Bors to Elyane: on the King's Coins

Over the next week or so we will have the opportunity of reading excerpts from Charles Williams "Bors to Elayne: on the King's Coins", one of the more accessible poems in TALIESSIN THROUGH LOGRES. On the surface about coinage, but at a much deeper level a vehicle for Williams to explore co-inherence... or as he has it here: The means of exchange.

The king has set up his mint by Thames.
He has struck coins; his dragon's loins
germinate a crowded creaturely brood
to scuttle and scurry between towns and towns,
to furnish dishes and flagons with change of food;
small crowns, small dragons, hurry to the markets
under the king's smile, or flat in houses squat.
The long file of their snout crosses the empire,
and the other themes acknowledge our king's head.
They carry on their backs little packs of value,
caravans; but I dreamed the head of a dead king
was carried on all, that they teemed on house-roofs
where men stared and studied them as I your thumbs' epigrams,
hearing the City say Feed my lambs
to you and the king; the king can tame dragons to carriers,
but I came through the night, and saw the dragonlets' eyes
leer and peer, and the house-roofs under their weight
creak and break; shadows of great forms
halloed them on, and followed over falling towns.
I saw that this was the true end of our making;
mother of children, redeem the new law.
 Posted by Hello

Oxford Crematorium

In Oxford Crematorium, just outside one of the chapels there is a small plaque on the wall. It was placed there at the behest of C.S. Lewis following the death of his beloved wife Joy Davidman. It reads: "Remember Helen Joy Davidman (loved wife of C. S. Lewis). Here the whole world (stars, water, air and field, and forest, as they were reflected in a single mind) like cast off clothes was left behind in ashes, yet with hope that she, reborn from Holy poverty, in Lenten lands, hereafter may Resume them on her Easter Day."  Posted by Hello

The Baby and the Bird

Old Rome had many taverns
Devoted to the vine,
Where Ovid pledged each new love
In red Falernian wine;
Catullus, shamed by Lesbia,
Poured out his grief in verse;
Apuleus noted follies,
And pondered which was worse.

But the place that draws me ever
When my fancy's running wild,
Is a little pub in Oxford
Called The Eagle and the Child,
The Eagle and the Child, oh,
Or else, as I have heard
Its regulars all called it--
The Baby and the Bird!

The company was lively
In Soutwark's Tabard Inn,
When Chaucer and the Pilgrims
Were telling tales within,
And on the Canterbury road
They took that April day,
And at the other hostels
Where they stayed upon their way.


When Villon, gutter-poet,
Reeled through the Paris night,
Drunk on verse and hypocras
And looking for a fight,
The Pomme de Pin, the Cheval Blanc
All welcomed him, and more,
With wine at every table
And doxies at each door.


Of all the City's taverns,
When Bess was England's Queen,
The Mermaid, undisputed, ruled
The literary scene.
Each Global play was played again
And christened in brown ale,
Whde Shakespeare, or Ben Jonson,
Stood up to tell the tale.


Augustan wits made merry
At London's Cheshire Cheese--
The topic was no matter,
So that the manner please--
Be it Love or Politicks,
'Twas scandalous, I've heard,
And Johnson had his Boswell
To write down every word.

(REFRAIN) Asking,

They sing of famous taverns,
But considering them all,
The one where I had rather
Been a fly upon the wall,
Would be the Inn where Tolkien,
Lewis, Williams too,
Met with the other Inklings
Asking, "Who has something new?"

(Diana L Paxson)

Diana L. Paxson, long-time active in ‘The Mythopoeic Society’, and in ‘The Society for Creative Anachronism’, is the author of many novels, including The White Raven, The "Fionn MacCumhal trilogy, and a trilogy on the Siegfried legend, the most recent volume of which, The Lord of Horses, has been published recently.

When I'm in Oxford I often go there for lunch - they do a decent pub lunch. The Eagle & The Child is on the west side of the Woodstock Road just as the Banbury Road is forking off of it, about 1/2 mile north of the city centre. They have a lovely display of photos of the Inklings, and the lyrics to "The Baby and The Bird".
 Posted by Hello

The man born to be King

"For whatever reason God chose to make man as he is - limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death -- he had the honesty and courage to take his own medicine. Whatever game he is playing with his creation, he has kept his own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that he has not exacted from himself. He has himself gone through the whole human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death. When he was a man, he played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worthwhile."

"The Man born to be king" - Dorothy L. Sayers

Like her friends C.S. Lewis, T.S. Eliot, and Charles Williams, Sayers was a brilliant Christian thinker... who took doctrine seriously and bristled at the growth of "fads, schisms, heresies, and anti-Christ" within the Church of England. Just how satisfying Christianity was for her became clear in 1938 when she wrote a Sunday editorial for the Times: "The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man...and the dogma is the drama."

