This article argues that Hester Pulter's physics—her philosophy of matter and the cosmos—is inextricable from her poetics. The essay offers an overview of Pulter's varying, sometimes conflicting assumptions about the most fundamental particles of nature, from "atoms" to "dust" to "causes"—while also showing that her physics appears not only in the content of her poems, but in how they are written. Reading Pulter requires an attentiveness to the physics discussed in her poems as well as a mode of connective reading that this physics both generates and requires. The first part of the essay explores Pulter's philosophy of substance via an intertextual analysis of her devotional lyric "Dear God, from thy high throne look down"; the second part analyzes the contrasting forces of involution and dissolution as physical concepts throughout her poetic corpus. Involution in particular is a key concept in her physics, and while she characterizes the dissolution of her body and of the universe as a potentially liberating dispersal of matter, involution allows her to conceptualize a joyful self-obliteration. Through involution, Pulter simultaneously theorizes the makeup of the cosmos and her own poetic practice.


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pp. 71-98
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