Francis 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. Francis 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.
Life and Work
Born in Preston, Lancashire, his father Charles was a doctor who had converted to Roman Catholicism, following his brother Edward Healy Thompson, a friend of Cardinal Manning.
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Francis Thompson Poems
The Hound of Heaven
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
It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk, Though my own red roses there may blow; It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk, Though the red roses crest the caps, I know.
To A Snowflake
What heart could have thought you? -- Past our devisal (O filigree petal!) Fashioned so purely,
In No Strange Land
The kingdom of God is within you O world invisible, we view thee, O world intangible, we touch thee,
Where the thistle lifts a purple crown Six foot out of the turf, And the harebell shakes on the windy hill-- O breath of the distant surf!--
An Arab Love-Song
The hunchèd camels of the night Trouble the bright And silver waters of the moon. The Maiden of the Morn will soon
Before Her Portrait In Youth
As lovers, banished from their lady's face And hopeless of her grace, Fashion a ghostly sweetness in its place, Fondly adore
I fear to love thee, Sweet, because Love's the ambassador of loss; White flake of childhood, clinging so To my soiled raiment, thy shy snow
What shall I your true love tell?
* What shall I your true love tell,
To Monica Summer set lip to earth's bosom bare, And left the flushed print in a poppy there:
New Year's Chimes
What is the song the stars sing? (And a million songs are as song of one) This is the song the stars sing: (Sweeter song's none)
To A Poet Breaking Silence
Too wearily had we and song Been left to look and left to long, Yea, song and we to long and look, Since thine acquainted feet forsook
The breaths of kissing night and day Were mingled in the eastern Heaven, Throbbing with unheard melody, Shook Lyra all its star-cloud seven.
Go, songs, for ended is our brief, sweet...
Go, songs, for ended is our brief, sweet play; Go, children of swift joy and tardy sorrow: And some are sung, and that was yesterday, And some are unsung, and that may be tomorrow.
Comments about Francis Thompson
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The Hound of Heaven
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 chasme d hears
From those strong feet that followed, followed after
But with unhurrying chase and unperturbe d pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat, and a Voice beat,
More instant than the feet:
All things betray thee who betrayest me.
I pleaded, outlaw--wise by...