Coventry Patmore

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

The Angel In The House. Book Ii. Canto V. - Poem by Coventry Patmore

Preludes.

I Rejected
‘Perhaps she's dancing somewhere now!’
The thoughts of light and music wake
Sharp jealousies, that grow and grow
Till silence and the darkness ache.
He sees her step, so proud and gay,
Which, ere he spake, foretold despair;
Thus did she look, on such a day,
And such the fashion of her hair;
And thus she stood, when, kneeling low,
He took the bramble from her dress,
And thus she laugh'd and talk'd, whose ‘No’
Was sweeter than another's ‘Yes.’
He feeds on thoughts that most deject;
He impudently feigns her charms,
So reverenced in his own respect,
Dreadfully clasp'd by other arms;
And turns, and puts his brows, that ache,
Against the pillow where 'tis cold.
If only now his heart would break!
But, oh, how much a heart can hold.


II Rachel
You loved her, and would lie all night
Thinking how beautiful she was,
And what to do for her delight.
Now both are bound with alien laws!
Be patient; put your heart to school;
Weep if you will, but not despair;
The trust that nought goes wrong by rule
Should ease this load the many bear.
Love, if there's heav'n, shall meet his dues,
Though here unmatch'd, or match'd amiss
Meanwhile, the gentle cannot choose
But learn to love the lips they kiss.
Ne'er hurt the homely sister's ears
With Rachel's beauties; secret be
The lofty mind whose lonely tears
Protest against mortality.

III The Heart's Prophecies
Be not amazed at life; 'tis still
The mode of God with His elect
Their hopes exactly to fulfil,
In times and ways they least expect.


The Queen’s Room.

I
There's nothing happier than the days
In which young Love makes every thought
Pure as a bride's blush, when she says
‘I will’ unto she knows not what;
And lovers, on the love-lit globe,
For love's sweet sake, walk yet aloof,
And hear Time weave the marriage-robe,
Attraction warp and reverence woof!

II
My Housekeeper, my Nurse of yore,
Cried, as the latest carriage went,
‘Well, Mr. Felix, Sir, I'm sure
‘The morning's gone off excellent!
‘I never saw the show to pass
‘The ladies, in their fine fresh gowns,
‘So sweetly dancing on the grass,
‘To music with its ups and downs.
‘We'd such work, Sir, to clean the plate;
‘'Twas just the busy times of old.
‘The Queen's room, Sir, look'd quite like state.
‘Miss Smythe, when she went up, made bold
‘To peep into the Rose Boudoir,
‘And cried, 'How charming! all quite new!'
‘And wonder'd who it could be for.
‘All but Miss Honor look'd in too.
‘But she's too proud to peep and pry.
‘None's like that sweet Miss Honor, Sir!
‘Excuse my humbleness, but I
‘Pray Heav'n you'll get a wife like her!
‘The Poor love dear Miss Honor's ways
‘Better than money. Mrs. Rouse,
‘Who ought to know a lady, says
‘No finer goes to Wilton House.
‘Miss Bagshaw thought that dreary room
‘Had kill'd old Mrs. Vaughan with fright;
‘She would not sleep in such a tomb
‘For all her host was worth a night!
‘Miss Fry, Sir, laugh'd; they talk'd the rest
‘In French; and French Sir's Greek to me.
‘But, though they smiled, and seem'd to jest,
‘No love was lost, for I could see
‘How serious-like Miss Honor was—’
‘Well, Nurse, this is not my affair.
‘The ladies talk'd in French with cause.
‘Good-day; and thank you for your prayer.’


III
I loiter'd through the vacant house,
Soon to be hers; in one room stay'd,
Of old my mother's. Here my vows
Of endless thanks were oftenest paid.
This room its first condition kept;
For, on her road to Sarum Town,
Therein an English Queen had slept,
Before the Hurst was half-pull'd down.
The pictured walls the place became:
Here ran the Brook Anaurus, where
Stout Jason bore the wrinkled dame
Whom serving changed to Juno; there,
Ixion's selfish hope, instead
Of the nuptial goddess, clasp'd a cloud;
And, here, translated Psyche fed
Her gaze on Love, not disallow'd.


IV
And in this chamber had she been,
And into that she would not look,
My Joy, my Vanity, my Queen,
At whose dear name my pulses shook!
To others how express at all
My worship in that joyful shrine?
I scarcely can myself recall
What peace and ardour then were mine!
And how more sweet than aught below,
The daylight and its duties done,
It felt to fold the hands, and so
Relinquish all regards but one;
To see her features in the dark;
To lie and meditate once more
The grace I did not fully mark,
The tone I had not heard before;
And from my pillow then to take
Her notes, her picture, and her glove,
Put there for joy when I should wake,
And press them to the heart of love;
And then to whisper ‘Wife!’ and pray
To live so long as not to miss
That unimaginable day
Which farther seems the nearer 'tis;
And still from joy's unfathom'd well
To drink, in dreams, while on her brows
Of innocence ineffable
Blossom'd the laughing bridal rose.


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010



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