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Poem by Coventry Patmore


Through female subtlety intense,
Or the good luck of innocence,
Or both, my Wife, with whom I plan
To pass calm evenings when I can,
After the chattering girls and boys
Are gone, or the less grateful noise
Is over, of grown tongues that chime
Untruly, once upon a time
Prevail'd with me to change my mind
Of reading out how Rosalind
In Arden jested, and to go
Where people whom I ought to know,
She said, would meet that night. And I,
Who inly murmur'd, I will try
Some dish more sharply spiced than this
Milk-soup men call domestic bliss,
Took, as she, laughing, bade me take,
Our eldest boy's brown wide-awake
And straw box of cigars, and went
Where, like a careless parliament
Of gods olympic, six or eight
Authors and else, reputed great,
Were met in council jocular
On many things, pursuing far
Truth, only for the chase's glow,
Quick as they caught her letting go,
Or, when at fault the view-halloo,
Playing about the missing clue.
And coarse jests came; But gods are coarse,
Thought I, yet not without remorse,
While memory of the gentle words,
Wife, Mother, Sister, flash'd like swords.
And so, after two hours of wit,
That burnt a hole where'er it hit,
I said I would not stay to sup,
Because my Wife was sitting up;
And walk'd home with a sense that I
Was no match for that company.
Smelling of smoke, which, always kind,
Amelia said she did not mind,
I sipp'd her tea, saw Baby scold
And finger at the muslin fold,
Through which he push'd his nose at last,
And choked and chuckled, feeding fast;
And, he asleep and sent upstairs,
She rang the servants in to prayers;
And after heard what men of fame
Had urged 'gainst this and that. For shame!
She said, but argument show'd not.
If I had answer'd thus, I thought,
'Twould not have pass'd for very wise.
But I have not her voice and eyes!
Howe'er it be, I'm glad of home,
Yea, very glad at heart to come
And lay a happy head to rest
On her unreasonable breast. 

Coventry Patmore

Coventry Patmore's other poems:
  1. King Cophetua The First
  2. A Retrospect
  3. Venus And Death
  4. Faint Yet Pursuing
  5. The After-Glow

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