Sunday, November 3, 2013

C.S. Lewis in the Poets' Corner

Toward the end of this month, fifty years after his death, C.S. Lewis will be honored:
In the south transept of London's Westminster Abbey—where for a thousand years the kings and queens of England have been enthroned—sits a crowded collection of statues, plaques, and engraved flagstones. Geoffrey Chaucer, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Charles Dickens are buried there; dozens more are commemorated there. On November 22, 2013, 50 years to the day after his death, C.S. Lewis will join them.

Poets' Corner may seem like an odd place for a writer whose poetry is largely overlooked .... But you needn't be a poet to join Poets' Corner. Musicians like George Frederic Handel and actors like Laurence Olivier mingle with Tennyson and Chaucer. The Corner is devoted to poets in the older, deeper sense of the word. They are "makers" who assemble words (or musical notes or dramatic performances) for artistic ends.

In this older, deeper sense, there is no place Lewis more rightly belongs. Indeed, perhaps we should think of the celebrated Oxford novelist, literary critic, and apologist above all as a poet. For Lewis believed that knowledge itself was fundamentally poetic—that is to say, shaped by the imagination. And his poetic approach to commending and defending the Christian faith still lights the way for us today.

Of course, everyone recognizes Lewis's great imaginative gifts. Often people will say that his great strength was his ability to present Christianity both rationally and imaginatively. .... [most of the rest of the article is behind a subscriber wall]