"Pitched Betwixt Heaven And Charing Cross"

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Last Updated on July 30, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 177

Context: The Catholic poet Francis Thompson, son of a Lancashire doctor, studied medicine for a while at Owens College, Manchester, but abandoned his studies and, destitute, went to London to live. Allusions to London appear as an integral part of the theme of the poem "The Kingdom of God" ("In No Strange Land"). The poet's theme is that the Kingdom of God is not out "where the wheeling systems darken,/ And our benumbed conceiving soars!," but "at our own clay-shuttered doors." Bringing the theme even closer to his British reader, Thompson introduces Charing Cross, a section of London near Trafalgar Square, and the Thames river, which flows through London. His vision shows him "Christ walking on the water/ Not of Gennesareth, but Thames!" Continuing his allusions, the poet depicts the angels that in Jacob's dream were going up and down the ladder between heaven and earth, as descending on Charing Cross:

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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.

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