The Life and Times of Coventry Patmore

By Derek Patmore | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN Disaster

See! his lithe, fragile form is bending over a book, that is spread open on his knees, his head drooping towards it like a plucked flower. The pale face is resting on the clasped hand, over which, and all around the small exquisitely modelled head, fall heavy waves of auburn hair, concealing all but one pale cheek--pale and cold marble, but smooth and soft as a girl's. Dead to all the brilliant nothings that are passing around him, the boy-poet has fallen upon some passage of his (just at present) sole idol in the temple of poetry, Milton.

PETER GEORGE PATMORE has left us this somewhat romanticised portrait of Coventry as he was at this period. Perhaps Gosse's presentation of the young poet's appearance is nearer the truth:

Very tall and thin, his small bright head poised lightly on his shoulders, a look of admirable candour in the broad forehead, prominent mobile lips, and sparkling eyes. These latter, doubtless, as we see them in Brett's admirable drawing of a few years later, were what gave positive charm to the features--these dark, liquid, vivid eyes, and the silky rolling hair.

Such was the outward appearance of the young poet when, at the age of twenty-one, he found the doors of literary London thrown open to welcome him. He possessed none of the easy social graces of his father. He was still awkward in company, and had inherited the reserved and outwardly cold manner of his mother, as well as her religious fervour. But he must have possessed a shy charm, and his conversation, when he did speak, was unusually brilliant.

His father had dedicated him to the Muses. We can only surmise that the austere Scotch mother had secretly dedicated him to the service of God. Although they were joined together

-51-

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The Life and Times of Coventry Patmore
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter One - the Return of a Victorian 1
  • Chapter Two - the Beginning 7
  • Chapter Three - Peter George Patmore and William Hazlitt 18
  • Chapter Four - the Duel 28
  • Chapter Five - Boyhood of Coventry Patmore 32
  • Chapter Six - First Poems 42
  • Chapter Seven - Disaster 51
  • Chapter Eight the Married Lover 58
  • Chapter Nine the Pre-Raphaelites 67
  • Chapter Ten the Angel in the House 77
  • Chapter Eleven Tennyson--The Friend 89
  • Chapter Twelve Departure 100
  • Chapter Thirteen Tired Memory 107
  • Chapter Fourteen Journey to Rome 121
  • Chapter Fifteen Second Marriage 132
  • Chapter Sixteen the Squire 140
  • Chapter Seventeen the Unknown Eros 154
  • Chapter Eighteen the Bride of Heaven 164
  • Chapter Nineteen Third Marriage 177
  • Chapter Twenty the Meeting of Two Poets 188
  • Chapter Twenty-One Lymington 203
  • Chapter Twenty-Two Alice Meynell 217
  • Chapter Twenty-Three London Life 226
  • Chapter Twenty-Four the End of the Journey 237
  • Bibliography 243
  • Index 245
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