"Footnote to All Prayers"
He whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow
When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou,
And dream of Pheidian fancies and embrace in heart
Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art.
Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme
Worshiping with frail images a folk-lore dream,
And all men in their praying, self-deceived, address
The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts, unless
Thou in magnetic mercy to Thyself divert
Our arrows, aimed unskillfully, beyond desert;
And all men are idolaters, crying unheard
To a deaf idol, if Thou take them at their word.
Take not, O Lord, our literal sense. Lord, in thy great
Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate.
C.S. Lewis (1898–1963) was a Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Oxford and Cambridge universities. In 2013, on the 50th anniversary of his death, he was honored with a memorial stone in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey, alongside Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Handel, Dickens, and many others.
Dan Clendenin: email@example.com.