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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Critical and Biographical Essay by Alfred H. Miles

Coventry Patmore (1823–1896)

COVENTRY PATMORE, born at Woodford, Essex, on the 23rd of July, 1823, takes his place among the general poets in Vol. V. of The Poets and the Poetry of the Century, where examples of his best work are introduced by a critical and biographical article from the pen of Dr. Garnett. “The Angel in the House,” the work with which the poet’s name is most popularly associated, is dealt with in that connection, and the particulars there given need not be repeated here. In “The Unknown Eros” volume, published in 1877, there are, however, a number of poems dealing with national and religious subjects, which entitle the poet to representation in any work dealing with the sacred poetry of his time. Of these the poem “The Toys,” given here, is perhaps the choicest example, as it is not marred, as some of the other poems in that volume are, by “religious and political controversy,” conducted in a “polemical spirit.” It is only necessary to place Mr. Patmore’s appeals to patriotism side by side with those of Wordsworth to see how they fall short of the dignity with which it is possible to treat religiously political themes. “The Toys” has no such drawback. It is human, and as such has an infinitely wider basis of appeal than that of the religious sectary or the political partisan. It is written by a father who has learnt something of the fatherhood of God from his own fatherly relationship, and who realises that “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.” Coventry Patmore died on the 26th of November, 1896.