Hound of Heaven

Hound of Heaven

The "Hound of Heaven" is a 182 line religious poem written by English poet Francis Thompson sometime before his death in 1907. The poem became famous and was the source of much of Thompson's posthumous reputation. 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 that.

quote|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


* Thompson's poem was the inspiration for a series of 23 paintings by the American painter R. H. Ives Gammell (1893 - 1981). Titled, "A Pictorial Sequence Painted by R. H. Ives Gammell Based on The Hound of Heaven," it is considered Gammell's "magnum opus". Gammell began making plans to execute the pictorial sequence during World War II and completed the series in 1956. For his paintings, Gammell used symbols drawn from C. G. Jung, primitive and medieval cultures, and biblical and mythological sources, to give visual form to Thompson's poem. The "Pictorial Sequence" is currently housed at the Maryhill Museum of Art, Goldendale, Washington, USA.

* Thompson's poem is also the source of the phrase, "with all deliberate speed," used by the Supreme Court in Brown II, the remedy phase of the famous decision on school desegregation. [Jim Chen, [http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=778884 "Poetic Justice"] , 29 Cardozo Law Review (2007)]

* The Christian alternative rock band Daniel Amos wrote a song titled "Hound of Heaven" on their 1978 album "Horrendous Disc" that is based on the Thompson poem. [ [http://www.danielamos.com/articles/rhorrendous.html Review of "Horrendous Disc"] , DanielAmos.com]

* Christian artist Michael Card wrote a song "Hound of Heaven" basing the lyrics on parts of Thompson's poem.

* The Substructure, a Christian underground band, wrote a song "Running Time" (released on the KUDZU Musicians' Sampler 1997) loosely based on Thompson's poem.


External links

* [http://poetry.elcore.net/TheHoundOfHeaven.html "The Hound of Heaven" sources]
* [http://chi.gospelcom.net/DAILYF/2001/11/daily-11-13-2001.shtml November 13, 1907 • Heaven's Hound Got Thompson]
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20051217052734/http://www.pikevillefirstchristianchurch.org/Sermons/Sermon20010923.html "The Hound of Heaven"] – a 2001 sermon at a Disciples of Christ church
* [http://www.tfaoi.com/aa/5aa/5aa119.htm R. H. Ives Gammell: The Hound of Heaven by Elizabeth Ives Hunter]

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