That dedication to Patmore runs :-
Lo, my book thinks to look Time's leaguer down, Under the banner of your spread renown ! Or if these levies of impuissant rhyme Fall to the overthrow of assaulting Time, Yet this one page shall fend oblivion's shame Armed with your crested and prevailing name.
The tribute is handsomely conceived without any of the insincerity that cowered behind the handsomeness of eighteenth century dedications. It was an occasion for setting forth the humility which was a very real part of Thompson's character. In a printed note the author explains:-
"This dedication was written while the dear friend and great Poet to whom it was addressed yet lived. It is left as he saw it-the last verses of mine that were ever to pass under his eye."
To Francis, Mrs. Patmore wrote just before the publication of the book :-
"In to-day's Register I see that you have decided to retain the dedication of the poems you are now bringing out to my husband. I cannot resist thanking you and also letting you know how much pleasure the mark of your friendship gave him before he died. He was also looking forward to your visit to him with great delight."
Before the publication of New Poems a preface was written and cancelled, and a dozen titles mooted and rejected. In one MS. the name Poems, partly mystical is followed by an Introduction :-
" This book represents the work of the three years which have elapsed since my first volume was prepared for the press, my second volume having been a poem of comparatively early date. The first section exhibits mysticism in a limited and varying degree. I feel my instrument yet too imperfect to profane by it the higher ranges. Much is transcendental rather than truly mystic. The opening poem ("The Mistress of Vision ") is a fantasy with no more than an illusive tinge of psychic significance. And of the other poems some are as much science as mysticism! but it is the science of the Future, not the science of the scientist.
And since the science of the Future is the science of the Past, the outlook on the universe of the "Orient Ode," for instance, is nearer the outlook of Ecclesiastes than of, say, Professor Norman Lockyer. The " Orient Ode," on its scientific side, must wait at least fifty years for understanding. For there was never yet poet, beyond a certain range of insight, who could not have told the scientists what they will be teaching a hundred years hence. Science is a Caliban, only fit to hew wood and draw water for Prospero ; and it is time Ariel were released from his imprisonment by the materialistic Sycorax." 1 In a letter to Patmore, he had written :-
"The bits of science that crop up in your essays remind me of little devils dancing among rose trees."
The list of possible titles insists upon his regard for one aspect of his later work:-Songs of the Inner'Life; Odes and other Poems ; New Things and Old; Songs of a Sun-worshipper ; Music of the Future ; Night before Light; At the Orient Gates; The Dawn before the Day-Star. In the event New Poems was chosen; and on the eve of publication, F. T. writes to W. M. :-
" Herewith I send the book. Now, if Alice and you, after you have read it in proof, say ' this is bad poetry,' I will cut out half the book; but not half a line to please a publisher's whim for little books and big margins. I was cabined and confined over my first book ; with my spurs won, I should be at liberty to make the book comprehensive. It will be a book as long as the Unknown Eros, for if the Unknown Eros has about twenty more poems,
1 " Many a bit of true seeing I have had to learn again, through science having sophisticated my eye, inward or outward. And many a bit I have preserved, to the avoidance of a world of trouble, by concerning myself no more than any child about the teachings of science. Especially is this the case in regard to light. I never lost the child's instinctive Tightness of outlook upon light because I flung the scientific theories aside as so much baffling distortion of perspective. ' Here is cart for horse,' I felt rather than saw, and would nothing with them. . . . Though scientists in camp stand together against me, I would not challenge the consensus of the poets." none of them are so long as one half-dozen of mine. Treated in the sumptuous style, it would make a book about the size of Rossetti's first volume; but there is no reason why it should be got up more than just well and simply. I believe it will be my last volume of poetry- in any case my last for some years-and I am determined to make it complete, that I may feel all my work worth anything is on record for posterity, if I die. . . . I have sacrificed something to the levity of the critics. I have put a whole section of the lightest poems I ever wrote after the first terribly trying section, to soothe the critics' gums. If they are decent to the measure of their slight aim, that is all I care for; they aimed little at poetry. That they are true to girl-nature I have a woman's certificate, besides the fact that I studied them -with one exception-from an actual original. . . . Again I have put a batch of four ' simple' poems at the opening of the miscellaneous section to catch the critical eye, though their importance is not such as to give them a place so prominent. So I have done what artifice could do to lighten a very stern, sober, and difficult volume. 'Tis more varied in range than my former work; and by my arrangement I have done my best to emphasize and press into service this, the solitary redeeming fact from the popular standpoint.
" From the higher standpoint I have gained, I think, in art and chastity of style ; but have greatly lost in fire and glow. 'Tis time that I was silent. This book carries me quite as far as my dwindling strength will allow; and if I wrote further in poetry, I should write down my own fame."
New Poems found the critics, in 1897, more hostile than before. Perhaps the Saturday Review was the most severe:-