The Hound of Heaven. Francis Thompson.
The Hound of Heaven

The Hound of Heaven

London and Oxford: R. Mowbray & Co. Limited, [1965]. Small quarto (5 1/2 inches tall), original folded paper wrappers, uncut. A near-fine copy. Item #814

"ALL WHICH THY CHILD'S MISTAKE / FANCIES AS LOST, I HAVE STORED FOR THEE AT HOME: / RISE, CLASP MY HAND, AND COME" Petit illustrated printing of Francis Thompson's mystical poem, an enduring classic of the Catholic Literary Revival. Said to have been composed while the "Poet of Catholicism" was recovering (under the patronage of the Meynell family) from a dependence on opium, the Hound of Heaven first appeared in "Poems" (1893), the first of three collections published during Thompson's brief life. Thompson died in 1907 but his poem was anthologized in the Oxford Book of Mystical Verse (1917), and it influenced the rising religious consciousness of a new generation of converts such as G.K. Chesterton, Eric Gill, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Dorothy Day. It was the lapsed Catholic Eugene O'Neill who brought Day "to a consciousness of God" during her own days of dissolution and searching in New York City. "Once they were good and drunk," O'Neill "would start reciting poetry, and Day was struck especially by his rendition of 'The Hound of Heaven,' by the English convert Francis Thompson....God snaps like a hound at the heels of the would-be believer, who will be able to outrun the hound of heaven only so long. 'It is one of those poems that awakens the soul, recalls to it the fact that God is its destiny,' Day explained later on...It was though the poem were speaking to her directly" (Paul Elie). First printed in 1951, this edition was charmingly illustrated by Jean Young (described on the title page as "Decorations by Jean Young”) with black-and-white sketches.

Price: $35.00

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