Read The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson Free Online
Book Title: The Hound of Heaven|
The author of the book: Francis Thompson
Edition: Morehouse Publishing
Date of issue: August 1st 1988
ISBN 13: 9780819212054
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 1.30 MB
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Reader ratings: 5.3
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Do you ever get the feeling that enlightenment is weary with waiting, that enlightenment itself—passionately, relentlessly—is looking for you? If so, you may be inspired and moved by this Francis Thompson ode.
Perhaps it is fitting that, during the fin de siecle, when religious poetry was in fashion among the English aesthetes, that one of the greatest poems of Christian faith was composed by a derelict, an opiate addict who wandered the London streets with a small volume of Blake in one pocket and a volume of Aeschylus in the other.
Francis Thompson, born in Lancashire to a middle class Catholic family, was a dreamy, impractical young man. Rejected from the priesthood, Francis made a half-hearted attempt to become a physician like his father, but, after failing medical school, he left for London to seek his fortune, at the age of 25, as a writer. But a lack of practicality hampered his career, as did a growing addiction to laudanum. Soon he was reduced to selling pencils, delivering messages, and tending horses by day, and by night he slept in a large box near the hobo camps by the Thames. Desperate, he was on the verge of ending it all when the poet and suicide Thomas Chatterton, appearing to him in a dream, dissuaded him from taking his own life.
Fortunately, he eventually found a pair of patrons: Francis Meynell editor of the Catholic magazine Merry England and his wife, the poet Alice Meynell. They recognized both his genius and his helplessness, and acted informally as his guardians for most of the rest of his short life. When he died at the age of 47, he left behind him a few handfuls of good poems and one great poem, “The Hound of Heaven.”
Sure, it is a little too full of sin and self-abasement for most contemporary Christians, many of whom—I suspect--are a little too full of themselves. It is also shamelessly old fashioned both in its diction and the extravagance of its religious ardor, but a few old words never hurt anybody, and the saints were known to be passionate about religion too. At the very least, “The Hound of Heaven”—in addition to being honest, direct, and filled with an extraordinary music—paints an unforgettable picture of the Lord Jesus as a hound continually on the track of the sinner, never ceasing until the pursued one comes to realize that His pursuit is the pursuit of Love.
Here are the first few lines, to give you an idea of what is in store:
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
'All things betray thee, who betrayest Me'.
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Read information about the authorFrancis Thompson was an English poet and ascetic. After attending college, he moved to London to become a writer, but in menial work, became addicted to opium, and was a street vagrant for years. A married couple read his poetry and rescued him, publishing his first book Poems in 1893. Thompson lived as an unbalanced invalid in Wales and at Storrington, but wrote three books of poetry, with other works and essays, before dying of tuberculosis in 1907.
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