aminta (1573), a shepherd in love with the nymph Silvia. The play came to "represent the pastoral tradition" (Hayward 1997) and was a great influence on the pastoral genre of the early seventeenth century and on authors such as Milton, Spenser and Jonson. Pulter is therefore perhaps using the reference to Aminta as another way of depicting a sense of loss (at one point in the play, Aminta attempts to kill himself after mistakenly believing Silvia has died), a loss of leadership (as Aminta is a shepherd) and a way to further the pastoral style of the poem.
amphis bena

Amphisbæna: a fabled serpent of the ancients, with a head at each end, and able to move in either direction: retained by the moderns as a poetical conception (OED).

A small kind of serpent which moveth backward or forward, and path two heads, one at either extreme ( Celeste Mottahedin-Fardo.


Aphitrite was the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys. She originally declined Poseidon’s marriage proposal and hid from him in the Atlantic sea; however a dolphin brought her back to him and they married. There son was the fish-man Triton. The Romans referred to her as Salacia.

Amphitrite was a Greek sea goddess, wife of Poseidon.

Anadem; "a wreath for the head, usually of flowers; a chaplet, a garland" (OED).
A person who has retired into seclusion for religious reasons ( Gemma Connell
A martyr during the Roman period.
Varient spelling of 'anchor' common in the seventeenth century (EEBO).
Ann Pulter (1635-1666) is the third of Pulter's ten recorded children whose baptism is mentioned in the Great Wymondley parish register.
another Deluge
Although it is not mentioned in the Bible, the idea that the Tower of Babel was built as protection against a second flood, akin to that survived by Noah, was widespread. In Religio Medici, Thomas Browne notes that the idea ‘That our Fathers, after the Flood, erected the Tower of Babell, to preserve themselves against a second Deluge, is generally opinioned and beleeved’ ((1643), p. 53). One writer who cites this opinion is Richard Verstegan, who states that Nimrod ‘so took upon him to bee a captain and comaunder over the rest, and to provyde a remedy for their saefty, yf God should once againe drown the world, and this to bee by the buylding of so high a towre, as no flud of water might overtop it’ ((1605), p. 4). Pulter includes a direct reference to Verstegan’s text in emblem 17.

Greek for "spider".

In Ovid's Metamorphoses, Arachne is a talented mortal weaver who is transformed into a spider by the Goddess Athene (VI. 5 - 145).

Amaranth; "an imaginary flower reputed never to fade; a fadeless flower (as a poetic conception)" (OED 1.).

Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos. She ensured Theseus's victory over Minos's Minotaur by giving him a ball of twine to navigate his way through the Labyrinth. Theseus promised to marry her as a reward but instead left her on the Greek island of Naxos. Robin Stevens.

The Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was a sacred chest, made to be the depository of the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, the law representative of God as received by Moses on Mt. Sinai. This ark was considered the glory and strength of Israel, one of the most sacred artefacts, and was moved about among several sanctuaries, until it was finally moved to Urusalim around 955 BCE. David renamed his city Jerusalem, meaning 'City of Peace' in Hebrew.
aromatick Odours
The flowers mentioned in the previous lines, such as the violet, are characterised by their strong scents.
Artimesia/Artimitius was the name of two Greek female rulers, who lived around 350BC and 480BC. This stanza demonstrates Pulter’s Greek mythological and historical knowledge. Rose Routh.
Astraea ("the star-maiden") is the daughter of Zeus and Themis. She was, as was her mother, a goddess of justice. During the Golden Age, when the gods dwelled among mankind, she lived on the earth. When evil and wickedness increased its grip on humanity, the gods abandoned the habitations of mankind. Astraea was the last to leave and took up her abode among the stars where she was transformed into the constellation Virgo.
Astrea, with her sacred charms
Astraea in Greek religion and mythology is the goddess of justice, daughter of Zeus and Themis. In response to the wickedness of man, she withdrew from the physical earth (in the same way that Pulter longs for in the poem) at the end of the Iron Age; the final stage in the world's regression from the Golden Age. She was subsequently placed amongst the stars as the constellation Virgo. Pulter appears to refer to Astraea as a personification of justice, comparable to the "Jemms" of "Joy and Peace" as well as a symbol of departing the mortal earth.
"In or into a position apart or separate; apart." (OED 1.)
In 1661, natural philosopher Robert Boyle published 'The Sceptical Chymist' in which he argued against the traditional idea that matter was composed of air, earth, fire and water, and proposed the revolutionary idea that matter was in fact made up of various combinations of different atoms [Roberst Siegfried, 'From Elements to Atoms: A History of Chemical Composition' (DIANE, 2002)]. The poem’s interest in thinking of things breaking down into constituant parts, for example ‘Soe into dust this Flesh of mine must turn’ (33), fits into this zeitgeist. Octavia Cox.
Reference to Caesar Augustus of Rome, born Octavius. He was the 1st emperor of Rome from 27BC to 14AD. He was patron to Virgil and Horace. Rome went through a long period of Civil War, and Augustus finally made 'Roman Peace' or 'Pax Romana' through a series of changes to the administration of the country and provinces that lasted around 200 years.

Goddess of the dawn in Roman mythology.

Goddess of the dawn in Roman mythology who would rise up into the sky at the start of the day and disperse the mists of night with her rays of light. Greek name: Eos.

The (Roman) goddess of the dawn, represented as rising with rosy fingers from the saffron-coloured bed of Tithonus (OED).

Inordinate desire of acquiring and hoarding wealth; greediness of gain, cupidity (OED).
Air. Octavia Cox.
Air (EEBO). The capital 'a' personifies the air as a powerful element that receives the soul that is given up. It was believed by some that the soul departed the body via the mouth - hence 'suspire': to sigh (OED). Charlotte Fraser Annand.
Bright blue (OED). Jessica Moreton.


Babylonish Virgin
Pulter is probably referring to Thisbe, a character in Roman mythology of whom Ovid discusses in book IV of his Metamorphoses (trans. Sandy (1632)). Thisbe and her lover Pyramus both live in the Middle Eastern city of Babylon in adjoining houses, but despite their "equall flames" of love, their parents would not consent to their marriage. After whispering through a crack in the adjoining walls of their houses, the lovers agree to meet at the foot of a nearby mulberry tree. Thisbe arrives first but soon sees a lionesse approaching with bloody jaws from a recent kill, and so she flees into a cave, dropping her veil as she does so. The lionesse mauls the veil tears it with her bloody jaws. Pyramus then arrives and after seeing the blood stained veil presumes his lover is dead, and so stabs himself with his sword. Although frightened by the lionesse, Thisbe does not want to "dissapoint her Loue", returns to the tree and discovers the dying body of Pyramus. After hearing Thisbe's cries, Pyramus opens his eyes to see her but eventually dies. Thisbe follows suit and plunges the sword into her bosom, saying that the stained mulberry tree will be a "liuing monument of our mixt blood", a wish that the Gods choose to enable, and so from that day on the "late-white Mulberries in black now Mourne".
In Greek mythology, Bacchus is the "god of wine; hence, wine, intoxicating liquor" (OED). Pulter is referring to the 'quintessence' of Bacchus' liquor as a godly, powerful and immortal force, in keeping with the 'elixer' of the proceeding line and the reference to the power of Gray's Spring.

Basilisk: A mythical serpent that kills any living thing by looking at it, also known as a Cockatrice.

The basilisk is usually described as a crested snake, and sometimes as a cock with a snake's tail. Has the power to kill with a single glance; by "fascination". Celeste Mottahedin-Fardo.


Bastille: A tower or bastion of a castle; a fortified tower; a small fortress (OED n.1).

Reference to the Bastille prison in Paris. Pulter uses this image to exemplify her own entrapment and confinement. Celeste Mottahedin-Fardo.

A Bezoar is a mass which is usually found in the stomach, and which were historically sought after due to their alleged power of being the antidote to any poison. Rose Routh.

King James Bible 3.13: And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. Robin Stevens.

Behest: this can either mean a ‘vow, or promise’, or ‘a command, injunction, bidding’ (OED n.1-2). It is unclear which meaning Pulter intended.
A hero from Greek mythology, known as one of the great slayer of monsters. He was the son of Poseidon by Eurynome, wife of Glaucus of Corinth. Bellerophon finds Pegasus and asks the king for his daughter's hand in marriage. However he kills a man (possibly his brother) and is sent to King Proteus to be cleansed of his crimes. Proteus' wife tried to seduce him, but she accused him of attempted seduction when he rejected her. Proteus sent Bellerophon to his father-in-law with a sealed message to get rid of Bellerophon (because harming a house guest would displease the gods). However Iobates did not open the message immediately, leaving him in the same situation. Iobates sent Bellerophon on a series of 'impossible' quests including the Chimera, the Solymi and the Amazons. Bellerophon was finally forgiven and married to Iobates' 2nd daughter, Philonoe. Arrogantly he decided he could fly Pegasus to Mount Olympus and see the gods. Zeus stopped this quickly, making Pegasus fall and crippling Bellerophon. Arrogance became his downfall. Anna McCormack.
Bellona, goddess of war in Roman mythology.
A surname of goddess Cybele. Cybele was the great Phrygian Mother of the Gods, a primal nature goddess worshipped with orgiastic rites in the mountains of central and western Anatolia.
Billows: The swell on the ocean produced by the wind (OED n.1)
Varient spelling of 'blubbered' meaning either flooded with tears or (when used loosely for 'blubber') swollen (OED). Jeni Christie-Brown.
Bold Earl
Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex, son of Rbert Devereux 2nd Earl of Essex. He has both military duties and political duties in the House of Lords. He was a strong Protestant, and later became one of the leading Parliamentarians in the Civil War: he was made Captain-General of the Parliamentarian armies upon the outbreak of civil war, heading the army at Edgehill (the 1st pitched battle of the civil war). He successfully launched a campaign and fought the way back to London in 1643 in the battle of Newbury. He died in 1646, and a month after the funeral his grave was vandaised and his effigy beheaded by a former Royalist soldier, and Charles II ordered it to be destroyed after the Restoration although his grave was left in tact.
Bold Worm

The asp (type of snake) that killed Cleopatra.

Reference to the Egyptian Cobra which killed "the Eg[y]ptian Queen" Cleopatra VII. Celeste Mottahedin-Fardo.

Plural usage of the term 'boor,' which refers to a peasant. It can be seen to be a derogatory label, implying a "lack of refinement" (OED). Helen White.
Bosworth Field

This refers to the Battle of Bosworth which occurred on 22nd August 1485. This saw Richard III versus Henry Tudor, who was victorious and went on to become Henry VII. Richard's death effectively ended the Wars of the Roses, which was a series of civil wars fought between the houses of Lancaster and York. There were still subsequent conflicts but the crown remained with the Tudors. These details can be found at Helen White.

Battle of Bosworth in 1485 where King Richard III is killed. It is the end of the War of the Roses.

Pulter is perhaps alluding to Phaeton, a character in Greek mythology who is the son of the sun god Phoebus. In book II of Ovid's Metamorphoses (trans. Sandy 1632), Phaeton demands that Phoebus gives him control of "his Chariot and the sway/ Of his hot steeds" and allow him to guide the sun for a day to prove that Phoebus is indeed his father. Helios reluctantly agrees, warning his son that "a loftie course will Heauan with fire infest". Phaeton is unable to control the chariot and so almost sets 'Heaven's Axle-Tree' on fire, and Zeus eventually sent a lightning bolt to strike the chariot, whereby Phaeton was subsequently killed.
Brave King
Perhaps a reference to Charles I and the Civil War, the next few lines show Pulter's royalist beliefs surfacing.

Bread had biblical connotations: The bread of life; also to break the sacramental bread in the Communion of the Lord's Supper, to administer or join in the Communion. To eat a morsel of bread is to eat a morsel of Christ’s flesh. Here the two are separated as different things, where sometimes they are joined (OED). William Britton wrote in Silent Meeting (1660) that “...nothing but an Eternal God would Satisfie, to give that Bread, Flesh, and Drink of Life, whereby a poor Soul may grow in Grace” (EEBO). Any poor soul may be saved if fed with God’s goodness and grace.

