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.
There is some consolation, I suppose, in the fact that Coventry Patmore’s “Magna Est Veritas” was written long before today’s hype industry bestrode the world like the malign colossus it has since become—and so the poem must be supposed to describe a sad truth about the human condition rather than one of the sad truths peculiar to our own world. Among these, perhaps, is the fact, which Patmore could hardly have foreseen, that people now go on caring long after they would...