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The reconciliation of the Pagan with the Christian woman was imperative. He became Mary, Mother of Christ, the Newer Eve, the After Woman, the Spouse of Christ, "to love her is to love the beauty of God's House." So once more he became The Church:


When Christ is life, and you the way;
When Egypt's spoils are Israel's right,
And Day fulfils the married arms of Night.

Or as in another poem:


And she sings the songs of Sion
By the streams of Babylon.

So in actual life Alice Meynell became his benefactress in succession to the prostitute. The poet's songs to her breathe a removed reverence and adoration though they have the Pagan title of "Love in Dian's Lap," but the analytical interpretation of these poems is again that of identification, for her spirit is

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And then: (P)

As maid's breast against breast of maid.

Unveil this spirit, lady, when you will,
For unto all but you 'tis veilèd still:

Unveil, and fearless gaze there, you alone,
And if you love the image-'tis your own!

A poem of great length and verbal magnificence called "An Anthem of Earth" gives us the psychological foundation of these types as arising in the ideal conception of the mother, and the subsequent disillusionment. I cannot do more than select two illustrative passages:


...Thought I not
Thou set'st thy seasons forth processional
To pamper me with pageant,-thou thyself
My fellow-gamester, appanage of mine arms?

Shook thy matron tresses down in fancies
Wild and wilful

As a poet's hand could twine them;

Loving thy beauty in all creatures born of thee,
Children, and the sweet-essenced body of woman;
...breathing warm of thee as infants breathe
New from their mother's morning bosom.

We stand and eye thee in a grave dismay,
With sad and doubtful questioning, when first
Thou speak'st to us as men: like sons who hear
Newly their mother's history, unthought
Before, and say 'She is not as we dreamed:
Ah me! we are beguiled.'

remainder flesh After our father's surfeits.

That is, the virginal and prostitute phantasies here in this poem directly connect themselves with the mother and so with the poet's own identifications already elaborated.

I would pass now to the imagery that portrays the poet's conception of the consummation of love. In the sequence "A Narrow Vessel," the poet touches a more passionate note than elsewhere in his work. The poem is in the mouth of the Lover and concerns the moment when the maiden yields.


...That falling kiss Touching long-laid expectance, all went up Suddenly into passion;

then quite swiftly the Lover identifies himself with his beloved, he is the woman and Love is the visitant to both:


...the wild train of life

Reeled by, and left us stranded on a hush.

This moment is a statue unto Love

Carved from a fair white silence.

(One thinks of Francis Thompson gazing at his Melpomene, waiting a thing divine.)

This static ecstasy, instead of dynamic ecstasy, is surely an image based upon infantile experience, not upon adult sexual maturity. The recurrence of such phrases as "enchanted movelessness," "passionless passion,' ," "wild tranquillities," are frequent throughout the poems. It seems to me they are applicable to two early child situations, both of which involve oneness with the mother, the first in time being pre-natal, the child in the womb, the other post-natal, the child at the breast. The poem "The Mistress of Vision" has this quality of static ecstasy and the imagery of the poem just quoted, "Love Declared," recurs in it:


Secret was the garden;

Set i' the pathless awe

Where no star its breath can draw.

Life, that is its warden,

Sits behind the fosse of death.

Mine eyes saw not, and I saw.

The secret garden is the womb, the symbol of birth and death. He says:


Till Time, the hidden root of change, updries,
Are Birth and Death inseparable on earth;

For they are twain yet one, and Death is Birth.

This entranced hush, motionless motion, sound in silence, passionate tranquillity, by which Thompson images the consummation of love between man and maid (yet himself the maid) is paralleled by him both in the state of death and pre-natal existence. But there is one other analogous situation. It is that of the child at the breast, the immediate

post-natal experience. In speaking of his love for Alice Meynell and its swift onset, he says:


For swift it was, yet quiet as the birth
Of smoothest Music in a Master's soul.

In the "Night of Forebeing" we read:


...yea, it was still

As the young Moon that bares her nightly breast,
And smiles to see the Babe earth suck its fill.
O Halcyon! was thine auspice not of rest?

Having reached this point I would venture the opinion that in Francis Thompson we have a unique psychical fixation of libido at the oral level. Psychically he was never weaned. Physically separated from the mother, he mourned and refused earth's meat through the remainder of his life. His life, his disasters, his poetry are all expressions both of that initial joy in gratification and that first sorrow of deprivation.


And all the springs are flash-lights of one Spring.
Then leaf, and flower, and fall-less fruit
Shall hang together on the unyellowing bough;
And silence shall be Music mute

For her surchargèd heart.

