Monday, December 27, 2010

Charles Williams

Charles Williams (1886–1945) worked all his adult life for Oxford University Press, and lived in London. He belonged to the famous informal literary group, the Inklings, which included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. His most celebrated poetry, found in the volumes, Taliessin Through Logres and The Region of the Summer Stars, concerns Arthurian Legend.

Besides poetry, Williams wrote plays, theology, biography, criticism and novels, but did not achieve the success of Lewis and Tolkien. Today he is best known for his seven novels, including The Place Of The Lion and All Hallows Eve, which may be called magic realism, or as T.S. Eliot described them, “supernatural thrillers”.

In his poem, “On The Curcuit”, W.H. Auden describes how individual places he visited in the United States were unmemorable unless he experienced a “blessed encounter, full of joy” meeting “here, an addict of Tolkien, / There, a Charles Williams fan.” Auden would have considered himself to be both.

Although comfortable with continual questioning, Charles Williams was all his life dedicated to his Anglican Christian faith.


He who knows all things knows not now
Whither He came, or why, or how.

He who sees all things can but see
A dim and clear Maternity:

Whose mortal mouth alone can teach
Omniloquence its human speech.

But, as from those soft wandering hands,
A universal grace expands.

His blood, in motion regular,
Decrees the course of sun and star.

Creation, leaning o'er the Child,
Beholds its image undefiled.

And His fine breath, in sweet recall,
Draws all things to the heart of all.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: