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Poems Paperback – Deckle Edge, February 14, 2017
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From the Back Cover
While Lewis is often known for his beloved fiction and philosophical nonfiction, he was also an accomplished poet. This collection exemplifies the breadth of his poetic talents as well as his search for God and understanding the mysteries of the world. As the New York Times Book Review observed, these works "reiterate themes known to have occupied Lewis's ingenious and provocative mind." From God to love to unicorns, Poems reveals Lewis's extensive imagination and wonder.
About the Author
Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954, when he was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics The Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and have been transformed into three major motion pictures.
Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) fue uno de los intelectuales más importantes del siglo veinte y podría decirse que fue el escritor cristiano más influyente de su tiempo. Fue profesor particular de literatura inglesa y miembro de la junta de gobierno en la Universidad Oxford hasta 1954, cuando fue nombrado profesor de literatura medieval y renacentista en la Universidad Cambridge, cargo que desempeñó hasta que se jubiló. Sus contribuciones a la crítica literaria, literatura infantil, literatura fantástica y teología popular le trajeron fama y aclamación a nivel internacional. C. S. Lewis escribió más de treinta libros, lo cual le permitió alcanzar una enorme audiencia, y sus obras aún atraen a miles de nuevos lectores cada año. Sus más distinguidas y populares obras incluyen Las Crónicas de Narnia, Los Cuatro Amores, Cartas del Diablo a Su Sobrino y Mero Cristianismo.
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In fact, poetry was his first love. It was his ambition to become a poet, a great poet.
In 1964, the year after Lewis died, many his poems were assembled by Walter Hooper, his literary executor. Into a volume entitled, appropriately enough, “Poems.” It was reprinted in 1992 and again in 2002, and is still available in paperback (and ebook).
What “Poems” includes is largely formal poetry, with rhyme and meter and formal structure. It is poetry that includes both human and divine themes, pagan and Christian stories, natural and created imagery. It is what we know as traditional poetry, and it is good traditional poetry.
Old Poets Remembered
One happier look on your kind, suffering face,
And all my sky is domed with cloudless blue;
Eternal summer in a moment’s space
Breathes with sweet air and glows and warms me through.
One droop of your dear mouth, one tear of yours,
One gasp of Faith half-strangled by its foe,
And down through a waste world of slag and sewers
And hammering and louds wheels once more I go.
This, whty old poets told me about love
(Tristam’s obedience, Isoud’s sovereignty…)
Turns true in a dreamed mode I dreamed not of,
--What once I studied, now I learn to be;
Taught, oh how late! in anguish, the response
I might have made with exultation once.
Lewis writes of a wide range of topics and themes: gnomes, planets, aging, a wedding, biblical characters like Adam and Solomon, evolution, Aristotle, the atomic bomb, mythical creatures like dragons, the nativity, prayer, love, desire, and more. He even has a poem on Narnia and science fiction. One of the most poignant poems in the collection is “To Charles Williams,” written shortly after the fellow Inkling’s death in 1945,
The poems were also not something hidden or unpublished during Lewis’s lifetime. In an appendix, Hooper lists the various places where the poems were first published, including the Cambridge Review, Oxford Magazine, the Times Literary Supplement, the Spectator, Punch, and others.
“Poems” will likely be never as popular as his other writings, but they do add a dimension to understanding the man, his thought, and his work.
As other reviewers have noticed, Lewis's poetry is more metered and traditional than many of his contemporaries, including those more famous works by T.S. Eliot (a line from whose "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" Lewis wryly -- and famously -- comments upon, in the first poem in this collection); but as a fan of both T.S. Eliot and C.S. Lewis I can suggest that the two are really not very different; both were unique Christian writers, and both have written likable and memorable works -- including their verse -- and both have their strengths and weaknesses; C.S. Lewis, I would suggest, is the better essayist of the two, whereas Eliot's poetry might be slightly better in some ways than Lewis's. And yet Lewis's conclusions, in his works, are often more optimistic and Biblically "Christian" than Eliot's. But these are my own personal opinions.