Clive Staples Lewis
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 becoming in my heart
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.
I could not resist the inclusion of this, my favorite tiny work by a man so admired I cannot find words for his place in history, somehow long ago connected though our families probably are. A rose among thorns, this piece graces my pages with beauty and a kind of opaque majesty I can only ever hope to imitate.