I stared into the fire; blue waves
Of shuddering heat that rose and fell,
And blazing ships and blinding caves,
Canyons and streets and hills of hell
Then presently amidst it all
I saw a living creature crawl.
Forward it crept and pushed its snout
Between the bars, and with sad eyes
Into my quiet room looked out,
As men looked out upon the skies;
And from its scalding throat there came
A faint voice hissing like a flame:
'This is the end, the stratosphere,
The rim of the world where all life dies,
The vertigo of space, the fear
Of nothingness; before me lies
Blank silence, distances untold
Of unimaginable cold.
'Faint lights that fitfully appear
Far off in that immense abyss
Are but reflections cast from here,
There is no other fire but this,
This speck of life, this fading spark
Enisled amid the boundless dark.
'Blind Nature's measureless rebuke
To all we value, I received
Long since (though wishes bait the hook
With tales our ancestors believed)
And now can face with fearless eye
Negation's final sovereignty.'
~C.S. Lewis, Poems (first published in The Spectator: June 8, 1945)