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Featured Poem: Magna Est Veritas by Coventry Patmore

Written by The Reader, 28th August 2018

Our Featured Poem this week, Magna Est Veritas comes from English poet Coventry Patmore.

Born in Essex in 1823, Coventry Kersey Dighton Patmore was an English poet and critic. Growing up, Patmore had ambitions to become an artist although his attentions turned to poetry during a period spent studying in France at the age of 16. His father made plans to publish these poems but Coventry's interest had already moved on to something else.

He did however return to poetry as a side project during the 19 years he worked at the British Museum and in 1844 he published a small volume of Poems. The collection was poorly received and Patmore, distressed by a cruel review in a magazine, bought up whatever copies of his collection he could and had them destroyed.

The publication did lead to fruitful introductions for Patmore however, leading him into the social circles of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. As a result he contributed a poem, The Seasons, to their periodical, The Germ.

In 1853 he republished a selection from Poems and the following year, published the first part of his best-known poem, The Angel in the House, a long narrative published in four parts which would be published in full in 1863 and lauded as the Victorian feminine ideal.

Patmore would go on to publish another poetry collection, The Unknown Eros, and various papers before his death in 1896 when he was buried in Lymington churchyard in London.

Magna Est Veritas

Here, in this little Bay,
Full of tumultuous life and great repose,
Where, twice a day,
The purposeless, glad ocean comes and goes,
Under high cliffs, and far from the huge town,
I sit me down.
For want of me the world's course will not fail:
When all its work is done, the lie shall rot;
The truth is great, and shall prevail,
When none cares whether it prevail or not.

Coventry Patmore

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