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  • Monumental Female Melancholy in John Webster and Hester Pulter

In early modern England, female grief was considered a far more material state of affect than the counterpart brands of sadness claimed by male scholars. This article explores how seventeenth-century writers dilate the material dimensions of women’s grief by engaging a trope I call “sto(ne)icism.” Both John Webster’s Duchess of Malfi and Hester Pulter’s poetic speaker express their grief in the most concrete of ways: by literally turning to stone in a stubborn show of remembrance for their lost objects. In so doing, I argue, they make out of women’s material mourning a form of lasting melancholy.

This seeming Sepulchre (to tell the troth)Is neither Tomb nor Body, and yet both.

—Henry King1

Between Hamlet’s brand of early modern melancholy and its female distortion lies a womb. The scholar’s melancholy, of course, is all too familiar: more of a temperament than an illness, it would sooner advertise itself as mental brilliance than accept the painful, bodily reality of the black humor.2 Female melancholy flips the dualism. As scholars of emotion have shown, the early modern woman’s melancholy was “located in her restless and greedy body rather than her restless and creative mind.”3 No artistic or philosophical inspiration could possibly spring from so material an illness. This, at least, was the line taken by the leading authors of the Renaissance—and owing to the enduring popularity of works such as Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), it remains the better-preserved discourse today. Thanks to manuscript discoveries and theoretical advances, however, a subterranean literature of early modern female melancholy is now primed for the mining. Bringing this literature to light will allow modern scholars to reassess “the hierarchical determination of who can legitimate loss and recuperate it, whose laments are heard and whose are not,” and to provide, in the process, an alternative account of women’s melancholy in the Renaissance.4 [End Page 67]

In the affective landscape of early modern England, women were bound to more material—and thus, less impressive—forms of grief and sorrow than their male counterparts. Object-based mourning was, in the words of Mark Breitenberg, “an activity necessarily left to women since it responds to the loss of an actual rather than symbolic object, thus tying women to a material level and preventing them from reaching the sublime symbolics of loss accorded to the melancholic man.”5 The cleaving of the abstract and the material along gender lines is driven by a historical denial of women’s ability to achieve complex emotional states. It is true, however, that in the early modern period certain repeating conditions of life—not least childbirth and loss—distinguished women’s sorrow and grief from the melancholy enjoyed by the scholar who, cloistered in his study, sought philosophical transcendence amongst his books and thoughts. Not only that, but women were afforded prominent roles in the performance of ritual mourning work. In addition to fulfilling the necessary emotional rites, women were responsible for caring for the dying, donning mourning clothes in the appropriate fashion, and even washing and winding the corpse.6 Notwithstanding our desire to recover a female Hamlet, then, we must keep in view the worldly conditions which made early modern women’s sorrow more materially quantifiable than that of homo melancholicus.

The object of this article is not to refute the greater materiality of women’s melancholy in the Renaissance. Instead, I aim to show how the figure of something indubitably material—the monument or statue—is productively deployed by writers of this period to make of women’s ritual mourning work an enduring form of melancholy. A surprisingly diverse corpus of seventeenth-century texts features a phenomenon which can be coined “sto(ne)icism.” By this I mean, the metamorphic change which sees a female character or speaker respond to adverse worldly circumstances by turning to stone, by becoming a statue. The recent upsurge of interest in material culture has seen increased attention directed to the monumentalizing impulse found within much seventeenth-century verse and drama.7 Work by Jennifer Waldron on Desde-mona’s monumental body in Othello, Lara Bovilsky on “mineral emotions” in Shakespeare, and Reid Barbour on the impenetrable virtue of the Lady in Milton’s Comus has highlighted the symbolic range of stone in early modern literature.8 More particularly, Patricia Phillippy’s recent scholarship on female figures of “marmorization,” which she defines as “bodies comingled with, turned into, or experienced as stone,” has proven a vital precedent for [End Page 68] my argument in this article.9 But although scholars have expertly drawn links between gender, monuments, and commemoration, they have not yet considered the role of emotion—and specifically, melancholy—in binding these three competing claims together.

Monuments are inherently melancholy things. In metaphysical terms, they suffer precisely the condition of death-in-life that so burdens the dispositional melancholic. Materially speaking, they exemplify the state of dry petrification that humoral melancholy was thought to effect on the body. Certainly the literary examples I will discuss support the notion that melancholy first induced, and was thereafter expressed in, a physical state of solidity. Etymology bolsters the connection between sadness and solidity further: in the Renaissance, the word “sad” not only carried its present meaning of affective sorrow, but also could be used as a verb, meaning “to make solid, firm, or stiff.”10 Adjectivally, moreover, “sad” could indicate constancy of purpose or fixity of condition, as in valiance, the ability to resist.11

To demonstrate this last meaning, the OED quotes from William Lithgow’s Totall Discourse, of the Rare Adventures, and Painefull Peregrinations of Long Nineteene Yeares Travailes (ca. 1640). Lithgow writes that “the solid, and sad man is not troubled with the floods and ebbs of Fortune, the ill-imployed power of greatnesse, nor the fluctuary motions of the humorous multitude.”12 Lithgow’s exemplary “sad man” is clearly described as a stoic, yet his stoicism in no way negates his constitutional sadness. This seeming paradox aligns with recent scholarly efforts to trouble the prevailing understanding of early modern stoicism as opposed to emotion, active political resistance, and literary production.13 Richard Strier and others have pushed back against the traditional view of Renaissance stoicism as antithetical to the passions, or as necessitating a repression of affect that is then forced to seethe out in spite of the body.14 Lithgow’s sad man, for his part, complicates the supposed binary relationship between stoicism and emotion because his hardness is one and the same as his sadness; he is not easily rent into outward firmness and inner feeling. The marmorized female melancholic, I argue, is the same strange admixture of firmness and feeling. Her stony state proves the preferred and perhaps the only subject position through which the most intense grief of all can be borne and expressed.15 What results from the female melancholic’s process of “sadding” can be conceived as melancholic embodiment without the pang, allowing for the eternization of sorrow without the acute bodily pain that attended humoral melancholy.16 Since we know that [End Page 69] such dogged extensions of grief ran counter to post-Reformation religio-cultural codes, which looked upon women’s excessive mourning with suspicion, the literary troping of monumentalization emerges as a topic for further consideration within the field of early modern cultural studies.17

In what follows, I explore literary examples of female melancholics who literally harden into their woe as a proud declaration of constancy, nobility, and qualified female virtu.18 I first discuss marmorized melancholy in John Webster’s play The Duchess of Malfi (ca. 1613), before moving to consider a selection of Hester Pulter’s manuscript poems (ca. 1640–60). For both Webster and Pulter, the mater dolorosa—the grieving mother—is a central type, and for both sto(ne)icism is crucial to the signification of the female heroine’s inherent virtue and commitment to death in all its forms. Differences in genre and gendered authorship cut through these similarities, but in productive ways: Pulter’s first-person, autobiographical poetry resolves some of the complications involved in the dramatic monumentalization of the Duchess and progresses the vaguely Ovidian metamorphosis figured by Webster to its final and most explicit stage. Through Pulter’s amplification of the “sad” metamorphosis that features in The Duchess of Malfi, women’s ritual mourning work is elevated to a melancholic stance fit to rival that of any Burton, John Donne, or Hamlet.


