The Very Last Poem Lewis Agreed to Publish

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 72, Spring 1997 The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

In the D. L. Scudders bookstore in Fresno, CA, Mr. Scudders offered Lewis buff David Baumann a copy of the July 1964 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. On pp. 74-75 the editors published a Lewis poem prefaced by the following significant tribute.

C. S. Lewis wrote a wide and rich variety of books — the well-known Screwtape Letters (Macmillan), Surprised by Joy (Harcourt), The Case for Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, Voyage of the Dawn Treader (all Macmillan), the Narnia series of juvenile fantasies and many others. His stories in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction included THE SHODDY LANDS (Feb. 1956) and MINISTERING ANGELS (Jan. 1958). Professor Lewis’s poem, “The Last [sic] of the Wine,” so impressed Poul Anderson that he committed it to memory. His quotations from it so impressed Mr. Edward Meskys, a New York scientist now living in California, that he wrote the author and obtained permission to reprint it in his amateur SF magazine, Niekas; and it was there that we first saw it. Professor Lewis’s letter, granting permission, concluded, “I’d write more if I were not rather ill.” At the time he wrote this he was in process of resigning both the professorship of medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge and his fellowship at Magdalen College, Oxford; and the following month, on November 22, 1963, he died. This beautiful poem is, therefore, alas and indeed, literally, THE END OF THE WINE.

To read this poem as Lewis meant it to be published in Punch in 1947 and in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1964, see p. 16 of this issue, To read it as Walter Hooper chose to publish it in Poems in 1964 and Collected Poems in 1994, see p. 17.