Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Planets II

Continuing from yesterday's post:

[By her fingers form'd.] Far beyond her

The heaven's highway hums and trembles,
Drums and dindles, to the driv'n thunder
Of SOL's chariot, whose sword of light
Hurts and humbles; beheld only
Of eagle's eye. When his arrow glances
Through mortal mind, mists are parted
And mild as morning the mellow wisdom
Breathes o'er the breast, broadening eastward
Clear and cloudless. In a clos'd garden
(Unbound her burden) his beams foster
Soul in secret, where the soil puts forth
Paradisal palm, and pure fountains
Turn and re-temper, touching coolly
The uncomely common to cordial gold;
Whose ore also, in earth's matrix,
Is print and pressure of his proud signet
On the wax of the world. He is the worshipp'd male,
The earth's husband, all-beholding,
Arch-chemic eye. But other country
Dark with discord dins beyond him,
With noise of nakers, neighing of horses,
Hammering of harness. A haughty god
MARS mercenary, makes there his camp
And flies his flag; flaunts laughingly
The graceless beauty, grey-eyed and keen,
--Blond insolence--of his blithe visage
Which is hard and happy. He hews the act,
The indifferent deed with dint of his mallet
And his chisel of choice; achievement comes not
Unhelped by him; --hired gladiator
Of evil and good. All's one to Mars,
The wrong righted, rescued meekness,
Or trouble in trenches, with trees splintered
And birds banished, banks fill'd with gold
And the liar made lord. Like handiwork
He offers to all--earns his wages
And whistles the while. White-feathered dread
Mars has mastered. His metal's iron
That was hammered through hands into holy cross,
Cruel carpentry. He is cold and strong,
Necessity's song.
~C.S. Lewis, "The Planets", Poems (1st pub. May 1935)

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5 Comment(s):

At Sun Oct 24, 10:26:00 AM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

Does anyone else feel Lewis's difficulty as he struggles to get these alliterative lines to work just right? It seems that sometimes he is finding a lovely cadence, and other lines just seem forced to work within the structure. I see now why old Norse poetry, such as the Beowulf, resorts to "kennings" to follow the alliterative pattern. (Kennings are multiple names for the same person or thing, such as "whale-road" instead of "ocean".)

Don't get me wrong, I think this is a very difficult format--I certainly would never attempt it!

 
At Sun Oct 24, 02:28:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

Annnd more of me talking to myself here... I finally found a link to the text of Michael Ward's article: Planet Narnia on the alt.books.cs-lewis forum.

Guess they don't think much of his theory over there.

 
At Mon Oct 25, 02:41:00 PM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

I think that Mr. Ward's theory is plausible, and very interesting, but if Lewis made the seven Narnia books to correspond with the planets' personalities, then it was more of a subconscious choice. I think it was Amatire who said on our TOWn forums that each correspond to one of the seven deadly sins. Again, subconscious.

As for the poetry, I think Lewis is an average poet at best; there are very few that are actually good, in my opinion. (Like the second entry you had and the poem about Joy dying.)

 
At Mon Oct 25, 07:27:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

I don't know, Sandi--the whole theory of the correspondence between the stories and the planets seems a little contrived. Almost like he went back to find things in the text to support his position, and ignored other things that might contradict it. I thought the Seven Deadly Sins theory much more likely.

Here's where that theory is presented, btw: Narnia and the Seven Deadly Sins

 
At Mon Oct 25, 10:31:00 PM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

Woah! You double-posted! But I think if you write about something so often and are so fascinated by it (as Lewis was with medieval cosmology), I think it would start to creep in to your other writing as well. I doubt that Lewis would have made seven for that reason alone, if that reason even existed.

 

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