Category Archives: Poetry

A Poem: Lewis at Poets’ Corner, 22 November 2013


Lewis at Poets' Corner coverOn the 22nd of November, 2013, the 50th anniversary of his death, C.S. Lewis was formally recognized as one of the great figures of English letters, with his Memorial in Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey placing him in the company of such literary stars as Shakespeare and Chaucer and Austen. I had the very great privilege of being present at the Memorial Service, and now I am delighted and honored to have my reflection on that day included in the book C.S. Lewis at Poets’ Corner – edited by Michael Ward, who masterminded the Memorial project from start to finish, and Peter S. Williams.

Poets' Corner invitation pictureIt’s a book that captures the glorious variety of the commemorative celebrations around the historic 50th anniversary of Lewis’s death – a fitting way to honor the genius of Lewis, who wrote in so many different genres and forms, and to continue his legacy as a scholar, apologist, and writer.

As I reflected on all these events, I found myself particularly recalling the joyful experience of hearing, at the Memorial Service, the very first performance of Paul Mealor’s setting of Lewis’s poem “Love’s as Warm as Tears” – a deeply moving composition for a beautiful poem.

When I remembered that November 22 is also the feast day of Saint Cecilia, patron of music, I turned to poetry to express something of the meaning of that day – and here is the result.


Lewis at Poets’ Corner, 22 November 2013

Noon, on Saint Cecilia’s day, and here

In England’s royal Abbey, I sit and watch

The sunlight streaming in, gold and clear

And pure, almost solid to the touch.

Nor is it fairy-gold; it does not fade,

For though that glorious beam of autumn light

Moved, and sank to twilight on that day,

In recollection it remains as bright.

In that golden light, the choir sings –

The notes resound in blood and bone, as if

I breathed the music in like air; it brings

Me to the point of tears, this gift

So unexpected, undeserved: a grace

To hold with joy through all my dying days.



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A Thanksgiving Sonnet

This sonnet came out of a delightful friendly competition – to write a Petrarchan sonnet on the theme of ‘Thanksgiving.’ As it happens, Malcolm Guite and I both ended up with references to Charles Williams in our sonnets! Here is Malcolm’s excellent sonnet – which also appears in his volume Sounding the Seasons, which you should buy straightaway if you haven’t yet – and here is mine:


I have no words of praise and thanks today

That would suffice to even make a start,

But only empty hands, a quiet heart,

A joyful debt that I cannot repay.

The dry and empty cup can truly say

The measure of its need; now not in part

But wholly filled with light and love, what art

Of song or verse can praise enough, this day?

O Morning Star! If any word is true,

It points to you, the end of all desire,

And draws its truth from you, the hidden place

That all will find who seek. This gift from you

I’ll praise with words you give: through dark and fire

I’ll sing and pray with coinherent grace.

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