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Best Famous Coventry Patmore Poems

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by Coventry Patmore |

The Foreign Land

 A woman is a foreign land,
Of which, though there he settle young,
A man will ne'er quite understand
The customs, politics, and tongue.
The foolish hie them post-haste through, See fashions odd, and prospects fair, Learn of the language, "How d'ye do," And go and brag they have been there.
The most for leave to trade apply, For once, at Empire's seat, her heart, Then get what knowledge ear and eye Glean chancewise in the life-long mart.
And certain others, few and fit, Attach them to the Court, and see The Country's best, its accent hit, And partly sound its polity.


by Coventry Patmore |

Magna Est Veritas

 Here, in this little Bay, 
Full of tumultuous life and great repose, 
Where, twice a day, 
The purposeless, gay ocean comes and goes, 
Under high cliffs, and far from the huge town, 
I sit me down.
For want of me the world's course will not fail: When all its work is done, the lie shall rot; The truth is great, and shall prevail, When none cares whether it prevail or not.


by Coventry Patmore |

Loves Reality

 I walk, I trust, with open eyes; 
I've travelled half my worldly course; 
And in the way behind me lies 
Much vanity and some remorse; 
I've lived to feel how pride may part 
Spirits, tho' matched like hand and glove; 
I've blushed for love's abode, the heart; 
But have not disbelieved in love; 
Nor unto love, sole mortal thing 
Or worth immortal, done the wrong 
To count it, with the rest that sing, 
Unworthy of a serious song; 
And love is my reward: for now, 
When most of dead'ning time complain, 
The myrtle blooms upon my brow, 
Its odour quickens all my brain.


by Coventry Patmore |

Unthrift

 Ah, wasteful woman, she who may 
On her sweet self set her own price, 
Knowing men cannot choose but pay, 
How she has cheapen'd paradise; 
How given for nought her priceless gift, 
How spoil'd the bread and spill'd the wine, 
Which, spent with due, respective thrift, 
Had made brutes men, and men divine.


by Coventry Patmore |

The Toys

 My little Son, who look'd from thoughtful eyes 
And moved and spoke in quiet grown-up wise, 
Having my law the seventh time disobey'd, 
I struck him, and dismiss'd 
With hard words and unkiss'd,
—His Mother, who was patient, being dead.
Then, fearing lest his grief should hinder sleep, I visited his bed, But found him slumbering deep, With darken'd eyelids, and their lashes yet From his late sobbing wet.
And I, with moan, Kissing away his tears, left others of my own; For, on a table drawn beside his head, He had put, within his reach, A box of counters and a red-vein'd stone, A piece of glass abraded by the beach, And six or seven shells, A bottle with bluebells, And two French copper coins, ranged there with careful art, To comfort his sad heart.
So when that night I pray'd To God, I wept, and said: Ah, when at last we lie with trancèd breath, Not vexing Thee in death, And Thou rememberest of what toys We made our joys, How weakly understood Thy great commanded good, Then, fatherly not less Than I whom Thou hast moulded from the clay, Thou'lt leave Thy wrath, and say, 'I will be sorry for their childishness.
'


by Coventry Patmore |

The Spirits Depths

 Not in the crisis of events
Of compass'd hopes, or fears fulfill'd,
Or acts of gravest consequence,
Are life's delight and depth reveal'd.
The day of days was not the day; That went before, or was postponed; The night Death took our lamp away Was not the night on which we groan'd.
I drew my bride, beneath the moon, Across my threshold; happy hour! But, ah, the walk that afternoon We saw the water-flags in flower!


by Coventry Patmore |

The Revelation

 An idle poet, here and there,
Looks around him; but, for all the rest,
The world, unfathomably fair,
Is duller than a witling's jest.
Love wakes men, once a lifetime each; They lift their heavy lids, and look; And, lo, what one sweet page can teach, They read with joy, then shut the book.
And some give thanks, and some blaspheme And most forget; but, either way, That and the Child's unheeded dream Is all the light of all their day.


by Coventry Patmore |

The Married Lover

 Why, having won her, do I woo? 
Because her spirit's vestal grace 
Provokes me always to pursue, 
But, spirit-like, eludes embrace; 
Because her womanhood is such
That, as on court-days subjects kiss 
The Queen's hand, yet so near a touch 
Affirms no mean familiarness; 
Nay, rather marks more fair the height 
Which can with safety so neglect 
To dread, as lower ladies might, 
That grace could meet with disrespect; 
Thus she with happy favour feeds 
Allegiance from a love so high 
That thence no false conceit proceeds 
Of difference bridged, or state put by; 
Because although in act and word 
As lowly as a wife can be, 
Her manners, when they call me lord, 
Remind me 'tis by courtesy; 
Not with her least consent of will, 
Which would my proud affection hurt, 
But by the noble style that still 
Imputes an unattain'd desert; 
Because her gay and lofty brows, 
When all is won which hope can ask, 
Reflect a light of hopeless snows 
That bright in virgin ether bask; 
Because, though free of the outer court 
I am, this Temple keeps its shrine 
Sacred to Heaven; because, in short, 
She 's not and never can be mine.


