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Spirits in bondage; a cycle of lyrics by C. S. (Clive Staples) Lewis
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1918, a period during which Lewis was a student under W. T.
Kirkpatrick, a military trainee at Oxford, and a soldier serving
in the trenches of World War I. Their outlook varies from Romantic
expressions of love for the beauty and simplicity of nature to
cynical statements about the presence of evil in this world. In
a September 12, 1918 letter to his friend Arthur Greeves, Lewis
said that his book was, "mainly strung around the idea that I
mentioned to you before--that nature is wholly diabolical &
malevolent and that God, if he exists, is outside of and in
opposition to the cosmic arrangements." In his cynical poems,
Lewis is dealing with the same questions about evil in nature
that Alfred Lord Tennyson explored from a position of troubled
faith in "In Memoriam A. H." (Stanzas 54f). In a letter written
perhaps to reassure his father, Lewis claimed, "You know who
the God I blaspheme is and that it is not the God that you or
I worship, or any other Christian."

Whatever Lewis believed at that time, the attitude in many of
these poems is quite different from the attitude he expressed
in his many Christian books from the 1930s on. Attempts in movies
and on stage plays to portray Lewis as a sheltered professor who
knew little about pain until the death of his wife late in life,
have to deal not only with the many tragedies he experienced
from a boy on, but also with the disturbing issues he faced in
many of these early poems.




Prologue