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"The Hound of Heaven"
by Francis Thompson

Francis Thompson used to be regularly anthologized with "The Hound of Heaven," one of the last great odes (the models are Wordsworth and Shelley -- theirs was Cowley) in English.    Such nakedly religious verse has by and large vanished from both anthologies and current journals.  There are reasons for this, not the least of which is that religiosity has come to be associated mainly with cranks and sentimentalists.  But, in a time where most of the headlines from overseas are inspired by the activities of the righteous, not only in Islam, but in Catholicism as well, faiths with nearly two billion adherents, one looks for someone exploring the spiritual in American poetry, if only for its impact on individual and group  psychology.  Beyond Kelly Cherry, one of America's finest poets, and new voice James Webster DeMartini (The Song of Abel -- Somers Rocks Press 1998), you would be hard pressed to find one.   Thompson, who fell from many dreams, including the priesthood and medicine (not so far apart in Victorian times), was picked up by Wilfred Meynell, a magazine editor, who put "The Hound of Heaven" in front of English audiences in 1893.

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