Thursday, July 07, 2005


All the world's wiseacres in arms against them
Shan't detach my heart for a single moment
From the man-like beasts of the earthy stories--
Badger or Moly.

Rat the oarsman, neat Mrs. Tiggy Winkle,
Benjamin, pert Nutkin, or (ages older)
Henryson's shrill Mouse, or the Mice the Frogs once
Fought with in Homer.

Not that I'm so craz'd as to think the creatures
Do behave that way, nor at all deluded
By some half-false sweetness of early childhood
Sharply remembered.

Look again. Look well at the beasts, the true ones.
Can't you see? primness of cats, or coney's
Half indignant stare of amazement, mouse's
Twinkling adroitness,

Tipsy bear's rotundity, toad's complacence...
Why! they all cry out to be used as symbols,
Masks for Man, cartoons, parodies by Nature
Formed to reveal us

Each to each, not fiercely but in her gentlest
Vein of household laughter. And if the love so
Raised--it will, no doubt--splashes over on the
Actual archtypes,

Who's the worse for that? Marry, gup! Begone, you
Fusty kill-joys, new Manichaeans! Here's a
Health to Toad Hall, here's to the Beaver doing
Sums with the Butcher!

~C.S. Lewis, Poems, "Impenitence" (1st pub. July 1953 in Punch)


On this day:

1952 Mere Christianity, a revised and amplified edition of Lewis's Broadcast Talks, Christian Behavior, and Beyond Personality, is published by Geoffrey Bles, London.

9 Comment(s):

At Thu Jul 07, 09:43:00 PM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

I see that some of the references in the poem are from The Wind in the Willows (which I'll read, uh, eventually...) but what were some of the other ones?

I wonder what Lewis would think of fiction like Redwall, where the animals are not made to be like humans (or were made to speak after the humans came, like in Narnia) but are actually the humans of that world.

At Fri Jul 08, 04:27:00 AM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

Well, Benjamin, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and Nutkin are from Beatrix Potter. I don't know about the reference to the mice or Henryson.

You really should read The Wind in the Willows! I read it recently after reading it as a child and enjoyed it very much. It's a quick read, and there's a great chapter in there about the experience of the Numinous. The animals in that story are the 'humans' too. Also, Lewis's boyhood story "Boxen" features animals that are human.

I'll bet he'd like Redwall--especially all the descriptions of the food. ;)

At Fri Jul 08, 12:04:00 PM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

I think if I lived in Redwall Abbey, I'd get really fat. :)

At Sat Jul 09, 04:37:00 PM EST, Blogger Ariel said...

A Lewis blog is an excellent idea. What do you make of the upcoming film?

At Sun Jul 10, 09:02:00 AM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

Hi Ariel, thanks for stopping by The Window. I'm excited about the upcoming movie--a lot of familiar faces from LOTR will be working on it. Hope they do a nice job!

At Sat Aug 06, 10:59:00 PM EST, Blogger Dagmar Leon said...

How do you interpret his reference to new Manichaeans in the last stanza?

At Wed Aug 10, 06:42:00 PM EST, Blogger Partly Dave said...

Manicheans were people who thought the physical world was evil. I think he must be saying that people who don't like animal stories are sort of like this. They're so lofty and platonic that they can't enjoy earthy tales like The Wind in the Willows or Beatrice Potter.

At Wed Aug 10, 06:47:00 PM EST, Blogger Partly Dave said...

Also, Arevanya I'd highly recommend The Wind in the Willows. It's a great book, the only book I know that records a meeting of Rat and Mole with Pan, the god of the animals. It expresses better than anything else what it must be like to meet God. And the book is just plain funny with the story of Mr. Toad and the liberation of Toad Hall.

At Wed Aug 10, 10:23:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

I loved it to on a recent re-read, much more than when I read it as a child! But I did sort of wish at the end that Toad would break out and remain his wild and crazy self. I was a little sad that Toad was tamed.

Thanks for defining Manichaeans, by the way. I've been remiss in checking comments lately.


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