by Coventry Patmore |

Faint Yet Pursuing

 Heroic Good, target for which the young
Dream in their dreams that every bow is strung,
And, missing, sigh
Unfruitful, or as disbelievers die,
Thee having miss'd, I will not so revolt,
But lowlier shoot my bolt,
And lowlier still, if still I may not reach,
And my proud stomach teach
That less than highest is good, and may be high.
And even walk in life's uneven way, Though to have dreamt of flight and not to fly Be strange and sad, Is not a boon that's given to all who pray.
If this I had I'd envy none! Nay, trod I straight for one Year, month or week, Should Heaven withdraw, and Satan me amerce Of power and joy, still would I seek Another victory with a like reverse; Because the good of victory does not die, As dies the failure's curse, And what we have to gain Is, not one battle, but a weary life's campaign.
Yet meaner lot being sent Should more than me content; Yea, if I lie Among vile shards, though born for silver wings, In the strong flight and feathers gold Of whatsoever heavenward mounts and sings I must by admiration so comply That there I should my own delight behold.
Yea, though I sin each day times seven, And dare not lift the fearfullest eyes to Heaven, Thanks must I give Because that seven times are not eight or nine, And that my darkness is all mine, And that I live Within this oak-shade one more minute even, Hearing the winds their Maker magnify.


by Coventry Patmore |

Deliciae Sapientiae de Amore

 Love, light for me
Thy ruddiest blazing torch,
That I, albeit a beggar by the Porch
Of the glad Palace of Virginity,
May gaze within,k and sing the pomp I see;
For, crown'd with roses all,
'Tis there, O Love, they keep thy festival!
But first warn off the beatific spot
Those wretched who have not
Even afar beheld the shining wall,
And those who, once beholding, have forgot,
And those, most vile, who dress
The charnel spectre drear
Of utterly dishallow'd nothingness
In that refulgent fame,
And cry, Lo, here!
And name
The Lady whose smiles inflame
The sphere.
Bring, Love, anear, And bid be not afraid Young Lover true, and love-foreboding Maid, And wedded Spouse, if virginal of thought; for I will sing of nought Less sweet to hear Than seems A music their half-remember'd dreams.
The magnet calls the steel: Answers the iron to the magnet's breath; What do they feel But death! The clouds of summer kiss in flame and rain, And are not found again; But the heavens themselves eternal are with fire Of unapproach'd desire, By the aching heart of Love, which cannot rest, In blissfullest pathos so indeed possess'd.
O, spousals high; O, doctrine blest, Unutterable in even the happiest sigh; This know ye all Who can recall With what a welling of indignant tears LOve's simpleness first hears The meaning of his mortal covenant, And from what pride comes down To wear the crown Of which 'twas very heaven to feel the want.
How envies he the ways Of yonder hopeless star, And so would laugh and yearn With trembling lids eterne, Ineffably content from infinitely far Only to gaze On his bright Mistress's responding rays, That never know eclipse; And, once in his long year, With praeternuptial ecstasy and fear, By the delicious law of that ellipse Wherein all citizens of ether move, With hastening pace to come Nearer, though never near, His Love And always inaccessible sweet Home; There on his path doubly to burn, Kiss'd by her doubled light That whispers of its source, The ardent secret ever clothed with Night, Then go forth in new force Towards a new return, Rejoicing as a Bridegroom on his course! This know ye all; Therefore gaze bold, That so in you be joyful hope increas'd, Thorough the Palace portals, and behold The dainty and unsating Marriage-Feast.
O, hear Them singing clear 'Cor meum et caro mea'round the 'I am', The Husband of the Heavens, and the Lamb Whom they for ever follow there that kept, Or, losing, never slept Till they reconquer'd had in mortal fight The standard white.
O, hear From the harps they bore from Earth, five-strung, what music springs, While the glad Spirits chide The wondering strings! And how the shining sacrificial Choirs, Offering for aye their dearest hearts' desires, Which to their hearts come back beatified, Hymn, the bright aisles along, The nuptial song, Song ever new to us and them, that saith, 'Hail Virgin in Virginity a Spouse!' Heard first below Within the little house At Nazareth; Heard yet in many a cell where brides of Christ Lie hid, emparadised, And where, although By the hour 'tis night, There's light, The Day still lingering in the lap of snow.
Gaze and be not afraid Ye wedded few that honour, in sweet thought And glittering will, So freshly from the garden gather still The lily sacrificed; For ye,though self-suspected here for nought, Are highly styled With the thousands twelve times twelve of undefiled.
Gaze and be not afraid Young Lover true and love-foreboding Maid.
The full Moon of deific vision bright Abashes nor abates No spark minute of Nature's keen delight, 'Tis there your Hymen waits! There wher in courts afar, all unconfused, they crowd, As fumes the starlight soft In gulfs of cloud, And each to the other, well-content, Sighs oft, ''Twas this we meant!' Gaze without blame Ye in whom living Love yet blushes for dead shame.
There of pure Virgins none Is fairer seen, Save One, Than Mary Magdalene.
Gaze without doubt or fear Ye to whom generous Love, by any name, is dear.
Love makes the life to be A fount perpetual of virginity; For, lo, the Elect Of generous Love, how named soe'er, affect Nothing but God, Or mediate or direct, Nothing but God, The Husband of the Heavens: And who Him love, in potence great or small Are, one and all, Heirs of the Palace glad, And inly clad With the bridal robes of ardour virginal.