Clive Staples Lewis

(29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963 / Belfast)

After Prayers, Lie Cold


Arise my body, my small body, we have striven
Enough, and He is merciful; we are forgiven.
Arise small body, puppet-like and pale, and go,
White as the bed-clothes into bed, and cold as snow,
Undress with small, cold fingers and put out the light,
And be alone, hush'd mortal, in the sacred night,
-A meadow whipt flat with the rain, a cup
Emptied and clean, a garment washed and folded up,
Faded in colour, thinned almost to raggedness
By dirt and by the washing of that dirtiness.
Be not too quickly warm again. Lie cold; consent
To weariness' and pardon's watery element.
Drink up the bitter water, breathe the chilly death;
Soon enough comes the riot of our blood and breath.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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  • Wm Ryle (5/25/2009 10:31:00 PM)

    C.S. Lewis was probably inspired to write this poem after rising from prayer on his knees. 'We have stiven long enough' means he has prayed for God's forgiveness and because of God's forgiving grace he feels purged white as the cold bed sheets between which he slips. However, as he lays there alone in his thoughts, he feels as a garment 'faded in color thinned almost to raggedness' by the cleansing of dirt from his soul. And he in penance accepts the time it will take for his soul to feel warm again. He even admonishes himself to 'be not warm too quickly again', realizing that in his human frailty, he will only too soon sin again. (Report) Reply

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