Monday, July 14, 2014

Dorothy L. Sayers

Dorothy L. Sayers (1893—1957) always saw herself as a poet who wrote fiction. She was born in Oxford, the daughter of an Anglican chaplain. She is best known for her aristocratic detective Lord Peter Wimsey, who appeared in eleven novels and many short stories. The first of these novels, Whose Body appeared in 1923. Others from the series include: The Five Red Herrings, Murder Must Advertise and Gaudy Night.

Her first two published books were poetry collections. She also wrote non-fiction books, such as The Mind of the Maker, many plays, including, The Man Born to be King—twelve radio dramas about the life of Christ, which were first broadcast on the BBC Home Service during WWII—and what she considered to be her crowning achievement, her translation of Dante's Divine Comedy, which was not quite completed at the time of her death.

Sayers was friends with Charles Williams, C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot. She expressed her personal philosophy as: "The only Christian work is good work, well done."

Hymn in Contemplation of Sudden Death

LORD, if this night my journey end,
I thank Thee first for many a friend,
The sturdy and unquestioned piers
That run beneath my bridge of years.

And next, for all the love I gave
To things and men this side the grave,
Wisely or not, since I can prove
There always is much good in love.

Next, for the power thou gavest me
To view the whole world mirthfully,
For laughter, paraclete of pain,
Like April suns across the rain.

Also that, being not too wise
To do things foolish in men's eyes,
I gained experience by this,
And saw life somewhat as it is.

Next, for the joy of labour done
And burdens shouldered in the sun;
Nor less, for shame of labour lost,
And meekness born of a barren boast.

For every fair and useless thing
That bids men pause from labouring
To look and find the larkspur blue
And marigolds of a different hue;

For eyes to see and ears to hear,
For tongue to speak and thews to bear,
For hands to handle, feet to go,
For life, I give Thee thanks also.

For all things merry, quaint and strange,
For sound and silence, strength, and change,
And last, for death, which only gives
Value to every thing that lives;

For these, good Lord that madest me,
I praise Thy name; since, verily,
I of my joy have had no dearth
Though this night were my last on earth.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His new poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.