The line refers to the burning of wood so that it may be used as charcoal...I think that author Francis Thompson is referring to the fact that we are sometimes put through hard times to strengthen us. What does this mean for our lives as spiritual people?



This goes with my other post that has the whole poem here.

asked 06 Feb '13, 04:38

Jaianniah's gravatar image


edited 06 Feb '13, 05:09

This whole poem depicts god as being the hound(sound) of heaven and could be summarized as follows - "the speaker (Francis Thompson) is running from god, as do many people caught up in the world. But god pursues him. Although aware of god's love for him, the speaker continues to run, believing that submitting to god means giving up worldly pleasures. The speaker runs from place to place and even troubles "the gold gateway of the stars" in his effort to escape his pursuer. He pleads with dawn to be brief so that darkness may come to hide him. He asks the evening to cover him. But god still pursues him, saying 'naught shelters thee, who will not shelter me.'


In other words , using inward quest dialect, this poem is all about the effects of the law of attraction - "Ah! must thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?" can be translated into - "do you (god) have to create black/white, yin/yang, negative/positive?"

thanks for the question Jaianniah, i really enjoyed answering it, i think you must be a poet at heart.


answered 06 Feb '13, 09:45

ru%20bis's gravatar image

ru bis

@ru bis- I think that the quote means that we arr the wood and we get charred sometimes by God as if He cannot stand us raw, or cannot use us raw, like charcoal. Thanks for the great answer! Love, Jai

(06 Feb '13, 18:58) Jaianniah

Some hide them self from them self,hide other from them self and hide God from them self.If they would ask,seek and knock,maybe they would find.But who know them self?Who know other?Who know God? Where is the first place to start? If your own puzzle is not solved and the table of your soul(mind and heart) is full how can you know understand and solve someone else puzzle?It would only cause over flow and confusion in you and outside of you.

(06 Feb '13, 20:48) white tiger

yes we are of wood, we are of the physical world, we all vibrate in unison that is how we know ourselves and all others

(07 Feb '13, 03:14) ru bis
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The line uses old English words so the words themselves are hard to understand let alone the meaning of the sentence.

If I go by what you say Jai that clears it up and I'll base my answer on that.

When a Blacksmith makes a sword he must put the metal in the fire to pound it into a strong sword.

The fire strengthens it.

If a trial doesn't kill us, it makes us stronger as we learn from it. Our faith grows the more we need to have it. So these trials help us grow if we use these to grow from.


answered 06 Feb '13, 21:23

Wade%20Casaldi's gravatar image

Wade Casaldi


And that makes our spiritual life come alive with meaning, doesn't it? Jai

(06 Feb '13, 23:04) Jaianniah

for me "ah must thou char the wood ere thou canst limn with it" means; "do you have to blacken the wood when you can lighten with it" in other words, why did you create dark and light, night and day, why did you create the material world?

(07 Feb '13, 03:13) ru bis

He must first light the fire with the wood and then add charcoal to make the fire strongh.Then add the mold to put the metal to make the sword,put the sword in the water to cool it down before putting it back in the fire to harden it with sand and silicon,striking it in harmony.This hardening is made for 3 month.

(07 Feb '13, 04:44) white tiger
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