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Impearls: C. S. Lewis' Expostulation

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Earthdate 2004-03-08

C. S. Lewis' Expostulation  (against too many writers of science fiction)

In belated appreciation of the 40th anniversary of the death of author C. S. Lewis (Clive Staples Lewis, 1898-1963), which occurred this last November 22 (2003-11-22), Impearls presents Lewis' pithy poetic critique of much of science fiction literature, as he then, and we today (per Sturgeon's Revelation†), must see it.  Whether Lewis' own work fully lives up to these expectations is another matter, that some, no doubt, would argue for or against.  It's the principle we at Impearls cherish!

(†Science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon once stood before a science fiction convention and proclaimed, “Ninety percent of science fiction is crap!”  Then, before outraged fans could lynch him [joke!], Sturgeon added:  “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”  This has since become known as “Sturgeon's revelation,” and presumed to have general relevance.)

On to C. S. Lewis' poem.  (Copied as a boy from the frontspiece of an old F&SF collection, onto a tiny slip of paper that somehow never got lost….)
 

An Expostulation  (Against too many writers of science fiction)
by C. S. Lewis

Why did you lure us on like this,
Light-year on light-year, through the abyss,
Building (as though we cared for size!)
Empire that cover galaxies,
If at journey's end we find
The same old stuff we left behind,
Well-worn Tellurian stories of
Crooks, spies, conspirators, or love,
Whose setting might as well have been
The Bronx, Montmartre, or Bethnel Green?

Why should I leave this green floored cell,
Roofed with blue air, in which we dwell,
Unless, outside its guarded gates,
Long, long desired, the Unearthly waits,
Strangeness that moves us more than fear,
Beauty that stabs with tingling spear,
Or Wonder, laying on one's heart
That finger tip at which we start
As if some thought too swift and shy
For some reason's grasp had just gone by?



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