The Hound of Heaven

 

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Light of the World - by William Holman Hunt . . . .
Note that the door has no outside latch. We must open the
door from the inside to let the Light in.

 

Twenty Centuries have come and gone since His Thirty-Three Years on Earth, and today He is the Central Figure of the Human Race, ...the Leader of Mankind's Progress. All the Armies that ever marched, all the Navies that ever sailed, all the Parliaments that ever sat, all the Kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the Life of Man on Earth as much as One Solitary Life.

 

The Hound of Heaven

by British Catholic Poet
Francis Thompson

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Many Fairy Tales, Father Charles Miller, C.M., suggests, can be Interpreted as-though they have an underlying Religious Meaning. For instance, in Cinderella, the Prince who is determined to find the Maiden Fair he knows is Hidden-in Poverty and Obscurity, can be understood-as God seeking the Human Person. However, Father Miller says that some Christians, without realizing it, Behave as though they see themselves as the Prince in Cinderella, and they see God as the Pretty Maiden, whom the Prince Seeks and Finds. These Christians seem to Believe that it is They who must seek God, They who must take the Initiative to find Him.

It's not the Human Person, however, who Seeks-out God; rather it's God Who takes the Initiative in Searching-for the Human Person. Francis Thompson's Poem, The Hound of Heaven, with Emotion-filled Images, brings-out this Reality. God is the Hound of Heaven Who Pursues the Human Person. Saint Augustine writes that When we seek God, we have already found Him. God is always present to us; we need only turn to Him Who has already found us.

It is God Who Runs-after and Searches-out the Human Person, "The Divine Power has Freely Bestowed on us Everything Necessary for a Life of Genuine Piety through Knowledge of Him Who called us by His Own Glory and Power". Father Miller puts it very succinctly, "We have not found God. God has found us".

Our Problem may be that we're not Aware, that God is Pursuing us. When you get right-down to it, not too many of us think very often of God, of His Presence to us, of His Pursuit-of us. Our Minds turn-to Him especially when there's something we Badly Need. Other than that, it may be only an Hour or so on Sunday that we really Devote to Him. So our Problem may be that we're not Open-to His Presence.

keylock1.gif (10078 bytes) "God has Bestowed on us Everything Necessary for a Life of Genuine Piety", Saint Peter says. Therefore God has Bestowed-on us Sensitivity to His Movements as He Pursues us. We have to Un-lock this God-Given Sensitivity; we have to Set into Motion our Spiritual Search-Engine, that we might become Aware-of the Lord as He Pursues us.

 

The Hound of Heaven

This Religious Poem "The Hound of Heaven" by British Catholic Poet Francis Thompson was Published in 1893 and uses Rich Imagery, very much like Meister Eckhart, to Portray the "Attractive Power of God". Happiness is in seeking God; Misery is in denying God. There is no Person, whom God can not Bring to Faith.

 

The Hound of Heaven

I fled Him, down the Nights and down the Days;
I fled Him, down the Arches of the Years;
I fled Him, down the Labyrinthine Ways
Of my own Mind; and in the Mist of Tears
I hid from Him, and under Running Laughter.
Up Vistaed Hopes I sped;
And Shot, Precipitated,
Adown Titanic Glooms of Chasmèd Fears,
From those Strong Feet that Followed, Followed after.
But with Unhurrying Chase,
And Unperturbèd 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 Intertwining Charities;
(For, though I knew His Love Who Followèd,
Yet was I Sore Adread
Lest, having Him, I must have Naught Beside.)
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.
Across the Margent of the World I fled,
And Troubled the Gold Gateways of the Stars,
Smiting for Shelter on their Clangèd Bars ;
Fretted to Dulcet Jars
And Silvern Chatter the Pale Ports o' the Moon.
I said to Dawn : Be-Sudden -- to Eve: Be_Soon;
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 find
My own Betrayal in their Constancy,
In Faith to Him their Fickleness to me,
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 fFleet,
The Long Savannahs of the Blue;
Or whether, Thunder-driven,
They clanged His Chariot 'thwart a Heaven,
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 Unperturbèd 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 Eyes
Seems something, something that replies,
They at least are for me, surely for me !
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 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 Daïs,
Quaffing, as your Taintless Way is,
From a Chalice
Lucent-weeping out of the Dayspring".
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 Wilful Face of Skies;
I knew how the Clouds Arise
Spumèd of the Wild Sea-snortings;
All that's Born or Dies
Rose and Drooped with; made them Shapers
Of mine own Moods, or Wailful or Divine;
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 Weather,
Heaven and I Wept together,
And its Sweet Tears were Salt with Mortal Mine;
Against the Red Throb of its Sunset-Heart
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 Unperturbèd Pace,
Deliberate Speed, Majestic Instancy;
And past those Noisèd Feet
A Voice comes yet more Fleet --
"Lo ! naught Contents thee, who Content'st not Me".
Naked I wait thy Love's Uplifted Stroke !
My Harness piece-by-piece Thou hast Hewn from me,
And Smitten me to my Knee;
I am Defenseless Utterly.
I Slept, methinks, and Woke,
And, slowly Gazing, find me Stripped in Sleep.
In the Rash Lustihead of my Young Powers,
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 Lutanist;
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
A Weed, albeit an Amaranthine Weed,
Suffering no Flowers except its own to Mount?
Ah ! must --
Designer Infinite !--
Ah ! must Thou Char the Wood ere Thou canst Limn with it?
My Freshness spent its Wavering Shower i' the Dust;
And now my Heart is as a Broken Fount,
Wherein Tear-drippings Stagnate, Spilt-down ever
From the Dank Thoughts that Shiver
Upon the Sighful Branches of my Mind.
Such is ; what is to be?
The Pulp so Bitter, how shall Taste the Rind?
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
With Glooming Robes Purpureal, Cypress-Crowned;
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 apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of Naught" (He said),
"And Human Love needs Human Meriting:
How hast thou Merited --
Of all man's Clotted Clay the Dingiest Clot?
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 Caressingly?
"Ah, Fondest, Blindest, Weakest,
I am He Whom thou Seekest!
Thou dravest Love from thee, who dravest Me".

 


Sit back, Listen and Enjoy an Expert Reading of The Hound of Heaven by Poet Bill Charlton

smallspeaker.gif (241 bytes) real.gif (1074 bytes) The Hound of Heaven