Treasure Trove: ‘The Kingdom of God’

O world invisible, we view thee,
O world intangible, we touch thee,
O world unknowable, we know thee,
Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!

Among my fairly extensive collection of second-hand books (I’ve found a number of treasures in second-hand bookstores and on second-hand book stalls) is an extremely battered 1922 edition of ‘Poems of Today’, in which appears, among many other poems, this one by Francis Thompson.

I know nothing about Thompson, or this poem, and while I could Google them I almost feel it would take some of the fun out of it, because what I love in this poem is the incongruous image of Jesus showing up in the midst of our ordinary, sometimes-sorrowful everyday world, tearing down once again the veil between the seen and the unseen worlds to reveal for a moment the immanence of the Kingdom of God to us. Here, then, is another treasure: The Kingdom of God, by Francis Thompson.

O world invisible, we view thee,
O world intangible, we touch thee,
O world unknowable, we know thee,
Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!

Does the fish soar to find the ocean,
The eagle plunge to find the air –
That we ask of the stars in motion
If they have rumour of thee there?

Not where the wheeling systems darken,
And our benumbed conceiving soars! –
The drift of pinions, would we hearken,
Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors.

The angels keep their ancient places; –
Turn but a stone, and start a wing!
‘Tis ye, ’tis your estranged faces,
That miss the many-splendoured thing.

But (when so sad thou canst not sadder)
Cry; – and upon thy so sore loss
Shall shine the traffic of Jacob’s ladder
Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross.

Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter,
Cry, – clinging Heaven by the hems;
And lo, Christ walking on the water
Not of Gennesareth, but Thames!

Do you have a favourite poem, one that you just love?

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