The Hound Of Heaven
Painted around 2010-11, when I was going through a William Blake phase and studying other British visionary artists and writers. This invesigation led to me Francis Thompson’s The Hound Of Heaven. Thompson was an interesting figure, whose life example set the template for many a rock & roll failure, perhaps the most recent example being Pete Doherty. Thompson was an aspiring writer and poet who dropped out of doctoral studies and moved to London to seek fame and fortune, but lack of cash led him to live homeless on the streets, where he got sick and took to opium to relieve his symptoms. You can guess the rest. As with Blake, it was only after the man’s death that his work got the regard it deserved, in particular the epic poem The Hound Of Heaven that allegedly inspired the likes of Tolkien. It’s heavy stuff, suggesting a kid of cosmic black dog hounding the wavering believer until they finally give up the chase and accept their fate. It reminds me of the final scene in Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree:
Somewhere in the gray wood by the river is the huntsman and in the brooming corn and in the castellated press of cities. His work lies all wheres and his hounds tire not. I have seen them in a dream, slaverous and wild and their eyes crazed with ravening for souls in this world. Fly them.