Bright expantion
The sun
bright eye
Could be a description of the sun but the sense of an omniscient watching eye suggests that Pulter is referring to God. Francesca Nyman.
bruised Reed
A way of saying that one should not kill a person who is already hurt or close to death. "A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth." (Isaiah, 42:3). Helen White.
A bird with "handsome pulmage and and a short, hard, rounded beak; well known for its aptness to be trained as a singing bird" (OED b.).
Townspeople. Possibly from the german word Bürger, meaning citizen.
Imprisoned in her husband's country house from a very young age, this line echoes Pulter's poem entitled, 'Why must I thus be confined?', and is similarly an expletive of suppressed frustration. The 'Sad story' of line thirty five could refer to her sorry state of existence, and the 'Rise to Glory' could be allusions to an anticipated rising success in her literary career, in spite of the confinement. Nevertheless, the last eleven lines primarily becomes her own self-reflexive commentary on her religious attitude towards fate and mortaility. As a royalist Arminian, Pulter is refuting the suffering and pain Calvanists endured in their efforts to determine whether they were part of the Elect. She affirms her own belief in the security of God's grace, the imperishable hope she has of salvation in the afterlife.
Obs. To break suddenly. Chiefly said to things possesing considerable capacity for resistance and breaking with loud noise (OED). Carlos San Martín Cuesta.
bushes mourne like Jewes in white
Pulter may perhaps be referring to Buddhist and Hindu customs of wearing white as a colour of mourning, or alluding to the Jewish practice of covering the deceased's body with a white shroud. The bushes are 'wearing white' as she is likely to be writing in the winter of 1647 and so they are covered in snow or frost.
But whether...
"But whether....doth know": Pulter demonstrates the Seventeenth Century uncertainty surrounding what lies beyond our solar system. They didn't know whether the Sun answers to another one of its kind, or whether what they could see was the limit of the universe. Charlie Cosham.
by his steps
In the Bible, to follow in the footsteps of God, or Christ, is to follow his example and guidance. In keeping with the tower and climbing references used throughout this poem, Pulter puns on the word to ‘step’ to refer to stairs; for a biblical reference see I Peter 2.21.



The title of the Roman Emperors, especially those from Augustus to Hadrian. An autocrat. (LION and Oxford Reference Online). Helen Swan.

In emblem 31 Pulter alludes to the fact that it was prophesied to Julius Caesar that he would be assassinated on one of the ides (Suetonius, par. 6). She asserts that even with this knowledge he was unable to save himself.

Gaius Julius Caesar, Roman Emperor. He is assassinated by the Senate.

Caesars Browes
May be a reference to the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar and the line "The angry spot doth grow on Caesar's brow", Act 1, Sc2 ( The text may allude to this play in the plot: Caesar is killed/betrayed by those around him who argue they do so for the greater good. For example, after killing Caesar Brutus claims he loved Caesar, but killed him because he loved Rome more (making this a possible allusion to the actions of the Puritans in England). In the play the use of omens may link to some of the meteorology imagery in this poem.
Calcined: Reduced to dry powder or ash by burning; subjected to the thorough action of fire; purged by fire (OED). Priya Darshini Chakrabartty.
To subject to a heat sufficient to desiccate thoroughly, destroy contained organisms (OED 1.b).

Calcined; "reduced to dry powder or ash by burning; subjected to the thorough action of fire; purged by fire (OED).

Sarah Hutton, in her article Hester Pulter; A Woman Poet and the New Astronomy (2008) writes that Pulter uses these "metaphors of alchemical transformation" to "anticipate the reunion with the divine after death" (p. 81-2)

Reducing by fire to a powder; desiccating by heat; burn to ashes (Shorter Oxford English Dictionary). Octavia Cox.

Inexperienced, immature, raw (OED). Often used in connection with bird images: can also mean the unfledged young of birds. Used to describe the soft downy hair that is characteristic of young birds before they grow proper feathers. Used in Emblemes by Francis Quarles 1643. “…The Boy had then but callow wings…” (EEBO). Again used in connection with a bird metaphor implying immaturity and a capacity for change and growth. Pulter uses 'callow' in connection with the mother Raven ironically, as opposed to her young: being immature herself she neglects to look after them.

Canaans Calvary

"And when they were to come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do... "(Luke 23: 33-4).

Calvary, the place where Christ is crucified in the Bible, lies within Canaan; "the ancient proper name of Western Palestine" (OED).

Able to hold much; roomy, spacious, wide (OED).
Arthur Capell, 1st Baron Capell of Hadham (20 February 1608–9 March 1649), was an English royalist. Capell at first supported the opposition to Charles' arbitrary government, but soon allied himself with the king's cause, on which side his sympathies were engaged, and was raised to the peerage by the title of Baron Capell of Hadham, on the 6th of August 1641. On the outbreak of the war he was appointed lieutenant-general of Shropshire, Cheshire and North Wales, where he rendered useful military services, and later was made one of the Prince of Wales' councillors, and a commissioner at the negotiations at Uxbridge in 1645. He attended the queen in her flight to France in 1646, but disapproved of the prince's journey thither, and retired to Jersey, subsequently aiding in the king's escape to the Isle of Wight. He was one of the chief leaders in the second Civil War, but met with no success, and on the 27th of August, together with Lord Norwich, Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle he surrendered Colchester to Fairfax. Unlike Lucas and Lisle, however, he succeeded in escaping from the Tower, but was later captured and condemned to death by parliament. Carl Cerny.
Carpet Knight
Originally, perhaps = knight of the carpet (see CARPET 2c); but, usually, a contemptuous term for a knight whose achievements belong to ‘the carpet’ (i.e. the lady's boudoir, or carpeted chamber) instead of to the field of battle; a stay-at-home soldier. In modern use with less reference to the lady's boudoir, and more to the drawing-room with its avoidance of practical work (OED). Maria Fsadni
A casket in this period was an expensive or decorative box for jewels and other valuables. In relation to Jane’s body and soul, it is suggestive of the emblem tradition, in which the body is simply a box for the soul; unusually, both physical and spiritual beauty are praised as greatly valuable (OED).
The Caspian Sea: The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. It has a surface area of 371,000 square kilometers (143,244 sq mi) and a volume of 78,200 cubic kilometers (18,761 cu mi). It is an endorheic basin (it has no outflows), and lies between the southern areas of the Russian Federation and northern Iran. It has a maximum depth of about 1025 meters (3,363 ft). Carl Cerny.

Catoblepas: The head of the catopblepas (a bull-like creature) is so heavy it is unable to look up. However, if the beast ever was able to lift its head, anyone who looks into its "poysonous Eye" would die immediately. Celeste Mottahedin-Fardo.

Catablepe, or catoblebas: A mythical creature, 'The Catoblepas or Catoblepe originates from Ethiopia, it is said to live near the spring that is the source of the River Nile. It's name come from Greek which translates to "that which looks downwards". The Catoblepas is four legged beast with a bull like appearance, it has a long mane that falls across its head, the beast's body is covered in hard scales.' It kills any living thing by its look. (Mythical and Fantasy Creatures).

Cause. Octavia Cox.
Celestiall Dew

Celestiall: Of a divine or heavenly nature. Dew: Minute drops of moisture as coming with refreshing power. Characteristic of the morning of life, of early years, like the ‘early dew’ (OED). In connection with the young ravens and with the use of the term “nourished” so God feeds and develops his young, gives them life.

An alternative spelling of celestial, in this case pertaining to heavenly objects (OED).
To 'Judge' (OED).
Roman equivalent of Demeter, goddess of agriculture, grain, and bread, the prime sustenance of mankind.
Chaos of confusion
In the bible, creation starts from an earth "without form, and void" (Genesis 1.2) and some translations use the word 'chaos'. This is a popular literary trope for describing the world's origins; George Sandy's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses (1632) also refers to the world as intially "form'd out of Chaos" (1.1).
Chastity: The elephant was seen as an allegorical representative of biblical figures. There is a distinct parallel between the qualities of the elephant and the christian tradition; the perceived ability of elephants to worshop and conceive offspring both demonstrate in their own way the christian significance of the animal'. This reference to 'Chastitie' and 'Innocently' (22) could be links to Genesis with Adam and Eve.

The Cheapside Cross, in Westcheap London, was one of the Eleanor crosses, twelve ornately decorated statues erected in the thirteenth century by King Edward I to commemorate his dead wife Eleanor of Castile. The monuments marked the resting places of his wife’s body on her final journey to London. After being defaced on numerous occasions throughout the preceding centuries the cross at Cheapside was finally demolished in May 1643. The removal of the cross was sanctioned by the parliamentary Committee for the Demolition of Monuments of Superstition and Idolatry. In the lead up to the English Civil War, the cross had become symbolic of the religious division pervading the country and for the puritans it was a pernicious symbol of Roman Cathlic idolatry. Though relatively unknown the destruction of the Cheapide Cross is considered one of the most significant examples of iconoclasm in English history. For more information regarding the Cheapside cross see Julie Spraggon’s Puritan Iconoclasm in the English Civil War, (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2003 (Studies in Modern British Religious History)). Francesca Nyman

Cheapside Cross was one of twelve stone monuments erected by Edward I between 1291 and 1294 in memory of his wife Eleanor of Castile. The Cheapside Cross was demolished soon after Charles I had fled London by parliament. The cross was seen to encompass the doctrinal debates of the civil war. To puritans, it was the embodiment of Catholic tradition and at least one riot occured when supporters of the cross attempted to stop its destruction (EEBO). Madeleine Beresford.

Chemically. Octavia Cox.

Chemic (adj): For those engaged in the study or practice of chemistry. In early use, the terms Chemic and Alchemic are often indistinguishable (OED 1.a.). Priya Darshini Chakrabartty.

On one level, the title of this poem, 'The 'Circle', refers to the ouroboros, the self-birthing snake that devours its own tail. The ouroboros is the ancient symbol of eternity, the perfection of art and the completion of the alchemical opus - opus circulatorium (on the ouroboros, see H.J. Sheppard, 'The Ouroboros and the Unity of Matter in Alchemy' in Ambix (1962)) The 'circle' may also be part of the process of dissipation, resulting in the passing away or wasting of a substance or form of energy (OED). For the Chymick, in placing too much value material wealth without first asking for the grace of god, is unable to perceive the soul and ultimately is 'refin'd by Fate and Time to dust'. For Pulter, spirituality is the true object of the alchemical process and the essence of eternal life. On a spiritual level therefore, the circle represents the all-encompassing God. (Jane Archer, 'A "Perfect Circle"? Alchemy in the Poetry of Hester Pulter'). Priya Darshini Chakrabartty.

"Of an angelic choir" (OED); the association of larks with song is a common one. See William Birchley's Hymn V, Wake now, my Soul, and humbly hear (1668) for a similar relationship between the song of the lark and the soul's ability to go beyond "earth/ Or Ayr" (15-6).

'Cynthia' is a word that's often used in place of Artemis (the Greek goddess of the Moon). The background to this lies in the a legend which claims Artemis was born on Mount Cynthus. Charlie Cosham.

A name for Artemis or Diana from Mount Cynthus in Delos where Artemis was born. Used to poetically represent the moon (LION and Oxford Reference Online). Helen Swan.

Cynthia is a name for the goddess Artemis because she was born on Mount Kynthus (Cynthus) on the sacred island of Delos. Artemis is the goddess of the moon in Greek Mythology. (Stewart, Michael Stewart, "People, Places & Things: Cynthia", Greek Mythology: From the Iliad to the Fall of the Last Tyrant.


Cynthia, an epithet of Artemis, goddess of hunting, wilderness and childbirth. She was associated with chastity having asked her father Zeus to grant her eternal virginity. She was very protective of her purity and gravely punished men who attempted to dishonour her.
Comes from the verb ‘circumvolve’, meaning “to revolve in a circular path or orbit” (OED. 2.b). At the time Pulter was writing, this was an extremely new word, having its first use mere decades before, thus showing her to be acutely aware of the scientific advances of her time.

"A block or heavy piece of wood, or the like, attached to the leg or neck of a man or beast, to impede motion or prevent escape" (OED). Man's soul is therefore trapped by his physical body and prevented from 'flying', like a dove, to heaven. 

Chloris; the Greek equivalent of Flora. She is the Goddess of flowers and the personification of spring. By stating that Chloris has 'fled', Pulter is indicating the absence of flowers and foliage from the landscape.

Another of the three fates or Moirae in Greek mythology; Clotho spins the thread of human life which Lachesis subsequently measures.



A greasy foodstuff. Simpson, John et al eds."Collop". Oxford English Dictionary online. 1989. Second Edition. Oxford Universisty Press, 2009. Warwick University Library. 8 Mar 2009 .

This stanza demonstrates some of Pulter’s astrological knowledge, in which she had a decent grounding. Rose Routh.

communion; "the fact of being associated or linked; association, connection" (OED).
"confind to this sad grove": Pulter wrote much of her poetry from the manor house in Hertfordshire that her husband built. A common theme in her writing expresses the confinement she felt here, although the reason behind this remains ambiguous (taken from Alice Eardley's onilne bibliographic summary). Charlie Cosham.
Consumption by a blazing fire (OED).
"The accord or harmony of several instruments or voices playing or singing in tune" (OED 3a).
The term 'consumption' was a general term applied to a wide range of bacterial diseases in the 17th century. In 1651, Robert Wittie wrote in 'Primrose's popular errors' that 'They doe not distinguish the true consumption from other diseases, but call every wasting of the body, a consumption.' Pulter seems to be elevating the manucodes by distancing them from visceral mortality.
Satisfaction (OED).
corner stone

In the Bible the term ‘corner-stone’ is used as a description of Christ on whom the house of God is founded (Ephesians 2. 20). The corner stone is a significant part of a building’s foundation and Pulter’s use of the term is in keeping with the structural, architectural vocabulary of her poem as a whole.


