Friday, July 13, 2012

The Hound of Heaven

Pat McNamara blogs on the life and works of Francis Thompson, highlighting his most famous work:

It's a poem that every Catholic schoolchild knew once upon a time. Eugene O'Neill could recite Francis Thompson's "Hound of Heaven" from memory, and J.R.R. Tolkien was an admirer of it. G.K. Chesterton considered Thompson one of the great English poets, a "shy volcano." Although Victorian poetry may be out of fashion today, many still find comfort in Thompson's image of a loving God relentlessly pursuing the wayward soul:

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 mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd 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.'

What many didn't know was that this poem, hailed as one of the great Catholic poems, was the product of a deeply troubled soul, a man who battled addiction, poverty and depression throughout his adult life.

Read the rest here, if you please.

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