Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Hound of Heaven

At the Eighth Day Books 27th Anniversary Sale, I was able to purchase a beautiful little volume of Francis Thompson's poem, The Hound of Heaven. My husband took these photographs/scans:

The title is stamped in gold letters on the spine, stacked:


with the cover's border pattern below. The back cover is like the center of the front cover without any decoration.

There are two title pages: one from Burn, Oates & Washbourne Ltd. (Publishers to the Holy See) and the other from George G. Harrap & Co.Ltd. I like the address for Burns, et al: Orchard Street and Paternoster Row!

This volume was given as an Easter present I presume, for the inscription on the page after the King's Treasury stamp reads:

To Sister M. Delphine
with all good 
wishes for the
great feast

Anne wanted to tell Sister M. Delphine how much she enjoyed this poem, for she wrote at the bottom of the last page of the introduction:

I am very keen on Francis Thompson.
Have just taken "The Hound of Heaven" with
my higher [?] class.

So perhaps Anne was former student of Sister M. Delphine, now working as a teacher?

Anyway, this is a timely purchase, for EWTN is going to broadcast a special on Francis Thompson's poem tomorrow evening:

G.K. Chesterton describes “The Hound of Heaven” as “the greatest religious poem of modern times and one of the greatest of all times.” Now hear the incredible story behind the poem that has captured the hearts of minds of people around the world for more than 100 years.

“I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, down the arches of the years;”

This lively 30-minute documentary, filmed on location in England, airs 3 a.m. ET and 6:30 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Oct. 28 on EWTN. Hear the intriguing back story on the origins of the famous poem from many of the world’s leading experts, including Dr. Devin Brown and Joseph Pearce, host of EWTN’s “The Quest for Shakespeare” and author of “Bilbo's Journey: Discovering the Hidden Meaning in The Hobbit.”

“I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind;”

We learn from the documentary that, in February 1887, Wilfred Maynell, editor of the literary magazine “Merrie England,” received a strange package. In it was a small collection of poems written on tattered paper and covered with dirt and grime. There was no return address.

“And in the midst of tears I hid from Him, and under running laughter.”

Fortunately, Wilfred and his wife Alice recognized the literary worth of the poems and began to publish them. They hoped to meet the author one day and learn more about his life. What they found astonished them.

“Up vistaed hopes I sped; And shot, precipitated, Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears, From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.”

Find out more about this great poet’s life and work when EWTN airs this fascinating documentary about the author of a poem that J.R.R. Tolkien described as “one of the most profound expressions of mature spiritual experience” and one that influenced his own work!

From the sublime to the ridiculous: when I searched for Francis Thompson and this poem, I found him listed among the "suspects" on a Jack the Ripper website!

The full EWTN schedule is here, so you may see the broadcast times in Canada, the UK, Ireland, etc.


  1. Congratulations, what a little treasure you have there. I will tune in to the program this evening.