"To exchange against or for another" (OED 1.). The final stanza of John Hall's "The Lure" from Poems (1646-7) uses this word in a similar way, concluding that;

"Then shall aggrandiz'd love confesse
That souls can mingle substances,
That hearts can eas'ly counter-changed be" (XIV. 79-81).

To revoke or annul a command (OED). Thus there is no method available to man to rid himself of the plagues.
Countrey Grange
Reference to Pulter's country home, Broadfield Hall, where she wrote most of her poetry. Celeste Mottahedin-Fardo.
A symbol of pride, self-confidence, or high spirits (OED 1.b) or excrescence (OED 1.c), like that of the tail of a comet.
Cretian youth
Icarus, son of Daedalus. Exiled from Crete and imprisoned at the hands of King Minos, Daedalus was a master craftsman. To escape from the island he fashioned some wings, warning his son not to fly too close to the sun or the wax holding the feathers on would melt. Icarus and Daedalus flew out, but out of excitement/arrogance Icarus flew higher and higher despite his father's warnings. The sun melted his wings and he fell down, drowning in the Icarian Sea. Anna McCormack.
Cristall Glass
A mirror. Looking into the mirror lets each of the characters in the emblem see their own reflection, and encourages pride in their appearance.
Crookd backs
This should be read "Crook'd back's" and refers to Richard III, who according to legend had a hump or crooked back, as well as a withered arm and a limp. These are, however, speculations and unlikely to be fact. Helen White.
Possessing practical knowledge or skill; able, skilful, expert, dexterous, clever (OED).
Cypress; "a well-known coniferous tree, Cypressus sempervirens, a native of Persia and the Levant...with hard durable wood and dense dark foliage; often regarded as a symbol of mourning" (OED 1a.).



dame; "a mother of animals" (OED n.8b)



Damon and Pithias

In Greek mythology, Damon and Pythias symbolise devoted friendship. First told by the Greek philosopher Aristoxenus (4th Century), Pythias was sentenced to death by Dionysius I for plotting against the tyrant. Damon offered himself as a prisoner so that Pythias could settle his affairs before his death. Damon was almost killed as Pythias did not return on the appointed day but just before Damon's execution, Pythias returned. Pythias apologised for the delay, due to him being thrown overboard and having to swim ashore to save the life of his friend. Dionysius subsequently pardoned both men, impressed by their trust and loyalty. 

The myth was a popular subject for many plays and poems, such as Richard Edwards' Damon and Pithias (1571) which concludes with a reference towards true friendship in relation to the monarchy. 


To destroy, annihilate, abolish, eradicate, do away with (OED 1).

May refer to 'Delian' "Of or belonging to Delos, an island in the Grecian archipelago, the reputed birthplace of Apollo and Artemis" (Delian, a.1, OED).
Tell with grief or lamentation (OED).
Lucifer was cast out from heaven, and driven to hell, therefore an angel who became a devil, Isaiah, chapter 14:12, King James Bible (Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia).
Obs. Religiously attached (OED). Carlos San Martín Cuesta.
Dew and its celestial connotations are mentioned several times in the bible, but the direct reference to the 'Dew of Heaven' calls to mind Isaac's blessing to Jacob in Genesis 27:28: 'Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine' (King James Bible). In The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Robert Burton writes that Manucodes are 'Eastern birds of Paradise, that doe live on aire and dew.'
A sundial; more specifically, the graduated surface which the shadow falls upon to tell the time of day. Can also refer more generally to a timepiece of any kind or the face of a watch or clock. Madeleine Beresford.

Diana was the Roman goddess of fertility, nature and childbirth. Often identified with the ancient Greek goddess Artemis, she took on many aspects of Artemis, including that of the chaste huntress. She was also worshipped as a moon-goddess, moons being a further symbol of chastity and purity.

In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt and chastity. In Ovid’s Metamophosis, Book III features the story of Diana and the hunter Actaeon. In punishment for stumbling upon her while she was bathing, Diana turned Actaeon into a stag, and was then killed by his own hunting party.

 Roman equivalent of Artemis, see annotation for 'Cinthie'.


Roman Emperor. Notorious for the Diocletianic persecution, in which he persecuted Christians.

Dipsas: A serpent whose bite was fabled to produce a raging thirst (OED).
Dissolving or being dissolved (OED).
Dissolve. Octavia Cox.
In other words, dies.
'Dittany' is a 'labiate plant, Origanum Dictamnus, called also Dictamnus Creticus or dittany of Crete; formerly famous for its alleged medicinal virtues' (OED). Virgil refers to this magical plant in his Aeneid, when the goddess Venus brings it to her wounded son Aeneas, in order to heal him of an arrow wound: ‘Of dittany from Cretan Ida – dittany / With downy leaves and scarlet flower, a plant / That wild goats know about when struck with arrows’, Virgil, The Aeneid, trans. Robert Fitzgerald (London: Everyman’s Library, 1992), XII.364-66. John Gerard, a seventeenth century English botanist, also described and illustrated dittany in his work The Herbal (1633). Emma Conway.
"of or belonging to each day; performed, happening, or recurring every day; daily" (OED).
divided splendour
In Roman mythology, Castor and Pollux, or Kastor and Polydeukes as they are recognised in Greek mythology, are another symbol of true friendship. Despite sharing the same mother Leda, Castor was mortal, having been fathered by Tyndareus, and Pollux was immortal, having the god Zeus as his father (although many other variations of their birth exist). When Castor died following a confontation with his cousins Idas and Lynceus, his brother requested that Zeus allow him to share his immportality with him. As a result, the pair then spent alternate days in the Underworld and with the Gods at Olympus.
Domitian was a Roman Emperor who was assassinated in 96 A.D. (Donahue, par. 10).
Doris was the Okeanid nymph wife of the sea-god Nereus, and the mother of the fifty Nereides. Her name is connected with two words--dôron, "gift" or "bounty," and zôros, "pure" and "unmixed."

The dove is a symbol of eternal peace, in contrast to the ant who is emblematic of earthly toil.

See William Birchley's "Hymn XXXIV Come mild and holy Dove" (1668) for a similar connection between the dove and heavenly rest.

The fine soft covering of fowls, forming the under plumage, used for stuffing beds, pillows, etc. (OED).

Here, Pulter adds a spiritual element to the art of alchemy; "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." Ecclesiastes 12:7. Man, despite being the 'Universe's chiefest Glory' cannot escape the fate of death. In the alchemical process, the poison (the unintended bi-product of making the philosopher's stone) calcifies the silver and gold, thus destroying the last vestiges of life. The resultant dust is compared to that of a cremated body 'lying obliviated in their Urn.' There are echoes of Thomas Browne's Hydriotaphia: Or, Urn Buriall throughout Pulter's poetry. Priya Darshini Chakrabartty.

The most likely definition is “the mortal frame of man” (OED 3.b). This has particular resonance to the following passages from the Bible: "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Genesis ii.7) “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." (Genesis iii.19)

dust must end
biblical allusion; "for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Genesis 3:19).


Pulter is probably thinking of Aegaeon, or Briareus, a monster with a hundred arms and fifty heads. He was the offspring, together with his brothers Cottus and Gyges, of Uranus and Gaia, or heaven and earth (Brill’s New Pauly, vol. 6, pp. 57-8). Pulter’s account of Briareus’s actions in the battle between the Gods and the Titans is different from conventional versions of the story. The more common version is recounted by Goulart who states that Briareus ‘by the solicitation of Thetis, mounted up to Heaven to assist Jupiter, against whom the other gods intended to make warre’ ((1621), ‘Book One’, p. 296). In Pulter’s version, Briarus is fighting on the side of the Titans.
Elder Pen
Penelope Pulter (1633-1655) is Pulter's fifth recorded child. Penelope's year of birth, recorded in the Cottered parish register, is two years before that of Ann Pulter, and so she is the "elder" sister of the poem.

The daughter of Agamemnon. She saves Orestesand entrusts him to Strophuis (a companion of Menelaus). She is given in marriage to Pylades (the son of Strophuis). She is the mother of Medon and Strophuis. She took her father's sceptre to Phocis, a small region of central Greece (LION and then the Persues Encyclopaedia). Helen Swan.

The ‘heavens’ or celestial spheres of ancient astronomy (OED).

Biblical reference: Alexander Grosse published an address known as Deaths Deliverance and Eliah's Fiery Charet (1632) in which Grosse bid his hearers consider carefully the choice of successor to Mattihas Nicols, lecturer of Plymouth. (ODNB)  Eliah was looked after by God when he was in need: demonstrated in A Coppy of a Letter Written by John Lilburne, Close Prisoner in the Wards of the Fleet (1640): “I told her I did not doubt but that God that fed the Prophet Eliah by a Raven, would preserve me, and fill me to the full by the way of his providence” (EEBO). The Raven becomes a tool in God’s hand, in Pulter’s poem the Raven neglects her own children but by God’s power and love he is able to get the “hard-hearted” creature to do good and feed Eliah when he is in need of help. John Lilburne acclaims his faith in God by using this story as evidence of God’s power.

Elephant: In terms of the literary history regarding emblems and elephants, Cesare Ripa in his emblem book 'Iconologia', places the elephant in emblems for 'religion' and 'temperance' (these were emblems 260 and 293). Pulter also read a lot of Pliny and Pliny used elephants as examples of moral greatness, perhaps leading to the elephant being used for a didactic purpose in this poem. Pliny had references regarding elephants and religion. He stated '[Elephants] have in religious reverence (with a kind of devotion) not only the starres and planets, but the sunne and moone they also worship' (Natural History (1601), 'First Tome', p. 192).
Elixir, or perhaps the elixir of life, is a "supposed drug or essence with the propertly of indefinately prolonging life" (OED 2.).
Elizian Fields
In Greek mythology, the elysian fields are a section of the underworld for the souls of the heroic and virtuous, "a place or state of ideal or perfect happiness" (OED 3.).
A body of ephors. An ephor is a title given to certain magistrates who may then exercise a controlling influence over the monarch (OED). Helen White
In Greek mythology, the Erinyes (or Furies as they are known in Roman mythology) are female personifications of divine vengeance. In The Iliad they are referred to as "those who beneath the earth punish whoever has sworn a false oath" (iii.278).
Pulter's allusion is to Eris, Greek Goddess of strife, discord and rivalry. She is mentioned in Homer’s Iliad, a Goddess who haunts the battlefields, delighting in human bloodshed. Pulter talks of Aeschylus’ sacrifice to this goddess since Aeschylus prided himself more on his military achievements than on his dramatic art. His epitaph concurs: This tomb the dust of Aeschylys doth hide, Euphorian's son and fruitful Gela's pride; How tried his valor Marathon may tell, And long-haired Medes, who knew it all too well.
Erra Paters
An almanac. Jessica Moreton.

Scallop. A bivalve mollusc of the genus Pecten (OED). Here Pulter conjugates the divine will ultimately responsible for the act that 'sends the Poets Ryming Soul to Hell' (10) and the natural motive of the eagle wishing to break the shell of its prey so as to feed on it.

The OED defines 'Scallop-shell' as 'the shell of the escallop, usually a single valve of the shell.


Aeschylus was a Greek playwright, often considered the inventor of tradgedy. He was producing his first plays around the turn of the 6th Century BC. As the poem begins we are told he is anticipating his impending death by an object falling from the sky, as it has been prophesied to him.

Pulter draws on the legend surrounding the death of the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus (b. 525 BC). He supposedly met his death when an eagle mistook his bald head for a rock and dropped a tortoise on it.

Eternity. Octavia Cox.
To do away or extinguish the guilt of (one's sin); to offer or serve as a propitiation for (OED v.3). Pulter is saying that her confinement would be more bearable if it were penance for her minor transgressions.
To breath out (OED). To die in this case. Carlos San Martín Cuesta.


King Jame's Bible Matthew 26: And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand. Maria Fsadni.
fair Venus
"The second planet in order of distance from the sun, revolving in orbit between those of Mercury and the earth; the morning or evening star." (OED II.5).
Feirce Hydras

In Greek mythology, Hydra has the body of a serpent and multiple heads (of which the precise number varies according to different sources) which regrew if severed from the body. The allusion to Hydra is a way of indicating a "baneful or destructive character" (OED 2.), in this case towards the Parliamentarians who have usurped the king.

