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Memoirs and correspondence of Coventry Patmore (Volume 2) online

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opinion of it. I believe that poets are the slowest judges of
other people's poetry. I found numbers of common-place
understandings admiring Tennyson sincerely when I could
see little in him because he was not aiming at the same
sort of perfection which I had in view for myself.^ My first
impression of your poem is that it wants a great deal of
hard work before it should be published — that is to say, as
good as you can make it. I long to see the second part,
because, according to the plan you told me of, you will have
great scope for large and heart-oppressing (which is the
same as heart-purifying) effects.

If in my long poem you detect a similarity to some of
your ideas, you must not think that I have plagiarised.
My prose sketch contains the ideas of the last couplet of
Stanza I. and the chief thought in Stanza II.

^ Cf. vol. i., p. 245.


Am I like to see you soon ? I feel persuaded that a little
personal intercourse would be of much poetical benefit to
both of us, for we are working in opposite directions, and
each, I fancy, wants something of the other's principles.

Yours ever,

C. K. Patmore.

April 17, 1850.

My Dear Allingham,

I have waited to give your poem a third perusal
before writing my distinct opinion of it — which is, in brief,
this, that a very large amount of labour is required to make
it as good as you can make it (that is to say fit for publica-
tion) and that, considering the admirable power you possess
in the lyric line, it is a pity that you should devote the time
to this poem which will be required to complete it. I wrote
a note a day or two ago to this effect, but destroyed it,
thinking I would reconsider what I had to say, or that at
least I would communicate my views with a less startling
distinctness. But I have not changed my opinion and I
believe that I should be doing you injustice to convey it in
any way disguised with soft solder.

The poem abounds with lovely poetry, and is not wanting
in profound thoughts. But no amount of poetry and pro-
found thoughts will make a poem to my mind if these are
unaccompanied with the results of that peculiar constructive
power which I am able neither to describe in the limits of
a note, nor to detect in " The Music Master." It is extremely
likely that I may be wrong ; but this is the best conclusion
I can come to at present. Pray do not let it at all disturb
you, unless it agrees with your own instinctive knowledge.
Poets of your mark know, better than any one can tell
them, the real worth of their doings. I have not the poem
here, but I will send it you to-morrow with some marks
which I have made in it.

I rejoice to hear that you have hit upon your true vein.
You are the best lyric poet living — there is not a doubt of
that ; and I am fully persuaded that I shall hear all the world
saying so by-and-by.

Tennyson has been out of town some weeks, but I am
expecting him back daily. His elegies are printed. I have
one of the

Online LibraryBasil ChampneysMemoirs and correspondence of Coventry Patmore (Volume 2) → online text (page 14 of 36)