Under the broader Hippocratic theory that Galen advanced, the body was said to be comprised of four humors, all of which jostled for eminence within walls of flesh. Melancholy was one of these humors, the alleged consequence of an excess of black bile flooding the body’s hydraulic system.19 Each of the humors was allied with particular thermal properties, which were in turn gendered. Men were thought to be naturally hot and dry of body, while women were thought to be cold and moist. Melancholy was a complex mix of the two, characterized as cold and dry. When related to both men and women, melancholy’s inherent coldness and dryness conjured images of congealed blood and of immobilized fibers.

This effete and inflexible state was judged especially dangerous for the female sex. Commentators from the medieval to the early modern period ultimately attribute women’s melancholy to fruitless menstruation or self-determined abstinence. German [End Page 70] abbess Hildegard of Bingen, one of the only premodern women to write on the subject, finds melancholy’s drying influence on the womb good reason to promote singlehood: “During the monthly menses [women] lose much blood … they can neither receive, retain, nor warm the male seed. For that reason they are more healthy, more powerful, and happier without a mate than with one because they become sick from relations with a husband.”20

Writing some four centuries later, Robert Burton suggests that “ancient Maids, Widows, and barren Women” are particularly affected by “those vicious vapours which come from menstruous blood.”21 Burton elsewhere refers to “menstruous retentions” which he defines, by way of Christophorus à Vega, as “seed too long detained … by putrefaction or adustion.”22 Contra Hildegard, Burton considers that the only solution is to see these melancholic women “well placed, & married to good husbands in due time; hinc illæ lachrymæ, that’s the primary cause, and this the ready cure, to give them content to their desires.”23 Notwithstanding the disparate cures they propose, Hildegard and Burton both take for granted melancholy’s etiological relation to the unproductivity of the female body. In premodern Europe, it seems, the Galenic properties of female melancholy were not two but three: coldness, dryness, and, by extension, barrenness.

An emblematic literary example of the perceived correlation between melancholy and female sterility is found in the first text I discuss, Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi. Antonio offers the following scaremongering advice to Cariola, who has just expressed her intention not to marry:

We read how Daphne, for her peevish flight,Became a fruitless bay tree, Syrinx turnedTo the pale empty reed, AnaxareteWas frozen into marble; whereas thoseWhich married or proved kind unto their friendsWere, by a gracious influence, transshapedInto the olive, pomegranate, mulberry;Became flowers, precious stones, or eminent stars.24

Webster here charts a hierarchy of Ovidian bodies which prioritizes the fertile or the precious—fruits, flowers, cosmic bodies—over the stagnant and unblushed—in a word, “marble.” Female abstinence is here made synonymous with a lack of vitality, with a purification that goes a step too far. As Antonio tells it, the female subject’s stubborn guarding of her own virtue inevitably leads to a physically expressed frigidity, excising also her erotic desire and seed. [End Page 71]

For now, the above passage serves as an apt introduction to The Duchess of Malfi’s obsession with the material. Antonio’s paraphrasing of Ovid tenders a treasure-trove of things, half of which are representative of melancholic death-in-life. Antonio’s caution is not the only place where Webster presents physical matter as the hinge upon which existence turns. The Duchess of Malfi is a play obsessed with fame, commemoration, and vestigial being, and the material plays a vital part in its commentary on death and the afterlife. With many modern editions of the play including Thomas Middleton’s commendatory verse on Webster as prefatory material, we do not even have to reach the drama proper to be initiated into its materiality:

    for every manIs his own marble, and his merit canCut him to any figure and expressMore art than Death’s cathedral palaces,Where royal ashes keep their court.25

In Middleton’s analogy, the monument serves as both the metaphorical vehicle and the literal object of comparison. The poetic monument is dynamic and everlasting, but the real things held up against it—“Death’s cathedral palaces”—are worldly and static. Here, the abstract is carefully segregated from the concrete even as it draws from the latter for its imagistic force. The Duchess of Malfi, in contrast, insistently involves the material in the immaterial and vice versa. More specifically, Webster draws on the imagery of monuments and minerals to sculpt a female heroine so astonishingly corporeal that even after death she refuses to “ever melt … Both form and matter” (V.v.114–5).26

There are two interrelated stages to the Duchess’s embodiment. The play’s early acts emphasize her soft corporeality: a virile fleshliness, a bodily openness, that attests to pure female animacy. Before the widowed Duchess is even introduced, we are told that she boasts a look which is “able to raise one to a galliard. / That lay in a dead palsy,” as well as discourse that is “full of rapture” (I.i.189–90 and 183). When she subsequently appears in the wooing scene, the Duchess interrogates Antonio’s sexual restraint, firmly distinguishing her lively body from the one that decorates the late Duke’s death monument: [End Page 72]

    Sir, be confident.What is’t distracts you? This is flesh and blood, sir;’Tis not the figure cut in alabasterKneels at my husband’s tomb.


