The Hound of Heaven
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
From those strong Feet that followed, 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’.
Trellised with intertwining charities;
Yet was I sore adread
But, if one little casement parted wide,
The gust of His approach would clash it to:
Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.
And troubled the gold gateway of the stars,
Smiting for shelter on their clanged bars;
Fretted to dulcet jars
said to Dawn: Be sudden – to Eve: Be soon;
With thy young skiey blossom heap me over
From this tremendous Lover –
I tempted all His servitors, but to find
In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
The long savannahs of the blue;
Or, whether, Thunder-driven,
They clanged his chariot ‘thwart a heaven,
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Still with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbed pace,
Came on the following Feet,
And a Voice above their beat
sought not more after that which I strayed
In face of man or maid;
Seems something, something that replies,
I turned me to them very wistfully;
But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair
With dawning answers there,
‘ome then, ye other children, Nature’s – share
With me (said I) ‘your delicate fellowship;
Let me greet you lip to lip,
Let me twine with you caresses,
Wantoning With our Lady-Mother’s vagrant tresses,
Banqueting With her in her wind-walled palace,
Underneath her azured dais,
Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
From a chalice
So it was done:
Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies.
I knew all the swift importings
On the wilful face of skies;
I knew how the clouds arise
Spumed of the wild sea-snortings;
All that’s born or dies
Rose and dropped with; made them shapers
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.
Heaven and I wept together,
Against the red throb of its sunset-heart
I laid my own to beat, And share commingling heat;
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 –
Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth;
Let her, if she would owe me,
The breasts of her tenderness:
My thirsting mouth.
Nigh and nigh draws the chase,
With unperturbed pace,
And past those noised Feet
A voice comes yet more fleet –
aked I wait Thy love’s uplifted stroke!
My harness piece by piece Thou has hewn from me,
And smitten me to my knee;
I am defenceless utterly.I slept, methinks, and woke,
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
I shook the pillaring hours
I stand amidst the dust o’ the mounded years –
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have cracked and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.
Yea, faileth now even dream
Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist
I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.
Ah! is Thy love indeed
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
Ah! must –Designer infinite!
My freshness spent its wavering shower i’ the dust;
And now my heart is as a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippins stagnate, spilt down ever
From the dank thoughts that shiver
Such is; what is to be?
I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds;
Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements of Eternity;
Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then
Round the half-glimpsed turrets slowly wash again.
But not ere him who summoneth
I first have seen, enwound
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;
‘And is thy earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!
Strange, piteous, futile thing!
Seeing none but I makes much of naught’ (He said),
‘And human love needs human meriting:
How hast thou merited –
Alack, thou knowest not
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?
Not for thy harms,
All which thy child’s mistake
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’
Halts by me that footfall:
Is my gloom, after all,
‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
— Francis Thompson (1893)