Probably 'films'. In 'The Experienced Farrier ...' by E.R.Gent, published in 1681, there is a description of a natural remedy for use on horses' inflamed eyes to wipe away 'any felm or skin that groweth over them' (EEBO). Jeni Christie-Brown
Fiction of the Gyants
The ‘fiction’ to which Pulter refers appears in the first book of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which was widely perceived to be a pagan corruption of the biblical book of Genesis. Simon Goulart, for example, in a text directly referenced by Pulter in emblem 10, writes: ‘Furthermore, it seemeth that from this History of Moses (as touching the Tower, and the confusion of the builders) the fabulous discourse of the Poets was derived (recited by Ovid in the first booke of his Metamorphosis) as touching the Giants, who heaped Pelion upon Ossa, Mountaine upon Mountaine, to scale Heaven and to dispossesse Jupiter of his Throne. In this sort hath Satan endevoured to falsifie the verity of holy Histories. But this proud building sheweth that worldly thoughts are, which undoubtedly tend to no other end, but to despise the true celestiall immortalitie, to seeke out a false, fading and terestriall pleasure’ ((1621), ‘Book Two’, p. 171). The vocabulary used by Goulart is very similar to that in Pulter’s poem, suggesting she used his text as a source for her material. Goulart includes a reference to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which appeared in several English translations during the first half of the seventeenth century (Oakley-Brown (2006), pp. 13-15). Pulter appears to have used George Sandys’s edition (1632), which was accompanied by a lengthy textual commentary. Sandys notes that the giants represent ‘too potent subjects, or the tumultuary vulgar; rebelling against their Princes, called Gods, as his substitutes: who by their disloyaltie and insolencies violate all lawes of both God and man, and profane whatsoever is sacred’ ((1632), p. 27). This message is in keeping with the critique of earthly ambition that Pulter provides in her poem and with the political message, directed against those who rebelled against Charles I, of her collection as a whole.
Elephants used to be used as a weapon of war.
Filters: (In a wider sense) Any contrivance for freeing liquids from suspended impurities; esp. an apparatus consisting of a vessel in which the liquid is made to pass through a stratum of sand, charcoal, or some porous substance (OED 2.c.). Priya Darshini Chakrabartty.
ie. fiend
The Latin word finis, meaning "the end" or "the goal". Carl Cerny.
Finite. Octavia Cox.
flatuous; of a windy nature (OED).

Flora is the goddess of blossoming flowers. She had a minor temple on the Quirinalis and was given a sanctuary near the Circus Maximus in 238 BC. The festival of the Floralia, celebrated on April 28 -May 1, existed until the 4th century CE. Flora is identified with the Greek Chloris.

"In Latin mythology, the goddess of flowers; hence, in modern poetical language, the personification of nature's power in producing flowers" (OED).

Flowered Mantle
Mantle; "A protective garment or blanket" (OED). The grass is covered by Flora's "Flowered Mantle" as it is a "summers day" (25).
Flying Fish
A name given to two kinds of fish (Dactylopterus and Exoc tus), which are able to rise into the air by means of enlarged wing-like pectoral fins (OED).
Fortunes Wheel

The wheel of fortune is an "emblem of mutability" (OED 12a.) in medieval and ancient philosophy, turned at random by the Goddess Fortuna who dictates the fortune, or misfortune, of others. The wheel of fortune is also linked to the notion that prosperity and success are not necessarily a consequence of personal merit, for example Fulwell's "The second Dialogue betweene the Author, and Lady Fortune" from The First Parte of The Eyghth Liberall Science (1579) where he laments that the fate of man is subject to;

"Haphazard dame Fortune, your wheel runnes to fast
You lifte vp a fool, and a wiseman downe cast".

The poem depicts the speaker  (Pulter) lamenting a personal loss, probably that of a child, and wishing that her sorrow caused by this could be put to good use rather than being wasted in such large quantities. Rose Routh.
In reference to the poem's title: The front piece or forepart of anything. a. The face or forehead. Chiefly jocular (OED).
Frowning vapours
Fulgor: dazzling brightness; splendour.
A long, narrow trench made in the ground by a plough (OED). Octavia Cox.


Fashionable People (OED).
Gallant Train
Gallant: Gorgeous or showy in appearance, finely dressed, smart (OED). 'Gallant Train' appears in Psalm xlv:14 to describe damsels attending Pharoah's daughter and is a phrase often used in 17th century literature to indicate the grandure of the person or country or army to whom the attendant train belongs (EEBO).
Gallitea was a Nereid, and was the beloved of Acis, a Sicilian shepherd. She was also loved by Polyphemus, who killed Acis with a boulder in jealousy. From his blood, Galatea created the river Acis on Sicily.
Gaudy Fly
Sir Thomas Brown says in his Pseudodoxia Epidemica that the fly signifies war. ((1646; 6th ed., 1672) II.vii p. 109-114). As well as meaning highly ornate or showy, gaudy also used to have the meaning of being full of trickery (OED a.2 2-3a).
Giddy Mill

Pulter is symbolising the inevitable passing of time with the passing of sand through an hour glass; "a contrivance for measuring time, consisting of a glass vessel with obconical ends connected by a constricted neck, through which a quantity of sand (or sometimes mercury) runs in exaclty an hour" (OED 1a.).


A translation of Alanus de Insulis' "Non teneas aurum totum quod splendet ut aurum" (Parabolae). Shakespeare uses the phrase 'verbatim' in 'The Merchant of Venice' II.vii, as well as George Herbert. N.J.S. Collins.

Glistering: The action of the verb ‘glister’; brilliance, glitter (OED).

Verb from the Middle English 'glistren' meaning to glitter or shine ( Celeste Mottahedin-Fardo.

Gloomy. Octavia Cox.
Pliny's history states that Elephants 'remember what duties they be taught, and withall take a pleasure and delight both in love and also in glorie'.
Gnomon 1. A pillar, rod, or other object which serves to indicate the time of day by casting its shadow upon a marked surface; esp. the pin or triangular plate used for this purpose in an ordinary sun-dial. (OED) c. jocularly. The nose. Obs. (OED). Francesca NymanMadeleine Beresford.
good king
King Charles I (1600-1649). Following his execution on 30th January 1649, the monarchy was abolished and England was declared republic, called the Commonwealth of England.
Gossamer; "a fine filmy substance, consisting of cobwebs, spun by small spiders, which is seen floating in the air in calm weather, or spread over a grassy surface" (OED).
Grand Rebellion
The death of the young lady's love perhaps occurs during the siege of Oxford in 1646, near the end of the First Civil War (1646-1646). Charles I set up his court and military headquarters in Oxford during this war, but fled in April 1646 as the New Model Army approached the city. Oxford eventually surrendered on June 24th of that year.
Pulter is referring to Grays Spring, a spring which is believed to have existed "a mile to the north of Broadfield Hall", Pulter's home (A History of the County of Hertford Volume 3 (1912) pp. 209-11). It was said to have powers of petrifaction, where any object in contact with the water of Gray's spring would be transformed into stone.
possibly an adjective to denote "avarice, greed" (OED), as the farm labourer is aiming for the greatest amount of crop possible.
An unpopulated and inhospitable Greek island. Gyaros appears in Virgil's Aeneid (3.76) and Ovid's Metamorphoses (7.470).


Hadassah is the Hebrew name for Esther, who appears in the Bible, and whose name Pulter used as a pseudonym.

Pulter's description of the way in which sand passes through an hour glass could be based upon the verb "heddle"; "to draw (warp threads) through the eyes of a heddle" (OED 1b.), a heddle being an integral part of a loom which separates the warp threads. This link between thread, the passing of time and the passing of human life is similar to that of Lachtsis and Clotho, a greek myth that Pulter also refers to in "Why art thou sad at the approach of Night".

The Oxford English Dictionary records the earliest known use of "heddle" as a verb in the latter part of the nineteenth century, so another possibility is that of the sand being "handled" through the glass. 


Halcyon: A bird of which the ancients fabled that it bred about the time of the winter solstice in a nest floating on the sea, and that it charmed the wind and waves so that the sea was specially calm during the period: usually identified with a species of kingfisher, hence a poetic name of this bird (OED n.1).

1)" Greek myth - a fabulous bird associated with the winter solstice". 2) "A poetic name for the kingfisher". Collins English Dictionary. Gemma Connell.

Hamadryad; "a wood-nymph fabled to live and die with the tree she inhabited" (OED 1.)
The German town of Hamelin. Pulter alludes to the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, a legend which is believed to originate in the thirteenth century. Her source is most likely to be Richard Verstegan's, A restitution of decayed intelligence: in antiquities Concerning the most noble and renovvmed English nation. By the studie and trauaile of R.V. Dedicated vnto the Kings most excellent Maiestie (1605) which includes the first known English account of the story (Ch.3 p.84-87).
Possibly 'hankers'; "to linger or loiter about with longing or expectation" (OED 1.).
A 'Hart' is 'the male of the deer, esp. of the red deer; a stag; spec. a male deer after its fifth year' (OED). The white hart is an extremely rare animal; indeed 'it has been a creature surrounded by mystery, a beast whose very existence is suffused with myth and legend.' In this emblematic poem Pulter may be drawing on the tradition of the hart being a symbol of royalty. In fact, ‘King Richard II adopted the white hart as his personal emblem’ which helps to explain the prevalence of 'white hart' pub signs all across England. Emma Conway.
Heavens Axle-Tree

An axis is "the imaginary or geometrical line which forms the axis or revolution of any body, e.g. the earth, a planet, the heavens" (OED 4.) thus in Greek mythology, heaven's axletree is the alignment of the heavens.

Jesus Christ.

Hermes was a messenger of the Gods in Greek mythology. "Thrice happy" could be a reference to Hermes apparent sexual relations with the three sisters: Herse, Aglarus and Pandrosus. As a result of these relationships, Hermes fathered three children - Cephalus, Eumolpus and Ceryx (respectively). Charlie Cosham.

Hermes, in Greek mythology, was the messenger of the gods, and the son of Zeus. Hermes had a winged hat and sandals, which helped him in his task of conducting the souls of the dead to the underworld. Octavia Cox.

Greek version of the God Mercury, whom the planet is named after. Mercury is the closest planet to the sun.

Hermes is the messenger of the gods in Greek mythology. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of thieves and road travelers, of orators and wit, of literature and poets, of athletics, of weights and measures, of invention, of general commerce, and of the cunning of thieves and liars.

King best known in the Bible for 'The Slaughter of Innocents'; ordering the deaths of all male children aged two years and younger in order to destroy Jesus. Died from excruciatingly painful and grotesque illness. (Gospel of Matthew; Josephus, 'Antiquity of the Jews').
Herod was a proud and evil king who, upon hearing of Jesus’s birth, ordered for all babies under two years old to be slaughtered, so as to eliminate the threat of another king, Matthew, chapter 2:16 , King James Bible (Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia).

The wife of Romulus. She was, just as her husband, deified after his death. Also the goddess of Courage and mediator in the Sabine/ Roman war.

In Roman mythology, Hersilia was the wife of Romulus. She is referred to in Ovid’s Metamorphosis, Book XIV, when she is deified as Hora, accompanying her husband who has become the god Quirinus. In George Sandy’s 1632 translation, as Hersilia rises to become a goddess, ‘a starre shot from the skie, / Whose golden beames inflam'd Hersilia's haire’.

"The evening star" (OED).

Hezekiah was one of the Kings of Isreal, an account of whom can be found in the Old Testament (2 Kings 18). Pulter observes that no one can add years to their life unless God decides otherwise. She offers Hezekiah as a case in point. When he was dying the king asked God to prolong his life and was granted an exta fifteen years as a result.

King of Judah. Great and good king, he introduced religious reform and reinstated religious traditions.

Pulter draws on the biblical story of Hezekiah from Kings, Book 2, 2-6. Hezekiah, King of Judah, was granted another fifteen years of life and the promise of divine protection from an Assyrian invasion after weeping and praying to God.

In Ovid's Metamorphoses, this flower springs from the blood of the slain youth Hyacinthus (X. 211), and "the ancients thought they could decipher on the petals the letters AI or AIAI, an exclamation of grief" (OED 2a.).
Hide Park

Hyde Park: In her autobiography, Mary Rich, looking back on her youth during the 1640s, describes how she was 'as vain, as idle, and as inconsiderate a person as was possible...spending my precious time in nothing else but reading romandes, and in reading and seeing plays, and in going to court and Hide Park and Spring Garden', Autobiography of Mary Rich, Countess of Warwick, ed. with introduction and notes by Croker, T. G. (Percy Society Publ. 76.) (1848), p. 21. Rich gives a good indication of the kind of person who would have frequented the fashionable parks at this time; the kind of person of whom Pulter doesn't approve. Elizabeth Clarke.

Hydra: A many headed snake like monster with venomous breath.
One of the key paradoxes regarding how elephants were viewed revolves around the fact that the elephant was praised for its human qualities, yet it was used as a beast which man could dominate. Pliny stated that 'the elephant is the greatest and commeth neerest in wit and capacitie to man' (192).
Probably referring to the grey appearance of moths, 'hoary' meaning 'Of colour: Grey, greyish white' (OED 2).
holy day

"A day consecrated or set apart for religious observance, usually in commemoration of some sacred person or event; a religious festival (OED)"

Pulter is here alluding to the absence of manual work, an abstinance usually associated with the observance of a holy day.

One of three heavenly Graces; personified in the New Testament (1 Cor. xiii. 13). N.J.S. Collins.
huge Fabrick
The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11.3). For an alternative emblem of the Tower of Babel see Willet who uses it to warn against the ambition and internal division of great families, ((1592), no. 43, sig. F3v).
Being the second closest planet to the sun, Venus has a particularly fast orbit. Charlie Cosham.