So to Alice Meynell, speaking of his frustrated love for her:


A hand-clasp I must feed on for a night,

A noon, although the untasted feast you lay,
To mock me, of your beauty.


Then comes the incidental day

When our young mouth is weaned;

And from her arms we stray.

'Tis over.


The analogy is, that to understand his drouth she must go unsuppered too; unconsciously he projects the same situation between herself and her husband as he wishes unconsciously between himself and the mother. So we find him speaking of the sun as


...make essay
What 'tis to pass unsuppered to your couch,
Keep fast from love all day; and so be taught
The famine which these craving lines avouch!

Thou genitor that all things nourishest!

The earth was suckled at thy shining breast,
And in her veins is quick thy milky fire.

He speaks elsewhere of "God focussed to a point," of "When God was stolen from men's mouths stolen was the bread." This brings me to his conception of Deity as "twi-formed":


Thou twi-form deity, nurse at once and sire.

Behold, with rod twy-serpented,
Hermes the prophet, twining in one power
The woman with the man.

...In him allied Both parents clasp.

The nipple and the penis are one symbol. In suckling at the mother's breast he is suckled by the father too. When he is weaned "God is stolen from the mouth"-separation is weaning, which is equivalent to castration. Hence the significance of the Hound of Heaven.


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—

i.e. at the breast of the twi-formed Deity there is union again in the Godhead.

The cycle of pursuit is clear in "New Year's Chimes":


The chase that's chased is the Lord o' the chase,

(And a million songs are as song of one)

And the pursued cries on the race;

And the hounds in leash are the hounds that run.

The world above in the world below
(And a million worlds are but as one)
And the One in all.

The cycle is in the poet himself:



My little worlded self! the shadows pass
In this thy sister-world, as in a glass,
Of all processions that revolve in thee:
Not only of cyclic Man

Thou here discern'st the plan,

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And note again, it is the bosom's year that is the cycle. The cycle may be represented as the circle of the sun, the moon, the breast, or the womb, "the Mystic Sun," "the Virgin's womb."

Addressing the sun he says:

To thine own shape

Thou round'st the chrysolite of the grape,

Bind'st thy gold lightnings in his veins.

The phases of this eternal cycle alternate thus:


Open wide thy gates, O Virgin,
That the King may enter thee.

The sun has been chasing the earth. This is the pursuit. We glimpse the wonderment of the primitive mind in the child in a riot of imagery. He sees the sinking sun touching the earth in the west. Then he thinks earth is held to the sun's bosom. "The earth is suckled at thy shining

breast." It may be that the earth mother is suckling the sun, for he says in one poem (X)

The sopped sun-toper as ever drank hard-
Stares foolish, hazed,
Rubicund, dazed,

Totty with thine October tankard.

The sun sinks into earth. It is night, and the sun and earth are one. The sun is in the earth, and it is night with "orgiastic revelries." It is also death, as well as the "Night of Forebeing," for the sun is the child too within the womb. The chase begins again with the Resurrection of the Sun, Christ risen from the Tomb.

But for the poet the magic circle is broken by an interlude, the sentence of life. Suckled at the mother's breast, he is still one with the mother and still suckled thus by the father. Separated from her "God is robbed out of his mouth" and he "must fare forward to the dull vale, robbed of his Godhead." But, psychically one with the mother, he, like her, remains the pursued, though pursuit means chastisement and despoiling, and never love. Love comes only when the magic circle is entered again. The third phase represents this.


'Whence He sprung, there He returneth
Mystic Sun, the Virgin's Womb.'

Or, as he says in another poem, he enters "the sacred bridal gloom of death." In the nuptials of death the cycle is complete again. He is sustenant to the mother even as the sun suckles her-Father and son are one, "beyond the pillars of death and the corridors of the grave in the union of spirit to spirit within the containing Spirit of God.”

Cyclic unrest is now balanced by 'cyclic equipoise.' The conscious life of Thompson is represented by the second of these phases-unsceptred, undiademed, i.e. the weaned and castrated one.


He faring down

To the dull vale, his Godhead peels from him
Till he can scarcely spurn the pebble-

That the poet is omnipotent is shown in his life and work. He is a Creator, like God.


Poet! still, still thou dost rehearse,
In the great fiat of thy Verse
Creation's primal plot.

And what thy Maker in the whole
Worked, little maker, in thy soul
Thou work'st, and men know not.

Song, "A Water-child like Earth," is the child he has created, as God created the earth. He calls himself a "conduit running wine of song" -a father image, or "The Four Rivers," "Fountain watering Paradise

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