The Hound of Heaven

17 Mar

By pure chance I have come across the most wonderful poem. I was invited to a concert by Matthew Todd, a talented tenor, and the main piece was a musical arrangement of Francis Thompson’s poem The Hound of Heaven. You can use the link to read the whole text of the poem and I would encourage you to because it’s astonishingly good.

The Hound of Heaven was written at the end of the nineteenth century, and it has the grandeur of Victorian art and poetry combined with the emotional immediacy and general weirdness of early twentieth century poetry. It is reminiscent of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at times, but also of Charles Kingsley and even of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (especially the bit where Thompson talks about his lost youth).

I would quote my favourite bits, but it was written in an era before soundbites, so they tend to have to be quoted with their surrounding lines, or even whole verse, in order to make sense. This is being written in the era of smartphones, and my thumbs would seize up. I will just quote a couple of wee bits though, albeit out of context:

“I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,”

and the opening line, which sends shivers down my spine:

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

Brilliant! And if that has tempted you, do yourself a favour by clicking the link above, and read the whole thing.


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