November 22, 2006

The Hound of Heaven

The Hound of Heaven                                                       [Main Story]

The following is an excerpt (of the first and last stanza) of the poem The Hound of Heaven, by Francis Thompson. The original poem is more than 1,270 words long. To read in its entirety,  click here.  —The Editors.

 
capI 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 unperturbéd pace,
                   Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
                          They beat—and a Voice beat
                          More instant than the Feet—
                   “All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”
 
                                  Now of that long pursuit
                                  Comes on at hand the bruit;
                           That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
                                   “And is thy earth so marred,
                                    Shattered in shard on shard?
                           Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!
                           Strange, piteous, futile thing!
         Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
         Seeing none but I makes much of naught” (He said),
        “And human love needs human meriting:
                           How hast thou merited—
         Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?
                           Alack, thou knowest not
         How little worthy of any love thou art!
         Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
                           Save Me, save only Me?
         All which I took from thee I did but take,
                           Not for thy harms,
         But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
                           All which thy child’s mistake
         Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
                           Rise, clasp My hand, and come!”
               Halts by me that footfall:
               Is my gloom, after all,
         Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
               “Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
               I am He Whom thou seekest!
         Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.”
 
—Francis Thompson (1859-1907)

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