Friday, July 09, 2004


I have been driven back to C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces lately. This is a book that I only understand in its parts, but its whole is too much for me. It sets me yearning for I know not what. I think this is what Emily was referring to when she said, “If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?” (As related to Thomas Wentworth Higgons, August 20, 1870)

Anyway, all that to share a piece of the greatest writing Lewis ever produced. A truly literary work.

I say the gods deal very unrightly with us. For they will neither (which would be the best of all) go away and leave us to live out our short days to ourselves, nor will they show themselves openly and tell us what they would have us do. For that too would be endurable. But to hint and hover, to draw near us in dreams and oracles, or in a waking vision that vanishes as soon as seen, to be dead silent when we question them and then glide back and whisper (words we cannot understand) in our ears when we most want to be free of them, and to show to one what they hide from another; what is all this but cat-and-mouse play, blindman’s bluff, and mere jugglery? Why must holy places be dark places?

I say therefore, that there is no creature so noxious to man as the gods.

Till We Have Faces, CS Lewis


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