Coventry Patmore

(23 July 1823 - 26 November 1896 / Essex, England)

The Angel In The House. Book I. Canto Iv. - Poem by Coventry Patmore

Preludes

I The Rose of the World
Lo, when the Lord made North and South
And sun and moon ordained, He,
Forthbringing each by word of mouth
In order of its dignity,
Did man from the crude clay express
By sequence, and, all else decreed,
He form'd the woman; nor might less
Than Sabbath such a work succeed.
And still with favour singled out,
Marr'd less than man by mortal fall,
Her disposition is devout,
Her countenance angelical;
The best things that the best believe
Are in her face so kindly writ
The faithless, seeing her, conceive
Not only heaven, but hope of it;
No idle thought her instinct shrouds,
But fancy chequers settled sense,
Like alteration of the clouds
On noonday's azure permanence;
Pure dignity, composure, ease
Declare affections nobly fix'd,
And impulse sprung from due degrees
Of sense and spirit sweetly mix'd.
Her modesty, her chiefest grace,
The cestus clasping Venus' side,
How potent to deject the face
Of him who would affront its pride!
Wrong dares not in her presence speak,
Nor spotted thought its taint disclose
Under the protest of a cheek
Outbragging Nature's boast the rose.
In mind and manners how discreet;
How artless in her very art;
How candid in discourse; how sweet
The concord of her lips and heart;
How simple and how circumspect;
How subtle and how fancy-free;
Though sacred to her love, how deck'd
With unexclusive courtesy;
How quick in talk to see from far
The way to vanquish or evade;
How able her persuasions are
To prove, her reasons to persuade;
How (not to call true instinct's bent
And woman's very nature, harm),
How amiable and innocent
Her pleasure in her power to charm;
How humbly careful to attract,
Though crown'd with all the soul desires,
Connubial aptitude exact,
Diversity that never tires.


II The Tribute
Boon Nature to the woman bows;
She walks in earth's whole glory clad,
And, chiefest far herself of shows,
All others help her, and are glad:
No splendour 'neath the sky's proud dome
But serves for her familiar wear;
The far-fetch'd diamond finds its home
Flashing and smouldering in her hair;
For her the seas their pearls reveal;
Art and strange lands her pomp supply
With purple, chrome, and cochineal,
Ochre, and lapis lazuli;
The worm its golden woof presents;
Whatever runs, flies, dives, or delves,
All doff for her their ornaments,
Which suit her better than themselves;
And all, by this their power to give,
Proving her right to take, proclaim
Her beauty's clear prerogative
To profit so by Eden's blame.

III Compensation
That nothing here may want its praise,
Know, she who in her dress reveals
A fine and modest taste, displays
More loveliness than she conceals.

The Morning Call.

I
‘By meekness charm'd, or proud to allow
‘A queenly claim to live admired,
‘Full many a lady has ere now
‘My apprehensive fancy fired,
‘And woven many a transient chain;
‘But never lady like to this,
‘Who holds me as the weather-vane
‘Is held by yonder clematis.
‘She seems the life of nature's powers;
‘Her beauty is the genial thought
‘Which makes the sunshine bright; the flowers,
‘But for their hint of her, were nought.’


II
A voice, the sweeter for the grace
Of suddenness, while thus I dream'd,
‘Good morning!’ said or sang. Her face
The mirror of the morning seem'd.
Her sisters in the garden walk'd,
And would I come? Across the Hall
She led me; and we laugh'd and talk'd,
And praised the Flower-show and the Ball;
And Mildred's pinks had gain'd the Prize;
And, stepping like the light-foot fawn,
She brought me ‘Wiltshire Butterflies,’
The Prize-book; then we paced the lawn,
Close-cut, and with geranium-plots,
A rival glow of green and red;
Then counted sixty apricots
On one small tree; the gold-fish fed;
And watch'd where, black with scarlet tans,
Proud Psyche stood and flash'd like flame,
Showing and shutting splendid fans;
And in the prize we found its name.

III
The sweet hour lapsed, and left my breast
A load of joy and tender care;
And this delight, which life oppress'd,
To fix'd aims grew, that ask'd for pray'r.
I rode home slowly; whip-in-hand
And soil'd bank-notes all ready, stood
The Farmer who farm'd all my land,
Except the little Park and Wood;
And, with the accustom'd compliment
Of talk, and beef, and frothing beer,
I, my own steward, took my rent,
Three hundred pounds for half the year;
Our witnesses the Cook and Groom,
We sign'd the lease for seven years more,
And bade Good-day; then to my room
I went, and closed and lock'd the door,
And cast myself down on my bed,
And there, with many a blissful tear,
I vow'd to love and pray'd to wed
The maiden who had grown so dear;
Thank'd God who had set her in my path;
And promised, as I hoped to win,
That I would never dim my faith
By the least selfishness or sin;
Whatever in her sight I'd seem
I'd truly be; I'd never blend
With my delight in her a dream
'Twould change her cheek to comprehend;
And, if she wish'd it, I'd prefer
Another's to my own success;
And always seek the best for her,
With unofficious tenderness.

IV
Rising, I breathed a brighter clime,
And found myself all self above,
And, with a charity sublime,
Contemn'd not those who did not love;
And I could not but feel that then
I shone with something of her grace,
And went forth to my fellow men
My commendation in my face.


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010



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