The Strange Music

Other loves may sink and settle, other loves may loose and slack, 
But I wander like a minstrel with a harp upon my back, 
Though the harp be on my bosom, though I finger and I fret, 
Still, my hope is all before me; for I cannot play it yet. 

In your strings is hid a music that no hand hath e’er let fall, 
In your soul is sealed a pleasure that you have not known at all; 
Pleasure subtle as your spirit, strange and slender as your frame, 
Fiercer than the pain that folds you, softer than your sorrow’s name. 

Not as mine, my soul’s annointed, not as mine the rude and light 
Easy mirth of many faces, swaggering pride of song and fight; 
Something stranger, something sweeter, something waiting you afar, 
Secret as your stricken senses, magic as your sorrows are. 

But on this, God’s harp supernal, stretched but to be stricken once, 
Hoary time is a beginner, Life a bungler, Death a dunce. 
But I will not fear to match them – no by God, I will not fear, 
I will learn you, I will play you and the stars stand still to hear.

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The FreebornMind

“I believe a man is happier, and happy in a richer way, if he has ‘the freeborn mind.’ But I doubt whether he can have this without economic independence, which the new society is abolishing. For economic independence allows an education not controlled by Government; and in adult life it is the man who needs, and asks, nothing of Government who can criticize its acts and snap his fingers at its ideology. Read Montaigne; that’s the voice of a man with his legs under his own table, eating the mutton and turnips raised on his own land. Who will talk like that when the State is everyone’s schoolmaster and employer? Admittedly, when man was untamed, such liberty belonged only to the few. I know. Hence the horrible suspicion that our only choice is between societies with few freemen and societies with none.”

— C.S. Lewis, “Is Progress Possible? Willing Slaves of the Welfare State” (published in the Observer, 1958)

Everything Twice

One used to be told as a child “Think what you’re saying.” Apparently we need also to be told “Think what you’re thinking.” The stakes have to be raised before we take the game quite seriously. I know this is the opposite of what is often said about the necessity of keeping all emotion out of our intellectual processes – “You can’t think straight unless you’re cool.” But then neither can you think deep if you are. I suppose one must try every problem in both states. You remember that the ancient Persians debated everything twice; once when they were drunk and once when they were sober.

– CS Lewis

The Good Infection

Good things as well as bad, you know, are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prize which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very centre of reality. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you: if you are not, you will remain dry. Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever?

– CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

Marvels

“The essential rectitude of our view of children lies in the fact that we feel them and their ways to be supernatural while, for some mysterious reason, we do not feel ourselves or our own ways to be supernatural. The very smallness of children makes it possible to regard them as marvels; we seem to be dealing with a new race, only to be seen through a microscope. I doubt if anyone of any tenderness or imagination can see the hand of a child and not be a little frightened of it. It is awful to think of the essential human energy moving so tiny a thing; it is like imagining that human nature could live in the wing of a butterfly or the leaf of a tree. When we look upon lives so human and yet so small, we feel as if we ourselves were enlarged to an embarrassing bigness of stature. We feel the same kind of obligation to these creatures that a deity might feel if he had created something that he could not understand.”

~G.K. Chesterton: “A Defence of Baby Worship.”

A Road Out of the Self

“I thus understood that in deepest solitude there is a road right out of the self, a commerce with something which, by refusing to identify itself with any object of the senses, or anything whereof we have biological or social need, or anything imagined, or any state of our own minds, proclaims itself sheerly objective. Far more objective than bodies, for it is not, like them, clothed in our senses; the naked Other, imageless (though our imagination salutes it with a hundred images), unknown, undefined, desired.”

– CS Lewis, Surprised by Joy

The Longing

The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.

–CS Lewis, Till We Have Faces