A Strange Bugle Call

On this day in 1945, Charles Williams died suddenly. C.S. Lewis wrote this little poem out of his grief:

Your death blows a strange bugle call, friend, and all is hard
To see plainly or record truly. The new light imposes change,
Re-adjusts all a life-landscape as it thrusts down its probe from the sky,
To create shadows, to reveal waters, to erect hills and deepen glens.
The slant alters. I can’t see the old contours. It’s a larger world
Than I once thought it. I wince, caught in the bleak air that blows on
the ridge.
Is it the first sting of the great winter, the world-waning? Or the cold of
spring?

A hard question and worth talking a whole night on.
But with whom? Of whom now can I ask guidance? With what friend concerning your death
Is it worth while to exchange thoughts unless—oh unless it were you?

About Sørina Higgins

Sørina Higgins is a PhD student in English and Presidential Scholar at Baylor University. She also serves as Chair of the Language and Literature Department at Signum University, online. Her latest publication is an academic essay collection on "The Inklings and King Arthur" (Apocryphile Press, December 2017). Her interests include British Modernism, the Inklings, Arthuriana, theatre, and magic. She holds an M.A. from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English. Sørina blogs about British poet Charles Williams at The Oddest Inkling, wrote the introduction to a new edition of Williams’s "Taliessin through Logres" (Apocryphile, 2016), and edited Williams’s "The Chapel of the Thorn" (Apocryphile, 2014). As a creative writer, Sørina has published two books of poetry, "The Significance of Swans" (2007) and "Caduceus" (2012).
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3 Responses to A Strange Bugle Call

  1. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Thank you for reprinting this!

    Walter Hooper notes it as first published in Britain To-day, and I see that worldcat.org notes that journal as published by the OUP and for its ‘Author’ lists the British Council, the British Library of Information (New York, N.Y.), and British Information Services, which I suppose means this poem would have had something like world-wide distribution.

    Like

    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      Here’s an example of Britain To-day (the only one I have easily found online), from earlier in 1945:

      https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.72999/page/n5

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      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Wow, no, I commented too soon – this includes all the issues from January through August, and so includes Lewis’s poem in the August issue (on p. 14 = 342/388 of the scan) – as well as a posthumously-published review by Williams, in the same issue (on pp. 40-41 = 376/388),right after a review of Ruth Pitter’s The Bridge (on pp. 39-40, so, starting on 374/388).

        Moving through the volume, January has a review of a Dorothy Sayers book (p. 44 = 56/388), and there is another review by Williams in the July issue (p. 42 = 324/388, curiously, without note that it is posthumous). Beyond that, it looks like it would provide fascinating glimpses of that last year of the war, in Britain.

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