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Best Famous Francis Thompson Poems

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by Robert William Service |

Gods Skallywags

 The God of Scribes looked down and saw
The bitter band of seven,
Who had outraged his holy law
And lost their hope of Heaven:
Came Villon, petty thief and pimp,
And obscene Baudelaire,
And Byron with his letcher limp,
And Poe with starry stare.

And Wilde who lived his hell on earth,
And Burns, the baudy bard,
And Francis Thompson, from his birth
Malevolently starred. . . .
As like a line of livid ghosts
They started to paradise,
The galaxy of Heaven's hosts
Looked down in soft surmise.

Said God: "You bastards of my love,
You are my chosen sons;
Come, I will set you high above
These merely holy ones.
Your sins you've paid in gall and grief,
So to these radiant skies,
Seducer, drunkard, dopester, thief,
Immortally arise.

I am your Father, fond and just,
And all your folly see;
Your beastiality and lust
I also know in me.
You did the task I gave to you . . .
Arise and sit beside
My Son, the best beloved, who
Was also crucified.

by Francis Thompson |

An Arab Love-Song

 The hunchèd camels of the night
Trouble the bright 
And silver waters of the moon. 
The Maiden of the Morn will soon 
Through Heaven stray and sing, 
Star gathering. 

Now while the dark about our loves is strewn, 
Light of my dark, blood of my heart, O come! 
And night will catch her breath up, and be dumb. 

Leave thy father, leave thy mother 
And thy brother; 
Leave the black tents of thy tribe apart! 
Am I not thy father and thy brother, 
And thy mother? 
And thou--what needest with thy tribe's black tents 
Who hast the red pavilion of my heart?

by Francis Thompson |

At Lords

 It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk,
Though my own red roses there may blow;
It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk,
Though the red roses crest the caps, I know.
For the field is full of shades as I near the shadowy coast,
And a ghostly batsman plays to the bowling of a ghost,
And I look through my tears on a soundless-clapping host
As the run-stealers flicker to and fro,
To and fro: -
O my Hornby and my Barlow long ago!

by Francis Thompson |

Before Her Portrait In Youth

 As lovers, banished from their lady's face
And hopeless of her grace,
Fashion a ghostly sweetness in its place,
Fondly adore
Some stealth-won cast attire she wore,
A kerchief or a glove:
And at the lover's beck
Into the glove there fleets the hand,
Or at impetuous command
Up from the kerchief floats the virgin neck:
So I, in very lowlihead of love, -
Too shyly reverencing
To let one thought's light footfall smooth
Tread near the living, consecrated thing, -
Treasure me thy cast youth.
This outworn vesture, tenantless of thee,
Hath yet my knee,
For that, with show and semblance fair
Of the past Her
Who once the beautiful, discarded raiment bare,
It cheateth me.
As gale to gale drifts breath
Of blossoms' death,
So dropping down the years from hour to hour
This dead youth's scent is wafted me to-day:
I sit, and from the fragrance dream the flower.
So, then, she looked (I say);
And so her front sunk down
Heavy beneath the poet's iron crown:
On her mouth museful sweet -
(Even as the twin lips meet)
Did thought and sadness greet:
In those mournful eyes
So put on visibilities;
As viewless ether turns, in deep on deep, to dyes.
Thus, long ago,
She kept her meditative paces slow
Through maiden meads, with waved shadow and gleam
Of locks half-lifted on the winds of dream,
Till love up-caught her to his chariot's glow.
Yet, voluntary, happier Proserpine!
This drooping flower of youth thou lettest fall
I, faring in the cockshut-light, astray,
Find on my 'lated way,
And stoop, and gather for memorial,
And lay it on my bosom, and make it mine.
To this, the all of love the stars allow me,
I dedicate and vow me.
I reach back through the days
A trothed hand to the dead the last trump shall not raise.
The water-wraith that cries
From those eternal sorrows of thy pictured eyes
Entwines and draws me down their soundless intricacies!

by Francis Thompson |


 Where the thistle lifts a purple crown 
Six foot out of the turf, 
And the harebell shakes on the windy hill-- 
O breath of the distant surf!-- 

The hills look over on the South, 
And southward dreams the sea; 
And with the sea-breeze hand in hand 
Came innocence and she. 