(Ichneumon) Actually an insect, but it is also a supposed animal described in Medieval writings. In fact, in Medieval literature, the ichneumon or echinemon was the enemy of the dragon. When it sees a dragon, the ichneumon covers itself with mud, and closing its nostrils with its tail, attacks and kills the dragon. The ichneumon was also considered by some to be the enemy of the crocodile and the asp, and attack them in the same way. The Greek word translated as "ichneumon" was the name used for the "pharaoh's rat" or mongoose, which attacks snakes; it can also mean "otter".

In the ancient Roman calendar, the eighth day after the nones, i.e. the 15th of March, May, July, October, and the 13th of the other months (OED).

Pulter refers to the Ides of March, the day Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC. Despite being warned the Ides of March would bring great peril upon him, Caesar summoned a Senate on this day, after declaring himself dicatator of Rome. A group of Senators, the Liberators, looking to reserve the Republic, plotted and carried out his murder at the Senate, stabbing him twenty three times.


Large tell near Hissarlik on the Aegean coast of Asia Minor overlooking the Dardanelles. Discovered by Heinrich Schilieman in 1871 and proclaimed as the lost city of Troy referred to by Homer in the Iliad (LION and the Oxford Reference Online). Helen Swan.

Embraced: To clasp in the arms, usually as a sign of fondness or friendship (OED).
To shut up or enclose within walls; to imprison; to confine as in a prison or fortress (OED v.2).
Possibly "impeding"; "that impedes or obstructs; hindering" (OED).
This refers to the ambiguity regarding the Ptolemaic system (with the Earth at the centre of the universe) and the Copernican system (which placed the sun at the centre) of the structure of the Universe. Galileo was beginning to prove the old geometric model wrong after over 1,000 yars of acceptance.
in grain
In grain [short for dyed in grain, or a rendering of F. en graine], adjectival phrase = dyed scarlet or crimson, fast dyed; hence in figurative use, esp. with contemptuous epithets, as ass, fool, knave, rogue, etc.: Downright, by nature, pure and simple, genuine, thorough. Also as predicate, indelible, ineradicable, INGRAINED (OED).
The word 'inherit' carries strong connotations of the most famous of the Beatitudes, ‘Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth’ (Matthew 5.5). This opens the more religiously focused section of the poem, which concentrates on the inheritance of God’s grace rather than earthly gifts or inheritances, such as that of Jane’s beauty. From the King James Bible.
Enjoy. Octavia Cox.
Inns of Court
"The four sets of buildings in London belonging to the four legal societies which have the exclusive right of admitting persons to practice at the bar, and hold a course of instruction and and examination for that purpose; hence, those four societies themselves" (OED 5c.).
in the Orient
"That part of the world situated to the east of a particular point; eastern countries, or the eastern part of a country; the East." (OED 1a.)
Involved: (ppl. a.: 1. lit. a.) Curved spirally. b. Enfolded, enwrapped. OR 2. Of persons, their actions, etc. Not straightforward and open; underhand, covert, crooked, reserved. OR 3. Intricate, complicated. b. Contained by implication, implicit (OED). The word involved here is unlikely to fit with definition 2, as the poem is designed to praise the king, though you might want to read some distrust of the king here.
involv's herself
Involve: ‘To roll or enwrap in anything that is wound round, or surrounds as a case or covering’ (OED 1), referring to the crysalis of the silk worm.

Radiates. Charlie Cosham.

b. specific in Astrology: To cast beams upon (OED v.1).

Isis, ancient Egyptian goddesss, representative of birth, growth and development.
I to dust
Biblical allusion to Genesis; "for dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return" Genesis 3:19.


The "worldly jars" could be a reference to the physical 'jars' of alchemy in keeping with the references to elixers and potions of the earlier lines, or perhaps a wider reference to the "discord,  want of harmony, disagreement" (OED II. 5) in the physical world, unhappiness from which Pulter wishes to free her soul in order to reach "eternall joyes".

Jehu is the son of Jezebel and is told in 2 Kings chapter 9 by a prophet's message that he is anointed king of Israel. Due to this belief of his divine right to rule, Jehu conspires to dispatch of the current monarch, Joram. When Jehu arrives in Jezreel, Jezebel asks him "Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?" (2 Kings, 9:31). In his anger, Jehu orders that Jezebel be thrown from her window into the field, whereby the prophesy of her death is fulfilled. Helen White.

A servant associated with Jezabell's death.

In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, England had been home to a sizeable Jewish population. Under Edward I, however, the Jews were first impoverished by heavy taxation and punitive fines and then, when they could provide no further revenue, expelled from the country in 1290. For the following three and a half centuries, Jews were banned from English soil. In the 1650s, Menasseh ben Israel, a rabbi and leader of the Dutch Jewish community, approached Oliver Cromwell with the proposition that Jews should be readmitted to England. Cromwell quickly recognized the religious, political, and financial sense of the rabbi's arguments. Although he could not compel a council called for the purpose in December 1655 to consent formally to readmission, he made it clear that the ban on Jews would no longer be enforced. In these respects, to Pulter the Jews represent an allied group of Cromwell’s, readmitted to England to support his campaign against the Royalists. Carl Cerny.

Having referred to the example of Hezekiah Pulter cites the less favourable outworking of God's sovereignty in the case of another bibical figure. Jezebel brought false witnessness against the owner of a vineyard her husband sought after, in order to have him killed so they could take his land (1 Kings 21). The gruesome fate to which Pulter refers was prophesied by Elijah and is recounted in 2 Kings 9, where those who intend to bury Jezebel's body find only her skull, hands and feet.

Jezebel features in the Biblical books 1 Kings and 2 Kings. She is the wife of Achab, the King of Israel. She prevailed upon Achab to establish the worship of Phoenician deities in Israel, and persecuted and slew prophets. A prophet named Elias killed 450 priests of Baal (Jezebel's religion) on Mount Carmel and so Jezebel sought his life. She also played a large part in getting Naboth (who refuses to give Achab his vineyard) stoned to death. Elias hears the word of the Lord upon this matter and declares divine retribution upon Achab and Jezebel: Achab shall be licked by the dogs in the very field where they licked the blood of Naboth, and the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the field of Jezrahel. These details can be found at The spelling of Jezebel varies between sources but I have maintained this spelling to be in keeping with the online King James Bible. Helen White.

Queen of Ancient Israel. She uses her power as queen to impose the worship of her god. She continues to rule after her husband's death and she is responsible for many slaughters. She is eventually thrown out of a window and eaten by dogs.

The two Book of Kings recount Jezabell's story as the Phoenician wife of King Ahab of Israel, principally portraying her as a scheming, manipulative women, the epitome of evil. She is eventually thrown out of the palace window for encouraging sexual immorality; her body is left in the street for the dogs to devour. See Agrippina reference for more discussion.

(Jonah in Hebrew) is a Biblical figure, referred to both in the Old (Book of Jonah) and in the New Testament. He is ordered by God to go to the city of Nineveh to prophesy against it. Jonah seeks to flee from "the presence of the Lord" by going to Jaffa and sailing to Tarshish. A huge storm arises and the sailors, realizing this is no ordinary storm, cast lots and learn that Jonah is to blame. Jonah admits this and states that if he is thrown overboard the storm will cease. The sailors try to get the ship to the shore but in failing feel forced to throw him overboard, at which point the sea calms. Jonah is miraculously saved by being swallowed by a large fish where he spent three days and three nights (Jonah 1:17). In chapter two, while in the great fish, Jonah prays to God in his affliction and commits to thanksgiving and to paying what he has vowed. God commands the fish to vomit Jonah out. In this Emblem the fish or monster who kept Jonah in his stomach is the Leviathan.
The Roman equivalent of the Olympian goddess Hera, queen of the gods and goddess of women and marriage.

Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun, and the largest in our solar system. Pulter likens it to a King due to it having four moons attending it, as well as a set of rings. Charlie Cosham.

In 1610 Galileo observed Jupiter through a telescope and saw "three little stars" which were "carried along with the planet", he later saw the fourth, and thus discovered Jupiter's four moons.




Charles I was King of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1600 to 1649, whose conflicts with Parliament led to civil war and his eventual execution. He was put on trial for treason by a group of radical MPs, including Cromwell and executed outside Banqueting House on Whitehall.



laced; "entwined with a climbing plant" (OED). The larke is therefore mistaking the spiders' webs for mirrors, laced through the grass by the "Rurall swains".
In Greek mythology, Lachesis is one of the Three Fates or Moirae, the personifications of destiny, and measures the thread of human life.
Extravagant (OED).
Lawrell Bowes
Laurel Boughs: Associated not only with Caesar and celebrating victories but with Apollo, God of poetry.
Layes or lays are either tunes or lyric poems designed to be sung. The word is also applied to the song of birds (OED).

Biblical sea creature referred to in the Old Testament (Psalm 74: 13-14; Job 41; Isaiah 27:1). The world Leviathan has become synonymous with any large sea monster or creature, and in Modern Hebrew it means simply whale. Leviathan is the title of Thomas Hobbes’ 1651 work on the social contract and the origins of creation of an ideal state. In Paradise Lost, Milton uses the term Leviathan to describe the power of Satan, ruler of many kingdoms. This shows that this word can be used in many different ways in literature, but in the case of this Emblem it can be considered as a monster and a symbol of pride.

A gigantic mythical sea monster, thought to have a snake or crocodile like appearance, mentioned a number of times in the Bible. It is associated with the devil. Also the title of a contemporary political work by Hobbes which suggested that the British people were justified in rebelling against Charles II since he no longer protected them and that this justifies the new government. In this poem, Pulter was possibly criticising the work and revealing her maintained allegiance to the Royalist cause. "Leviathan." Encyclopedia Mythica. 2009. Encyclopedia Mythica Online. 08 Mar. 2009 Noel Malcolm, ‘Hobbes, Thomas (1588–1679)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [, accessed 8 March 2009]

Linnet; a "common well-known song-bird...its plummage is brown or warm grey; but in summer the breast and crown of the cock become crimson or rose-colour" (OED 1.).
SIR GEORGE LISLE, D.1648 George Lisle gained military experience in the army of the Prince of Orange during the 1630s and served as a captain in King Charles' army sent against the Scots in the Bishops' Wars (1640). He supported the King on the outbreak of the First Civil War and was commissioned lieutenant-colonel in a regiment of dragoons. During the Second Civil War, Lisle was one of the ringleaders of the Royalist uprising in Kent which General Fairfax suppressed at the battle of Maidstone in June 1648. Lisle led the survivors of the battle across the River Thames to join forces with Sir Charles Lucas and occupy Colchester. The long and bitter siege of Colchester ended on 27 August with the Royalists' surrender. Controversially, the Parliamentarian generals Fairfax and Ireton condemned to death four senior Royalist officers in Lucas and Lisle. One escaped, one was reprieved, but Lisle and Lucas were executed by firing squad in Colchester Castle, after which they came to be regarded as Royalist martyrs. Carl Cerny.

Editor's note: the transcription is not clear at this point and it is possible that 'lonely' should instead read 'lovely'. However, given the message of the lines that follow, 'lonely' seems to be the most likely interpretation.

Longuives Peirce that guiltles brest

Pulter is perhaps alluding to an event described in the Gospel of John. Following his crucifixion, Jesus' body is removed from the cross by the Romans because "bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day" (John 19: 21). The soldiers plan to break the legs of Jesus' body but discover that he is already dead, and he is subsequently stabbed in the side, and "forthwith came there out blood and water" (John 19: 34).

"Longuives" is perhaps a reference to Saint Longinus, the name given to this soldier that pierced Jesus' side in medieval and modern Christian traditions. However the specific name of the soldier is not given in the biblical account. 



Lovly Children Die
Only two of Pulter's fifteen children survived her and many of her other poems deal with this bereavement, for example, "Upon the Death of my Deare and Lovely Daughter J.P" and "On the Same [1]".
SIR CHARLES LUCAS, 1613-48 Charles Lucas was the younger son of Thomas Lucas, a barrister of Colchester in Essex, and the brother of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle. After attending Christ's College, Cambridge, Lucas gained military experience in the Netherlands during the 1630s and in the Bishops' Wars (1639-40) where he commanded a cavalry troops. He was knighted by King Charles in July 1639 and appointed military governor of Richmond in Yorkshire in September 1640. During a series of rebellions in 1648, Lucas took command of the Royalist insurgents of Essex. Trapped by Fairfax’s Parliamentarians in Colchester, a long and bitter siege arose. When the Royalists finally surrendered and Fairfax occupied the town, he ordered the executions of Lucas, Sir George Lisle, Arthur Capell and George Goring and others by firing squad. Royalists protested that the executions violated the terms of the surrender, but Fairfax insisted they were justified by the rules of war. After his execution, Lucas came to be regarded as a Royalist martyr. Carl Cerny.
Leucothia, a Greek sea nymph.
Lybian Hammon
The Lybian god of the setting sun. He was represented as a ram. One of the chief Gods, and shares characteristics with Zeus/Jupiter of Greek/Roman mythology.
Lily; a flower sometimes "applied to persons or things of exceptional whiteness, fairness or purity" (OED 3a.).
"A stringed instrument of the harp kind, used by the Greeks for accompanying song and recitation" (OED 1.) and a "symbol of lyric poetry" (OED 1b.)


