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Eternal Dread 2

Pascal employs astronomical references to express feelings of dread, terror, and alienation. For him, the heavenly cosmos does not affirm God's existence, but instead reveals an immense abyss from which He is absent or hidden: "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces fills me with dread." 3 For Patmore, the dominant focus of his post-conversion poetry, specifically The Unknown Eros (1877), is the nuptial metaphor for "man's basic relationship with God, with the universe, and with his fellow human beings." 4 Patmore, unlike Pascal, assumes a benign, eroticized universe in which sexuality, rather than evidence of sinful concupiscence, is a preparation and model for the reciprocal desires linking man and God. My argument is that for Patmore, astronomical metaphor is the site in which he enacts his quarrel with Pascal, the site of a differentiation of importance, given Pascal's eminence as a Catholic apologist and thinker. I shall also argue that Patmore's astronomical metaphors demonstrate a close acquaintance with Sir John Herschel's Outlines of Astronomy, which was published in five editions between 1849 and 1866 and "which for decades was deemed the most authoritative astronomy text in English." 5 A close examination of the content and language of Patmore's astronomical metaphors and the relevant corresponding passages in Herschel's Outlines suggests that it was Herschel's book that enabled Patmore to contend with Pascal's astronomy of dread. 6 [End Page 277]

Eternal Dread 2


In your journey toward eternal-internal joy, hold tight to your loved ones, allocate time for self-care and seek help when needed. Though the journey is long and treacherous, we have each other for support. Even if I may not know you personally, know that I am cheering for you as you champion life and bless the world with your presence. 041b061a72


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