Love’s as warm as tears,
Love is tears:
Pressure within the brain,
Tension at the throat,
Deluge, weeks of rain,
Featureless seas between
Hedges, where once was green.
Love’s as fierce as fire,
Love is fire:
All sorts ‒ Infernal heat Clinkered with greed and pride, Lyric desire, sharp-sweet, Laughing, even when denied, And that empyreal flame Whence all loves came.
Love’s as fresh as spring,
Love is spring:
Bird-song in the air,
Cool smells in a wood,
Whispering ‘Dare! Dare!’
To sap, to blood,
Telling ‘Ease, safety, rest,
Are good; not best.’
Love’s as hard as nails,
Love is nails:
Blunt, thick, hammered through
The medial nerves of One
Who, having made us, knew
The thing He had done,
Seeing (with all that is)
Our cross, and His.
Hear Malcolm Guite Read Today’s Poem
1 Corinthians 6:19–20
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
In today’s poem, C.S. Lewis draws the fine connection between human and divine love, taking us deftly to a point of reason’s departure. There is much we understand of love for we are born with its innate capacity to give and receive. We quickly recognize its power but the deeper we experience it, the more we are humbled by its inscrutable mystery.
We find love’s ultimate expression at Calvary. As Malcolm Guite writes in The Word in the Wilderness:
The short sharp sounds of ‘blunt, thick, hammered’ and the wrenching medical accuracy of ‘medial nerves’ all keep the crucifixion visceral and incarnate, and yet through that Lewis moves to a profound theology of both creation and atonement, simply and beautifully expressed; that from the beginning of Creation God had foreseen the sorrow our misused freedom might bring, and chosen, from the beginning and in that knowledge, to share with us the consequences of our own mistakes that he might redeem us from them.
What does it mean to be redeemed?
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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Malcolm Guite is poet-priest and Chaplain of Girton College Cambridge, but he often travels round Great Britain, and to North America, to give lectures, concerts and poetry readings. For more details of these and other engagements go to his Events Page. You can read more about him on this Interviews Page
He is the author of numerous books including
Parable and Paradox: Sonnets on the Sayings of Jesus and Other Poems Canterbury Press 2016
D I G D E E P E R
(1893–1963), scholar and Christian apologist. Born in Belfast, he was educated mainly privately until he entered University College, Oxford, in 1917. He was Tutor and Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, from 1925 to 1954, when he was appointed Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature in the University of Cambridge. His critical works include The Allegory of Love (1936), A Preface to Paradise Lost (1942), and English Literature in the Sixteenth Century (vol. 3 of the Oxford History of English Literature, 1954). At Magdalen Lewis underwent a gradual conversion experience described in his spiritual autobiography, Surprised by Joy (pub. 1955). He became widely known as a Christian apologist through a series of broadcast talks given between 1941 and 1944 and later published in book form, and through a number of other popular religious works which had a very wide circulation; these included The Problem of Pain (1940), The Screwtape Letters (1942; ostensibly from a senior devil to his nephew, a junior devil), and Miracles (1947). His clarity, wit, and skill as a communicator meant that he, like D. L. *Sayers and Charles *Williams, carried considerable weight; many Christians had their faith confirmed and a number of agnostics were brought closer to the Christian faith through reading his works. Lewis also published three science fiction novels with a strong Christian flavour: Out of the Silent Planet (1938), Perelandra (1943), and That Hideous Strength (1945). A series of seven ‘Narnia’ stories for children began in 1950 with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In 1956 he married Joy Gresham (née Davidman); A Grief Observed (originally pub. under a pseudonym in 1961) is a profound treatment of bereavement written after her death. A group of his friends, including Charles Williams, was known as ‘The Inklings’; they met regularly for many years in his rooms to talk and read aloud their works.
F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 981.