Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest me.

The Rev. Mark J. McNeal, S. J., who was one of the successors of Lafcadio Hearn in the chair of English Literature at the Tokyo Imperial University, in an interesting article recounts the following incident of his experience in that institution. "I was seated on the examining board with Professor Ichikawa, the dean of the English department... There entered the room a student whom I recognized as among the best in the class, a sharp young chap with big Mongolian eyes, and one who had never to my knowledge given any hint of even a leaning toward Christianity. I remembered, however, that his thesis submitted for a degree had been a study of Francis Thompson. Following the usual custom, I began to question him about his thesis.

"'Why did you choose Thompson?'

"'Well, he is quite a famous poet.'

"'What kind of poet is he?'

"'We might call him a mystic.'

"'Is he a mystic of the orthodox sort, like Cynewulf or Crashaw; or an unorthodox mystic, like Blake or Shelley?'

"'Oh, he's orthodox.'

"'Well, now, what do you consider his greatest production?'

"'Why, I should say "The Hound of Heaven."

"'Well, what on earth does Thompson mean by that Hound?'

"'He means God.'

"'But is not that a rather irreverent way for Thompson to be talking about God, calling Him a hound? What does he mean by comparing God to a hound?'

"'Well, he means the pursuit of God.'

"'Oh, I see, Thompson is pursuing God, is he?'

"'Oh, no. He is rather running away from God.'

"'Well, then, God is pursuing Thompson, is that it?'

"'Yes, that's it.'

"But, see here; according to Thompson's belief God is everywhere, isn't He?'


"'Well, then, how can God be going after Thompson? Is it a physical pursuit?'

"'No. It is a moral pursuit.'

"'A moral pursuit! What's that? What is God after?'

"'He is after Thompson's love

Now of that long pursuit
Comes on at hand the bruit ;
That Voice is round me like a bursting sea :
"And is thy earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard ?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest me !
"Strange, piteous, futile thing !
Wherefore should any set thee love apart ?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught" (He said),
"And human love needs human meriting :
How hast thou merited --
Of all man's clotted clay the dingiest clot ?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art !
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me ?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might'st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child's mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home :
Rise, clasp My hand, and come !"
Halts by me that footfall :
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly ?
"Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest !
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest me." (you drove off those who love you)

No comments: