The Life and Times of Coventry Patmore

By Derek Patmore | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER TWENTY The Meeting of Two Poets

HE had borne himself with a singular dignity during the years of neglect. Now the praise and admiration of a younger generation of writers and critics such as Francis Thompson, Alice Meynell, Robert Bridges, and Father Gerard Manley Hopkins were to fill his years with a calm delight. It was worth all the years of loneliness to receive the discerning recognition these new friendships gave him.

The meetings between Coventry Patmore and Hopkins were sparse. They met only twice during the six years of their friendship; but these meetings between two of the most remarkable intellects of the time must have been an exciting experience for both poets, and they brought about a voluminous correspondence.*

Coventry Patmore met Gerard Manley Hopkins for the first time when he paid a visit to the Jesuit School at Stonyhurst during the summer of 1883. Describing this visit, Hopkins wrote to his friend, yet another poet, Richard Watson Dixon, on the 12th August of that year:

Coventry Patmore came to visit us and stayed three or four days. The Rector gave me charge of him, and I saw a good deal of him, and had a good deal of talk. He knew and expressed great admiration of Bridges' Muse upon the strength of extracts in reviews only, not having till that time been able to get the poem from his bookseller. He told me that he was very slow in taking in a new poet, even the meaning, much more the effect and spirit; he said, 'I feel myself in the presence of a new mind, a new spirit, but beyond that at a first reading, I am not yet accustomed to the strange atmosphere . . .'

____________________
*
The Oxford University Press published Further Letters of Gerard Manley Hopkins including his Correspondence with Coventry Patmore, edited by Claude Colleer Abbott . 1938.

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