The "Hound of Heaven" is a 182-line poem written by English poet Francis Thompson(1859-1907). The poem became famous and was the source of much of Thompson's posthumous reputation. The poem was first published in Thompson's first volume of poems in 1893. It was included in the Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse (1917). It was also an influence on J. R. R. Tolkien, who read it a few years before it was published in 1917.
|“||One of the most loved and possibly one of the more difficult Christian poems to read and appreciate, "The Hound of Heaven" has been loved for over a century. It is not, however, a poem that most people cannot read without some background. ... [D]o not be dissuaded from reading it. |
The following explanation is offered below:
The name is strange. It startles one at first. It is so bold, so new, so fearless. It does not attract, rather the reverse. But when one reads the poem this strangeness disappears. The meaning is understood. As the hound follows the hare, never ceasing in its running, ever drawing nearer in the chase, with unhurrying and imperturbed pace, so does God follow the fleeing soul by His Divine grace. And though in sin or in human love, away from God it seeks to hide itself, Divine grace follows after, unwearyingly follows ever after, till the soul feels its pressure forcing it to turn to Him alone in that never ending pursuit. The Neumann Press Book of Verse, 1988
- Thompson's poem was the inspiration for a series of 23 paintings by the American painter R. H. Ives Gammell (1893–1981). Titled, A Pictorial Sequence Painted by R. H. Ives Gammell Based on The Hound of Heaven, it is considered Gammell's magnum opus. Gammell began making plans to execute the pictorial sequence during World War II and completed the series in 1956. For his paintings, Gammell used symbols drawn from C. G. Jung, primitive and medieval cultures, and biblical and mythological sources, to give visual form to Thompson's poem. The Pictorial Sequence is currently housed at the Maryhill Museum of Art, Goldendale, Washington, USA.
- Thompson's poem is also the source of the phrase, "with all deliberate speed," used by the Supreme Court in Brown II, the remedy phase of the famous decision on school desegregation.
- Christian artist Michael Card wrote a song "Hound of Heaven," basing the lyrics on parts of Thompson's poem.
- The Substructure, a Christian underground band, wrote a song "Running Time" (released on the KUDZU Musicians' Sampler 1997) loosely based on Thompson's poem.
- A character(Drysdale)in the Morse TV film based on Colin Dexter's novel, "The Last Enemy," quotes the first few lines of the poem to which Morse adds a few more lines (not wholly accurately).
- "The Hound of Heaven" was mentioned in the suicide note of George R. Price, a geneticist who pioneered the evolutionary theory of altruism and suicide (among other things), before becoming a committed Christian and giving away all his possessions to the poor.
- Canadian Poet Phyllis Webb references "The Hound of Heaven" in her poem "Poetics Against the Angel of Death."
- Paramhansa Yogananda, the great Indian spiritual master, included "The Hound of Heaven" in one of his two albums, "Songs of My Heart".
- In A. J. Cronin's novel, A Pocketful of Rye, the protagonist Carroll reads the poem as a young man, forgets it, and suffers from a recurring nightmare that finally leads to his conversion.
- ^ Thomson, John (1912). Francis Thompson, the Preston-Born Poet, with Notes on Some of His Works. Read Books. ISBN 978-1-4086-6531-2. http://books.google.com/books?id=KctB1WqvMOIC.
- ^ The Hound of Heaven: Part I
- ^ See also the Maryhill Museum of Art's website.
- ^ Chen, Jim. Poetic Justice, 29 Cardozo Law Review (2007)
- ^ Review of Horrendous Disc, DanielAmos.com
- ^ Short, Robert L. The Gospel According to Peanuts. Westminister John Knox Press, 2000, 104.
- ^ du Maurier, Daphne, Rebecca, 2003, London, Virago Press