“The Hound of Heaven” by Francis Thompson (An early Tolkien influence)


“Out of wickedness and sloth I almost ceased to practise my religion . . . Not for me the Hound of Heaven, but the never-ceasing silent appeal of Tabernacle, and the sense of starving hunger.”

– Tolkien to his son Michael in Letter 250


Recently I had the pleasure of watching this video as part of a presentation at Aquinas College’s Center for Faith and Culture. It is extremely well done, and it has me thinking that I’d love to see more works like this, adaptations of old poetic and literary works that don’t exactly fit a TV or film format yet nevertheless have something incredibly powerful to say in a modern context.

I share it here because Francis Thompson was apparently influenced by Tolkien in his early twenties, and was still referencing this particular work in 1963, in his early seventies. At one time, Francis Thompson was a household name in England, considered one of the great poets of the Victorian age, but apparently he is largely forgotten today outside of academic circles.

I hope you’ll watch the video, not only as an introduction to a work that apparently had some early influence on Tolkien, but also because it is extremely well done and quite edifying. It has a very comic noir-ish sort of feel, almost like a live narrative graphic novel.

Also, Emblem Media, the video’s producer, has published the poem along with the script of the modern adaptation and the story of Thompson and the composition of this great poem. You can get that here.

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Concerning Mythopoeia – Part 4


Be sure they still will make, not being dead,
and poets shall have flames upon their head.  (90)


This is part of a series on Tolkien’s “Mythopoeia.” You can find the rest of the posts in this series here under Concerning Tolkien’s Works.

“Mythopoeia” is a response to Tolkien’s close friend C.S. Lewis, who contended that myths are “lies breathed through silver.” Tolkien sought to develop the idea that the ancient myths are NOT lies, but are instead hints of a greater reality to which human beings are called. In doing so, he led Lewis to a deeper understanding of the role of myth in the lives of human beings, and opened up the possibility of Christianity being the “true myth,” that is, the myth that actually happened in human history.

Continue reading “Concerning Mythopoeia – Part 4”

The Silmarillion – A Beginner’s Guide – Part 8 (Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië)


Fëanor and his sons abode seldom in one place for long, but travelled far and wide upon the confines of Valinor, going even to the borders of the Dark and the cold shores of the Outer Sea , seeking the unknown. (62)


This post continues my chapter-by-chapter walkthrough of The Silmarillion. This time, I will take a look at the fifth chapter of The Silmarillion proper, “Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië.” You can see a list of all of the posts in this series by clicking here.

©2007-2015 shavra

In this chapter, we come to find out how the three Elvish peoples (the Vanyar, the Noldor, and the Teleri) came to Aman. We also learn a great deal more about the Noldor and the Teleri, and about the personalities of these groups of Elves. The princes of the Noldor, in particular, start to come into focus as key players near the end of the chapter. (FYI, “Eldamar” is the name of the Elves’ realm in Aman; “Eldalië is just another form of “Eldar” or “Elves.”) Continue reading “The Silmarillion – A Beginner’s Guide – Part 8 (Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië)”

Concerning Mythopoeia – Part 3


They have seen Death and ultimate defeat,
And yet they would not in despair retreat… (88)


This is part of a series on Tolkien’s “Mythopoeia.” You can find the rest of the posts in this series here under Concerning Tolkien’s Works.

“Mythopoeia” is a response to Tolkien’s close friend C.S. Lewis, who contended that myths are “lies breathed through silver.” Tolkien sought to develop the idea that the ancient myths are NOT lies, but are instead hints of a greater reality to which human beings are called. In doing so, he led Lewis to a deeper understanding of the role of myth in the lives of human beings, and opened up the possibility of Christianity being the “true myth,” that is, the myth that actually happened in human history.

Eärendil the Mariner Image © 2013 Jenny Dolfen 

Continue reading “Concerning Mythopoeia – Part 3”

Tolkien’s Spiritual Wisdom 5: In the life of Christ, legend and history have met and joined…


The Gospels contain a fairy-story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy stories. . . Legend and History have met and fused.  

– J.R.R. Tolkien, On Fairy-Stories (Tree and Leaf 73)


What if we chose to see our lives as a great legend rather than a bucket list?

Image © 2012 Jef Murray Studios. “Scatha the Wyrm.”

Continue reading “Tolkien’s Spiritual Wisdom 5: In the life of Christ, legend and history have met and joined…”

The Silmarillion – A Beginner’s Guide – Part 7 (Of Thingol and Melian)


But he came at last to a glade open to the stars, and there Melian stood; and out of the darkness he looked at her, and the light of Aman was in her face. (55)


This post continues my chapter-by-chapter walkthrough of The Silmarillion. This time, I will take a look at the fourth chapter of The Silmarillion proper, “Of Thingol and Melian.” You can see a list of all of the posts in this series by clicking here.

©2007-2015 aautio

Chapter 4 of The Silmarillion is a short and succinct “boy-meets-girl” story, or so a surface reading would suggest. However, it is an important development in the history of Middle-earth, and in it we see key themes begin to develop to the point of fruition. Continue reading “The Silmarillion – A Beginner’s Guide – Part 7 (Of Thingol and Melian)”

Concerning Mythopoeia – Part 2


The heart of man is not compound of lies
but draws some wisdom from the only Wise. (87)


This is part of a series on Tolkien’s “Mythopoeia.” You can find the rest of the posts in this series here under Concerning Tolkien’s Works.

“Mythopoeia” is essentially a response to Tolkien’s close friend C.S. Lewis, who contended that myths are “lies breathed through silver.” Tolkien sought to develop the idea that the ancient myths are NOT lies, but are instead hints of a greater reality to which human beings are called. In doing so, he led Lewis to a deeper understanding of the role of myth in the lives of human beings, and opened up the possibility of Christianity being the “true myth,” that is, the myth that actually happened in human history.

The Wolves Pursuing Sol and Mani

Continue reading “Concerning Mythopoeia – Part 2”