Words And The Word

In thee, Queen, man is saturate in God.

The Psalmist is with him :-

" If I climb up into heaven thou art there, if I go down into hell, thou art there also. If I take the wings of the morning and remain in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there also shall thy hand lead me and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say peradventure the darkness shall cover me: then shall my night be turned into day; the darkness and light to thee are both alike."

Thompson's own

. . . Nay, I affirm Nature is whole in her least things exprest is a splendid justification of the poet's dalliance with trifles. Vaughan confines Eternity in the scope of a night, a ring-nay, a couplet:-

I saw Eternity the other night,

Like a great ring of pure and endless light.

In a couplet, or a letter, literature performs her miracles. Christina Rossetti told Katharine Tynan that she never stepped on a scrap of torn paper, but lifted it out of the mud lest perhaps it should have the Holy Name written or printed upon it. That is an attitude towards literature, towards words and the Word, not unlike Francis Thompson's.

Mysticism And Imagination

In the " Orient Ode " he has addressed the sun :-

Not unto thee, great Image, not to thee

Did the wise heathen bend an idle knee ;

And in an age of faith grown frore

If I too shall adore,

Be it accounted unto me

A bright sciential idolatry !

God has given thee visible thunders

To utter thine apocalypse of wonders ;

And what want I of prophecy,

That at the sounding from thy station

Of thy flagrant trumpet, see

The seals that melt, the open revelation ?

Or who a God-persuading angel needs,

That only heeds

The rhetoric of thy burning deeds ?

Lo, of thy Magians I the least Haste with my gold, my incenses and myrrhs, To thy desired epiphany, from the spiced Regions and odorous of Song's traded East. Thou, for the life of all that live The victim daily born and sacrificed ; To whom the pinion of this longing verse Beats but with fire which first thyself did give, To thee, 0 Sun-or is't perchance, to Christ ?

Ay, if men say that on all high heaven's face The saintly signs I trace

Which round my stoled altars hold their solemn place,

Amen, amen ! For oh, how could it be,-

When I with winged feet had run

Through all the windy earth about,

Quested its secret of the sun,

And heard what thing the stars together shout,-

I should not heed thereout

Consenting counsel won :-

" By this, 0 Singer, know we if thou see.

When men shall say to thee : Lo ! Christ is here,

When men shall say to thee : Lo ! Christ is there,

Believe them : yea, and this-then art thou seer,

When all thy crying clear

Is but: Lo here ! lo there !-ah me, lo everywhere !"

"A Type Memorial"

Nature's shrines he had visited, but unavailingly:-

Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth.

He cries to the sun :-

I know not what strange passion bows my head To thee, whose great command upon my veins Proves thee a god for me not dead, not dead !

He cries it to the sun, but only in the prelude to an ode that ends with the Cross. His songs of Nature are :-

Sweet with wild wings that pass, that pass away.

All his wild things passed, that they might be garnered in heaven. The chase of the " Hound of Heaven" ends in a divine embrace; like that ending is the ending of all his verse.

Through the symbolism of the sun all things were brought into line. Likened to the Host, with sky for monstrance ; to the Christ, with the sombre line of the horizon for Rood ; to the Altar-Wafer, and signed with the Cross ; the Sun is to the Earth only what Christ is to the Soul :-

Thou to thy spousal universe

Art Husband, she thy Wife and Church.

Thompson offers his inspiration-"... to thee, O Sun, -or is't perchance, to Christ ? "1

He would not have his harmonies mistaken for the repetition of " fair ancient flatteries." He takes the sun, at rising and at setting, as " a type memorial"2:-

Like Him thou hang'st in dreadful pomp of blood Upon thy Western rood ;

1 " The sun is the type of Christ, giving life with its proper blood to the earth," is Mr. Edmund Gardner's concise statement of F. T.'s meaning.

2 F. T. had a theory of the solar existence that did not stop short, with Science, at the measurement of gases and their density. " It has," Mr. Ghosh tells me he said, " a life of its own, analogous to the life of the heart, periodic in its manifestations and-," but here Francis stopped. "To Western ears it

And His stained brow did vail like thine to-night,

Yet lift once more Its light, And, risen, again departed from our ball, But when It set on earth arose in Heaven.

And in the After-Strain :-

Even so, 0 Cross ! thine is the victory.

Thy roots are fast within our fairest fields ; Brightness may emanate in Heaven from thee,

Here thy dread symbol only shadow yields.

Of reaped joys thou art the heavy sheaf Which must be lifted, though the reaper groan ;

Yea, we may cry till Heaven's great ear be deaf, But we must bear thee, amd must bear alone.

Vain were a Simon ; of the Antipodes Our night not borrows the superfluous day.

Yet woe to him that from his burden flees ! Crushed in the fall of what he cast away.1

He went farther: he made the sun the type of a church service :-

Lo, in the sanctuaried East,

Day, a dedicated priest

In all his robes pontifical exprest,

Lifteth slowly, lifteth sweetly,

From out its Orient tabernacle drawn,

Yon orbed sacrament confest

Which sprinkles benediction through the dawn;

And when the grave procession's ceased, will sound ridiculous," he said, and was silent. In vain Mr. Sarath Kumar Ghosh asserted his own Eastern aptitude for such speculation. Francis grimly repeated his excommunication, and Mr. Ghosh, conscious of a frock-coat and a great command of the English idiom, was half-convinced of its stness.