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CS Lewis Added To Poet’s Corner

Author of the Chronicles of Narnia receives long-overdue honor.

Sarah Hoyt


November 24, 2013 - 7:00 am


As the Telegraph explains it, Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey is a curious place:

Horace Walpole spoke of its tombs in “crouds and clusters” and, indeed, dates and names have been cut on to most inches of Westminster Abbey. But the epitaphs are nowhere more crowded than in the Abbey’s South Transept – a place long since renamed Poets’ Corner. Here are buried, or commemorated, Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Dryden and Dickens – and quite a few others who have stood time’s test less well. CS Lewis, on the 50th anniversary of his death, will become the latest to join this literary “croud” this month. His little plaque, wedged between Betjeman and Blake, is to be unveiled on November 22.

Although it is a high honour for a writer to be commemorated at Poets’ Corner, there is an endearingly undignified genius to the place. The pavement is such a dense patchwork of tombstones that you can imagine, a little below, the great writers’ skeletons tucked up together in a small dormitory.

The truth is sometimes less stately even than that: the spendthrift playwright Ben Jonson couldn’t afford a full grave, and so was buried standing up (to save space) in a less desirable bit of the nave. His thigh bones twice came to light by accident in the 19th century: so much for eternal repose.

Apparently some people dispute CS Lewis’ right to be added to it, but let’s for the moment forget whether or not his two books of poetry merit it. I’d say that his Chronicles of Narnia are poetry. Even The Telegraph describes them as:

Now children’s classics, these limpidly written adventure novels wrangle with the most complex theological ideas. Christianity is reimagined in a parallel world: God in manifest form is a lion called Aslan, neither safe nor tame. By rinsing out the familiarities of liturgy and organised religion, CS Lewis throws into relief what he considers essential – sacrifice and belief, among other things. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the lion allows himself to be killed for the good of all, and is then reborn. In The Silver Chair, when Aslan’s existence falls most under doubt, a stubbornly loyal Narnian makes this case for belief without proof: “Suppose there isn’t an Aslan. All I can say is, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones.”

And if poetry is not the ability to capture in images and narrative feelings that are otherwise rationally indescribable, I don’t know what poetry is.

In fact, as a fellow writer of the fantastic (if hardly in the same league) I can tell you that fantasy itself is an attempt to capture the otherwise indescribable, an attempt to look out of Plato’s cave, for the true reality it’s not given to mere humans to know. And that, in the end, is also poetry.

Welcome to Poet’s Corner, CS Lewis.  It’s a well deserved honor.

Sarah Hoyt lives in Colorado with her husband, two sons and too many cats. She has published Darkship Thieves and 16 other novels, and over 100 short stories. Writing non-fiction is a new, daunting endeavor. For more on Sarah and samples of her writing, look around at Sarah A. or check out her writing and life blog at According to

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C.S. Lewis was not only a great writer of thoughtful books on Christianity and children’s fantasy, he also was a keen political thinker and writer.

"Democracy is the word with which you must lead them by the nose… You are to use the word purely as an incantation; if you like, purely for its selling power. It is a name they venerate. And of course it is connected with the political ideal that men should be equally treated [equal rights to life, liberty and creative pursuit of happiness - secured by equality before law]. You then make a stealthy transition in their minds from this political ideal to a factual belief that all men are equal [in outcome by force – regardless of creativity and labor]… The claim to equality, outside the strictly political field, is made only by those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior [non-laboring, tax-eating proletariat class led by intellectuals]. What it expresses is precisely the itching, smarting, writhing awareness of an inferiority which the patient refuses to accept; and therefore resents. Yes, and therefore resents every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it; wishes its annihilation. Presently he suspects every mere difference of being a claim to superiority. No one must be different from himself in voice, clothes, manners, recreations, choice of food… They’ve no business to be different. It’s undemocratic… Under the name of Envy it has been known to humans for thousands of years. But hitherto they always regarded it as the most odious, and also the most comical, of vices. Those who were aware of feeling it felt it with shame; those who were not gave it no quarter in others. The delightful novelty of the present situation is that you can sanction it — make it respectable and even laudable — by the incantatory use of the word democratic… Under the influence of this incantation those who are in any or every way inferior can labour more wholeheartedly and successfully than ever before to pull down everyone else to their own level. But that is not all. Under the same influence, those who come, or could come, nearer to a full humanity, actually draw back from fear of being undemocratic… They might (horror of horrors!) become individuals." C.S. Lewis – Screwtape Proposes a Toast

“The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all other proletarian parties: Formation of the proletariat [labor-challenged government-dependents] into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois [laboring middle class] supremacy, conquest of political power… We have seen above that the first step in the revolution by the [non] working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class to win the battle of democracy.” Karl Marx - Communist Manifesto

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1 year ago
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"And if poetry is not the ability to capture in images and narrative feelings that are otherwise rationally indescribable, I don’t know what poetry is."

Oh yeah? I'll tell you what poetry isn't...prose chopped up into irregular lines. Billy Collins NO. Wallace Stevens SI.
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