Wednesday, February 13, 2013

At Home in the South: C. S. Lewis

After reading Prof Lewis's Poems, it is not too difficult to imagine him being comfortable in the South (at least those portions not yet given over completely to the Yankee/New England/industrial way of living).  This likemindedness o' the twain is seen in his use of certain themes and subjects in his poems: e.g., classical culture, Christianity, the earth.  This latter theme stands out especially strongly in two of his poems.

From 'The Future of Forestry':

How will the legend of the age of trees
Feel, when the last tree falls in England?
When the concrete spreads and the town conquers
The country’s heart; when contraceptive
Tarmac’s laid where farm has faded,
Tramline flows where slept a hamlet,
And shop-fronts, blazing without a stop from
Dover to Wrath, have glazed us over?
Simplest tales will then bewilder
The questioning children, 'What was a chestnut?
Say what it means to climb a Beanstalk.
Tell me, grandfather, what an elm is.
What was Autumn? They never taught us.'

From 'Lines during a General Election':

If they had power ('amenities are bunk'), conceive
How their insatiate gadgetry by this would leave
No green, nor growth, nor quietude, no sap at all
In England from The Land's-End to the Roman Wall.
Think of their roads--broad as the road to Hell--by now
Murdering a million acres that demand the plough,
The thick-voiced Tannoy blaring over Arthur's grave,
And all our coasts one Camp till not the tiniest wave
Stole from the beach unburdened with its festal scum
Of cigarette-ends, orange-peel, and chewing gum.

(Lewis, C. S.  Poems.  Walter Hooper, ed.  San Diego: Harcourt, Inc., 1992, pgs. 61 & 62.)

One hears echoes of Bledsoe, Lytle, et al. in these lines.

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