Francis Thompson (1859-1907)
On Ash Wednesday, a Lenten poem by Francis Thompson, who also wrote “The Hound of Heaven.” If you pay close attention, you’ll find the inspiration for a famous movie title.
In No Strange Land
“The Kingdom of God is Within You”
O world invisible, we view thee,
O world intangible, we touch thee,
O world unknowable, we know thee,
Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!
Does the fish soar to find the ocean,
The eagle plunge to find the air —
That we ask of the stars in motion
If they have rumor of thee there?
Not where the wheeling systems darken,
And our benumbed conceiving soars! —
The drift of pinions, would we hearken,
Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors.
The angels keep their ancient places; —
Turn but a stone, and start a wing!
‘Tis ye, ’tis your estranged faces,
That miss the many-splendored thing.
But (when so sad thou canst not sadder)
Cry — and upon thy so sore loss
Shall shine the traffic of Jacob’s ladder
Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross.
Yea, in the night, my soul, my daughter,
Cry — clinging Heaven by the hems;
And lo, Christ walking upon the water
Not of Gennesareth, but Thames!