by Randall F. West
To be sung to the tune of “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee.”
C. S. Lewis, we adore thee, archetypal Oxford don;
Of the type in garments tweedy, you, sir, are the paragon.
Though your countrymen may be puzzled,
Wond’ring “What is his appeal?”
With your pot of tea beside you, you embody something real.
With your reticence endearing and your charming modesty,
You’re a model, you’re a storehouse of marketability.
Cuddly Aslans? Cute keepsake Lucys?
Jackets frayed, with the elbows patched?
With a word to joyful salesmen, we could sell batch after batch.
All thy works with joy surprise us (joy divine, not Joy, the wife).
We may never quite define it, yet its pangs we recognize:
Northern longings, maidens in breastplates,
Perilous quests caused by a ring.
All because of little Bilbo — Hold on there! That’s Tolkien’s thing.
Did you know you’re now a movie, albeit it’s rather sad.
Your love life is seen by millions — Lewis, think of that. Egad!
Like a chisel whacking upon you
Suffering chips away your sin.
Hopkins proves that grief observed is much more fun than grief within.
As the ruin falls around us, pilgrims regress ev’rywhere
“Will we ever all have faces?” nations cry out in despair.
Yet we hear the happy chorus
Which your publishers began:
All his works are moving nicely, even Abolit. of Man!”
Though you may not rank with giants (You’re not Luther, nor Tolstoy),
Yet your words convey encounters, time and time again, with joy:
Father Christmas finally coming,
Voyaging to the world’s end.
These are pages of my life that I would like to read again.
First published in The Door, September/October 1994