Comments on The Hound of Heaven

Comments on The Hound of Heaven

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“I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

   I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

   Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears

I hid from Him…”


Francis Thompson first published The Hound of Heaven in 1893. It is the story of a hound chasing a hare. Obviously, the hare doesn’t want to be caught by the hound, since it fears for its life. At the very least, it fears it will suffer great harm.

Francis Thompson describes in this lengthy poem the various ways the hare tries to escape, not realizing that the hound does not want to devour him, but rather to show him love. The hare just wants to go his own way, live his own life, and avoid the Hound–a lot like people who try to avoid God. I am quite sure there are some in my own family who look at my faith in God, and think it is old-fashioned and out-of-date. They don’t see the joy that comes from knowing Jesus.

When I first read The Hound of Heaven, I thought it was tedious, perhaps because the poem was long and the language was unfamiliar to me. I thought it was too complicated. It was an English assignment, and mostly I just did the minimum work to get a passing grade. Some of the phrases stayed with me, though, and over the years I thought of the symbolism of the poem.

You see, the Hound is a symbol of God’s love and his desire to pursue us, even when we try to escape Him. He doesn’t just brush us off and say, “Okay, if you aren’t interested in Me, then go your own way. I don’t care.” The point is that God does care. He is not willing that any should perish. When the hare comes to his senses and understands that God loves him, we read,

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’s seek it in My arm,

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,

l am He Whom thou seekest!

Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.’”


We might fight God. We might seek fame, fortune—anything but God—but His love is so great and so deep, and He draws us to Him. I love the part about what we consider gloom might only be the shadow of his outstretched hand, caressing us with his great love.

He’s reaching out for you, dear one. Take His hand and revel in the love He has for you.

Bettilu Davies About Bettilu Davies

Bettilu Davies is a wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. She has authored six published books, first writing fiction for children and teens and recently branching into adult Christian fiction. She has taught piano since 1968 and enjoys reading, crocheting, knitting, paper art, and painting in oils, acrylics and water color.


  1. Thanks for this reminder that our words can be used to speak into hearts, whenever and however God orchestrates it.

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