Softening or separating by steeping in liquid (Shorter Oxford English Dictionary). Octavia Cox.
"A protective garment or blanket" (OED); the grass is covered by Flora's "Flowered Mantle" as it is a "summers day" (25).
A bird of paradise (OED). From the Latin 'manucodiata', originally from the malay 'manuk dewata' - Bird of the Gods (OED). J. Tradescant, in 'Musaeum Tradescantianum' (1656), writes of 'Birds of Paradise, or Manucodiata' (OED).
Mars is the 4th planet from the Sun, and is named after the Roman god of War. The reference to it having no Sabbath seems to imply a relentless energy. Charlie Cosham.
Mastiffs; "A breed of large, powerful dog with a broad head, and pendulous lips, used as a guard dog and for fighting; a dog of this breed." (OED a.).

The witch who helped Jason win the Golden Fleece and later married him. Jason, for whom [Medea] had done so much, wishing to marry Creusa, princess of Corinth, put away Medea. She, enraged at his ingratitude, called on the gods for vengeance, sent a poisoned robe as a gift to the bride, and then killing her own children, and setting fire to the palace, mounted her serpent-drawn chariot and fled to Athens, where she married King Aegeus. Robin Stevens.

Mainz: German town and bishopric in Hesse (modern Rhineland-Palatine), which was part of the Holy Roman Empire during the seventeenth century. In the fifteenth century became known as 'Golden Mainz' for its rich wool and linen trade though by the 1630s was quite poor and suffering under the Swedes, who demanded the secularisation of the archdiocese. The bishop of Mainz, however, resisted this call and by the eighteenth century the town was wealthy again, still the diocese (i.e. territory subject to the rule of a bishop). Lins, Joseph. "Mainz." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 191.

A head-covering, headband, or similar device (chiefly in secular contexts) (OED).

Mitre: in ancient Israel the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) wore a headdress called the Mitznefet which was like a flat-topped turban.


Originally: a native or inhabitant of ancient Mauretania, a region of North Africa corresponding to parts of present-day Morocco and Algeria. Later usually: a member of a Muslim people of mixed Berber and Arab descent inhabiting north-western Africa (now mainly present-day Mauritania), who in the 8th cent. conquered Spain. Until the 17th century it was generally believed that the term 'Moor' referred to a black or dark-skinned person, although the existence of ‘white Moors’ was recognized. The Moors were driven out of their last Spanish stronghold in Granada at the end of the 15th century by the Reyes Católicos (Catholic Monarchs) Fernando and Isabel, completing the "Christian Reconquest of Spain" (OED).

Population of North Africa, often Muslim people.

Mortal. Octavia Cox.
Moth: The creatures used in this poem are often intended to represent negative qualities, and the moth 'was used in the 17th century to mean someone who was apt to be tempted by something that would lead to their downfall' (Gary Martin, 'The Phrase Finder').
Pulter’s mouse and oyster metaphor can be compared to Emblem 95, “Trapped by gluttony” in the emblem book of Andrea Alciato; “Lord of provisions, and nibbler of the master's table, a mouse saw the oysters gape with lips spread wide. He put his soft beard inside, and bit their deceptive bones: but when the oysters were touched, they suddenly slammed shut their dwelling-place. They held within the hideous prison the captured thief, who had given himself into this darkened tomb.”

"To toil, work hard, drudge" (OED). This meaning of 'moyle' is also coloured by the sense of becoming defiled, wet or muddy. Pulter is therefore assocating a sense of coarseness with man's labour, and life in general, upon earth, in contrast to the "eternall rest"(45) in heaven.


See "moyle".
Referred to the Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus). It is the largest whale and, hence, the largest living animal and is believed to be the largest animal ever to have existed.
The Muses were nine ancient Greek goddesses, patrons of arts and sciences such as heroic poetry, tragedy, dance and astronomy. Often, they are identified with Mount Parnassus and Delphi, the home of the prophetic sibyls. The singing of the Muses was traditionally led by Phoebus Apollo.
My father
Hester Pulter’s father was James Ley, first earl of Marlborough (1550–1629); a judge and politician. He graduated BA from Brasenose, Oxford in 1574. Ley chose to enter Lincoln's Inn in1577, being made utter barrister in 1584, and subsequently serving as reader of Furnival's Inn. In June 1603 he gained a Welsh judge's place on the Carmarthen circuit. Ley was knighted by King James at Wilton House on 9 December 1603. He was appointed chief justice of king's bench in Ireland, and in 1608 was rewarded with the lucrative office of attorney-general of wards. He was made baronet in the summer of 1619, and later appointed to the prince of Wales's council. In January 1621 was he at last raised to the eminence of lord chief justice of king's bench. Ley received the treasurer's staff and was sworn in as privy councillor. Ley served as treasurer until July 1628, when he resigned in favour of his deputy, Sir Richard Weston (ODNB).
my life
Possibly an auto-biographical reference, alluding to Pulter's early marriage at 13 which seems to have been an unhappy one. N.J.S. Collins.



Naptha: A 'volatile, flammable liquid' (OED). Robin Stevens.

Probably meaning Nemesis: "an agent of retribution" (OED).
Neptunes brine
Ie., the sea. Neptune is the Roman God of the sea.
The Emperor Nero is alleged to have had his mother, Agrippina, assassinated (Hurley, par. 16).
The River Nile.

In her description of Nimrod and the Tower of Babel, Pulter draws directly on the vocabulary of her biblical source. In Genesis Nimrod is described as ‘a mighty hunter before the Lord’ (10.9) and we are told that the people of Shinar constructed the tower to make themselves ‘a name’ and to prevent themselves being ‘scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth’ (11.4). The Bible also states that in their construction of the Tower, the builders had ‘brick for stone, and slime they had for morter (11.3). In her account, Pulter changes the emphasis of the story, possibly in response to the description provided by Richard Verstegan (see note to line 3), to focus on the individual of Nimrod, not the collective aim of multiple builders.



"Originally with reference to Europe and America as opposed to Asia and the Orient" (OED 1.).
of this Fount I pertake
Pulter appears to mean "partake" in its sense of "to have qualities of characteristics in common" (OED 2c.); likening herself to the 'dull' stone that Gray's Spring produces when in contact with animate objects.
one flesh
Biblical reference to Adam's marriage with Eve. As Eve is created of Adam's rib, so the bible defines the act of marriage as that of a man leaving his father and mother and cleaving to his wife, becoming one flesh with her. A tongue-in-cheek reference to the way in which Davenant acquired his disease (i.e. having sex) and how he might pass it on (OED). Madeleine Beresford
A chiefly poetic term used to describe a “celestial object” (OED 2.b), which in this case seems to be either the or the moon, as Pulter relates the manner in which the orbs shine. Contemporaneously used by Milton in Paradise Lost in 1667: “Of Light by farr the greater part he took..and plac'd In the Suns Orb.” (Paradise Lost VII. 361)
Oread; in Classical mythology, "a nymph that inhabits mountains" (OED).

Brilliant, radiant, resplendent (OED).

Orient Pearl: A particularly valuable or rare pearl. See The Gawain Poet, 'Pearl' 255: "That juel..Set on hyr coroun of perle orient." N.J.S. Collins.

orient kingdoms
In reference to Persia and India, where elephants were so important. Carlos San Martín Cuesta.
our age
Seventeenth century. Carlos San Martín Cuesta.
our Eternall good
The Christian Doctrine of Salvation advocates an eternal and spirtual deliverance from the consequences of sin, through belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus; "for God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3: 17).
our Halcion days
The halcion days refer specifically to "the fourteen days of calm weather, anciently believed to occur about the winter solstice when the halcyon was brooding" (OED B1.) but can also signify, as Pulter uses the term, a sense of being "calm, quiet, peaceful, undisturbed" (OED B2.).
Oviparos Brothers

Oviparos: Producing young by means of eggs which are hatched after they have been laid by the parents. Gemini: A northern constellation (the Twins) said to represent the twins Castor and Pollux whose names are given to its brightest stars. (LION and Oxford Reference Online). Helen Swan



In this sense, ‘A stake, fence, or boundary’ (OED n.1)
pale Cinthia
Cynthia; an epithet for Artemis, the Greek goddess of the moon. Pulter is therefore referring to the question of the phases of the moon.

Possibly a play on the word PALACE and the popular 17th century notion of the body as costly architecture. See Spenser's 'Faerie Queene', book 2 Canto IX. Robin Stevens.

Pallas Athena
Athena who gave the olive tree (sign of peace) to the city of Athens as a gift.
fig. Chiefly with the. Victory, triumph; supreme honour or excellence, as in martyrdom; the prize; the first place" (palm n1, OED 2b). This definition of 'the prize' ties in with the prize of the "Lawrell Bowes" in the same line. The Palm may also refer to "fig. A distinguished or pre-eminent person" (palm n1, OED 4) or finally may also make reference to Palm as "A white wine from Palma. Also more fully Palm sack" (Palm n3, OED) as something which refers to the Charles's royalist or cavalier culture.
Parcae: The Fates, in Roman mythology (OED).
Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, 1 Timothy, chapter 2:13, King James Bible (Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia).
cf Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night', II. iv. 114: "She sate, like Patience on a Monument, Smiling at greefe." Also, Spenser's Faerie Queene. N.J.S. Collins.
Patroclus, and Achillis
In the Iliad, Achilles and Patroclus share a strong friendship which is one of the key elements of the myth of the Trojan War. It is the death of Patroclus at the hands of Hector that leaves Achilleus vowing to seek revenge and sees him enter the war in book XVIII.
To share in.
Artemis or Diana as goddess of the moon; the moon personified (OED).

In Ovid's Metamorphoses (trans. Sandy (1632)) Philomela is the daughter of the King of Athens and sister to Procne. She is raped by her sister's husband, King Tereus of Thrace, and vows to tell the world of his crime. In order to prevent this, Tereus severs Philomela's tongue (VI. 486-570).



Phoebus is a name adopted in classical mythology for either the god Apollo or, as in this case, the Sun. Charlie Cosham.

Phebus (Phoebus) is an alternative name for the ancient Greek god of music, Apollo, the son of Zeus and Leto (OED). Among his many areas of patronage, Apollo was a god of light and it was in this form that he was known as Phoebus (meaning radiant or beaming), often identified with Helios, the sun god. Phoebus is also associated as Apollo as god of music and poetry and the swan was one of his sacred animals.

Literally, "the radiant one". In Greek mythology, an epithet of Apollo because of his connection with the sun or as descendant of the Titaness Phoebe (his grandmother). The Romans venerated him as Phoebus Apollo.


Pigmalion's ivory lass: Pygmalion was a talented ancient Greek sculptor, famous for his ivory statue of a beautiful lady, which he named Galatea meaning ‘sleeping love’. After creating this statue he went to the temple of Aphrodite and prayed for a wife like the statue that he had made. Aphrodite proceeded to bring the statue to life and Pygmalion and Galatea got married.

The story of Pygmalion features in Ovid’s Metamorphosis, Book X. Pygmalion ‘in ivory with happy art a Statue carves’, which he falls in love with. Venus brings the beautiful statue to life, and Pygmalion marries her.

In this case “one who undertakes a course of spiritual development leading towards heaven, a state of blessedness, etc.; a person who experiences [a] period of estrangement from such a state" (OED. 3). This is often used in allusion to Hebrews 11:13: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth”

Ants (OED). Ants are a common symbol of diligence, perseverence and hard work.

See "The Dove and the Pismire" trans. Thomas Philipot (1682).

Pithagorian: An idea that follows or accords with the lifestyle advocated by Pythagoras or his followers; spec. vegetarian (OED). Putler is particularly referring to those who follow Pythagoras' philosophy of not killing animals.
Within Richard Lovelace’s poem 'Toad and Spyder' it is suggested that emblematically plantain is “peace-meal” or holy communion bread: "Anon the Toad begins to pant/Bethinks him of th' Almighty plant,/And lest he peece-meal should be sped" (lines 143-45). Maria Fsadni.

Plumage or mass of feathers (OED). Used in many biblical texts at the time of Hester Pulter’s writing it was often used in connection with magnificence and grandeur, but also pride. For example, John Adamson, The Ark, its Loss and Recovery (1640): “...greater fall. The proudest plumes must down, when God disgraces...” (EEBO).


This is probably a reference to the Pole star, which is approximately aligned with the Earth's axis of rotation. Rose Routh.

