CS Lewis Web
The Lewis Legacy-Issue 72, Spring 1997
A Comparison of C.S. Lewis's Poem "The End of the Wine" as it Originally Appeared and as Edited by Walter Hooper
By: Kathryn Lindskoog
The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing
March 1, 1997

NOTE: In PUBLISHED VERSION OF LEGACY the even numbered lines were indented two spaces, they are not indented here due to HTML format.



THE END OF THE WINE
Punch, 3 December 1947

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July 1964

1. You think if we sigh as we drink the last decanter

2. We're sensual topers, and thence you are ready to prose

3. And read your lecture. But need you? Why should you banter

4. Or badger us? Better imagine it thus: We'll suppose


5. A man to have come from Atlantis eastward sailing--

6. Lemuria has fallen in the fury of a tidal wave;

7. The cities are fallen; the pitiless, all prevaling,

8. Inhuman ocean is Numinor's salt grave.


9. To Europe he comes from Lemuria, saved from the wreck

10. Of the gilded, loftily builded, countless fleet

11. With the violet sails. A phial hangs from his neck,

12. Holding the last of a golden cordial, subtle and sweet.


13. Untamed is Europe, untamed--a wet desolation,

14. Unwelcoming woods of the elk, of the mamoth and bear,

15. The fen and the forest. The men of a barbarous nation,

16. On the sand in a circle are standing, await him there.


17. Horribly ridged are their foreheads. Weapons of stone,

18. Unhandy and blunt, they brandish in their clumsy grips.

19. Their females set up a screaming, their pipes drone,

20. They gaze and mutter. He raises his flask to his lips.


21. And it brings to his mind the strings, the flutes, the tabors,

22. How he drank with the poets at the banquet, robed and crowned;

23. He recalls the pillared halls carved with the labours

24. Of curious masters (Lemuria's cities lie drowned),


25. The festal nights, when each jest that flashed for a second,

26. Light as a bubble, was bright with a thousand years

27. Of nurture--the honour and the grace unreckoned

28. That sat like a robe on the Atlantean peers.


29. It has made him remember ladies and the proud glances,

30. Their luminous glances in Numinor and the braided hair,

31. The ruses and mockings, the music and the grave dances

32. (Where musicians played, the huge fishes goggle and stare).


33. So he sighs, like us; then rises and turns to meet

34. Those naked men. Will they make him their spoil and prey?

35. Or salute him as god and brutally fawn at his feet?

36. And which would be worse? He pitches the phial away.


NOTE: In PUBLISHED VERSION OF LEGACY the even numbered lines were indented two spaces, they are not indented here due to HTML format.

Poems edited by Walter Hooper, 1964, pp. 40-41

Collected Poems, edited by Walter Hooper, 1994, pp.54-55




THE LAST OF THE WINE
1. You think if we sigh, drinking the last decanter,

2. We're sensual topers, and thence you are ready to prose

3. And read your lecture. Need you? Why should you banter

4. Or badger us? Better imagine it thus: We'll suppose


5. A man to have come from Atlantis eastward sailing--

6. Lemuria has fallen in the fury of a tidal wave;

7. The cities are drowned; the pitiless, all-prevaling,

8. Inhuman sea is Numinor's salt grave.


9. To Europe he comes from Lemuria, saved from the wreck

10. Of the gilded, loftily builded, countless fleet

11. With the violet sails. A phial hangs from his neck,

12. Holding the last of a golden cordial, subtle and sweet.


13. Unnamed is Europe, untamed--a wet desolation,

14. Unwelcoming woods of the elk, the mamoth and the bear,

15. The fen and the forest. Men of a barbarous nation,

16. On the sand in a circle are standing await him there.


17. Horribly ridged are their foreheads. Weapons of bone,

18. Unhandy and blunt, they brandish in their clumsy grips.

19. Their females set up a screaming, their bagpipes drone,

20. They gaze and mumble. He raises the flask to his lips.


21. It brings to his mind the strings, the flutes, the tabors,

22. How he drank with the poets at the banquet, robed and crowned,

23. He recalls the pillared halls carved with the labours

24. Of curious masters, (Lemuria's cities lie drowned),


25. The festal nights; the jest that flashed for a second,

26. Light as a bubble, bright with a thousand years

27. Of nurture--the honour and virtue unreckoned

28. That sat like a robe on the Atlantean peers.


29. It has made him remember ladies, proud glances,

30. Fearless and peerless beauty, flower-like hair,

31. Ruses and mockery, the music of grave dances

32. (Where musicians played huge fishes goggle and stare).