The Duchess refers to a common trend in early Stuart statuary representation, one that saw the kneeling and doleful forms of widows carved onto the tombs of their interred husbands.27 Indeed, widowed noblewomen must have lived with their own cold hard forms longer than any other social demographic. Prematurely marmorized in this manner, early modern widows “seemed meant to represent a sort of death in life” in the social matrix of seventeenth-century England.28 These are the assumptions against which the Duchess rails as she verbally reverses the image of her figure suspended in alabaster. Luckily, her silver tongue is up to the task: her persuasion of Antonio does the trick, the two are secretly married, and, as if the Duchess were not a bodily enough character, soon she is also “troubled with the mother” (II.i.113). What follows is a veritable pageant of blushing, sweating, and eating, as the Duchess’s pregnant body is discursively and visibly advertised for a central holding of the play. “I observe our duchess / Is sick a-days,” the spying Bosola reports: “she pukes; her stomach seethes, / The fins of her eyelids look most teeming blue, / She wanes i’th’cheek, and waxes fat i’th’flank” (II.i.63–6). Representing in her pregnancy “the most extreme version of the openness and vulnerability understood to constitute women’s natural state,” the Duchess emerges as a porous site at the mercy of the world’s vapors and villains.29

It is perhaps no wonder that Webster’s heroine goes on to contract a heavy melancholy. The play’s very air is thick with it: excepting Delio, all of the main characters are diagnosed with the black humor at one point or another.30 In the cases of Bosola, the Cardinal, Antonio, and Julia, Webster’s attribution of melancholy presents as largely indiscriminate. The point seems not so much who is associated with melancholy but rather how they can contribute to the prevailingly saturnine mood in aggregate. When it comes to Ferdinand and the Duchess, however, Webster applies melancholy with a more deliberate hand. The literal twinning of the two characters contributes to the sense that a dynamic folie à deux is at work—one which, somewhat paradoxically, splits melancholy down its middle. The Duke Ferdinand develops “lycanthropia,” the so-called werewolf disease, understood as a kind [End Page 73] of melancholy madness (V.ii.6).31 And like a distortion cast in a glass, Ferdinand is made to contract this low and irrational form of melancholy after the Duchess spends an entire dazzling act performing sorrow in its noblest form.

We have seen how, in the first half of the play, the Duchess refuses to be cast as a champion of “anatomical reticence.”32 But if Pygmalion, Ovid’s preeminent sculptor of the female form, watches his marble mate soften from stone to wax to finally become flesh—and highly fertile flesh, at that—then the Duchess’s character trajectory wholly reverses this progress of states. Once the Duchess’s pregnancies are past and the cruel tricks orchestrated by Ferdinand are begun, she swiftly adopts a melancholy stance that is distinguished by affective fortitude, philosophical pessimism, and an inclination to physical rigidity. In the face of her brother’s torments, the Duchess wears her suffering like a stoic. This grace under fire has not gone unnoticed by the play’s many commentators.33 The most reliable reportage of the Duchess’s state, however, is found within the play itself. First Ferdinand observes that his sister’s melancholy is “fortified / With a strange disdain” (IV.i.11–2). Bosola, the Duke’s equivocal hitman, then elaborates further, recognizing in the throes of his macabre assignment that there is an intrinsic dignity to the Duchess’s suffering:

She’s sad, as one long used to’t; and she seemsRather to welcome the end of miseryThan shun it—a behavior so nobleAs gives a majesty to adversity.You may discern the shape of lovelinessMore perfect in her tears than in her smiles.She will muse four hours together, and her silence,Methinks, expresseth more than if she spake.


By Bosola’s report, the Duchess morphs into the still and silent tableau of her former self. She mimics, in this sense, the deathly immobility of the soon-to-be-revealed wax figures of Antonio and the children. Once her eyes alight upon these figures, the Duchess believes them to be actual dead bodies, and so requests that she be allowed to “freeze to death” upon poor Antonio’s trunk (IV.i.67). After that wish is denied by the guards, she sets out to realize it herself—not through loud resistance or violent action, but rather via a retreat into the self, an effacement of circumstance. By the time the “tomb-maker” Bosola enters the execution chamber to [End Page 74] bring the Duchess “by degrees to mortification,” he discovers that his victim has, affectively speaking, already absented herself (IV.ii.163–4). The Duchess, casting her former rejection of the “figure cut in alabaster” as a self-fulfilling prophecy, kneels in stoic fashion to receive her fatal strangulation, steeled in a melancholy livery which appears to excise her normative female softness.

But just when we think that tautology has triumphed in allowing the Duchess to inhabit her monumental state in death, Webster dedicates himself to undoing the finality of his heroine’s material end.34 Act V of the Duchess of Malfi has historically been treated a little like the last two books of Paradise Lost: inessential to the action as it has occurred and perhaps casting a shadow on the brilliance of what has come before. When the titular protagonist dies, dramatic convention tells us, so too should the plot. And yet act V is undoubtedly vital to the construction of the Duchess as an abiding figure of melancholy. In the famous echo scene, Webster effectively denies the material closure implied in the Duchess’s kneeling death, preferring instead to leave his heroine’s narrative on a note of spectral indeterminacy. Sarah Lewis has described The Duchess of Malfi as “a play that relentlessly interrogates the cultural construction and destruction of the body, the voice, and individual agency.”35 Just so, the Duchess—whose body was determinedly constructed into an impervious monument in life—is bizarrely dismembered in death, and becomes a ghostly echo.

The Duchess’s voice is afforded a mysterious power early in the play. Overhearing the Duchess in childbirth, Bosola mistakes her screams for those of an owl, the “melancholy bird” that is the “Best friend of silence and of solitariness” (II.iii.7–8).36 By the third scene of act V, the Duchess has taken up her new role as Echo. Her ability to return the words of others is aided by the material ruins so vividly pictured at the scene’s beginning:

Delio. This fortificationGrew from the ruins of an ancient abbey;And to yond side o’th’river lies a wall,Piece of a cloister, which in my opinionGives the best echo that you ever heard—So hollow and so dismal, and withalSo plain in the distinction of our wordsThat many have supposed it is a spiritThat answers.

(V.iii.1–9) [End Page 75]

Though apparently reduced to a disembodied state, the Duchess is not condemned to reflect others’ words with obedient exactitude. With an omission here and a repetition there, Echo can expertly catch and undercut the speech of the living. When Antonio muses that “all things have their end: / Churches and cities, which have diseases like to men,” a voice “very like” the Duchess’s pipes up to submit that perhaps not all things end (V.iii.17–8 and 26):


[from the duchess’s grave.] Like death that we



Now the echo hath caught you.


      It groaned,

    methought, and gave

A very deadly accent.


    Deadly accent.


I told you ’twas a pretty one: you may make it

A huntsman, or a falconer, a musician,

Or a thing of sorrow.


    A thing of sorrow.


Ay, sure, that suits it best.


    That suits it best.


Ostensibly, the Duchess returns as Echo to warn Antonio of the Cardinal’s plot. But Echo is more than just a plot device; like Hamlet’s ghost, she is a weapon of eschatological destruction. Ripping through “assumptions about the relation between speech and the human body, between voice and selfhood,” Echo shatters the many commonplaces Webster peppers throughout the play as to the transience of mortal existence and the traces we leave behind.37 Echo is a figure of melancholic continuity but in a subtly different way to the statue: she is presence dispersed into waves of sound, impossible to grasp by the hand or arrest with the eyes. Echo locates the Duchess’s spirit outside of the figure that kneels at her late husband’s tomb and beyond even the grave from which her disembodied voice emanates in the play’s final act. The Duchess-as-Echo thus emerges as a final assertion of enduring disembodiment. If the Duchess was all body before, then she is all voice now—though that voice, as in Ovid’s account of the Echo myth, still complexly depends on ruins made of stone.

