Monday, November 26, 2018

Francis Thompson*

Francis Thompson (1859—1907) was uninspired as a medical student, and neglected his studies. During an illness he became addicted to opium, and started living on the streets of London. At this time he applied to Oxford University, but was turned down due to his addiction. His fortunes began to turn for the better, however, when his first poems appeared in the periodical Merrie England. That’s when Robert Browning took notice of them. At the Premonstratensian Monastery in Storrington, Sussex, he was able to become free of opium.

In 1893 his book Poems was highly praised by Coventry Patmore in the Fortnightly Review. Much of Thompson’s best work relates to his Christian faith, particularly his best known poem, “The Hound of Heaven.”

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."

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Francis Thompson: first post

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.