1825 Born at Woodford, in Essex. Father was a man of liberal religious tendencies, of comfortable means, and a lover of poetry. Under his direction, Patmore was largely self-educated.
1839 Went to Paris and began to write verse; published his first volume of poems in 1844.
1847 Married Emily Andrews, and exceptionally able and attractive woman. She died in 1862.
1853-63 These years saw the appearance of Tamerton Church-Tower, The Betrothal, The Espousals, Faithful for Ever, and The Victories of Love~~ all parts of The Angel in the House.
1865 Married Mary Byles; family settled at Heron's Ghyll, in Sussex, where he lived until 1875.
1868 Published Odes, which were enlarged and printed as The Unknown Eros in 1877.
1896 Coventry Patmore died at Lymington.
Poems taken from The Angel in the House
He meets, by heavenly chance express,
The destined maid; some hidden hand
Unveils to him that loveliness
Which others cannot understand.
His merits in her presence grow,
To match the promise in her eyes,
And round her happy footsteps blow
The authentic airs of Paradise.
For joy of her he cannot sleep;
Her beauty haunts him all the night;
It melts his heart, it makes him weep
For wonder, worship, and delight.
O, paradox of love, he longs,
Most humble when he most aspires,
To suffer scorn and cruel wrongs
From her he honours and desires.
Her graces make him rich, and ask
No guerdon this imperial style
Affronts him; he disdains to bask,
The pensioner of her priceless smile.
He prays for some hard thing to do,
Some work of fame and labour immense,
To stretch the languid built and thew
Of love's fresh-born magnipotence.
No smallest boon were bought too dear,
Though barter'd for his love-sick life;
That trusts he, with undoubted cheer,
To vanquish heaven, and call her Wife.
He notes how queens of sweetness still
Neglect their crowns, and stoop to mate;
How, self-consign'd with lavish will,
They ask but love proportionate;
How swift pursuit by small degrees,
Love's tactic, works like miracle;
How valour, clothes in courtesies,
Brings down the haughtiest citadel;
And therefore, though he merits not
To kiss the braid upon her skirt,
His hope, discouraged ne'er a jot,
Out-soars all possible desert.
Ah, wasteful woman, she who may
On her sweet self set her own price,
Knowing man cannot choose but pay,
How has she 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.
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 HEART'S PROPHECIES
Be not amazed at life 'tis still
The mode of God with his elect
Their hopes exactly to fulfill,
In times and ways they least expect
How strange a thing a lover seems
To animals that do not love!
Lo, where he walks and talks in dreams
And flouts us with his Lady's glove;
How foreign is the garb he wears;
And how his grteat devotion mocks
Our poor propriety, and scares
The undevout with paradox?
His soul, through scorn of worldly care,
And great extremes of sweet, and gall,
And musing much on all that's fair,
Grows witty and fantastical;
He sobs his joy and sings his grief,
And evermore finds such delight
In simply picturing his relief,
That 'plaining seems to cure his plight;
He makes his sorrow, when there's none;
His fancy blows both cold and hot;
Next to the wish that she'll be won,
His first hope is that she may not;
He sues, yet depreciates consent;
Would she be captured she must fly;
She looks too happy and content,
For whose least pleasure he would die.
Oh, cruelty, she cannot care
For one to whom she's always kind!
He says he's nought, but, oh, despair,
If he's not Jove to her fond mind!
He's jealous if she pets a dove,
She must be his with all her soul;
Yet 'tis a postulate of love
That part is greater than the whole;
And all his apprehension's stress,
When he's with her, regards her hair,
Her hand, a ribbon of her dress,
As if his life were only there;
Because she's constant, he will change,
And kindest glances coldly meet,
And, all the time he seems so strange,
His soul is fawning at her feet;
Of smiles and simple heaven grown tired,
He wickedly provokes her tears,
And when she weeps, as he desired,
Falls slain with ecstasies of fears;
He blames her, though she has no fault,
Except the folly to be his;
He worships her, the more to exalt
The profanation of a kiss;
Health's his disease he's never well
But when his paleness shames her rose;
His faith's a rock-built citadel,
Its sign a flag that each way blows;
His o'erfed fancy frets and fumes;
And love, in him, is fierce, like hate,
And ruffles in his ambrosial plumes
Against the bars of time and fate.
It was not like your great and gracious ways!
Do you, that have nought other to lament,
Never, my love, repent
Of how, that July afternoon,
With sudden, unintelligible phrase,
And frighten'd eye
Upon your journey of so many days,
Without a single kiss or a good-bye?
I knew, indeed, that you were parting soon;
And so we sate, within the low sun's rays
You whispering to me, for yur voice was weak,
Your harrowing praise
Well, it was well, my Wife
To hear you such things speak,
And see your love,
Make of your eyes a growing gloom of life,
As a warm South-wind sombres a March grove.
And it was like your great and gracious ways
To turn your talk on daily things, my Dear,
Lifting the luminous, pathetic lash
To let the laughter flash,
Whilst I drew near
Because you spoke so low that I could scarcely hear.
But all at once to leave me at the last,
More at the wonder than the loss aghast,
With huddled, unintelligble phrase,
And frighten'd eye,
And go your journey of all days
With not one kiss or a good-bye,
And the only loveless look the look with which you pass'd,
'Twas all unlike your great and gracious ways.