a Fellows' Garden that the revelation first came. I thought then in my enthusiasm that no such poem had been written or attempted since Coleridge attempted, and left off writing, KuUa Khan. In a cooler hour I think so yet; and, were my age twenty-five or so, it would delight me to swear to it, riding to any man's drawbridge who shuts his gates against it, and blowing the horn of challenge. It is verily a wonderful poem; hung, like a fairy tale, in middle air—a sleeping palace of beauty set in a glade in the heart of the woods of Westermain, surprised there and recognized with a gasp as satisfying, and summarizing a thousand youthful longings after beauty. To me also my admiration seemed too hot to last; but four or five years leave me unrepentant. It seemed to me to be more likely to be a perishable joy, because I had once clutched at, and seemed to grasp, similar beauties in Pos. Mr Thompson's thought, always strong, often runs into phrases of exquisite sweetness and exquisite clarity. • • • The lines beginning:
' Firm is the man, and set beyond the cast Of fortune's game and the iniquitous hour,"
are worthy to be remembered beside Daniel's Epistle to tbe Countess of Cumberland.—Quium Couch (" q "), in Tbe Daily News,
Thompson's poetry is a"wassail of orgaic imageries." He is a poet's poet, like Shelley and Blake. In order to follow him as he soars from image to image and symbol to symbol, you must have the rare wings of imagination.. •. Thompson mixes his metaphors so wisely that they illumine each other, strange light shooting out of their weltering chaos, like the radiance of phosphorescent waves. He troubles you with sudden pictures that flash out against the blackness. This gift of dreadful vision is not found in Ceashaw or in Patmore, in Donne or in Herbert, and therefore it seems to me that Thompson is essentially more akin to Blake, Coleridge and Rossetti than to the ecclesiastical mystics. He is a twentieth-century mystic with a seventeenth-century manner.— James Douglas, in Tbe Morning Leader,
GREAT poets are obscure for two opposite reasons; now, because they are talking about something too large for anyone to understand, and now, again, because they are talking about something too small for anyone to see. Francis Thompson possessed both these infinities.... He was describing the evening earth with its mist and fume and fragrance, and represented the whole as rolling upwards like a smoke; then suddenly he called the whole
bail of the earth a thurible, and said that some gigantic spirit swung it slowly before God. This is the case of the image too large for comprehension; another instance sticks in my mind of the image which is too small. In one of his poems he says that the abyss between the known and the unknown is bridged 4>y " Pontifical death." There are about ten historical and theological puna in that one word. That a priest means a pontiff, that a pontiff means a bridge-maker, that death is certainly a bridge, that death may turn out after all to be a reconciling priest, that at least priest and bridges both attest to the fact that one thing can get separated from another thing—these ideas, and twenty more, are all tacitly concentrated in the 'word " Pontifical." In Francis Thompson's poetry, as in the poetry of the universe, you can work infinitely out and out, but yet infinitely in and in. These two infinities are the mark of greatness; and he was a great poet—G. K. Chesterton, in Tbe Illustrated London News,
THOMPSON used his large vocabulary with a boldness—and especially a recklessness, almost a frivolity in rhyme—that were worthy of Browning. On the other hand, these rugged points were, at a further view, absorbed into the total effect of beauty in a manner which Browning never achieved; for the poet, entirely free from timidity in matters of poetic form, relied not on chastity or perfection of detail, but on the perfervid rush of his genius, which simply carried his readers over the rough places. Here was a large utterance—large in bulk, in speed, in a lavish disregard of economy, and yet, what could not for a moment be mistaken was that the poetry was at once great and sincere. These Sister Songs, written in praise of two little sisters, contain a number of lovely and most musical lines, and some passages—such as the seventh section of the first poem—which Spenser would not have disowned. —Tbe Times.
THE greater a poet's message, the more profound his thought, the larger his range, and the more exquisite his note, the deeper and more incessant will be his demand upon his reader. That is why the great poets have had to wait for their recognition. Only the few will or can co-operate at the beginning, but they are the leaven; and now whole masses can see the poetic purport of Shelley, Coleridge, Keats and Wordsworth, of whom the contemporary criticism was a thing over which you laugh or cry, as the mood has you. Those who see in Mr Francis Thompson an authentic poet have at any rate the profound interest of watching toe various stages in the making of their immortal. How have the portents followed the precedent afforded by the poets just named? In general, very accurately, we think. The common attitude of cri tics towards them and him has been very similar—in the case of Shelley it is so near in its very wording as to be sometimes startling. Extravagances and novelties of diction, a toppling over of images, and " obscurity "—of course that—were dwelt upon by objectors —very just objectors, no doubt—who busied and troubled about details, lost all sense of proportion, and had no ear for the great and ultimate meaning of the poet's message..... The note that comes most majestically from Mr Thompson is that of the reconciliation of the two natures and destinies of man. To that literal oneness Wordsworth groped in his merely " kindred points of heaven and home." Of that oneness Rossetti has the hint, and Coventry Patmore the full vision. Mr Thompson is the heir of the poets, and he has entered fully into his inheritance. He has not picked their flowers and worn them fading; their seed has passed into his lift, and they have blossomed anew.—The Academy,
WHEN at the end of 1893 there appeared a little quarto volume of poems by Francis Thompson, the English world of letters experienced an agreeable shock of surprise. It was as if a rocket had been sent up into a dark night. His poems have all the " pomp and prodigality " of imagination for which Gray's frugal muse longed.—Tbe Spectator.
NO other among the younger poets so effectually proclaimed a mastery of the grand style: none other had so securely occupied a position on the right side of the line which for ever separates inspiration from talent, poetry from agreeable verse. He appeared on the scene fully equipped. There were no long years of public neglect, or production of volumes which lay unnoticed on the bookstalls before being cast into the dust heap. The marvellous splendour of his first volume revealed a writer of no common order; with a secureness of touch, a magical decoration of style, and a real message behind all the pomp and glitter and dazzling display. It was art not for art's sake, but charged with a meaning and a name. Tbe Hound of Heaven was haled by all competent critics as one of
the great religious poems of this time or of any time.—The Daily News.