Where 'mid the gorse the raspberry 
Red for the gatherer springs; 
Two children did we stray and talk 
Wise, idle, childish things. 

She listened with big-lipped surprise, 
Breast-deep 'mid flower and spine: 
Her skin was like a grape whose veins 
Run snow instead of wine. 

She knew not those sweet words she spake, 
Nor knew her own sweet way; 
But there's never a bird, so sweet a song 
Thronged in whose throat all day. 

Oh, there were flowers in Storrington 
On the turf and on the spray; 
But the sweetest flower on Sussex hills 
Was the Daisy-flower that day! 

Her beauty smoothed earth's furrowed face. 
She gave me tokens three:-- 
A look, a word of her winsome mouth, 
And a wild raspberry. 

A berry red, a guileless look, 
A still word,--strings of sand! 
And yet they made my wild, wild heart 
Fly down to her little hand. 

For standing artless as the air, 
And candid as the skies, 
She took the berries with her hand, 
And the love with her sweet eyes. 

The fairest things have fleetest end, 
Their scent survives their close: 
But the rose's scent is bitterness 
To him that loved the rose. 

She looked a little wistfully, 
Then went her sunshine way-- 
The sea's eye had a mist on it, 
And the leaves fell from the day. 

She went her unremembering way, 
She went and left in me 
The pang of all he partings gone, 
And partings yet to be. 

She left me marvelling why my soul 
Was sad that she was glad; 
At all the sadness in the sweet, 
The sweetness in the sad. 

Still, still I seemed to see her, still 
Look up with soft replies, 
And take the berries with her hand, 
And the love with her lovely eyes. 

Nothing begins, and nothing ends, 
That is not paid with moan, 
For we are born in other's pain, 
And perish in our own.

by Francis Thompson |

Dream tryst

 The breaths of kissing night and day 
Were mingled in the eastern Heaven, 
Throbbing with unheard melody, 
Shook Lyra all its star-cloud seven. 
When dusk shrank cold, and light trod shy, 
And dawn's grey eyes were troubled grey; 
And souls went palely up to the sky, 
And mine to Lucidè, 
There was no change in her sweet eyes 
Since last I saw those sweet eyes shine; 
There was no change in her deep heart 
Since last that deep heart knocked at mine. 
Her eyes were clear, her eyes were Hope's, 
Wherein did ever come and go; 
The sparkle of the fountain drops 
From her sweet soul below. 
The chambers in the house of dream 
Are fed with so divine an air, 
That Time's hoar wings grow young therein, 
And they who walk there are most fair. 
I joyed for me, I joyed for her, 
Who with the Past meet girt about: 
Where her last kiss still warms the air, 
Nor can her eyes go out.

by Francis Thompson |

Gilded Gold

 Thou dost to rich attire a grace,
To let it deck itself with thee,
And teachest pomp strange cunning ways
To be thought simplicity.
But lilies, stolen from grassy mold,
No more curled state unfold
Translated to a vase of gold;
In burning throne though they keep still
Serenities unthawed and chill.
Therefore, albeit thou'rt stately so,
In statelier state thou us'dst to go.

Though jewels should phosphoric burn
Through those night-waters of thine hair,
A flower from its translucid urn
Poured silver flame more lunar-fair.
These futile trappings but recall
Degenerate worshippers who fall
In purfled kirtle and brocade
To 'parel the white Mother-Maid.
For, as her image stood arrayed
In vests of its self-substance wrought

To measure of the sculptor's thought -
Slurred by those added braveries;
So for thy spirit did devise
Its Maker seemly garniture,
Of its own essence parcel pure, -
From grave simplicities a dress,
And reticent demurenesses,
And love encinctured with reserve;
Which the woven vesture should subserve.
For outward robes in their ostents
Should show the soul's habiliments.
Therefore I say,--Thou'rt fair even so,
But better Fair I use to know.