The Duchess’s weddedness to matter has plagued her in different ways throughout the play. First, her soft corporeality results in her sexualization, in the spilling over of Ferdinand’s incestuous [End Page 76] desire and in the subsequent transmutation of that desire into violence. Then, the Duchess’s hard corporeality marmorizes her into the silent and chaste figure that an entire troupe of censoring parties would prefer she remain. The final dualism of body and spirit wrought by melancholy Echo unsettles those who coveted the Duchess in life as an idealized whole—not least Antonio, who refuses the echo—and, by extension, his own words—as a “dead thing” and an “ague” (V.iii.39 and 47). Adopting the guise of Echo, the Duchess is in death free to mock, to terrify, and most of all to remain among the living, released from the tableau of suffering in which she was formerly the primary spectacle.38


Fulfilling the monumental prophecy means that Webster’s Duchess must step into the role of the obedient, chaste widow whose form has been prematurely inscribed with the petrifying praise of culture.39 The only possible resolution is to release the Duchess from that posture and to perform a complex rejection of materiality, as Webster does. For Hester Pulter’s poetic speaker, on the other hand, materiality is embraced as an affective end unto itself. Pulter does the work of a lapidary in refining the account of female marmorization in Webster’s play, thus further demonstrating the relationship between melancholy, monuments, and female mourning.

Pulter’s poetic manuscript contains a rich selection of verse complaints, many of which are explicitly melancholic in content. Pulter even goes so far as to claim Saturn, the melancholy planet, as her birth star. But Saturn was for Pulter more than merely a badge of intellectual and creative talent. The planet also emerges in the poems as an emblem of the notably material losses that were as responsible for the poet’s sustained melancholy as any natural disposition. Saturn was also associated in early modern cosmology with the death of children—a form of loss with which Pulter, who lived to see thirteen of her fifteen sons and daughters die, was well-acquainted.40 Artistically, Pulter’s lifelong ordeal of childbirth and death manifests in an inability to capitalize fully on the prophetic and philosophical endowments of melancholy or to dwell exclusively in the realm of the mind. Even when her poetic speaker announces a preference for the immaterial, and she does so often, she must always return to a phenomenological reality in which the biological condition of femininity in particular [End Page 77] is inescapably material. For Pulter, melancholy is always rooted in the female body, that vessel of woe, and so to the female body her poetic speaker must always return. Louisa Hall puts it nicely when she theorizes that many of Pulter’s poems follow the pattern of a “reverse birth by which living creatures are pulled back up into an enveloping body.”41 One of Hall’s main examples is “The Perfection of Patience and Knowledge,” a poem that also foregrounds melancholy:

My soul, in struggling thou do[st] ill;The chicken in the shell lies still,So doth the embryo in the womb,So doth the corpse within the tomb,So doth the flower sleep in its cause,Obedient all to Nature’s laws.But thou’rt still striving to be freeAs if none were in bonds but thee.Though for a time thou’rt clothed with earthEre long thou’lt have a happy birth.The chirping bird will break its shell,The infant leave its loathéd cell,The sleeping dust will rise and speak,And will her marble prison break,. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .But oh my soul, once more, return,And call me in my silent urn.But if asleep I then am found,Jog me, and say the trump doth sound.Then will I rise and fly awayWith thee to everlasting day,Then shall our grief and past annoysBe swallowed up of infinite joys,Then being perfect and sublimedWe shall discern this globe calcined,Then shall we know these orbs of wonder,Which in a maze we now live under,And why sad Saturn’s heavy eyeFrowns on me with malignancy.42

None of the germinal entities Pulter pictures herein—embryo, corpse, or flower—achieve their typological realization through birth, resurrection, or refinement. Preventing their advancement to these higher states are a corresponding trio of “prison[s]” that [End Page 78] Pulter’s sensitivity to “analogical correspondence” effortlessly draws together: womb, tomb, and alembic.43 As the last two lines of this extract show, so long as all of creation is trapped in its material state, Pulter’s favoring by Saturn remains a mystery. This stunting at the level of the physical and substantial, I argue, is an essential characteristic of the female melancholic’s marmorization. And yet despite its overriding theme of abortion, “The Perfection of Patience and Knowledge” speaks to Pulter’s enduring hope that one day, when “the trump doth sound,” the physical world will dissolve to nothing: “We shall discern this globe calcined.” In her poem “The Invitation into the Country,” on the other hand, Pulter retires quite entirely to the material and exploits the common Renaissance analogy of womb and tomb to a politicized end.44

The majority of Pulter’s poems were composed during the Civil War, the twenty-year period of political and social revolution which propelled England through literal changes of state. “The Invitation” is the poet’s response to the imprisonment of Charles I in 1646, an event that threw the overtly Royalist Pulter into despondency. Pulter’s poem is shot through with melancholy nostalgia for a Caroline yesteryear, reconstructing a Herrick-like pastoral paradise before painting that scene over in greyscale. Ovidian nymphs and shepherds are, by “Sad metamorphosis,” transposed by mythical beings taken from the same classical book: Philomel appears alone, moaning to trees, and Heliadic goddesses feature “enshrined in oaks” and weeping immortal tears (lines 74 and 142). Nothing waterlogs the poem more, though, than the dialogue between the weeping streams. Beane, Mimram, Stort, and Lea run “To tell the Thames their grievous woe” (line 100); Ver, Colne, Purwell, and Ouse also feature, complaining in choler-laced sorrow at their loss of Amintas, Pulter’s sobriquet for Charles I.

One spring mourns with a difference. Gray’s Spring, which ran through Pulter’s Hertfordshire estate of Broadfield, is the final body of water to receive mention in “The Invitation” and the only to boast the melancholy ability to turn “moss to Stone”:

Gray’s Spring, too, sadly makes her moanAnd with her tears turns moss to stone,And, seeing delight with Chloris fled,She sighed and, murmuring, hid her headWithin her womb that gave her breath,Venting her grief below the earth.

