Saturday, September 18, 2004

"As the Ruin Falls"

All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through:
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.

Peace, re-assurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin:
I talk of love—a scholar’s parrot may talk Greek—
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.

Only that now you have taught me (but how late) my lack.
I see the chasm. And everything you are was making
My heart into a bridge by which I might get back
From exile, and grow man. And now the bridge is breaking.

For this I bless you as the ruin falls. The pains
You give me are more precious than all other gains.
~C.S.Lewis, Poems, “As the Ruin Falls” (1st pub. 1964), pp. 109-110.

6 Comment(s):

At Sat Sep 18, 01:37:00 PM EST, Blogger Joelle said...

*copies, pastes in own journal* Wonderful selection, Arevanye.

 
At Sat Sep 18, 03:42:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

I was just wondering what it would be like to have a poet for a husband...

*sighs, goes back to folding laundry*

 
At Tue Sep 21, 01:17:00 PM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

**Dies** This poem was published posthumously, wasn't it?

I think that this poem is even more personal and characteristically Lewis than anything else you've put up here, which, for the most part, seems --ahem-- didactic.

I especially love this part:

"Only that now you have taught me (but how late) my lack.
I see the chasm. And everything you are was making
My heart into a bridge by which I might get back
From exile, and grow man. And now the bridge is breaking.

For this I bless you as the ruin falls. The pains
You give me are more precious than all other gains."

Lewis was very much the optimist. Do you agree or disagree?

 
At Tue Sep 21, 01:17:00 PM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

Oh, yeah, as for being married to a poet... looking at one of my friend's families, whose dad is a poet... veryy disorganized.

 
At Tue Sep 21, 08:43:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

Yes, it looks like Poems was published posthumously.

I think Lewis was a bit of a pessimist about his failings. One of the things I feel when I read this poem is his love for his wife, and the change that she must have brought so late to his life. And then he had to lose her so soon after he had found her. So sad. *sniffs* I just love this poem.

Doesn't every woman wish she had a poet for a boyfriend/husband/partner? Someone to make up beautiful stanzas describing her eyes or her lissome limbs? Or to say "everything you are was making My heart into a bridge by which I might get back From exile, and grow man."

Wow! Of course, that's usually in total opposition to the practicalities of everyday relationships: the necessity of putting food on the table, keeping the bill collectors at bay, and a non-leaking roof overhead.

 
At Tue Sep 21, 08:51:00 PM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

"Doesn't every woman wish she had a poet for a boyfriend/husband/partner?"

No, because they'd have to get a second job, have a very disorganized home, and then your kids will have to run the business that your spouse ran to the ground. :D (Of course, that's not exactly what my friend's dad is like; they're ALL disorganized in that family, poets or not.)

But yes, it is a beautiful poem. I have to say that Lewis's poems tend to be okay, but this one is truly great.

And to think he wanted to be a poet. Voltaire started out as a poet, but he's the most famous philosopher this side of the Englightenment! (See my TORn footer.) Maybe if you REALLY wanted to be a poet, you should start out as a philosopher first...

 

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