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The Hound of Heaven
by Francis Thompson

I fled Him, down the nights
     and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the 
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine
Of my own mind; and in the mist of 
I hid from Him, and under running
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
     and shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed
From those strong Feet that
     Followed after.
     But with unhurrying chase,
     and unperturbed 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 many a hearted casement,
     curtained red,
Trellised with interwining
(For, though I knew His love
     Who followed,
     Yet was I sore adread
Lest, having Him, I must have
     naught beside)
But, if one little casement parted 
The gust of His approach would 
     clash it to:
Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist
     to pursue. 
Across the margent of the world
     I fled,
And troubled the gold gateways
     of the stars,
Smiting for shelter on their
     clanged bars;
     Fretted to dulcet jars
And silvern chatter the pale ports 
     o’ the moon.
I said to Dawn: Be sudden –
     to Eve: Be seen;
With thy young skiey blossoms
     heap me over
     From this tremendous Lover –
Float thy vague veil about me,
     Lest He see!
I tempted all His servitors, but to 
My own betrayal in their constancy,
In faith to Him their fickleness to
Their traitorous trueness, and their
     loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did 
     I sue;
Clung to the whistling mane of
     every wind.
But whether they swept, smoothly
The long savannahs of the blue;
     Or whether, Thunder-driven,
They clanged his chariot ‘thwart a
Plashy with flying lightnings round 
     the spurn o’ their feet: -
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist 
     to pursue.
Still with unhurrying chase,
     And unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
     Came on the following Feet,
     And a Voice above their beat –
“Naught shelters thee,
     Who wilt not shelter Me.”

I sought no more that after which 
     I strayed
     In face of man or maid;
But still within the little children’s 
     seems something,
     Something that replies,
They at least are for me, surely for 
I turned me to them very wistfully;
But just as their young eyes grew
     sudden fair
     With dawning answers there,
Their angel plucked them from me
     by the hair.
“Come then, ye other children,
     Nature’s – share
With me” (said I) “your delicate
     Let me greet you lip to lip,
Let me twine with you caresses,
With our Lady-Mother’s vagrant
With her in her wind-walled palace,
Underneath her azured dais,
Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
     From a chalice
Lucent-weeping out of the 
     So it was done:
I in their delicate fellowship was 
     one –
Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies.
I knew all the swift importings
On the willful face of skies;
I knew how the clouds arise
Spumed of the wild sea-snortings;
     All that’s born or dies
Rose and drooped with; made them
Of mine own moods, or wailful or
With them joyed and was bereaven.
I was heavy with the even,
When she lit her glimmering tapers
Round the day’s dead sanctities.

I laughed in the morning’s eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all
Heaven and I wept together,
And its sweet tears were salt with
     mortal mine;
Against the red throb of its sunset-
I laid my own to beat,
And share commingling heat;
But not by that, by that, was eased
     my human smart.

In vain my tears were wet
     on Heaven’s grey cheek.
For ah! We know not what each
     other says,
     These things and I;
     In sound I speak –
Their sound is but their stir,
     They speak by silences.

Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake 
     my drouth;
     Let her, if she would owe me,
Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky,
     and show me
The breasts o’ her tenderness:
Never did any milk of hers
     once bless
     My thirsting mouth.
     Nigh and nigh
     draws the chase,
     With unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy;
     And past those noised Feet
     A Voice comes yet more fleet –
“Lo! naught contents thee,
     Who content’st not me.”

Naked I wait Thy love’s uplifted
My harness piece by piece
     Thou hast hewn from me,
     And smitten me to my knee;
     I am defenceless utterly
     I slept, methinks, and woke,
And, slowly gazing, find me
     stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young
     I shook the pillaring hours
And pulled my life upon me;
     grimed with smears,
I stand amid the dust o’ the
     mounded years –
My mangled youth lies dead
     beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up
     in smoke,
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts
     on a stream.
     Yea, faileth now even dream
The dreamer, and the lute the
Even the linked fantasies,
     in whose blossomy twist
I swung the earth a trinket at my
Are yielding; cords of all too weak
For earth with heavy griefs
     so overplussed.
     Ah! is Thy love indeed
A weed, albeit an amaranthine
Suffering no flowers except its own
     to mount?
     Ah! must –
     Designer infinite! –
Ah! must Thou char the wood ere 
     Tho u canst limn with it?
My freshness spent its wavering
     Shower i’ the dust;
And now my heart is as a broken
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate,
     spilt down ever
From the dank thoughts that shiver
Upon the sighful branches of my
     Such is; what is to be?
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste
     the rind?
I dimly guess what Time in mists 
Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements 
     of Eternity;
Those shaken mists a space unsettle,
Round the half-glimpsed turrets
     slowly wash again.
     But not ere him who
     I first have seen, enwound
With glooming robes purpureal,
His name I know, and what his 
     trumpet saith.
Whether man’s heart or life it be
     which yields
     Thee harvest,
     must Thy harvest-fields
     Be dunged with rotten death?

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
Seeing none but I makes much 
     Of naught”
     (He said),
“And human love needs human
     How hast thou merited –
Of all man’s clotted clay and dingiest

“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
“Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
     I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee,
     Who dravest Me.”



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