Sunday, January 5, 2014

Magna Est Veritas

Magna Est Veritas
by Coventry Patmore (English poet and critic, 1823-1896)

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 (1823-1896) was an English poet and critic, widely recognized as a major poet. It’s interesting, then, that this poem strikes me as an unambiguously
atheistic statement, yet it was published in 1877, twelve years after he converted to Roman Catholicism from Anglicanism (at the age of 42), following the death of his beloved wife. He even has an entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia. Magna Est Veritas was included in Patmore’s 1877 collection The Unknown Eros.

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