He has actually accomplished the high thing in metaphysical poetry that Ponne and Crashaw only dreamed of. His mysticism is infinitely more profound and significant than theirs, as his imagination is more impulsive, ardent, and beautiful. He is the great Platonist of English poetry. If Mr Thompson had never written anything after his first volume, there would be but one Stuart poet with whom the author of Her Portrait could be compared for orchestral majesties of song, and that one Milton. • •. He is an argonaut of literature, far travelled in the realms of gold, and he has in a strange degree the assimilative mind.... We do not think we forget any of the splendid things of an English anthology when we say that Tbe Hound of Heaven seems to us, on the whole, the most wonderful lyric in the language. It fingers all the stops of the spirit, and we hear now a thrilling and dolorous note of doom, and now the quiring of the spheres, and now the very pipes of Pan, but under all the still, sad music of humanity. It is the return of the nineteenth century to Thomas a Kempis.—J.L. Garvin, in Tbe Newcastle Chronicle and in Tbe Bookman.
THE fine frenzy, and the fine line: these are two root characteristics of Mr Thompson's really remarkable poem. One has seldom seen poet more wildly abandoned to his rapture, more absorbed in the trance of his ecstasy. When the irresistible moment comes, he throws himself upon his mood as a glad swimmer gives himself to the waves, careless whither the strong tide carries him, knowing only the wild joy of the laughing waters and the rainbow spray. He shouts, as it were, for mere gladness, in the welter of wonderful words, and he dives swift and fearless to fetch his deepsea fancies. When weak men venture on these vagaries they drown; but Mr Thompson is a strong swimmer. Hyperboles, which in other hands had seemed merely absurd, in his delight us as examples of that " fine excess " which is one of the most enthralling of the many enchantments of poetry. • •. Indeed, Mr Thompson must simply be Crash aw born again, but born greater. Though the conception, for example, of The Hound of Heaven—the case of a sinner fleeing from the love of Christ—is exactly in Crashaw's vein, yet it was not in his power to have suggested such tremendous speed and terror of flight as whirls through every line of Mr Thompson's poem.—R. Lz Galliznnz, in Tbe Daily Chronicle.
ANEW poet—and this time a major and not a minor one. Of the section called Love in Dian's Lap>much might be said of its extraordinary conception and workmanship. The section is one long, beautiful song of praise, and even worship, of one whom the poet calls his " dear administress." But surely never was woman worshipped with more utter chastity of passion. Whether Before ber Portrait in Toutb, or regarding her as A poet breaking silence, or only reflecting on her wearing of a new dress, the Poet is so full of fine matter and so adoring in his expression of it, as to bring Dantz himself to mind.—St James's Gazette.
HERE are dominion—domination over language, and a sincerity as of Robert Burns.... The epi thet sublime has been sadly stained and distorted by comic writers, and there is a danger in applying it in its honest light without warning. This safeguard established, we have to say that in our opinion Mr Thompson's poetry at its highest attains a sublimity unsurpassed by any Victorian poet—a sublimity which will stand the hideous test of extracts. In Her Portrait a constant interchange of symbol between earthly and heavenly beauty pulses like day and night—Tbe Speak*.
WORDS and cadences must have had anintozication for him, the intoxication of the scholar; and " cloudy trophies" were continually falling into his hands, and half through them, in his hurry to seize and brandish them. He swung a rare incense in a censer of gold, under the vault of a chapel where he had hung votive offerings. When he chanted in his chapel of dreams, the airs were often airs which he had learnt from Crash aw and from Patmore. They came to life again when he used them, and he made for himself a music which was part strangely familiar and part his own, almost bewilderingly. Such reed-notes and such orchestration of sound were heard nowhere else; and people listened to the music, entranced as by a new magic The genius of Francis Thompson was Oriental, exuberant in colour, woven into elaborate patterns, and went draped in old silk robes, that had survived many dynasties. The spectacle of him was an enchantment; he passed like a wild vagabond of the mind, dazzling our sight. He had no message, but he dropt sentences by the way, cries of joy or pity, love of children, worship of the 'Virgin and the Saints, and of those who were patron saints to him on earth; his voice was heard like a wandering music, which no one heeded for what it said, in a strange tongue, but which came troublingly into the mind, bringing it the solace of its old, recaptured melodies. Other poets of his time have had deeper things to say,and a more flawless beauty; others have put more of their hearts in to their song; but no one has been a torch waved with so fitful a splendour over the gulfs of our darkness.—Arthur Stmons, in Tbe Saturday Review,
OF our young men there is scarce one whose poetry is not feminine. Browning was the last great masculine mind in poetry, and there need not be his ruggedness to emulate his manliness of heart.... To read Mr Francis Thompson's Poem, then, is like setting sail with Drakz or Hawkins in search of new worlds and golden spoils. He has the magnificent Elizabethan manner, the splendour of conception, the largeness of imagery.—Katharinz Tynan-Hinkson, in Tbe Bookman.
AS a matter of fact—such fact as one kisses the book to in a court of law—it was in a railway carriage on my way back to London that i first read Mr Thompson's poem, Tbe Mistress of Vision; but, in such truth as would pass anywhere but in a court of law, it was i at Cambridge, in the height of the summer term and in