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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.


By Coventry Patmore (1823–1896)

WHAT’S that which Heaven to man endears,

And that which eyes no sooner see

Than the heart says, with floods of tears,

“Ah, that’s the thing which I would be!”

Not childhood, full of frown and fret;

Not youth, impatient to disown

Those visions high, which to forget

Were worse than never to have known;

Not great men, even when they’re good;—

The good man whom the Lord makes great,

By some disgrace of chance or blood

He fails not to humiliate;—

Not these: but souls, found here and there,

Oases in our waste of sin,

Where everything is well and fair,

And God remits his discipline;

Whose sweet subdual of the world

The worldling scarce can recognize,

And ridicule against it hurled

Drops with a broken sting, and dies;

Who nobly, if they cannot know

Whether a scutcheon’s dubious field

Carries a falcon or a crow,

Fancy a falcon on the shield;

Yet ever careful not to hurt

God’s honor, who creates success,

Their praise of even the best desert

Is but to have presumed no less;

And should their own life plaudits bring,

They’re simply vexed at heart that such

An easy, yea, delightful thing

Should move the minds of men so much.

They live by law,—not like the fool,

But like the bard, who freely sings

In strictest bonds of rhyme and rule,

And finds in them not bonds, but wings.

They shine like Moses in the face,

And teach our hearts, without the rod,

That God’s grace is the only grace,

And all grace is the grace of God.

Their home is home; their chosen lot

A private place and private name:

But if the world’s want calls, they’ll not

Refuse the indignities of fame.