"The Many-splendored Thing"

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Last Updated on July 30, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 161

Context: In many of his poems the Catholic poet Francis Thompson treats profound religious themes. Much of the beauty of the poem entitled "The Kingdom of God" ("In No Strange Land") comes from the simplicity of the treatment of the subject. The theme is first developed through analogy. The poet asks: "Does the fish soar to find the ocean,/ The eagle plunge to end the air–. . .?" Then discarding the ideas of the Kingdom of God lying "where the wheeling systems darken,/ And our benumbed conceiving soars!," the poet says the beating of the wings of angels is at "our own clay-shuttered doors," if we would only listen. Man has become estranged from Heaven; Heaven is in the same place it has always been. The poet gives the theme of his poem in the following lines:

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

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