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Best Famous Francis Thompson Poems

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Written by Francis Thompson | Create an image from this poem

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 midst of tears
I hid from him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped and shot precipitated Adown titanic glooms of chasme d hears From those strong feet that followed, followed after But with unhurrying chase and unperturbe d 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 inter-twining charities, For though I knew His love who followe d, Yet was I sore adread, lest having Him, I should have nought 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 clange d bars, Fretted to dulcet jars and silvern chatter The pale ports of 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 fleet, The long savannahs of the blue, Or whether, thunder-driven, They clanged His chariot thwart a heaven, Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn of their feet, Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Still with unhurrying chase and unperturbed pace Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, Came on the following feet, and a Voice above their beat: Nought 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 childrens' eyes Seems something, something that replies, They at least are for me, surely for me.
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 dai:s, 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, Spume d 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 what each other says, these things and I; In sound I speak, Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
Nature, poor step-dame, cannot slake my drouth.
Let her, if she would owe me Drop yon blue-bosomed 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 unperturbe d pace Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, And past those noise d feet, a Voice comes yet more fleet: Lo, nought contentst thee who content'st nought Me.
Naked, I wait thy Love's uplifted stroke.
My harness, piece by piece, thou'st hewn from me And smitten me to my knee, I am defenceless, utterly.
I slept methinks, and awoke.
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 amidst 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 like sunstarts on a stream.
Yeah, 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, Have yielded, cords of all too weak account, For Earth, with heavy grief 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-glimpse d 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 that yield thee harvest, Must thy harvest fields be dunged with rotten death ? Now of that long pursuit, Comes 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'st but take, Not for thy harms, But just that thou might'st seek it in my arms.
All which thy childs 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.

Written by Francis Thompson | Create an image from this poem

To A Snowflake

 What heart could have thought you? -- 
Past our devisal 
(O filigree petal!) 
Fashioned so purely, 
Fragilely, surely, 
From what Paradisal 
Imagineless metal, 
Too costly for cost? 
Who hammered you, wrought you, 
From argentine vapor? -- 
"God was my shaper.
Passing surmisal, He hammered, He wrought me, From curled silver vapor, To lust of His mind -- Thou could'st not have thought me! So purely, so palely, Tinily, surely, Mightily, frailly, Insculped and embossed, With His hammer of wind, And His graver of frost.
Written by Francis Thompson | Create an image from this poem


 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.
Written by Francis Thompson | Create an image from this poem

What shall I your true love tell?

 What shall I your true love tell, 
Earth forsaking maid? 
What shall I your true love tell 
When life's spectre's laid? 
"Tell him that, our side the grave, 
Maid may not believe 
Life should be so sad to have, 
That's so sad to leave!" 
What shall I your true love tell 
When I come to him? 
What shall I your true love tell 
Eyes growing dim? 
"Tell him this, when you shall part 
From a maiden pined; 
That I see him with my heart, 
Now my eyes are blind.
" What shall I your true love tell Speaking while is scant? What shall I your true love tell Death's white postulant? "Tell him love, with speech at strife, For last utterance saith: `I who loved with all my life, Loved with all my death.
Written by Francis Thompson | Create an image from this poem

