"He Thought I Thought He Thought I Slept"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Although condemned today because of its monotony and bathos, Patmore's sequence of odes and various stanzas was immensely popular when it was published, earning the author the honorific title "Poet Laureate of Nuptial Love." Unlike most poets who write of either courtship or adultery, Patmore celebrated the state of marriage with an ardor that has become quaint in the cynicism of the twentieth century. By combining erotic passion and the code of domestic virtue popular a century ago, he develops the theme that marriage is the route to spiritual truth. In bursts of Platonism, Christianity, and mid-Victorian sentiment, he shows that love within an ideal marriage is a way to God, thereby making marriage a sacred state in which Honoria, the wife, is a guiding angel to Felix, leading him through the commonplace incidents of life to a final apotheosis. In the quotation, which comes from the final part of the courtship, Honoria speaks to a friend who saw Felix kiss her; as a proper young lady she cannot let him know that she was awake for such would be a sign of immodesty.

"I saw you take his kiss!" "'Tis true."
"O, modesty!" "'Twas strictly kept:
He thought me asleep; at least, I knew
He thought I thought he thought I slept."