aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

More for National Poetry Month

Another of my favorite poems by C.S. Lewis . . . Sorta reminds me of certain times out camping, actually. Also indicates my attitude toward valuing all things by their price.


Firdausi the strong Lion among poets, lean of purse
And lean with age, had finished his august mountain of verse,
The great Shah Nameh gleaming-glaciered with demon wars,
Bastioned with Rustem's bitter labours and Isfendiyar's,
Shadowed with Jamshid's grief and glory as with eagles' wings,
Its foot-hills dewy-forested with the amours of kings,
Clashing with rhymes that rush like snow-fed cataracts blue and cold;
And the king commanded to be given him an elephant's burden of gold.

Firdausi the carved Pillar among poets was not dear
To government. They smiled at the king's word. The Grand Vizier
Twisted his pale face, making parsimonious mouths, and said
'Send the old rhymer thirty thousand silver pounds instead --
The price of ten good vineyards and a fine Circassian girl.'
This pleased them and they called a secretarial shape, a churl,
A pick-thank without understanding and of base descent,
And bade it deliver their bounty, and with mincing paces it went.

It found the Cedar among poets in the baths that day,
At ease, discoursing with his friends. Exalted men were they,
Taking their wine and sugared roseleaves in an airy hall,
Poets or theologians or saints or warriors all
Or lovers or astronomers. Like honey-drops the speech
Distilled in apophthegms or verses from the lips of each,
On roses and predestination and heroic wars
And rhetoric, and the brevity of the life of man, and the stars.

With courtesy the Lily among poets asked its will.
The bearers laid the silver at his feet. The hall was still,
The churl grew pale. Firdausi beckoned to the Nubian slave
Who had dried their feet; to him the first ten thousand coins he gave.
Ten thousand more immediately he gave the fair-haired boy
Who waved the fan, saying 'My son, may Allah send you joy;
And in your grandson's house in unbelieving Frangistan
Make it your boast that once you spoke with the splendour of Iran.'

Lastly the Heaven of poets to the churl himself returned
The remnant. 'You look pale, my friend,' he said. 'Well have you earned
This trifle for your courtesy and for the heat of the day.'
Clutching his silver, silently, the creature slunk away,
And dogs growled as he passed and beggars spat. Laughter and shame
Wait upon all his progeny; on him, Gehenna's flame.
Immediately the discourse in the baths once more began
On the beauty of women and horses and the brevity of the life of man.

  • Time Warp

    I’ve been researching old tunes to match the lyrics of “The Wife of Usher’s Well,” an old British ballad about a woman whose three sons who were lost…

  • The Eccentric and the Weirdo

    Many years ago, I read an essay in TIME magazine by Pico Iyer called, “The Eccentric and the Weirdo.” This followed upon some outrage committed by…

  • The diagnosis is the easy part

    A world dominated by China will be an uglier world. To keep China from bullying other nations, the US and our friends and allies need to decide where…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.