(lines 123–8)45 [End Page 79]

Alice Eardley, Pulter’s modern editor, footnotes at this juncture Henry Chauncy, whose Historical Antiquities of Hertfordshire contains the following reference to such a spring: “There are some petrifying Springs in the Grounds of Broadfeld, and in the Parish of Clothall, which crust things that are laid in them, without Penetration.”46 Gray’s Spring also features in Pulter’s poem to her daughters, “To My Dear J.[ane] P.[ulter], M.[argaret] P.[ulter], P.[enelope] P.[ulter], They Being at London, I at Broadfield,” where Pulter suggests that her “dull[ness]” and “sad fancies” may spring from the “stupefying” geological feature on her grounds:

Come, my dear children, to this [lonely] placeWhere Gray’s cool stupefying spring doth trace.Trust me, I think I of this fount partake;I am so dull and such sad fancies make.Nor can the quintessence of Bacchus’ liquor,Nor the elixir, make my spirit quicker;Those gross extractions doth my thoughts annoy,’Tis fasting fancies are my soul’s sole joy.47

In this poem, too, Gray’s Spring is insistently correlated to languor, solidification, and materiality. Not even the elixir vitae can raise Pulter’s heavy thoughts, which she only further “sad[s]” by memorializing them in verse. “[F]asting fancies” may be Pulter’s “sole joy,” but those empty imaginations remain aspirational, just like the utopic doomsday that Pulter envisions as obliterating all matter in “The Perfection of Patience and Knowledge.”

Just as Pulter’s speaker produces “sad fancies” in the above extract, Gray’s Spring takes on the role of the mineralizing agent in “The Invitation,” which also features a call to her daughters to escape the political foment of London. In “The Invitation,” the action of Gray’s Spring is to marmorize animate nature—and not just any nature, but that scenery which comprises the poem’s initial green world. The spring’s watery womb works not to concoct new life out of base material but, in a defensive action, to immortalize the bygone as a melancholy survival to the shame of future generations. Pulter’s spring, then, wreaks a very specific form of commemoration, preserving the artifacts of a royal golden age in a material that will survive man’s mortal disruptions. After this marmorizing activity is through, the subjectivity of Gray’s Spring retreats to the echo chamber of the womb, hidden “below the earth,” and there finds leave to “Vent[ ] her grief.” [End Page 80]

Charles I’s imprisonment was not the only tragic event that 1646 had in store for Pulter. That year also brought the loss of her adult daughter Jane to smallpox. In “Upon the Death of My Dear and Lovely Daughter, J. P.,” one of the elegies penned in response to this sad event, Pulter’s lost object switches from the outward-facing one of Charles and his regime, to the private vision of her daughter’s body ravaged by disease.48 In the blighting of Jane’s pale body by smallpox, Pulter portends both her daughter’s expiry and a state of physiological contamination which extends to a wider maiden collective. Pulter begins:

All you that have indulgent parents been,And have your children in perfection seenOf youth and beauty, lend one tear to me;And trust me I will do as much for thee,Unless my own grief do exhaust my store;Then will I sigh till I suspire no more.

(lines 1–6)

The reach of Pulter’s sympathy—here figured as the giving away of her tears—is contingent upon the magnitude of her own maternal grief. Even at this early stage of the poem, Pulter prophesies that her bodily “store” has not the room for anything other than a highly material mode of affect that expels the very life force from her body. But the term “store” may also refer to a more specific product of the female body. As Roberta Albrecht notes, “store” could in seventeenth-century usage mean human seed.49 If this contemporary meaning of “store” is indeed relevant to “Upon the Death,” then Pulter’s poetic exposition of the attack on Jane’s body is rendered still more evocative.

Pulter continues “Upon the Death” by recalling her daughter’s “virgin soul,” “milky limbs,” “snowy skin,” and “sparkling diamond eyes,” pulling into the poem’s orbit numerous other images of brightness to reflect the luminescence of her mourned subject—“Jews, or Chinesses in snowy white,” the “illustrious sun,” and so on (lines 12, 11, 37, 25, 10, and 27). Though she declares outright that her daughter’s “soul doth end in endless glory,” Pulter cannot but replay the infection that has desecrated Jane’s body and terminated her worldly existence, thus herself dotting Jane’s “spotless virgin story” with blood (lines 34 and 33). A telling “Yet”—Pulter’s typical cue for further complaint—sees her poem move from straightforward panegyric to a melancholy rumination on sexed corporeality: [End Page 81]

Yet my afflicted, sad, forsaken soulFor her in tears and ashes still doth roll.O could a fever spot her snowy skinWhose virgin soul was scarcely soiled with sin!Ay me it did; so have I sometimes seenFair maidens sit encircled on a green,White lilies spread when they were making posies,Upon them scatter leaves of damask roses.E’en so the spots upon her fair skin show,Like lily leaves, sprinkled with damask rose.

(lines 35–44)

The poem’s eroticized language and imagery as good as equate Jane’s contraction of smallpox with unwilling coitus. The emphatic line “Whose virgin soul was scarcely soiled with sin!” is offered in a tone of maternal obstinacy, as if Pulter’s speaker had expected Jane’s chastity to act as a sufficient guarantor against assaults both sexual and virological—the specter of venereal disease, of course, is just one figural stop away. Jane’s body under its hot fever is mapped out as a desecrated site: the young woman’s mistake is not her surrendering of virginity as such, but rather her inability to “sad” the internal networks of the body to outside threats. Accordingly, the incursion of blushing petals into the maidens’ white circle of posies is framed, in accordance with Jane’s despoiling, as a sacralization of innocence, petals imaged as pockmarks on skin of lily-white.

Unfirm, Jane’s body becomes as vulnerable as “a stately hart to death pursued / By ravening hounds” (lines 45–6). The use of the hunting conceit—where the shot deer can also be read as an allegory for Charles I—opens up an obvious comparison between Pulter’s poem and a contemporaneous elegy, Andrew Marvell’s “The Nymph Complaining for the Death of Her Fawn.” In both poems, the speakers’ personal and political expressions of mourning are arranged in parallel. Most significantly of all, Pulter’s speaker and Marvell’s nymph share a common poetic telos. Almost as a gesture of consolation to their lost objects, both maternal mourners choose sto(ne)icism as their final poetic act. It is here that the Niobic dimensions of the female speakers’ melancholy are made explicit. Niobe, of course, is the mythical figure frozen into stone in the Metamorphoses as punishment for her maternal hubris. “[I]nto stone her very womb and bowels also bind,” Arthur Golding’s popular 1567 translation reads, “In all her body was no life.”50 Just so, Marvell’s nymph expresses a wish [End Page 82] that her “unhappy statue shall / Be cut in marble; and withal, / Let it be weeping too.”51 Pulter ends her poem upon Jane’s death with an even more explicit nod to Ovid’s mater dolorosa: “Her soul being seated in her place of birth, / I turned a Niobe as she turned earth” (lines 57–8).

