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The Rod, the Root and the Flower

The Rod, the Root and the Flower

By Coventry Patmore

254 pp

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About the Book

Published just a year before his death, these essays and aphorisms were the final flowering of Coventry Patmore’s extraordinary vision. The writers of the 19th-century Catholic Literary Revival, of whom Patmore was an outstanding representative, were in search of the whole of reality, and awoke a renewed appreciation of the importance of symbols as a vehicle of metaphysical and doctrinal truth. Christianity, writes Patmore, is “yet in its infancy, though it seems, as it has always seemed to contemporaries, to be in its decay.” And, as Stratford Caldecott indicates in his Foreword to this volume, he looks ahead to something like a “New Dispensation” of Christianity, in which the “real apprehension” of the truths of faith will be opened to the millions: “Many of these truths concern the relation between man and woman, and here [Patmore] anticipates in many respects the Theology of the Body of Pope John Paul II—a theology grounded in the Trinity, and based on the analogies between the love of the soul for God, the love of God for mankind, and the love between man and woman.” The transfiguring power of love, both human and divine, is the theme that runs right through The Rod, the Root and the Flower. Herbert Read compared it to Pascal’s Pensées, and Caldecott adds that “here we see a fullness of Catholic wisdom that is not exceeded by any other representative of the Revival, and one that speaks to our age as much as it did to his own, opening vistas within the Word of God that remain incompletely explored even today.”

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