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Poems of Conformity

Poems of Conformity

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Poems of Conformity

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Feb 14, 2017


Charles Williams was one of the finest -- not to mention one of the most unusual -- theologians of the twentieth century. His mysticism is palpable -- the unseen world interpenetrates ours at every point, and spiritual exchange occurs all the time, unseen and largely unlooked for. His novels are legend, his poetry profound, and as a member of the Inklings, he contributed to the mythopoetic revival in contemporary culture.

Feb 14, 2017

Sobre el autor

Charles Williams (1886–1945) was a British author and longtime editor at Oxford University Press. He was one of the three most prominent members of the literary group known as the Inklings—the other two being C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. Williams wrote poetry, drama, biography, literary criticism, and more, but is best known for his novels, which explored the primal conflict between good and evil. T. S. Eliot, who wrote an introduction to Williams’s All Hallows’ Eve, praised the author’s “profound insight into . . . the heights of Heaven and the depths of Hell, which provides both the immediate thrill, and the permanent message of his novels,” and Time magazine called him “one of the most gifted and influential Christian writers England has produced this century.”

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Poems of Conformity - Charles Williams



NOW our love returns at last,

For the secret months are spent!

She hath laid aside her vast

Majesty of government.

Mother, now thy child is found!

O! we can but look aghast:

Heart and tongue alike our bound.

Proserpina, O was this,

This the loveliness we saw

Or hath royalty in Dis

Girded thee about with awe?

Did this grave and fateful voice,

These they regnant hands of law,

Ever in our games rejoice?

Goddess’ child indeed thou art,

And thy mother now no more

Presseth thee against her heart

As at morning heretofore:

Courtesy she yieldeth, such

As her sisters, on their part,

Grant there, without smile or touch.

‘Sister’ cried our lips of old;

‘Sister’ saith thy mother now,

While our frighted eyes behold

Deity upon thy brow.

Lo we yield thee head and knee

Was our greeting overbold

That so often pleasured thee?

As in Enna’s fields thou wert

Shalt thou never be again;

When the trodden flowers’ hurt

Smote thee with thy heaviest pain.

Thou hast seen the Eternal Lord

Measuring unto men desert,

And they spirit hath adored.

O for her who with us trod,

Loving day and sunlight, whom,

Yielding service to her nod,

Loved we, ere thy voice as doom

And thy vision destiny;

Ere the presence of a god

Mightily o’ershadowed thee.



IN Ilion fifty towers are set, whereof

Hector, that strongest, who is set to be

A warning and a terror toward the sea,

Is glad at heart on this day’s dawn for love:

To whom with music through the temples move

Feet of a maiden, maiden-circled, she

Whose name being called of men Andromanche

Gleams like white Pergamos all peers’ names above.

Troy many-palaced, single-lorded Troy,

Virgin like Pallas’ spear to Pallas’ grip,

Like Aphrodite land-poised from the tide,

Joyous and crownèd city, this new joy

By Hector’s hand crowns and by Priam’s lip

Salutes, and as in bridal hails the bride.


NOT thee alone, Helen, did thy new lord

Through that long night in thy Greek palace woo,

But his own native city’s false hands drew

In thine from law, broke in thy troth her word:

Wherefore she knows thee now and does accord

To thee full honour, swears herself anew

Thine and thy leman’s lover, brings thereto

Skill of war-chariot, cunning of the sword.

Ascend upon the walls, Helen, and look,

Companioned by the young Andromanche,

Thither where, far beyond Scamander’s brook,

The lawless, lustful, fierce barbarians dwell:

Turn thyself then, gaze northward, canst thou tell

How far off is that line of shore, that sea?


DIDST thou grow old, Troy, as thy queen grew old,

Honoured in sons, rich in kings’ amity,

Lady of households, ill there came to thee

Argos and Ithaca with commandment cold?

Whose faces ever now ty dreams behold

Storm through thy walls with shouts to victory,

Whom each new morn dreads lest that morn should see

Such end as thy mad daughter hath foretold.

Shall Helen comfort theee at all, O queen?

Or shall her beauty willingly be seen

For whose old lord’s sake each new fight is won?

Or her voice break the echo heard in thee

Of Priam’s feet before thy gate when he

Bore Hector home, in guard of Thetis’ son?


QUEEN Hecuba is dead and no more known;

The slave Andromache by Pyrrhus’ chair

Waits; only now still by a royal stair

The feet of Helen mount her royal throne:

Whose eyes, whose mouth have mocked thy sight, thy moan,

How oft, Cassandra! since in thy despair

Were none sure-hearted through Troy’s bounds to share,

Save some few old men, blind, morose, alone.

O Troy, whose name was once Andromanche,

Helen, while wantonly thou didst rejoice,

Hecuba, ere thou yet hadst ceased to reign,

What shalt thou be more than a cry of pain

Hereafter through the nations, than the voice

Of a prophetess in her adveristy?

At Dawn

IT is fallen! it is fallen! Militant

Hell all the heights of heaven ramparted

Hath ta’en: the ruin of them goes up in fire.

Rejoice, O Lucifer! be jubilant,

Lords of the Pit! ye have what ye desire.

Your storm hath rent the New Jerusalem

As a man’s fingers tear his garments hem:

And whither is the Maker of it fled?

It is fallen! it is fallen! Michael’s sword

Is broken and Ithuriel’s spear. Alone

In that dire rout the high prince Azrael

Scarce holds the River of Life, and by its ford

Stays the victorious pursuit of hell.

The meadows of thre Lamb are no more sweet

To pasture: they are pressed with burning feet,

And by hot winds the crystal sea is blown.

It is fallen! it is fallen! All the stars

Whisper to one another, and the night

Escapes in terror from this fearful East.

Moon upon moon makes sure each gate with bars,

Sun upon sun. Creation from its least

World to its mighiest darkens all its towers,

And leaves its walls

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