Ovid’s originating myth of Niobe emphasizes marmorization’s alliance with speechlessness and silence. However, many early modern writers do not interpret Niobe’s stony condition as a barrier to the expression of grief.52 Richard Brathwaite writes of Niobe that “Both sence and speech supplied are by teares,” while Patrick Hannay claims with reference to Niobe that “lesse griefes speake when greater griefes be dumbe.”53 Writing earlier than both, Michel de Montaigne states that “the Poets feign the miserable Mother Niobe … Thereby to express, that melancholick, dumb, and deaf Stupidity, which benumbs all our Faculties when opprest with Accidents greater than we are able to bear.”54 Niobe’s tears present to her Renaissance commentators as substitutional speech acts, existing as material signifiers of an inexpressible inner grief. In the case of Niobe, concrete existence both typically precludes the possibility of free speech and extends the possibility that utterance might take a different shape. She is, in this way, the inverse creature to Echo, in that she is all body and no voice.

Left as she is, however, Niobe still risks the condition of ekphrastic silence that Webster’s Duchess must metamorphose further to escape. Pulter’s achievement in “Upon the Death” is to unite body and voice in telos, in ultimate object or aim. Complaint and marmorization here meet in a kind of affective concordia discors: first-person complaint softens the hard indifference of sto(ne)icism, adds to it a deep interior feeling and voice, while marmorization in turn shields Pulter’s maternal speaker against the diagnosis of hysterical melancholy. Indeed, by making of her own body a tomb to her lost children, Pulter succeeds in extending women’s ritual mourning work into a chronic form of melancholy. Allied with maternity and anchored in the body, this marmorized melancholy is still coded female. But it is a female melancholy that draws into its stony contours the laudable qualities of endurance, heroism, and fortitude. Niobic marmorization sees the moisture that should have nourished the male seed in the bodily “store” flee to the eyes instead, resulting in tears shed in perpetuum for children beyond reclamation.

Pulter’s terminating act of self-marmorization in “Upon the Death” enshrines her maternal voice of melancholy within a stone that speaks of anatomical impermeability and, in that, of [End Page 83] a kind of vicarious retribution for the harm done to young Jane. Pulter’s poetic speaker opts for an honorific mourning practice, which, consolidating femininity and extending grief interminably, makes out of her own female form a memorial stone not only to her lost daughter but also for all her departed Niobids. Because Jane’s death is, for Pulter, yet another shock, the expansion of her collection of lost objects—here, children—threatens to abstract grief, to afford it a quality of the surreal or absurd: one son or daughter lost, and then the next falls. Pulter must consolidate her maternal affect within her own body, petrifying her form to the spot, making herself the site of remembrance. Pulter’s explicit identification with Niobe intentionally halts the cycle of states at a point of mineralization that, by entombing life, embodies death.55

The female melancholic’s hardening into her own affect sets her apart from the contemporaneous male melancholic, whose death drive appears to favor the opposite change of state. For the male melancholic, it is dissolution which emerges as the choice means of self-diminution, of imagined suicide or natural death. Hamlet wishes that his “too too solid flesh” would “Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew”; Donne declares that man must undergo a “dissolution after dissolution” by which the body “come[s] to … dilapidation, to ruin, to rubbish, to dust”; and George Herbert concludes that “flesh is but the glasse, which holds the dust / That measures all our time; which also shall / Be crumbled into dust.”56 The body is in these examples pictured to atomize to nothingness in death, with the intrusion of more solid materials deemed to “spoil the meeting” of dust with dust.57 To reach true melancholic sublimity, these sad men suggest, one cannot be impeded by one’s own matter.

Spurning the material nothingness that this kind of dissolution entails, the female melancholic’s preferred mode of self-removal or expiry involves the consolidation of affect within the body. What might otherwise have been interpreted as occasional grief hereby metamorphoses into an almost competitive stance of female melancholy, which both celebrates and transcends the prevailingly material conceptualization of women’s mourning. Niobe profits from marmorization in the sense that she approaches the status of her divine punishers temporally, her narrative chronology extended interminably beyond the text that is supposed to contain her form. Niobe suffers a condition of sibylic life—rooted to the earth, petrified in nonmovement—but, in an integral point of difference to the male melancholic’s post-humous outlook, she-as-monument continues to memorialize [End Page 84] affect in an action that prolongs circumstantial grief to the point of subversion. Understood thus, female marmorization is by no means a “degenerative transformation of body into stone,” nor “this period’s chief literary emblem of vitalism’s failure.”58 Once we take melancholy into account, marmorization is revised as an act of resistance, and stone starts to speak. Leaning in to what stone says allows us to reassess versions of female melancholy that involve the material—material grief, material bodies—as monumental representations of an emotion that could become so seemingly discarnate in others.

Emma Rayner

Emma Rayner is a doctoral student in English at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Her research focuses on civility in early modern literature, with emphases on affect and women’s writing.


I am grateful to Sarah C. E. Ross for her feedback on all iterations of this article. Dr. Ross’s project “‘Woe is Me’: Women and Complaint in the English Renaissance,” funded by a Royal Society Te Apārangi Marsden Grant, supported the research and completion of this article. I am also grateful to the readers and staff at SEL for their comments and assistance.

1. Henry King, “An Epitaph on Niobe Turned to Stone,” in Poems, Elegies, Paradoxes, and Sonets (London, 1664), p. 9, lines 5–6; EEBO Wing K502.

2. For more on early modern melancholy, including the split between the Aristotelean, or genial, and Galenic, or humoral, branches of melancholy, see Douglas Trevor, The Poetics of Melancholy in Early Modern England, Cambridge Studies in Renaissance Literature and Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004); Raymond Klibansky, Erwin Panofsky, and Fritz Saxl, Saturn and Melancholy: Studies in the History of Natural Philosophy, Religion, and Art (London: Nelson and Sons, 1964); and Drew Daniel, The Melancholy Assemblage: Affect and Epistemology in the English Renaissance (New York: Fordham Univ. Press, 2013).

3. Katharine Hodgkin, “Dionys Fitzherbert and the Anatomy of Madness,” in Voicing Women: Gender and Sexuality in Early Modern Writing, ed. Kate Chedgzoy, Melanie Hansen, and Suzanne Trill (Pittsburgh PA: Duquesne Univ. Press, 1997), pp. 69–92, 75.

4. Juliana Schiesari, The Gendering of Melancholia: Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and the Symbolics of Loss in Renaissance Literature (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1992), p. 54. Other recent feminist studies of women’s melancholy and grief include: Julia Kristeva, Black Sun: Depression and Melancholia, trans. Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 2009); and Elizabeth Hodgson, Grief and Women Writers in the English Renaissance (New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2015).