The naked eye star nearest to the north or south pole (LION and Oxford Reference Online). Helen Swan.
May be better understood as "Primum Mobile": "In Aristotelian cosmology the first or outermost sphere of the heavens. The perfect, spherical rotation of this sphere is directly activated by love of God; the motion is as like the life of God as movement can be." (Philosophy Dictionary At this point in the poem, it seems to acknowledge King Charles I's divine right as king, directly influenced by God.
An extraordinary thing or occurrence regarded as an omen; a sign, a portent (OED 1). One such ‘prodigie’ was the Great Flood which occurred in Genesis of the Bible.
Prodigious (adj. (and int.) and adv. A. adj. (and int.)): 1. Of the nature of an omen; portentous. 2. a. That causes wonder or amazement; marvellous, astonishing. Also in an unfavourable sense: appalling. 4. Of great size, extent, amount, etc.; enormous, immense; extreme; prolific (OED).
The punishment is an allusion to the ten plagues imposed solely upon Egypt by God in the bible, in order to convince the Pharoah to release Israelite slaves. For the biblical reference see Exodus 7:1 - 12:36.
"That purls, as a rivulet or stream; eddying, rippling; murmering" (OED). Pulter's description of the aural qualities of the river relate to those of the Larke in the earlier lines of the poem.
Purling Spring
Purling, adj; "That purls as a rivulet or stream; eddying, rippling; murmering" (OED).
Purple Mantle
Mantle: A loose, sleeveless cloak (OED). 'Purple Mantle': Associated with the dress worn by clergymen. Jeni Christie-Brown.


That quaffs; that drinks deeply or copiously (OED).
Queen of Love

Aphrodite or her Roman equivalent Venus, goddess of beauty, love, procreation and pleasure.

To quicken: To give or restore life to; to animate (as the soul the body) (Shorter Oxford English Dictionary). Octavia Cox.
"In classical and and medieval philosophy; a fifth essense existing in addition to the four elements, supposed to be the substance of which celestial bodies were composed and to be latent in all things; (Alchemy) this essence, supposed to be able to be extracted by distillation or other procedures" (OED 1a.).
Most likely 'choir'.


Shining.  Carlos San Martín Cuesta.

Rarefy: To lessen the density or solidity of (OED).

 To make thinner or less material; to refine, purify (OED. 2.a).

Pliny the Elder writes, on the authority of the greek moralist Theophrastus (B.C. 372-287), that the natives of the island of Gyaros were forced to abandon their homes due to mice and rats ("Naturalis Historia" (Trans. Philemon Holland) 1601).

Often an animal used for example in biblical texts. George Abbot paraphrased the entire book of Job from the bible: “CHAP. XXXVIII. 41. Or, is it by thy or my providence, that the Ravens are provided for, and that the yong ones being early forsaken of the old, and wanting skill to shift for themselves, wandring here and there, yet have their cries heard, which nature hath taught them, to put up to God in their necessity, and answered with supply of food?” (EEBO) Pulter adopts this idea in the poem of the mother neglecting her young and their cries being heard by God which promotes his benevolent image.


Radiant, resplendent, gleaming (OED). Robin Stevens.

Shining with, or reflecting, a brilliant light; radiant, resplendent, gleaming (OED). N.J.S. Collins.

Elephant religion seemed to be one based around worshipping the sun.
Reptiles. Celeste Mottahedin-Fardo.
Pliny stated that elephants 'embrace goodnesse, honestie, prudence, and equitie' (192).

Register; "to make an appropriate impression on the person intended" (OED). Pulter is perhaps also utilising 'register' as a musical term, a noun which refers to the "compass of a voice or instrument; the particular range of tones which can be produced by certain voices" (OED). This therefore sustains the image of the lark as a "Chorister" from the previous line.


Pulter is perhaps using the term 'revolution' to denote both "an instance of great change or alteration" (OED) from life to death and, in the astrological sense that opens the poem, "the action or fact, on the part of celestial bodies, of moving round in an orbit or circular course; the apparent movement of the sun, stars, etc., around the earth" (OED). This connection between the shift from night to day and death to life is also used by Pulter in "The Center".

"A small stream" (OED); relating back to the spring in line 36.
The Beane, Mimer, Sturt, Lea, Pury Vale and the Colne are all rivers which ran through Hertfordshire at the time that Pulter was writing. Her listing of local rivers is similar to that in Poly-Olbion (1612), a topographical poem by Michael Drayton where this type of detail is a patriotic exercise, a sense of patriotism which relates to the Royalist sentiment of the entirety of Pulter's poem.
Rivulet; again, denoting the small stream of the previous lines.
Roman Lucrece
Acording to the Roman historian Titius Livius (59BC - 17 AD), Lucretia was the virtuous daughter of one of the consuls of Rome. She was raped by Sextus Tarquinius, the violent son of the King of Rome, in 509 BC . She subsequently committed suicide using a knife concealed in her dress, unable to live having lost her honour. Her death is said to have brought about the downfall of the monarchy and the establishment of the Roman Republic. The rape and death of Lucretia has been a popular subject for authors and artists, including William Shakespeare in The Rape of Lucrece (1594) and Geoffrey Chaucer's The Legend of Good Women (1386).
Round whom

The heliocentric theory of the cosmos, more readily accepted by Protestants than Catholics, became more prominent in the seventeenth century due to the work of scientists such as Galileo Galiliei, whose Dialogues on the Great World Systems was published in 1632. As well advancements in scientific theory, the growing popularity of the telescope was indicative of a general increase in interest in astrology.

For more information see; Sarkar & Pfeifer The Philosophy of Science: An Encyclopaedia, 2005.

Roll: to be enveloped (OEDv.2 9).
Riot, disturbance, stir, uproar (OED).
Routed: compelled to flee in disorder (OED).
Royall Fergus
The phrase “Royall Fergus Line” refers to the ‘Dal Riata’ Kings of Scotland, who King James were descended from. Dál Riata [Dalriada], (act. c.500–c.850), rulers in Scotland, were the lords of a realm whose name was also given to an ancient small kingdom, situated in the north-east corner of Antrim, northern Ireland, and named from the dál (‘division’, primarily in the sense of people rather than territory) of Réte—a mythical ancestor. A regnal list, versions of which are still extant, began with Fergus [Fergus II; called Fergus Mór] (d. 501). King James VI referred to himself as a “Monarch sprunge of Ferguse [Fergus’] race”(Celtic Identity and the British Image, Murray Pittock (1999), p18 (ODNB).
Royall Queen
Charles I's wife, Henrietta Maria of France, whom he married in 1625. She lived from 1609-69. Her marriage to Charles, Prince of Wales, required a special dispensation from the Pope because it was the first time that a Catholic princess had married a Protestant prince. Politically, it was a move towards an alliance between France and England against Spain. The marriage took place in May 1625 when Henrietta was 15 and Charles was 24. Her Catholicism alarmed the English Parliament, and she was not allowed to be crowned alongside her husband when he succeeded to the throne of the Three Kingdoms as King Charles I in February 1626.
Rurall swains
Shepherds of low degree.


Most likely to mean "the colour black; black clothing" (OED); Pulter is perhaps here combining the image of the 'horrid night' with images of death, both of which are temporary states of darkness and fear that will be overcome by the hope of daylight, and the 'infinite Power and Love' of God.
Sable hew

The colour black describes the feathers of the raven. This phrase was also used by Sir Aston Cokain in A Chain of Golden Poems (1658): “...browes above them of a Sable hew: And both thy Roseal...” (EEBO)

The offering of prayer (OED).
sad place


King Charles I was held prisoner in Hampton Court in London by the New Model Army from September to November 1647 after being deposed by Parliament. Hampton Court had previously been a place of pleasure for the King, who revamped and updated many parts of the court during the more peaceful times of his reign. In November 1647 Charles I escaped from Hampton Court and fled to the Isle of Wight, believing that Army radicals were planning to murder him, and intended to take a ship from there to France. Pulter therefore probably wrote this poem in the winter of 1647 when the King had just fled the city. 

sad shades
Refers to death. Richard Crashaw uses a similar phrase in a poem of 1646: "From Death's sad shades, to the Life-breathing Ayre, This mortal Enemy to mankind's good" (From Steps to the Temple)
Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun and the second largest in our solar system. Charlie Cosham.
Pertaining to the god Saturn. Chiefly with reference to the ‘golden age’ under the reign of Saturn (L. Saturnia regna). Saturnian land (L. Saturnia tellus), Italy (OED).
Saturn; "the most remote of the seven planets known to ancient astronomy...on account of its remoteness and slowness of motion, Saturn was supposed to cause coldness, sluggishness and gloominess of temperament in those born under its influence, and in general to have a baleful effect of human affairs." (OED 2.)

After Saul had been made king, his pride and his anger led him to turn in rage against Samuel, and against God, 1 Samuel, chapter 15:11, King James Bible (Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia).

Saul is identified in the Books of Samuel, 1Chronicles and The Qur’an as the first king of the ancient Kingdom of Judah. He died during a battle with the Philistines, when a part of his kingdom succumbed to Philistine control. The succession was contested by his surviving son Ish-bosheth and their common rival David, who finally became king.

'Fornication' (OED). Also, Pliny saw elephants as a symbol for sexual propiety (Simon Blackburn, Lust, 42).
Sea Fox
A fish called the sea-fox, or fox dog-fish. Some are called the Fox, the Dog, the Sparrow, or Frog-fish. These fish [carp] are extremely cunning, and on that account are by some styled the river fox (OED).
Elephants were trained to launch ships by pushing them off the shore with the weight of their huge bodies (Giles).
A prophetess; a fortune-teller, a witch (OED). Jessica Moreton.
Sycamore; a large species of maple, introduced to Britain from the Continent, and grown as a shady ornamental tree and for its wood. (OED)
See Rosarium Philosophorum: the alchemical opus is portrayed through the coupling of a feminine figure (Mercury) and a masculine figure (Sulphur) and one might identify these figures with the other pair of binary oppositions in the poem, silver and gold. In alchemical literature, silver and gold, like mercury and sulphur, refer not to the actual metallic elements but to the idealized forms of the masculine and feminine principles within perfected matter. (Jane Archer, "A Perfect Circle"?) The detailed relationship that exists between these two pairs of images are elaborated on in Edward Kelly's 'The Stone of the Philosophers', which is included in Tractatus duo egregii, de Lapide Philosophorum, una cum Theatro astronomiæ terrestri, cum Figuris, in gratiam filiorum Hermetis nunc primum in lucem editi, curante J. L.M.C. [Johanne Lange Medicin Candidato] (Hamburg, 1676). Priya Darshini Chakrabartty
Sol, or Sol Invictus, refers to the collective worship of the Sun and Sun Gods.
Sol runs Three Hundred Miles and Hower.

Sol; "the sun (personified)" (OED).

The puzzle surrounding the 'three hundred miles an hour' speed of the sun's movement is just one in a "string of questions which were current in the seventeenth century" that the poem raises (see Hutton p.82).


Spheres: The apparent outward limit of space, conceived as a hollow globe enclosing (and at all points equidistant from) the earth; the visible vault of heaven, in which the celestial bodies appear to have their place (OED).

In the 17th century scholars believed that the universe was made of spheres that enclosed the earth and moved around it, each containing different things like the stars and planets.

Certainly means, a place or position in society/hierarchy.
For another emblematic Toad and Spider poem see: Richard Lovelace, 'The Toad and Spyder. A Duell' in Lucasta (1659-1660). Maria Fsadni.
Of a quality or sentiment: characterized by liveliness (OED). Jessica Moreton.
(1) The Church. (2) A woman who vows her chastity to God, foregoing marriage in order to be more united with Christ. (3) Mystical union of certain saints (Catherine of Alexandria, Catherine of Siena, and Teresa) with Our Lord.

Jason of Argonaut fame. Robin Stevens.

Also spelt "sprightly". Of animals: Lively, sportive (OED).
The character or state of being sprightly; liveliness, vivacity, animation (OED). Jessica Moreton.
squall; "a small or insignificant person" (OED), referring to the farm labourer's son.
Stoic: One who practises repression of emotion, indifference to pleasure or pain, and patient endurance (OED).
strait did die

Historical accounts record that Sir Charles Lucas was indeed killed first by the firing squad at Colchester Castle at the end of August 1648 following the siege of Colchester;

"Immediately following the army's entry into Colchester on 28 August, Fairfax arrested Lisle, Lucas and Sir Bernard Gascoigne (a Tuscan mercenery). By two the next afternoon a court-martial condemned them to death for breaking the paroles they had given in the first civil war. At about seven that evening the three were marched out to Castle Keep. Lucas was first. As his shattered body fell, Lisle ran forward catching it, tenderly kissing the face. Then, standing to recieve the volley, he told the firing squad to come closer lest they miss him". (Carlton, Going to the Wars: The Experience of the British Civil Wars, 1638 - 1651 (Routledge 1994) p. 328).

Many poems were written to commemorate and praise the two men, who soon became Royalist martyrs, such as Henry King's An Elegy on Sir Charles Lucas, and Sir George Lisle (1664). However unlike King, Pulter uses Lisle and Lucas as another symbol of friendship and comradeship, rather than focussing upon their status as Royalist heroes of the Civil War.


According to Edward Topsell in his The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents a Su is mythical creature which looks like a lion, with a large feather for a tail which shelters the young she carries on her back (1658).

