By Katharine Tynan.
FRANCIS THOMPSON’S PLACE IN poetry stands somewhere between Crashaw and Shelley, with each of whom he had affinities. He had the lofty spiritual passion and flight, “the flaming heart” of Crashaw, and he had the disembodied passion of Shelley, which had as much to do with common humanity and its wrongs and suffering as the cloud and the lark that Shelley rightly sang.
His most famous poem was the dark “Hound of Heaven,” yet no other poet but Shelley could or might have written that lyric which appeared some years ago in Merrie England, by which the discerning were aware that a new planet had swum into their ken. I remember quite well the delight and amazement with which I discovered “Dream-Tryst,” and the haste with which I wrote off to the editor to know who was Francis Thompson. For some of us then the fame of the poet was as much an assured thing as though the ages, the ultimate judgment which sits somewhere out of sight, dismissing the verdicts of contemporaries and making its own unalterable pronouncements, had already spoken. Only an immortal could have written it.