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As the ruin falls

February 10, 2010

I must be living behind a rock.  Only just recently did I discover C.S. Lewis’ poem “As the ruin falls” and I’m not quite sure what to do with it.  In 1 Peter there is a lot of talk of suffering and pain for the sake of Christ.  I wonder if this is the same type of pain Lewis is talking about here?   I’m pretty sure I cause almost all of my own pain and suffering…and it’s not because I’m suffering for the sake of Christ.  Here is the poem:

As the ruin falls

All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through:
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.

Peace, re-assurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin:
I talk of love –a scholar’s parrot may talk Greek–
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.

Only that now you have taught me (but how late) my lack.
I see the chasm. And everything you are was making
My heart into a bridge by which I might get back
From exile, and grow man. And now the bridge is breaking.

For this I bless you as the ruin falls. The pains
You give me are more precious than all other gains.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Lazarus permalink
    April 8, 2010 6:29 pm

    I don’t think that he’s talking about external suffering. The first part of the poem deals with how man is sinful, or proud, or entirely selfish. It doesn’t matter how you want to word it, since he’s speaking about something he had no conception of until he lost it.
    The ‘pain,’ I think, is the process of loosing the former paradigm in favor of the first. He’s moving from a sinful state of mind to one more fully loving. I mean, it seems as if this didn’t occur to him until years after he became an apologist with “a parrot may talk greek,” “All this flashy rhetoric,” clashing violently with “only know have you taught me.” So, he didn’t understand his life until God showed him his sin. Only then, once he had a picture of what not to do (“A bridge”) did he a more full understanding.
    The ruin falling is his sinful life.

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