"If I Were Dead, You'd Sometimes Say, Poor Child!"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In this collection of poems, written after several years of silence, Patmore creates his most mysterious and transcendental volume; often obscure because of his dependence on the tradition of Roman Catholic mysticism and frequently banal because of his exaltation of the commonplace, these poems occasionally reveal the insights of a man who understood both the problems and the joys of marriage. The fortunate moments when Patmore leaves philosophy and mysticism to describe the small, everyday moments that all married people encounter give the collection a perennial charm that keeps the heavier elements from dominating the volume; this quotation comes from one of these lighter poems, a short lyric in which the parent, after punishing his child, hears the boy's pathetic cry.

'If I were dead, you'd sometimes say, Poor Child!'
The dear lips quiver'd as they spake,
And the tears brake
From eyes which, not to grieve me, brightly smiled.
Poor Child, poor Child!
I seem to hear your laugh, your talk, your song.
It is not true that Love will do no wrong.
Poor Child!
And did you think, when you so cried and smiled,
How I, in lonely nights should lie awake,
And of those words your full avengers make?