Saturday, January 26, 2008

Till We Have Faces

The complaint was the answer. To have heard myself making it was to be answered. Lightly men talk of saying what they mean. Often when he was teaching me to write in Greek the Fox would say, "Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that's the whole art and joy of words." A glib saying. When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you'll not talk about joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?
~C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces (1956)

Lord, hear my voice, my present voice I mean,
Not that which may be speaking an hour hence
(For I am Legion) in an opposite sense,
And not by show of hands decide between
The multiple factions which my state has seen
Or will see. Condescend to the pretence
That what speaks now is I; in its defence
Dissolve my parliament and intervene.

Thou wilt not, though we asked it, quite recall
Free will once given. Yet to this moment's choice
Give unfair weight. Hold me to this. Oh strain
A point - use legal fictions; for if all
My quarrelling selves must bear an equal voice,
Farewell, thou has created me in vain.
~C.S. Lewis, "Legion", Poems (1964), (1st published in The Month, April 1955)

3 Comment(s):

At Sun Jan 27, 04:24:00 AM EST, Blogger Martin LaBar said...

Thanks! Great combination.

At Sun Jan 27, 05:15:00 PM EST, Blogger cecholst said...

TWHF is a brilliant, brilliant book. I wish that this were the book Lewis was remembered by, not Narnia or his religious writing. I think that TWHF is too often ignored and dismissed, but it really was his best work, not least because its meaning is so universal (except for the very end, which I wish hadn't existed. Orual and Psyche meeting Amor/Jesus put a sour taste in my mouth). Afterall, how can we hope to address God, or any higher power, if we don't know how to address the power within ourselves?

At Tue Jan 29, 09:35:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

Sandi and Martin--

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate hearing from you and your thoughts on the posts. :)


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