5. Mark Breitenberg, Anxious Masculinity in Early Modern England, Cambridge Studies in Renaissance Literature and Culture 10 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996), p. 40.

6. See Patricia Phillippy, “The Mat(t)er of Death: The Defense of Eve and the Female Ars Moriendi,” in Debating Gender in Early Modern England, 1500– 1700, ed. Cristina Malcolmson and Mihoko Suzuki, Early Modern Cultural Studies (Basingstoke UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), pp. 141–60, esp. 150.

7. See, for example, Brian Chalk, Monuments and Literary Posterity in Early Modern Drama (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2015); Nigel Llewellyn, Funeral Monuments in Post-Reformation England (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2000); Peter Sherlock, Monuments and Memory in Early Modern England (Aldershot UK: Ashgate, 2008); Andrew Hui, The Poetics of Ruins in Renaissance Literature, Verbal Arts: Studies in Poetics (New York: Fordham Univ. Press, 2016). For gender and monuments in particular, see Hodgson, “‘In Every Breast Her Monument’: Katherine Philips,” in Grief and Women Writers, pp. 100–27; and Phillippy, “‘Chain’d Up in Alabaster’: Awakening Remembrance in The Winter’s Tale and Comus,” in Shaping Remembrance from Shakespeare to Milton (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2018), pp. 190–227.

8. See Jennifer Waldron, “Shakespeare and Revenge: Anthropologies of Sacrifice in Titus Andronicus and Othello,” in Reformations of the Body: Idolatry, Sacrifice, and Early Modern Theater, Early Modern Cultural Studies (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), pp. 149–78; Lara Bovilsky, “Shakespeare’s Mineral Emotions,” in Renaissance Posthumanism, ed. Joseph Campana and Scott Maisano (New York: Fordham Univ. Press, 2016), pp. 253–82; and Reid Barbour, English Epicures and Stoics: Ancient Legacies in Early Stuart Culture (Amherst: Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 1998), esp. pp. 246–9.

9. Phillippy, “‘Chain’d Up in Alabaster,’” p. 192.

10. OED, 3d edn., s.v. “sad, v.,” 1a.

11. OED, 3d edn., s.v. “sad, adj., n., and adv.,” A.I.2b.

12. William Lithgow, The Totall Discourse, of the Rare Adventures, and Painefull Peregrinations of Long Nineteene Yeares Travailes (London: I. Okes, 1640), p. 71; EEBO STC (2d edn.) 15714.

13. See Andrew Shifflett, Stoicism, Politics, and Literature in the Age of Milton: War and Peace Reconciled (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1998); and Richard Strier, The Unrepentant Renaissance: From Petrarch to Shakespeare to Milton (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2011).

14. See Strier, pp. 17–9.

15. Bovilsky, following Shifflett and Strier, claims that “the language of mineral emotion”—so often seen to present “a Neostoic ideal of life without emotional perturbation”—in fact “posits a kinship both with human beings who feel too much and those who scarcely feel at all, via the surprisingly available subject position of stone or metal itself” (p. 255).

16. I use “sadding” to mean the active and unfolding process by which a female character’s or speaker’s sorrow spurs her transformation into a mineral body.

17. See Katharine Goodland, Female Mourning and Tragedy in Medieval and Renaissance English Drama: From the Raising of Lazarus to “King Lear” (Aldershot UK: Ashgate, 2006), p. 103.

18. Aside from the examples I draw from Hester Pulter, John Webster, and later Andrew Marvell, marmorization features in Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale, Milton’s Comus, John Ford’s The Broken Heart, Lucy Hutchinson’s Order and Disorder, and Mary Wroth’s Pamphilia to Amphilanthus.

19. The Hippocratic corpus was in fact responsible for coining the term “melancholy,” which derives from the Greek melaina-kole, meaning “black bile” (Jonathan Flatley, Affective Mapping: Melancholia and the Politics of Modernism [Cambridge MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 2008], p. 1).

20. Hildegard of Bingen, Book of Holistic Healing, trans. Mary Palmquist and John Kulas, in The Nature of Melancholy: From Aristotle to Kristeva, ed. Jennifer Radden (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2000), p. 84.

21. Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, ed. A. R. Shilletto, 3 vols. (London: G. Bell and Sons, 1912), 1:476.

22. Christophorus à Vega, qtd. in Burton, 1:432 and 1:434.

23. Burton, 1:479. See also Reginald Scot: “Women are … monethlie filled full of superfluous humors, and with them the melancholike bloud boileth” (The Discouerie of Witchcraft [London, 1584], book 12, chap. 20, pp. 278–9; EEBO STC [2d edn.] 21864).

24. Webster, The Duchess of Malfi: An Authoritative Text, Sources and Contexts, Criticism, ed. Michael Neill (New York: W. W. Norton, 2015), III.ii.25–32. Subsequent references to The Duchess of Malfi are from this edition and will be cited parenthetically in the text by act, scene, and line number.

25. Thomas Middleton, “In the Just Worth of That Well-deserver, Mr. John Webster, and Upon This Masterpiece of Tragedy,” in Webster, p. 6, lines 7–11.

26. For more on the Duchess’s corporeality, see Martha Ronk Lifson, “Embodied Morality in The Duchess of Malfi,” PCP 23, 1/2 (November 1988): 47–59, esp. 49–53.

27. See Sherlock, pp. 41–70.

28. Chalk, pp. 106–38, 126.

29. Tanya Pollard, “Conceiving Tragedy,” in Shakespearean Sensations: Experiencing Literature in Early Modern England, ed. Katharine A. Craik and Pollard (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013), pp. 85–100, 89.

30. The Cardinal is a “melancholy churchman” (I.i.151–2); Bosola wears a “foul melancholy” (I.i.73); Antonio’s banishment “feed[s] [his] melancholy” (I.i.387); and Julia is said to occupy a “melancholy perch” (II.iv.28).

31. In The Anatomy of Melancholy, Burton describes “lycanthropia” as “Wolf-madness,” and says that although “Aëtius and Paulus call it a kind of Melancholy; but I should rather refer to it as Madness, as most do” (1:161).

32. Katharine Eisaman Maus, Inwardness and Theater in the English Renaissance (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1995), p. 190.

