20th May 1916 (II)

With the town which you espied,
Where it yet on earth shall be,
Built about you on each side,
The Republic's liberty ;

As you saw her, rising far
To the great design of man.
As you heard her to her war
Call by ban and arrière-ban ;

As your pledges you redeemed,
Serious and gay unthrift,
To the politic you schemed :
All magnificent in gift !

Only once, if aught awake
Still in you of death or pain,
For our loving's ancient sake,
O remember me again !

O courageous, new in power,
Heavened afar from earth and me,
In my own departing hour
Knit again our federacy ! 

May 20th 1915 (I)

Beating heart and climbing brain,
Roaming foot and searching tongue,
Get no more of loss or gain,
For the soul hath gone along.

Now of all fine things on earth,
Tales and tastes and towns to see.
Less of wealth hath less of worth
For our double poverty.

In a beggared lane we go.
Palsied of the better hand ;
Purposes none else can show
Are for ever hidden land.

O the songs we shall not sing !
O the deeds we shall not do !
O the robbed hours that shall bring
In your thought's place thought of you !

Now the past is robbed also ;
You, being gone from us and all.
With the ghostly years shall grow
Fainter and phantasmical.

And of us inconstant, you
Shall have like inconstant mind,
In so many ventures new
Slipping us you leave behind.
Charles Williams - Poems of Conformity (1915)

The Moon of the Tarots

Nancy found herself alone. The mist round her was thinning; she could see a clear darkness beyond. She had known one pang when she felt Henry's hands slip from around hers; then she had concentrated her will more entirely on doing whatever might be done to save whatever had to be saved from the storm, which now she no longer heard. But the fantastic mission on which she was apparently moving did not weigh upon her; her heart kept its lightness. There had come into her life with the mystery of the Tarots a new sense of delighted amazement; the Tarots themselves were not more marvellous than the ordinary people she had so long unintelligently known. By the slightest vibration of the light in which she saw the world she saw it all differently; holy and beautiful, if sometimes perplexing and bewildering, went the figures of her knowledge. They were all "posters of the sea and land", and she too, in a dance that was happy if it was frightening. Nothing was certain, but everything was safe--that was part of the mystery of Love. She was upon a mission, but whether she succeeded or not didn't matter. Nothing mattered beyond the full moment in which she could live to her utmost in the power and according to the laws of the dance. The dance of the Tarots, the dance of her blood, the dance of her mind, and whatever other measure it was in which Sybil Coningsby trod so high and disposed a movement. Hers couldn't be that yet, couldn't ever perhaps, but she could understand and answer it. Her father, Henry, Ralph, they were all stepping their parts, and she also--now, now, as the last shreds of the golden mist faded, and, throbbing and glad, she came into the dark stillness which awaited her.

Chapter 14
The Greater Trumps (1932)
Charles Williams

Lewis on Taliessin

Dec. 15th 1945:
“... I am (these last 6 months) immersed in a v. different poet who I think great – Charles Williams: the two volumes of his Arthurian poems Taliessin and The Region of the Summer Stars. Inexcusably difficult, as I always told him, but here there really is something behind the difficulty – that something wh. we all need most in literature at present & wh. I wd. call opaque splendour – thick, rich, solid, heavy – porphyry, gold diamond.”

CS Lewis ~ Collected Letters
(Both may be obtained via Amazon)
Taliesin [Taliessin]

Taliesin (c. 534 – c. 599) was a
British poet of the post-Roman period whose work has possibly survived in a Middle Welsh manuscript, the Book of Taliesin. Taliesin was a renowned bard who is believed to have sung at the courts of at least three Celtic British kings.

A maximum of eleven of the preserved poems have been dated to as early as the 6th century, and were ascribed to the historical Taliesin. The bulk of this work praises King
Urien of Rheged and his son Owain mab Urien, although several of the poems indicate that he also served as the court bard to King Brochfael Ysgithrog of Powys and his successor Cynan Garwyn, either before or during his time at Urien's court. Some of the events to which the poems refer, such as the Battle of Arfderydd (c. 583), are referred to in other sources.

His name, spelled as Taliessin in
Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King and in some subsequent works, means "shining brow" in Middle Welsh. In legend and medieval Welsh poetry, he is often referred to as Taliesin Ben Beirdd ("Taliesin, Chief of Bards" or chief of poets). He is mentioned as one of the five British poets of renown… in the Historia Brittonum, and is also mentioned in the collection of poems known as Y Gododdin. Taliesin was highly regarded in the mid-twelfth century as the supposed author of a great number of romantic legends.

Romantic Theology

Something must here be said to those who may ask ‘Who was Charles Williams?’ He had spent most of his life in the service of the Oxford University Press at Amen House, Warwick Square, London. He was a novelist, a poet, a dramatist, a biographer, a critic, and a theologian: a romantic theologian in the technical sense which he himself invented for those words. A romantic theologian does not mean one who is romantic about theology but one who is theological about romance, one who considers the theological implications of those experiences which are called romantic. The belief that the most serious and ecstatic experiences either of human love or of imaginative literature have such theological implications, and that they can be healthy and fruitful only if the implications are diligently thought out and severely lived, is the root principle of all his work. His relation to the modern literary current was thus thoroughly 'ambivalent'. He could be grouped with the counter-romantics in so far as he believed untheologized romanticism (like Plato's 'unexamined life') to be sterile and mythological. On the other hand, he could be treated as the head of the resistance against the moderns in so far as he believed the romanticism which they were rejecting as senile to be really immature, and looked for a coming of age where they were huddling up a hasty and not very generous funeral. He will not fit into a pigeon-hole.

The fullest and most brilliant expression of his outlook is to be found in his mature poetry, and especially in Taliessin through Logres and The Region of the Summer Stars. As I have in preparation a much longer study of these works, I must here content myself with saying that they seem to me, both for the soaring and gorgeous novelty of their technique and for their profound wisdom, to be among the two or three most valuable books of verse produced in the (20th) century.

C.S. Lewis ~ From the Preface to:
“Essays Presented to Charles Williams” (OUP 1947)

Jeeves, by Charles Williams

Barbara stretched out her hands, and Lionel pulled her to her feet.

"I just want to shimmer up, like Jeeves, not walk," she said.

"Do you like Jeeves, Mr. Persimmons?"

"Jeeves?" Gregory asked.

"I don't think I know it or him or them."

"Oh, you must," Barbara cried. "When I get back to London I'll send you a set."

"It's a book, or a man in a book," Lionel interrupted. "Barbara adores it."
"Well, so do you," Barbara said. "You always snigger when you read him."

"That is the weakness of the flesh," Lionel said. "One whouldn't snigger over Jeeves any more than one should snivel over Othello. Perfect art is beyond these easy emotions. I think Jeeves -- the whole book, preferably with the illustrations -- one of the final classic perfections of our time. It attains absolute being. Jeeves and his employer are one and yet diverse. It is the Don Quixote of the twentieth century."

"I must certainly read it," Gregory said, laughing. "Tell me more about it while we have tea."

"War In Heaven (Eerdmans 1978), page 157-8