"The man born to be king" a radio drama in six parts first broadcast in 1943 was instigated as a direct result of encouragement from Jack Lewis. Posted by Hello

An Inklings meeting...

"I can see the room so clearly now, the electric fire pumping heat into the dank air, the faded screen that broke some of the keener draughts, the enamel beer-jug on the table, the well-worn sofa and armchairs, and the men drifting in... leaving overcoats and hats in any corner and coming over to warm their hands before finding a chair. There was no fixed etiquette, but the rudimentary honours would be done partly by Lewis and partly by his brother... Sometimes, when the less vital members of the circle were in a big majority the evening would fall flat; but the best of them were as good as anything I shall live to see."

Sprightly Running (John Wain)

It was in this setting that, along with from lively talk about many things, and without an iota of self-consciouness about securing a place in history, Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, C.S.Lewis's The Problem of Pain, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, Charles Williams's All Hallow's Eve, and Warnie Lewis's The Splendid Century were - along with other works by other members - read and discussed. Those of us who did not enjoy the privilege of being there can at least imagine what it must have been like to read one's own work to such a friendly but formidable jury.
 Posted by Hello

The divided nature of evil

Morgoth might have been the most powerful being on Arda, but from all the battles and dark creations he forged (Carcharoth, the dragons, raising mountains, bearing the Simarils for centuries and losing his foot, etc.) his vitality and inherent power was being drained (this being illustrated in the forms Morgoth could or could not form for himself).

Sauron and the other captains of Angband were commanded by Morgoth, but he (Sauron) would eventually (in some distant future) have tried to supplant Morgoth as his strength was depleted (that is to say only if the War of Wrath never occurred).

Tolkien presents the forces of evil as continually in competition with each other, because they are essentially selfish. They co-operate only for some immediate advantage. So the orcs make a show of good fellowship, now and then, but fight each other at any time, and keep on dividing into smaller and smaller factions. Saruman will stab Sauron in the back any time, and Wormtongue will do the same for Saruman. So it is in the nature of things that Sauron would make a grab for supreme power if he thought he could get away with it.

In C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, addressed by a senior devil to a junior one, as uncle to nephew, they seem very friendly. But what the nephew wants is to betray his uncle so he can get his job, and what Screwtape actually wants is his nephew -- or at least a piece of him. That's friendship down there in the Lowerarchy, and I think Sauron and Morgoth would be the same.

(Tom Shippey) Posted by Hello

Birth of Elanor the Fair, daughter of Samwise

......"Time went on, and 1421 came in. Frodo was ill again in March, but with a great effort he concealed it, for Sam had other things to think about. The first of Sam and Rosie's children was born on the twenty-fifth of March, a date that Sam noted.

......'Well, Mr. Frodo,' he said. 'I'm in a bit of a fix. Rose and me had settled to call him Frodo, with your leave; but it's not him, it's her. Though as pretty a maidchild as any one could hope for, taking after Rose more than me, luckily. So we don't know what to do.'

......'Well, Sam,' said Frodo, 'what's wrong with the old customs? Choose a flower name like Rose. Half the maidchildren in the Shire are called by such names, and what could be better?'

......'I suppose you're right, Mr. Frodo,' said Sam. 'I've heard some beautiful names on my travels, but I suppose they're a bit too grand for daily wear and tear, as you might say. The Gaffer, he says: "Make it short, and then you won't have to cut it short before you can use it." But if it's to be a flower-name, then I don't trouble about the length: it must be a beautiful flower, because, you see, I think she is very beautiful, and is going to be beautifuller still.'

......Frodo thought for a moment. 'Well, Sam, what about elanor, the sun-star, you remember the little golden flower in the grass of Lothlórien?'

......'You're right again, Mr. Frodo!' said Sam delighted. 'That's what I wanted.'

(from the appendices - LOTR)

Posted by Hello

His Greatest Secret

I know myself what others know far better -- how unfailingly courteous Lewis was in answering letters. I think I corresponded with him on three or four occasions...But there was a reply every time -- it might be quite brief, but it was always written for you and for nobody else.

I think this was his greatest secret. He hated casual contacts; human contact must, for him, be serious and concentrated and attentive, or it was better avoided. It might be for a moment only, but that was its invariable quality.

That is not only why so many people have precious memories of him; it is also why he couldn't write three words without the reader's feeling that they were written for him and him alone. It's why his massive books of scholarship read as delightfully as his children's stories, and why he's one of the few preachers who can be read without losing their message."

Erik Routley: C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table and Other Reminiscences
 Posted by Hello