The Hound of Heaven

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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.[1] 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[2]



  1. ^ Thomson, John (1912). Francis Thompson, the Preston-Born Poet, with Notes on Some of His Works. Read Books. ISBN 978-1-4086-6531-2. 
  2. ^ The Hound of Heaven: Part I
  3. ^ See also the Maryhill Museum of Art's website.
  4. ^ Chen, Jim. Poetic Justice, 29 Cardozo Law Review (2007)
  5. ^ Review of Horrendous Disc,
  6. ^ Short, Robert L. The Gospel According to Peanuts. Westminister John Knox Press, 2000, 104.
  7. ^ du Maurier, Daphne, Rebecca, 2003, London, Virago Press

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