Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lewis in Poets' Corner

So, this week came the news* that next year C. S. Lewis's name will be added to Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey. Janice and I were there just two months back, spending much of our last full day in London at the Abbey -- during which we had time to thoroughly explore, watch part of a service, marvel over the British appetite for putting up monuments of Nelson (of which there were already plenty in St. Paul's, not to mention Trafalgar Square), visit the tombs of England's greatest queen (who's buried with her sister, surprisingly enough, considering that the two didn't get on), and generally marvel at the place. And I finally got to see Poet's Corner, which turns out to be a rather modern conceit of eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth century figures wanting memorials put up near Chaucer's tomb. Plus some of the people commemorated in the area can hardly be called 'poets' in any meaningful sense (such as Laurence Olivier).

As for Lewis, he was indeed a poet (and at the start of his career quite a good one, though he quickly lost his way**), though it's hard to imagine he's being added to the Poets' Corner on the strength of SPIRITS IN BONDAGE. Critics and scholars rarely gain that eminence either, nor do writers of science fiction or children's books or apologetics. My suspicion is that it's not on the strength of any of these things, but all of them together. Here's the announcement:

Curiously enough, Lewis will not be the first Inkling to be buried in the Abbey; as we were leaving, I spotted the floor-marker naming the first. Anyone who thinks he or she knows whom, post your guess in the comments.

--John R.

*thanks to Wendell W's post on the MythSoc list

**SPIRITS IN BONDAGE is a promising work, but DYMER is dire and thereafter he never took his poetry seriously enough.

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