Bridge to The Hemispheres

I first heard these bits of C.S. Lewis brought together in a talk by the poet Rev Malcolm Guite. I've often since thought that they help explain the prayer from Psalm 86:11:

Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I will walk in Your truth; bind my heart to fear Your name.

From Surprised by Joy:1

The two hemispheres of my mind were in the sharpest contrast. On the one side a many-sided sea of poetry and myth; on the other a glib and shallow “rationalism.” Nearly all that I loved I believed to be imaginary; nearly all that I believed to be real I thought grim and meaningless.


Set on the soul's acropolis the reason stands
A virgin, arm'd, commercing with celestial light,
And he who sins against her has defiled his own
Virginity: no cleansing makes his garment white;
So clear is reason. But how dark, imagining,
Warm, dark, obscure and infinite, daughter of Night:
Dark is her brow, the beauty of her eyes with sleep
Is loaded and her pains are long, and her delight.
Tempt not Athene. Wound not in her fertile pains
Demeter, nor rebel against her mother-right.
Oh who will reconcile in me both maid and mother,
Who make in me a concord of the depth and height?
Who make imagination's dim exploring touch
Ever report the same as intellectual sight?
Then could I truly say, and not deceive,
Then wholly say, that I B E L I E V E.

  1. More developed quote from Surprised by Joy and page number can be found on this blog. ↩︎

  2. The poem is a posthumous publication originally untitled. ↩︎

  3. Included in The Collected Poems ↩︎

Poetics of Prayer @Izak