IV
Verse at Home

It was not only love, nor even modesty, which led Patmore to ascribe The Angel in the House to his wife. She provided both the body and the soul of it, making it possible for him to work and inspiring its whole theme. More than this, it is the sort of achievement that could only have arisen out of the lives of a young and happily married couple.

The Angel is the fruit of Patmore's first life, which was sharply divided from his second and third phases. The seeds of his future development were already planted in it, but Emily Patmore, the perfect wife, was like one sort of English spring, vigorous and stimulating, yet discouraging to the growth of certain flowers and plants, which wait for warmer days.

It is true that she inspired the finest odes in The Unknown Eros, written after she had died, but she inspired them only by her death. When he was in the wilderness, which seems to be necessary to the growth of every sort of greatness, to a politician no less than to a poet, he found new resources in himself. The loss of his wife was his greatest tragedy, but it was one which aroused deeper passions than those she had inspired in The Angel in the House.

This poem has in it a physical and moral comfort such as she provided in his daily life. She soothed and to some extent suppressed some of his most characteristic impulses. She had been alarmed by the Catholic trend of his thought

-47-

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Coventry Patmore
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • I - Extravagant Contradictions 1
  • II - Father of the Man 10
  • III - Before the Angel 25
  • IV - Verse at Home 47
  • V - Love and Death 62
  • VI - Travel to Rome 80
  • VII - Second Spring 96
  • VIII - Lourdes and Virginity 122
  • IX - The Patriarch 135
  • X - The Anti-Clerical 151
  • XI - Root and Flower 172
  • XII - The Independent 198
  • Note on Sources 207
  • Index 209
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