Monday, November 27, 2023

C.S. Lewis*

C.S. Lewis (1898—1963) is one of the most influential Christian writers of all time. He taught English at Oxford (1925—1954) and then at Cambridge (1954—1963), and was a close friend and significant encourager to J.R.R. Tolkien.

Known to his friends as Jack, Lewis published more than thirty works, which have been translated into more than thirty languages, and have sold millions of copies. Ten years ago, this month, on the anniversary of his death, a memorial stone honouring him was unveiled in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.

As we approach November 29th (this Wednesday), his birthday, the podcast Pints with Jack, along with “over thirty Lewis societies and content creators” will be marking for the first time “C.S. Lewis Reading Day.” Watch the promotional video, and then, if you are so inclined, listen to the Pints With Jack podcast from when they interviewed me about my book Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis. (Poiema/Cascade).

The following poem is available in his book Poems (1964, Harcourt, Inc.)

Footnote to All Prayers

He whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow
When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou,
And dream of Pheidian fancies and embrace in heart
Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art.
Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme
Worshiping with frail images a folk-lore dream,
And all men in their praying, self-deceived, address
The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts, unless
Thou in magnetic mercy to Thyself divert
Our arrows, aimed unskilfully, beyond desert;
And all men are idolaters, crying unheard
To a deaf idol, if Thou take them at their word.
Take not, O Lord, our literal sense. Lord, in thy great
Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate.

*This is the third Kingdom Poets post about C.S. Lewis: first post, second post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Wipf & Stock.