Maintain or support oneself, especially at minimum level (LION and Oxford Reference Online). Helen Swan.
Subcelestial, sublunary. Maria Fsadni.
sulpherous mouth
The 'sulpherous mouth' of the pistol referred to in line 15. Sulpher is a non-metallic element and the "discharge of gunpowder" (OED 4a.), and so would be present on the barrel of a gun which has been fired.
The emblem of the Stuart Kings was the sun.
"to divide into two or more parts; to split, break up, cleave" (OED).
As a type of brightness or clearness (OED). Maria Fsadni.

Supercelestial: literally ‘above the heavens’ or figuratively ‘of a nature or character higher than celestial’ (OED 1-2).

'Suspire' is a poetical verb meaning 'to sigh' (OED), the noun form being 'suspiration'. It derives from the latin 'suspirare' which itself comes from 'spirare': to breathe. Charlotte Fraser Annand.
White swans (cf. line 18) are mute, but many sources commend the beauty of their singing, particularly before their death, as Sir Thomas Browne notes in his Pseudodoxia Epidemica: ‘the Musical note of Swans hath been commended, and that they sing most sweetly before their death’ []. The swan is also a royal emblem in England and was officially recognised as such by the Act of Swans, brought in under Edward IV in 1482 [].
King James’ Bible, Mark 5:13, “And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.” Jesus cleanses two men possessed by devils by transferring the evil spirits into a pig herd.
Scythe; "an agricultural implement for mowing grass or other crops, having a long thin curving blade fastened at an angle with the handle and wielded with both hands with a long sweeping stroke" (OED)


Used here as a form for Talmud, a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, customs and history. It is a central text for Judaism, second only to the Hebrew Bible in importance. In the Talmud, the Leviathan is mentioned a number of times.
The tarantula's bite was supposedly cured by dancing. The description of it killing men with laughter could be referring to the hysteria that is experienced by the victim.
A statue set up, or an object buried under a pillar or the like to preserve the community, house, etc. from danger (OED).
Tellus was a goddess that personified the Earth in Roman mythology. Charlie Cosham.
The Circle

On one level, The 'Circle' refers to the ouroboros, the self-birthing snake that devours its own tail. The ouroboros is the ancient symbol of eternity, the perfection of art and the completion of the alchemical opus - opus circulatorium (on the ouroboros, see H.J. Sheppard, 'The Ouroboros and the Unity of Matter in Alchemy' in Ambix (1962)) The 'circle' may also be part of the process of dissipation, resulting in the passing away or wasting of a substance or form of energy (OED). For the Chymick, in placing too much value material wealth without first asking for the grace of god, is unable to perceive the soul and ultimately is 'refin'd by Fate and Time to dust'. For Pulter, spirituality is the true object of the alchemical process and the essence of eternal life. On a spiritual level therefore, the circle represents the all-encompassing God. (Jane Archer, 'A "Perfect Circle"? Alchemy in the Poetry of Hester Pulter'). Priya Darshini Chakrabartty.

the Idol Dagon
Dagon, a semitic God of agriculture, was "the national deity of the ancient Philistines; represented with the head, chest, and arms of a man, and the tail of a fish" (OED 1.). Dagon also symbolises "an idol, or object of idolatrous devotion" (OED 1b.) and so he is a fitting metaphor in Pulter's warning to the "traytors" of the monarchy.
Theorbo Lute
A musical instrument; "a large kind of lute with a double neck and two sets of tuning-pegs, the lower holding the melody strings and the upper the bass strings; much in vogue in the 17th century" (OED).
Thessaly is a region of Greece. According to Greek writers, the Thessalians were the first people to tame and ride the horse and this is where the origin of the cenataur is thought to have come from. Bull hunting on horseback was a Thessalian custom.
Theseus revengd Perithous
Theseus, the King of Athens, first became good friends with Perithous, the King of Lapithae, after the Perithous tried to steal cattle from Theseus to test his fame as a hero. Theseus protected Perithous' wife from the Centaurs on one occasion. The two became trapped in the Underworld by Hades after an attempt to capture Persephone, and only Theseus escaped.
the Turtle Dove
The symbol of the turtle dove is often "mentioned as a type of conjugal affection or constancy" (OED 1a.). In Emblem 20, Pulter describes the bird as "soe kind and constant to her love/ And since his Death her loss she doth Deplore/ For his dear sake and shee'l never Couple more" (2-4). The bird therefore appears to be used by Pulter as a both an emblem of devotional and constant love, and an emblem of everlasting mourning if that love is lost. "In Sadness" by Nicholas Breton (1545-1626) also uses the turtle dove in this way, opening his poem with "The pretie Turtle dove that with no litle moane/ When she hath loste her loving make, sitts moorninge all alone" (1-2).
though I fall yet I may Rise to Glory
Pulter here refers to the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, about which St. Paul writes in his letters. To begin with she asks that she be ignorant of her time of death so she may die without anxiety. However, she concludes by asserting that if she must be aware of her impending death at some point, she would wish God to help her focus on preparing her soul for her eternal desination so as to prevent her becoming too concerned with prolonging her mortal existence. Pulter seems to want to follow Christ's command to 'lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven' (Matthew 6:20 KJV). She thus places herself in contrast with the figures that comprise her preceding anecdotes.
Thraldom: The state of being a thrall; bondage; slavery; servitude. Gemma Connell.
Pulter is perhaps drawing on an image of the Sun as a symbol of the King and monarchy, a common literary relationship in early seventeenth century literature; for example, Jonson's Masque of Blackness (1605) presents James I as a sun king.
The Tiger is a symbol of Pride; in fact she’s described as “scorning pursuers” or “her self lovd beauty makes her in a maze”.
Tilt Yard
A yard or enclosed space for tilts and tournaments; a (permanent) tilting-ground. Tilt Yard guard (OED). Maria Fsadni.
Tinsel; "a rich material of silk or wool interwoven with gold or silver thread" (OED).
Pulter seems to be using a tin smith and shoe mender as symbols for the lower classes.
Obs. To fail, cease, to diminish, give out or come to an end (OED). Carlos San Martín Cuesta.
Charles I was King of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1600 to 1649, whose conflicts with Parliament led to civil war and his eventual execution. He was put on trial for treason by a group of radical MPs, including Cromwell and executed outside Banqueting House on Whitehall.
The poisonous battle between a Toad and Spider is an emblematic tale, typically the two are very well matched but the battle results in the spider's victory. Maria Fsadni.

A half conscious state characterised by an absence of response to external stimuli. (LION and Oxford Reference Online). Helen Swan.

perhaps 'transmogrify'; in the sense of "to alter or change in form or appearance; to transform, metamorphose" (OED 1a.), in reference to the transformation of Adonis and Hiacinthus into flowers in the previous lines.
Most commonly the alchemical term for the action or process of transmuting or changing; the fact or condition of being transmuted or changed (OED 1).
treble motions

The moons were believed to have a treble motion: rotation on their own axes; orbit around their own planets; and finally accompanying their planet around the central sun. Charlie Cosham.

In De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium ("On the Revolutions of the Celestial Orbs"), published in 1543, Copernicus stated that the Earth has "A daily rotation about its center, an annual motion around the Sun, and a conical motion of its axis of rotation", which he called "triple motion".

Turtle Dove

The turtle dove is often seen in literature as solitary or confined in a cage in isolation. This also can be seen to reflect Pulter's own personal state of entrapment. Celeste Mottahedin-Fardo.

Doves were used in many seventeenth century Emblem poems to symbolise hope. They were also associated with the idea of harmlessness. (Chorles Moseley, A Century of Emblems (Vermont: Scolar Press, 1989). Gemma Connell.



Unbraced; most likely to mean "loosened, relaxed" (OED).

1 a: fatty , oily b: smooth and greasy in texture or appearance 2: full of unction ; especially : revealing or marked by a smug, ingratiating, and false earnestness or spirituality ( Celeste Mottahedin-Fardo.

Oily, greasy. Simpson, John et al eds. "unctuous, a." Oxford English Dictionary online. 1989. Second Edition. Oxford Universisty Press, 2009. Warwick University Library. 8 Mar 2009 .

Unctious Embrio

Unctuous: as well as meaning oily or greasy, unctuous can also mean ‘Of ground or soil: Of a soft adhesive nature’ (OED 2). Therefore Pulter could here be referring to dung beetles rolling their dung along the ground.

Unctuous: 1 a: fatty , oily b: smooth and greasy in texture or appearance 2: full of unction ; especially : revealing or marked by a smug, ingratiating, and false earnestness or spirituality ( Celeste Mottahedin-Fardo.

Unctious Snayl
Unctuous; "of the nature or quality of an unguent or ointment; oily, greasy" (OED).

Uzziah enraged the priests, and also God, by burning incense, when only the priests of the sons of Aaron should do so, 2 Chronicles, chapter 26:18, King James Bible (Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia).

Uzziah was a king of Judah, (2Kings 14:21; 2 Chronicles 26:1). One of Amaziah’s sons, he was a vigorous and able ruler and his name was famous in all the Ancient world. But then his pride led to his downfall by ascribing to himself the priest’s functions. Pulter probably refers to kings from the Davidic line because Hebrew, for an excess of pride, betrayed God and they broke the bond with Him.



Having or possessing courage (OED).
Obs. Worth or importance due to personal qualities or to rank (OED). Carlos San Martín Cuesta.

Worthy or admitting of pardon, forgiveness, or remission; not grave or heinous; pardonable, light (OED a.1)

Venial: of a kind that can be remitted : forgivable , pardonable. A 'Venial Sin' in Roman Catholicism is a lesser sin - one that can be excused ( Celeste Mottahedin-Fardo.

Venus is the second closest planet to the sun, named after the Roman goddess of light. The basis for its "equal luster" to the sun lies in the fact that it is the brighest natural object in the sky (other than the moon), and therefore it noted here forappearing as bright as the sun. Charlie Cosham.
Green; "Of a green hue or colour" (OED).
vermill poyson
Vermilion: Cinnabar or red crystalline mercuric sulphide, esp. in later use that obtained artificially, much valued on account of its brilliant scarlet colour, and largely used as a pigment or in the manufacture of red sealing-wax; also, any red earth resembling this and similarly used as a pigment (OED). It was commonly used by artists and painters. Pulter may perhaps, also be referring to the use of vermilion as rouge, bringing to mind the ideals of female beauty - the desirable contrast made between pale skin and reddened lips and cheeks. However, in adding the word 'poyson', the image becomes one of wantonness and excess so we envision instead a 'scarlet lady' ridden with immorality: 'when vermilion h'as laid so deepe a colour on an impudent skinne, [she] cannot blush with sense of her owne shame' (see Richard Brathwaite, The English Gentlewoman (1634)). By changing her appearance, she, like the Chymick, is attempting to recreate herself in a more permanent and youthful form (Jane Archer, "A Perfect Circle"?). Priya Darshini Chakrabartty.
Pulter is referring to the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Verulamium which is situated in St. Albans in Hertfordshire.
Presumably the 'morning star', as hesperus denotes the evening star.
Pulter is possibly referring to the viol, a stringed instrument which first appeared in the 1400s, and was developed throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. In Nathaniel Whiting’s The Pleasing History of Albino and Bellama (from Le Hore di recreatione) (1637), he refers to a ‘vial’; ‘The Greekes were fooles, that for a light-skirt strumpet, / Chang'd the stil vial to a lowd-mouthd trumpet.’
Having the colour of vermilion; of a bright red or scarlet colour (OED). Vermillion: Cinnabar or red crystalline mercuric sulphide, esp. in later use that obtained artificially, much valued on account of its brilliant scarlet colour, and largely used as a pigment or in the manufacture of red sealing-wax; also, any red earth resembling this and similarly used as a pigment (OED). Jessica Moreton.
"A musical instrument (in common use from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century) having five, six or seven strings and played by means of a bow. (OED 1a.)
The Erinyes are depicted with heads wreathed with serpents.
Visit: Going to pay homage to Nature for the purpose of worship (OED 10.a.). Priya Darshini Chakrabartty
From the noun voltaic, meaning ‘a winged creature’ (OED A).
The River Volga The Volga is the largest river in Europe in terms of length,discharge, and watershed. It flows through the western part of Russia, and is widely viewed as the national river of Russia. In fact, eleven out of the twenty largest cities of Russia, including its capital Moscow, are situated in the Volga basin. Some of the largest reservoirs in the world can be found along the Volga. Carl Cerny.


The Weser River, into which the Piper lures the rats.
Whaling became a commercial industry in the seventeenth century. The whale oil extracted had many uses, including lubrication for machinery in mills. Gordon Jackson, Stuart M. Frank, Katsuaki Morita "Whaling" The Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History. Ed. John J. Hattendorf. © Oxford University Press 2007. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History: (e-reference edition). Oxford University Press. Warwick University. 10 March 2009
when the...
"when the Sea, and Earth, and Hell, shall give / Their Treasures up": Judgment Day. Octavia Cox
wings upon his Heels

The 'wings' of time are pehaps emblematic of its speed; see Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" from Miscellaneous Poems (1681) for a similar way in which time is represented as a winged force. 

Wittol: A man who is aware of and complaisant about the infidelity of his wife; a contented cuckold (OED).