33. Joan M. Lord, for example, writes that the Duchess cultivates “a certain neo-stoic constancy” (“The Duchess of Malfi: ‘The Spirit of Greatness’ and ‘Of Woman,’” SEL 16, 2 [Spring 1976]: 305–17, 306), while Lesel Dawson highlights her “Christian confidence” and “indifference” (“Outfacing Vengeance: Heroic Dying in Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi and Ford’s The Broken Heart,” in Revenge and Gender in Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Literature, ed. Dawson and Fiona McHardy [Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press, 2018], pp. 307–25, 307), and L. G. Salingar describes the play’s death sequence as a “parade of Senecan bravado” (“Tourneur and the Tragedy of Revenge,” in The Age of Shakespeare, vol. 2 of The Pelican Guide to English Literature, ed. Boris Ford [Middlesex UK: Penguin, 1955], pp. 334–54, 350). See also Neill, Issues of Death: Mortality and Identity in English Renaissance Tragedy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), pp. 340–1; and Chalk, p. 135.

34. For more on the play’s tautological structure, see Susan C. Baker, “The Static Protagonist in The Duchess of Malfi,” TSLL 22, 3 (Fall 1980): 343–57.

35. Sarah Lewis, “‘(From the Dutchesse Grave)’: Echoic Liminalities in The Duchess of Malfi,” in Stage Directions and Shakespearean Theatre, ed. Sarah Dustagheer and Gillian Woods (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), pp. 263–85, 264.

36. Chalk observes that “Even at her most lively, the Duchess seems to possess the aura and powers of the spectral echo that she will become” (p. 125).

37. Gina Bloom, Voice in Motion: Staging Gender, Shaping Sound in Early Modern England, Material Texts (Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), p. 167. See also Baker’s claim that “there often seems to be in The Duchess of Malfi a tension between hollow aphorisms and haunting poetry” (p. 352).

38. For more on the Duchess as tableau, see Catherine Belsey, “Emblem and Antithesis in The Duchess of Malfi,” RenD, n.s., 11 (1980): 115–34.

39. Women were praised verbally on their monuments for bearing and bringing up children, undertaking charitable works, and being “obedient, devout, and chaste” (Llewellyn, “Honour in Life, Death, and in the Memory: Funeral Monuments in Early Modern England,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 6 [1996]: 179–200, 192).

40. On Pulter and Saturn, see Alice Eardley, “‘Saturn (whose aspects soe sads my soul)’: Lady Hester Pulter’s Feminine Melancholic Genius,” in New Ways of Looking at Old Texts, IV: Papers of the Renaissance English Text Society, 2002–2006, ed. Michael Denbo, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies 345 (Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2008), pp. 239–52.

41. Louisa Hall, “Hester Pulter’s Brave New Worlds,” in Immortality and the Body in the Age of Milton, ed. John Rumrich and Stephen M. Fallon (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2018), pp. 171–86, 186.

42. Pulter, “The Perfection of Patience and Knowledge,” in “Poems,” “Emblems,” and “The Unfortunate Florinda,” ed. Eardley (Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014), pp. 135–7, lines 1–14 and 22–35.

43. Ruth Connolly, “Hester Pulter’s Childbirth Poetics,” WoWr 26, 3 (December 2016): 282–303, 297 and 283.

44. See Pulter, “The Invitation into the Country, to My D.[ear] D.[aughters] M.[argaret] P.[ulter], P.[enelope] P.[ulter], 1647, When His Sacred Majesty Was at Unhappy [Holmby],” in “Poems,” pp. 48–56. Subsequent references to “The Invitation” are from this edition and will be cited parenthetically in the text by line number.

45. A comparable stream features in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, ruthlessness foregrounded: “The Cicones have a certain stream which, being drunk, doth bring / Men’s bowels into marble hard; and whatsoever thing / Is touched therewith it turns to stone” (trans. Arthur Golding, ed. Madeleine Forey [London: Penguin, 2002], book 15, lines 343–5).

46. Henry Chauncy, The Historical Antiquities of Hertfordshire (London: J. M. Mullinger, 1826), p. 12.

47. Pulter, “To My Dear J.[ane] P.[ulter], M.[argaret] P.[ulter], P.[enelope] P.[ulter], They Being at London, I at Broadfield,” in “Poems,” pp. 134–5, lines 1–8.

48. I use Sarah C. E. Ross and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann’s edition of the complete version of Pulter’s poem, “Upon the Death of My Dear and Lovely Daughter, J. P.,” in Women Poets of the English Civil War, ed. Ross and Scott-Baumann (Manchester UK: Manchester Univ. Press, 2018), pp. 108–9. Subsequent references to “Upon the Death” are from this edition and will be cited parenthetically in the text by line number.

49. See Roberta Albrecht, “Alchemical Augmentation and Primordial Fire in Donne’s ‘The Dissolution,’” SEL 45, 1 (Winter 2005): 95–115.

50. Ovid, 6.392 and 388.

51. Marvell, “The Nymph Complaining for the Death of Her Fawn,” in The Poems of Andrew Marvell, ed. Nigel Smith, rev. edn., Longman Annotated English Poets (Harlow UK: Longman, 2007), pp. 65–71, lines 111–3.

52. Indeed, the myth of Niobe was provided as a model for female complaint in the early modern schoolroom. See Lynn Enterline, “‘What’s Hecuba to Him?’: Transferring Woe in Hamlet, The Rape of Lucrece, and The Winter’s Tale,” in Shakespeare’s Schoolroom: Rhetoric, Discipline, Emotion (Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), pp. 120–52.

53. Richard Brathwaite, The Poets Willow: Or, the Passionate Shepheard (London: Ioan Beale, 1614), A4r; EEBO STC (2d edn.) 3578; and Patrick Hannay, A Happy Husband (London, 1619), L1v; EEBO STC (2d edn.) 12747.

54. Michel de Montaigne, Essays, trans. Charles Cotton, 3 vols. (London, 1700), 1:10; EEBO Wing M2481.

55. I do not intend to present Pulter’s tendency to marmorization in the discussed poems as representative of her entire poetic corpus. As Connolly notes, Pulter’s poetry features “endless revolutions of matter and spirit through the stages of birth and death, disintegration and regeneration” (p. 282).

56. Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, ed. Gary Taylor, in The Complete Works, gen. ed. Stanley Wells and Taylor, 2d edn. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2005), pp. 681–718, I.ii.129–30; John Donne, “Death’s Duel,” in A Critical Edition of the Major Works, ed. John Carey, Oxford Authors (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1990), pp. 401–17, 408 and 409; and George Herbert, “Church-monuments,” in The English Poems of George Herbert, ed. Helen Wilcox (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007), pp. 234–8, lines 20–2.

57. Herbert, line 14.

58. John Roger, The Matter of Revolution: Science, Poetry, and Politics in the Age of Milton (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1996), p. 217.

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