The violet would thy dusk hair deck
With graces like thine own unsought.
Ah! but such place would daze and wreck
Its simple, lowly rustic thought.
For so advanced, dear, to thee,
It would unlearn humility!
Yet do not, with an altered look,
In these weak numbers read rebuke;
Which are but jealous lest too much
God's master-piece thou shouldst retouch.
Where a sweetness is complete,
Add not sweets unto the sweet!
Or, as thou wilt, for others so
In unfamiliar richness go;
But keep for mine acquainted eyes
The fashions of thy Paradise.

by Francis Thompson |

Go songs for ended is our brief sweet play

 Go, songs, for ended is our brief, sweet play; 
Go, children of swift joy and tardy sorrow: 
And some are sung, and that was yesterday, 
And some are unsung, and that may be tomorrow. 

Go forth; and if it be o'er stony way, 
Old joy can lend what newer grief must borrow: 
And it was sweet, and that was yesterday, 
And sweet is sweet, though purchased with sorrow. 

Go, songs, and come not back from your far way: 
And if men ask you why ye smile and sorrow, 
Tell them ye grieve, for your hearts know Today, 
Tell them ye smile, for your eyes know Tomorrow.

by Francis Thompson |

In No Strange Land

 The kingdom of God is within you

O world invisible, we view thee, 
O world intangible, we touch thee, 
O world unknowable, we know thee, 
Inapprehensible, we clutch thee! 

Does the fish soar to find the ocean, 
The eagle plunge to find the air-- 
That we ask of the stars in motion 
If they have rumor of thee there? 

Not where the wheeling systems darken, 
And our benumbed conceiving soars!-- 
The drift of pinions, would we hearken, 
Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors. 

The angels keep their ancient places-- 
Turn but a stone and start a wing! 
'Tis ye, 'tis your estrangèd faces, 
That miss the many-splendored thing. 

But (when so sad thou canst not sadder) 
Cry--and upon thy so sore loss 
Shall shine the traffic of Jacob's ladder 
Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross. 

Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter, 
Cry--clinging to Heaven by the hems; 
And lo, Christ walking on the water, 
Not of Genesareth, but Thames!

by Francis Thompson |

New Years Chimes

 What is the song the stars sing?
(And a million songs are as song of one)
This is the song the stars sing:
(Sweeter song's none)

One to set, and many to sing,
(And a million songs are as song of one)
One to stand, and many to cling,
The many things, and the one Thing,
The one that runs not, the many that run.

The ever new weaveth the ever old, 
(And a million songs are as song of one)
Ever telling the never told; 
The silver saith, and the said is gold, 
And done ever the never done. 

The chase that's chased is the Lord o' the chase, 
(And a million songs are as song of one)
And the pursued cries on the race; 
And the hounds in leash are the hounds that run. 

Hidden stars by the shown stars' sheen: 
(And a million suns are but as one)
Colours unseen by the colours seen, 
And sounds unheard heard sounds between, 
And a night is in the light of the sun. 

An ambuscade of lights in night, 
(And a million secrets are but as one)
And anight is dark in the sun's light, 
And a world in the world man looks upon. 

Hidden stars by the shown stars' wings, 
(And a million cycles are but as one)
And a world with unapparent strings
Knits the stimulant world of things; 
Behold, and vision thereof is none. 

The world above in the world below, 
(And a million worlds are but as one)
And the One in all; as the sun's strength so
Strives in all strength, glows in all glow
Of the earth that wits not, and man thereon. 

Braced in its own fourfold embrace
(And a million strengths are as strength of one)
And round it all God's arms of grace, 
The world, so as the Vision says, 
Doth with great lightning-tramples run. 

And thunder bruiteth into thunder, 
(And a million sounds are as sound of one)
From stellate peak to peak is tossed a voice of wonder, 
And the height stoops down to the depths thereunder, 
And sun leans forth to his brother-sun. 

And the more ample years unfold
(With a million songs as song of one)
A little new of the ever old, 
A little told of the never told, 
Added act of the never done. 

Loud the descant, and low the theme, 
(A million songs are as song of one)
And the dream of the world is dream in dream, 
But the one Is is, or nought could seem; 
And the song runs round to the song begun. 

This is the song the stars sing, 
(Tonèd all in time)
Tintinnabulous, tuned to ring
A multitudinous-single thing
(Rung all in rhyme).