Tomorrow I travel down to Westminster Abbey to give my paper on Lewis and the Truth of Imagination, as well as to enjoy hearing Alastair McGrath, Michael Ward and others. I shall stay the night at the Abbey and then on Friday join the glad throng to hear Rowan Williams preach and see the plaque for Lewis unveiled in Poets’ Corner. Then on Saturday I will join Rowan Williams and Helen Cooper for a further conference on Lewis at Magdalene College in Cambridge. Now both my papers, the one at Westminster and the one at Magdalene, are going to end with poems. So, though I have posted these two poems before, I thought I’d put them together here, by way of a taster for the papers to come.
Both poems come from my new collection The Singing Bowl, and, as usual, you can hear them by clicking on the titles or the ‘play’ button.
So my paper on Lewis’s achievement as a poet and imaginative writer will end with this:
From ‘beer and Beowulf’ to the seven heavens,
Whose music you conduct from sphere to sphere,
You are our portal to those hidden havens
Whence we return to bless our being here.
Scribe of the Kingdom, keeper of the door
Which opens on to all we might have lost,
Ward of a word-hoard in the deep hearts core,
Telling the tale of Love from first to last.
Generous, capacious, open, free,
Your wardrobe-mind has furnished us with worlds
Through which to travel, whence we learn to see
Along the beam, and hear at last the heralds
Sounding their summons, through the stars that sing,
Whose call at sunrise brings us to our King
And my paper at Magdalene on The Abolition of Man will end with this ‘found sonnet’ drawn entirely from that book:
(A found sonnet from The Abolition of Man by CS Lewis)
Imagine a new natural philosophy;
I hardly know what I am asking for;
Far-off echoes, that primeval sense,
With blood and sap, Man’s pre-historic piety,
Continually conscious, continually…
Alive, alive and growing like a tree
And trees as dryads, or as beautiful,
The bleeding trees in Virgil and in Spenser
The tree of knowledge and the tree of life
Growing together, that great ritual
Pattern of nature, beauties branching out
The cosmic order, ceremonial,
Regenerate science, seeing from within…
To participate is to be truly human.