Poems of Francis Thompson

Poems of Francis Thompson

Poems of Francis Thompson

Poems of Francis Thompson

Excerpt

To one familiar with Francis Thompson's poetry and prose but unacquainted with the great bulk of criticism written about him and his work, any attempt to show that he was a poet of the Catholic economy of life must seem only another indication of The Return of Don Quixote. But even a superficial knowledge of the critical estimates of Thompson's work is sufficient to show that in point of fact the demonstration aimed at here is not as futile as it might appear to one who has read only what Thompson himself has written.

Much of the unfavorable criticism by contemporaries of Thompson is so extravagant and so clearly the result of pique at the Catholic tone of his work that it no longer merits serious consideration. Contemporary estimates of Thompson's poetical achievements show an amazing tendency not only to imply, but boldly to state, that as a poet Thompson's tone is not necessarily Catholic at all.

A writer in the Yale Review for October 1914, says: "He was a devout Catholic, but perhaps not altogether a good Catholic, and certainly not a complete one." The writer continues: "He was attracted the more strongly by one aspect of the religious life because other aspects repelled him, and in his poetry, while we find frequent adoration of the Son and the Mother, we find little enthusiasm for the brotherhood of their children." (p. 110)

Mr. Mégroz in his recent volume on Thompson tells us that, "in his lifetime the man himself would scarcely have been considered an orthodox churchman." (Francis Thompson--Poet of Earth in Heaven, p. 244); and after reading Mr. Hutton Guidance from Francis Thompson in Matters of Faith, we should be apt to think that Thompson was, after all, rather eclectic in matters of faith.

In answer to this sort of criticism the indirect method of refutation will be used in the following pages, because the direct method would give them too controversial a tone. Thompson's achieve-

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