Saturday, October 23, 2004

The Planets I

Today I am starting what I plan to be three or four posts of the poem "The Planets". It is quite a long poem, so I am going to break it up into manageable chunks. You will see that it is written in alliterative verse. If you are not familiar with alliterative verse, then check out Wikipedia's definition, and let me know if you think it works here.

The Planets

Lady LUNA, in light canoe,
By friths and shallows of fretted cloudland
Cruises monthly; with chrism of dews
And drench of dream, a drizzling glamour,
Enchants us--the cheat! changing sometime
A mind to madness, melancholy pale,
Bleached with gazing on her blank count'nance
Orb'd and ageless. In earth's bosom
The shower of her rays, sharp-feathered light
Reaching downward, ripens silver,
Forming and fashioning female brightness,
--Metal maidenlike. Her moist circle
Is nearest earth. Next beyond her
MERCURY marches;--madcap rover,
Patron of pilf'rers. Pert quicksilver
His gaze begets, goblin mineral,
Merry multitude of meeting selves,
Same but sundered. From the soul's darkness,
With wreathed wand, words he marshals,
Guides and gathers them--gay bellwether
Of flocking fancies. His flint has struck
The spark of speech from spirit's tinder,
Lord of language! He leads forever
The spangle and splendour, sport that mingles
Sound with senses, in subtle pattern,
Words in wedlock, and wedding also
Of thing with thought. In the third region
VENUS voyages...but my voice falters;
Rude rime-making wrongs her beauty,
Whose breasts and brow, and her breath's sweetness
Bewitch the worlds. Wide-spread the reign
Of her secret sceptre, in the sea's caverns,
In grass growing, and grain bursting,
Flower unfolding, and flesh longing,
And shower falling sharp in April.
The metal copper in the mine reddens
With muffled brightness, like muted gold,
By her fingers form'd.
~C.S. Lewis, "The Planets", Poems (1st pub. May 1935)

5 Comment(s):

At Sat Oct 23, 05:09:00 AM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

"By friths and shallows of fretted cloudland"

I looked up the word "friths" and found that it is another way of spelling "firth(s)": A long, narrow inlet of the sea.

 
At Sat Oct 23, 05:16:00 PM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

I think that when you're done posting the Planets poem, you should also post the passages in That Hideous Strength when the oyarsas of the various planets come to visit Ransom; the descriptions of each planet are similar.

"VENUS voyages...but my voice falters;
Rude rime-making wrongs her beauty,
Whose breasts and brow, and her breath's sweetness
Bewitch the worlds."

DUH.

And that's all I'm going to say about that. **Walks off muttering, "MEN."**

 
At Sat Oct 23, 05:52:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

Great idea! Will do, Sandi. Thanks.

By the way, I've been searching the internet for a decent reference for the mythology that talks about the seven bodies in the heavens (you will see that the poem uses only seven). I've only been able to find this passing reference on Sacred-Texts.com on Irish druidism:

"The thickness of the earth is measured by the space from the earth to the firmament. The seven divisions from the firmament to the earth are Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, Sol, Luna, Venus. From the moon to the sun is 244 miles; but, from the firmament to the earth, 3024 miles. As the shell is about the egg, so is the firmament around the earth. The firmament is a mighty sheet of crystal."
~Irish Druids And Old Irish Religions by James Bonwick [1894]

If anyone else comes up with something better, let me know!

 
At Sat Oct 23, 06:22:00 PM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

I don't think there's anything mythological about only seven planets mentioned. The seven planets (the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon) are the only planets visible to the naked eye, or, for that matter, by regular telescopes. We only discovered Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto with high-powered telescopes in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

And, conveniently enough, seven is a mystical number.

 
At Sat May 02, 05:33:00 PM EDT, OpenID fluorescenthatgirl said...

C.S. Lewis was interested in medieval cosmology. In that cosmology only seven planets were known, which is why he only writes about seven in this poem.

 

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