33. So he sighs, like us; then rises and turns to meet

34. Those naked men. Will they make him their spoil and prey?

35. Or salute him as god and brutally fawn at his feet?

36. And which would be worse? He pitches the phial away.


Notes About Walter Hooper's Version

by Kathryn Lindskoog



In this version of the poem, 22 of the 36 original lines have been changed. Many of the changes are trivial, but some seem highly problematic. The switch in the title from "end" to "last" seems as inconsequentialas a minor copying error. But because this is the first word after the first article, the alphabetical problems may someday perplex indexers and readers.

Line 1: "[I]f we sigh as we drink" was more smooth and clear than "[If] we sigh, drinking." The latter construction slows the flow of the opening sentence.

Line 3: The omission of the transitional "But" makes the question less conversational.

Line 7: Replacement of "fallen" with "drowned"(the word Lewis chose in line 24) decreases Lewis's emphasis upon violencein the second stanza. Introduction of a hyphen between "all" and"prevailing" seems inconsequential.

Line 8: Replacement of "ocean" with "sea"eliminates some assonance (with Numinor) and perhaps decreases euphony.

Line 13: Replacement of "Untamed" with "Unnamed"invites historical and geographic speculation. (Eruption of Santorini volcano circa 1500 BC destroyed the Minoan civilization on Crete and is now generally accepted as the historical fact behind the "myth" of Atlantis, but Lewis died before that discovery.)

Line 14: Replacement of "woods of the elk, of the mammoth and bear" with "woods of the elk, the mammoth and the bear"spoils the cadence.

Line 15: Omission of "The" before "men" destroys the internal rhyme and the cadence of "The fen and the forest. The men..."

Line 16: Omission of the comma before "await" is perhaps accidental.

Line 17: This is probably the most peculiar change in the entire poem. Lewis clearly described paleolithic savages, and here they are switched to pre-Neanderthals, too primitive to use stones as weapons.

Line 18: "Pipes" is changed to "bagpipes."How could men too primitive to use crude stone weapons produce and play bagpipes?

Line 20: "Mutter" was far more appropriate than "mumble,"because it expresses hostility rather than poor enunciation. "[His] flask to his lips" was more felicitous than the revision "the flask to his lips."

Line 21: Omission of "and" slows the flow.

Line 22: Replacement of colon with comma is inconsequential.

Line 24: The comma before the parenthetical phrase is wrong.

Line 25: Replacement of "festal nights, when each jest flashed" with "festal nights: the jest flashed" eliminated an appropriate descriptive clause and the image of abundant jests.

Line 26: Omission of "was" eliminates a good, clear clause.

Line 27: Interjection of "virtue" extends the line.

Line 29: Replacement of "remember ladies and the proud glances" with "remember ladies, proud glances" decreases the flow.

Line 30: This line has been completely replaced with a new one that eliminates the haunting phrase "luminous glances in Numinor," which had completed the previous line. Lewis's "braids" has been replaced by vague "flower-like hair," which seems to eliminate the emphasis on formal fashion.

Line 31: Replacement of "mockings" with "mockery" changes the tone from high-spirited raillery to spite. Changing "the music and the grave dances" to "the music of grave dances" eliminates musical performance in its own right.

Line 32: Omission of "the" before "huge fishes" seems to smooth the line.

Line 34: Omission of the question mark reduces emphasis on the question.

In conclusion, over half the line have been altered in this version. Most of the changes are minor and uncalled for, but some seem downright unfortunate. The fifth and eighth stanzas are perhaps the most damaged.