Sunday, May 02, 2021


 In Book 10.6 of The Pilgrim's Regress, C.S. Lewis speak of the Machine Age. The Guide who leads John to the "Landlord's Country" tells him that it is unable to live up to its promises of permanent advancement, and equally unable to permanently destroy. His song (which is satirical, except for the parenthetical lines at the end of each verse) is a marvelous piece of poetry to mull over, so I thought I'd share it with you.

"There will be no radical change. And as for permanence -- consider how quickly all machines are broken and obliterated. The black solitudes will some day be green again, and of all cities that I have seen these iron cities will break most suddenly."

And the Guide sang:

"Iron will eat the world's old beauty up, 
Girder and grid and gantry will arise,
Iron forest of engines will arise,
Criss-cross of iron crotchet. For your eyes 
No green or growth. Over all, the skies
Scribbled from end to end with boasts and lies.
(When Adam ate the irrevocable apple, Thou
Saw'st beyond death the resurrection of the dead.)

Clamour shall clean put out the voice of wisdom,
The printing-presses with their clapping wings,
Fouling our nourishment. Harpy wings,
Filling your minds all day with foolish things
Will tame the eagle Thought: till she sings
Parrot-like in her cage to please dark kings.
(When Israel descended into Egypt, Thou
Didst purpose both the bondage and the coming out.)

The new age, the new art, the new ethic and thought,
And fools crying, 'Because it has begun
It will continue as it has begun!
The wheel runs fast, therefore the wheel will run 
Faster for ever. The old age is done,
We have new lights and see without the sun.'
(Though they lay flat the mountains and dry up the sea,
Wilt thou yet change, as though God were a god?)"

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