C.S. Lewis knew poetry and wrote it well. Did you know that C.S. Lewis only just missed being a professor of poetry at Oxford in 1951? Cecil Day Lewis (or C. Day Lewis, the name he wrote under), father of the actor Daniel Day Lewis, beat him out for the post.
There’s a collection of Lewis’s narrative poems as well as his other poems. Both are worth reading, though the latter is more assessable and not tied to classical literature.
If you didn’t know Lewis was a formidable poet, you likely know that he was an apologist or defender of Christianity. From Mere Christianity and The Abolition of Man to The Great Divorce and Narnia, Lewis demonstrates the Truth that is making him, not the truth he has simply made up. He’s confident and steadfast, standing in the power of the Gospel that envelopes him. It’s a position we should take: An apologist for the Gospel.
But, Lewis knew that the Gospel was not about him or his we crafted arguments or stories. It’s about God and his work. In a poem on continue to return to, Lewis the poet and Lewis the apologist meet. I hope it will greet you with humility, as it does me every time I read it.
From all my lame defeats and oh! much more
From all the victories that I seemed to score;
From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf
At which, while angels weep, the audience laugh;
From all my proofs of Thy divinity,
Thou, who wouldst give no sign, deliver me.
Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust, instead
Of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.
From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee,
O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free.
Lord of the narrow gate and the needle’s eye,
Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.