The Poppy

 To Monica

Summer set lip to earth's bosom bare,
And left the flushed print in a poppy there:
Like a yawn of fire from the grass it came,
And the fanning wind puffed it to flapping flame.
With burnt mouth, red like a lion's, it drank The blood of the sun as he slaughtered sank, And dipped its cup in the purpurate shine When the Eastern conduits ran with wine.
Till it grew lethargied with fierce bliss, And hot as a swinked gipsy is, And drowsed in sleepy savageries, With mouth wide a-pout for a sultry kiss.
A child and man paced side by side, Treading the skirts of eventide; But between the clasp of his hand and hers Lay, felt not, twenty withered years.
She turned, with the rout of her dusk South hair, And saw the sleeping gipsy there: And snatched and snapped it in swift child's whim, With-- "Keep it, long as you live!" -- to him.
And his smile, as nymphs from their laving meres, Trembled up from a bath of tears; And joy, like a mew sea-rocked apart, Tossed on the wave of his troubled heart.
For he saw what she did not see, That -- as kindled by its own fervency -- The verge shrivelled inward smoulderingly: And suddenly 'twixt his hand and hers He knew the twenty withered years -- No flower, but twenty shrivelled years.
"Was never such thing until this hour," Low to his heart he said; "the flower Of sleep brings wakening to me, And of oblivion, memory.
" "Was never this thing to me," he said, "Though with bruisèd poppies my feet are red!" And again to his own heart very low: "O child! I love, for I love and know; "But you, who love nor know at all The diverse chambers in Love's guest-hall, Where some rise early, few sit long: In how differing accents hear the throng His great Pentecostal tongue; "Who know not love from amity, Nor my reported self from me; A fair fit gift is this, meseems, You give -- this withering flower of dreams.
"O frankly fickle, and fickly true, Do you know what the days will do to you? To your love and you what the days will do, O frankly fickle, and fickly true? "You have loved me, Fair, three lives -- or days: 'Twill pass with the passing of my face.
But where I go, your face goes too, To watch lest I play false to you.
"I am but, my sweet, your foster-lover, Knowing well when certain years are over You vanish from me to another; Yet I know, and love, like the foster-mother.
"So, frankly fickle, and fickly true! For my brief life while I take from you This token, fair and fit, meseems, For me -- this withering flower of dreams.
" The sleep-flower sways in the wheat its head, Heavy with dreams, as that with bread: The goodly grain and the sun-flushed sleeper The reaper reaps, and Time the reaper.
I hang 'mid men my needless head, And my fruit is dreams, as theirs is bread: The goodly men and the sun-hazed sleeper Time shall reap, but after the reaper The world shall glean of me, me the sleeper.
Love, love! your flower of withered dream In leavèd rhyme lies safe, I deem, Sheltered and shut in a nook of rhyme, From the reaper man, and his reaper Time.
Love! I fall into the claws of Time: But lasts within a leavèd rhyme All that the world of me esteems -- My withered dreams, my withered dreams.

Written by Francis Thompson | Create an image from this poem

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?
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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!
Written by Francis Thompson | Create an image from this poem

To A Poet Breaking Silence

 Too wearily had we and song
Been left to look and left to long,
Yea, song and we to long and look,
Since thine acquainted feet forsook
The mountain where the Muses hymn
For Sinai and the Seraphim.
Now in both the mountains' shine Dress thy countenance, twice divine! From Moses and the Muses draw The Tables of thy double Law! His rod-born fount and Castaly Let the one rock bring forth for thee, Renewing so from either spring The songs which both thy countries sing: Or we shall fear lest, heavened thus long, Thou should'st forget thy native song, And mar thy mortal melodies With broken stammer of the skies.
Ah! let the sweet birds of the Lord With earth's waters make accord; Teach how the crucifix may be Carven from the laurel-tree, Fruit of the Hesperides Burnish take on Eden-trees, The Muses' sacred grove be wet With the red dew of Olivet, And Sappho lay her burning brows In white Cecilia's lap of snows! Thy childhood must have felt the stings Of too divine o'ershadowings; Its odorous heart have been a blossom That in darkness did unbosom, Those fire-flies of God to invite, Burning spirits, which by night Bear upon their laden wing To such hearts impregnating.
For flowers that night-wings fertilize Mock down the stars' unsteady eyes, And with a happy, sleepless glance Gaze the moon out of countenance.
I think thy girlhood's watchers must Have took thy folded songs on trust, And felt them, as one feels the stir Of still lightnings in the hair, When conscious hush expects the cloud To speak the golden secret loud Which tacit air is privy to; Flasked in the grape the wine they knew, Ere thy poet-mouth was able For its first young starry babble.
Keep'st thou not yet that subtle grace? Yea, in this silent interspace, God sets His poems in thy face! The loom which mortal verse affords, Out of weak and mortal words, Wovest thou thy singing-weed in, To a rune of thy far Eden.
Vain are all disguises! Ah, Heavenly incognita! Thy mien bewrayeth through that wrong The great Uranian House of Song! As the vintages of earth Taste of the sun that riped their birth, We know what never cadent Sun Thy lamped clusters throbbed upon, What plumed feet the winepress trod; Thy wine is flavorous of God.
Whatever singing-robe thou wear Has the Paradisal air; And some gold feather it has kept Shows what Floor it lately swept!
Written by Francis Thompson | Create an image from this poem

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!
Written by Francis Thompson | Create an image from this poem

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).