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The Hound of Heaven

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Francis Thompson
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The Hound of Heaven is a work of art in just shy of 200 lines. A short piece for such a life changing poem. It contains more than one beautiful verse and the tone changes seamlessly many times over the poem. Called ‘the sweetest, deepest, strongest song ever written in the English tongue’ by the Reverend John O’Conor and as Katherine Bregy, highlights in the foreword, a taste for reading such beautiful work as Francis Thompson’s can be the greatest possible aid to spiritual development for the individual. Francis Thompson’s work describes the flight of the soul from enlightenment, ‘down the nights and down the days’. His characterisation of Christ’s love is as an insistent ever present force which chases the sinner, proffering salvation but not as option. The thought takes the personification of Christ through a huge variety of iterations, an avenger, a pursuer but still a saviour. The intensity of his religious experience and the potency of his metaphors permeate through the page and into the reader. His characterisation of lived experience as a process of dirtying the soul is powerful and harks back to the proud hermetic Christian traditions of Bede and St Cuthbert. Whilst this is without doubt a work of Christian spirituality there is no shortage of mythological references, an addition which enriches the poetry and illustrative nature of the work. This volume also has a wealth of analysis and explanation of Thompson’s original work which allows the full significance of his work to be appreciated by all readers.

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