The High School Dawn Treader’s finished the Voyage of The Dawn Treader last night at Panera. As always, I had a great time.
Though I often drone on and on about Lewis, the Chronicles of Narnia have been very helpful as a source of illustration (as the congregation of GPC can well attest). I have enjoyed tremendously our sojourn in Lewis this past summer and fall.
The Dawn Treader is all about the virtues which the poet’s ascribed to Sol or the sun. I was struck last night by the scene in which Caspian, much to his crew’s dismay and displeasure, decides to go with Reepicheep into the utter East. After being confronted by Aslan in his berth, Caspian relents and submits to his crew’s wise counsel. I was perplexed as to why Lewis would put this curiously negative story at the very end of the book. I was perplexed until I read again Lewis’ lines from his homage to the planets in a poem by the same name. Sol is the one whose “sword of light hurts and humbles.” Ah, that’s it. Nothing hurts and humbles like standing in the light, and there is no better response to the Light than repentance and humility. I think this is why Lewis put this story at the end: the most important virtue imbued by Sol is not liberality, knowledge, or gold, but rather a humble repentance.
In honor of our completion of the book, here are Lewis’ words on Sol from “The Planets”
“…Far beyond [Venus]
The heaven’s highway hums and trembles,Drums and dindles, to the driv’n thunderOf SOL’s chariot, whose sword of lightHurts and humbles; beheld onlyOf eagle’s eye. When his arrow glancesThrough mortal mind, mists are partedAnd mild as morning the mellow wisdom Breathes o’er the breast, brodening eastwardClear and cloudless. In a clos’d garden(Unbound her burden) his beams fosterSoul in secret, where the soil puts forthParadisal palm, and pur fountainsTurn and re-temper, touching coollyThe uncomely common to cordial gold;Whose ore also, in earth’s matrix,Is print and pressure of his proud signetOn the wax of the world. He is the worshipp’d male,The earth’s husband, all-beholding,Arch-chemic eye…”
Incidentally, the church in which I first served as youth pastor has an homage to Sol in it’s sanctuary. For their part the building is one of the last remaining Art Deco school buildings in the state. In case you were wondering, Sol is flanked by attending angels and the remaining planets. Dante has both philosophers and theologians inhabiting the sphere of Sol in his Paradiso.