You Who Thirst

You Who Thirst

It was a dull Autumn day and Jill Pole was crying behind the gym.
She was crying because they had been bullying her….
C. S. Lewis, The Silver Chair

Jill Pole is one of my favorite characters in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Introduced in The Silver Chair‘s first lines, a case could be made that she is the central figure of the book. Indeed, she changes the most of all the characters. Jill’s transformation manifests in a multifaceted way. Her hardness at the beginning is a cross, ill-tempered, sort of bravado which transforms into a meeker and yet a great-hearted willingness. As the story grows, she dissolves into tears less and by the end seems to have a broader range of emotional expression — emotional maturity, one might call it. She is a wonderful character.

Early in the book Jill meets Aslan. Here is a part of their interaction,

“Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.
“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the Lion.
“May I—could I—would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill. The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.
The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
“Will you promise not to—do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.
“I make no promise,” said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer. “Do you eat girls?” she said.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.
The Silver Chair, Chapter Two

This sonnet is written in honor of her and more so in honor of those in my life who are dearer to me than Jill.

“Dear child, come to me from your crying place
Where you hide from giants (bullying brutes)—
You, whose confidence masks another face
Waxing white at the sound of their jackboots.

Dear daughter, you who thirsts but dares not drink,
The stream is yours; it’s water satisfies,
Yet your conditions, the safety you think
Keeps safe, finds water but leaves you to die.

Eve’s Daughter, draw near. Dare not to not dare.
Though I, The Lion, have devoured kings of old,
If you’ll lose for me, you’ll gain all that’s fair,
Keep all your silver and get all the gold.

Rightly fearing, making the first of me,
You’ll drink of joy, be filled with love, set free.”

© Randall Edwards 2019
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.
Artwork: Illustration by Pauline Baynes from The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis. Published by HarperCollins.

Nickabrik

Nickabrik

First of all this is a sonnet for me. It is about the dwarfish in me that is like Nickabrik, who appears in C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian. Nickabrik resented both the Telmarines’ oppression and the help which Aslan sends in the children and in Prince Caspian. Nickabrik longed for days gone by when the dwarfs were feared and were close to the power who ruled Narnia for hundreds of winters with nary a Christmas. In the scene at Aslan’s How, Nickabrik gives full voice to his doubt’s imagination,

“Perhaps,” said Nikabrik in a cold voice. “Perhaps she was for you humans, if there were any of you in those days. Perhaps she was for some of the beasts. She stamped out the Beavers, I dare say; at least there are none of them in Narnia now. But she got on all right with us Dwarfs. I’m a Dwarf and I stand by my own people. We’re not afraid of the Witch.”
“But you’ve joined with us,” said Trufflehunter.
“Yes, and a lot of good it has done my people, so far,” snapped Nikabrik. “Who is sent on all the dangerous raids? The Dwarfs. Who goes short when the rations fail? The Dwarfs. Who—?”
“Lies! All lies!” said the Badger.
“And so,” said Nikabrik, whose voice now rose to a scream, “if you can’t help my people, I’ll go to someone who can.”
C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian

If helpful, you may listen to me read the sonnet via the player below,

We’re the slighted, the overlooked, ignored,
Abandoned, cut loose, cast aside, forgotten;
We drown in our envy, self-absorbed,
Full of shame, self-contempt, raging, rotten.
We, the peace-fakers, with a smile break faith,
Break trust, in dishonesty, blame shift, deflect,
Deny the wound, the offense, play the wraith
With shape-shifting hearts hid ‘neath stoic affect.

You’re the Reconciler, who bridges, makes,
The two one, tears down hostility’s wall
Cancels sin, cleanses, whose anointing breaks
Sin’s shaming power which reigned since the Fall.
Satan names my sin, says that sin name’s me
My Savior becomes sin, gives his name, sets free.

© Randall Edwards 2017

artwork: By Lorenz Frølich – Published in Gjellerup, Karl (1895). Den ældre Eddas Gudesange. Photographed from a 2001 reprint by bloodofox (talk · contribs)., Public Domain.