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The Lewis Legacy-Issue 84, Spring 2000

Dungeon Gates Original Article

(This poem from Spirits in Bondage is about grace, and a precurser of “The Day with a White Mark.”)
So piteously the lonely soul of man
Shudders before this universal plan,

So grievous is the burden and the pain,
So heavy weighs the long, material chain

From cause to cause, too merciless for hate,
The nightmare march of unrelenting fate,

I think that he must die thereof unless
Ever and again across the dreariness

There came a sudden glimpse of spirit faces,
A fragrant breath to tell of flowery places

And wider oceans, breaking on the shore
From which the hearts of men are always sore.

It lies beyond endeavour; neither prayer
Nor fasting, nor much wisdom winneth there,

Seeing how many prophets and wise men
Have sought for it and still returned again

With hope undone. But only the strange power
Of unsought Beauty in some casual hour

Can build a bridge of light or sound or form
To lead you out of all this strife and storm;

When of some beauty we are grown a part
Till from its very glory’s midmost heart

Out leaps a sudden beam of larger light
Into our souls. All things are seen aright

Amid the blinding pillar of its gold,
Seven times more true than what for truth we hold

In vulgar hours. The miracle is done
And for one little moment we are one

With the eternal stream of loveliness
That flows so calm, aloft from all distress

Yet leaps and lives around us as a fire
Making us faint with overstrong desire

To sport and swim for ever in its deep —
Only a moment. O! but we shall keep

Our vision still. One moment was enough,
We know we are not made of mortal stuff.

And we can bear all trials that come after,
The hate of men and the fool’s loud bestial laughter