Monday, July 10, 2006

Little Game Part Two...

Alright, now that you're thinking about that first planet, let's try another.
Remember, these posts are taking the planets out of the order they take in the poem. The poem follows the pre-Copernican medieval cosmology for order: Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sol, Mars, Jove, and Saturn.

Let's do Mars now:
[following Sol]

But other country
Dark with discord dins beyond him,
With noise of nakers, neighing of horses,
Hammering of harness. A haughty god
MARS mercenary, makes there his camp
And flies his flag; flaunts laughingly
The graceless beauty, grey-eyed and keen,
--Blond insolence--of his blithe visage
Which is hard and happy. He hews the act,
The indifferent deed with dint of his mallet
And his chisel of choice; achievement comes not
Unhelped by him; --hired gladiator
Of evil and good. All's one to Mars,
The wrong righted, rescued meekness,
Or trouble in trenches, with trees splintered
And birds banished, banks fill'd with gold
And the liar made lord. Like handiwork
He offers to all--earns his wages
And whistles the while. White-feathered dread
Mars has mastered. His metal's iron
That was hammered through hands into holy cross,
Cruel carpentry. He is cold and strong,
Necessity's song.


Lewis was also apparently interested in the mythological figure of Mars Silvanus, a deity associated with the woods and trees. Not exactly a popular version of the Mars figure, but important for its explanation of an otherwise troubling problem with one of Lewis' books.

From That Hideous Strength, we get a passage about the common bond of war, the positive aspects not of conflict itself, but the spirit of courage that keeps us together and inspires us to fight for each other.

Lewis doesn't say much in The Discarded Image, except that "[Mars] gives men martial temperament, 'sturdy hardiness'... But he is a bad planet, Infortuna Minor. He causes wars.


This one might seem easier to get than the first, perhaps, because we still understand the implications of the Martial spirit so much better than Jove's influence. However, the Jove poem is much easier to figure out if you're just looking at little details in the words used to convey the spirit of the planet.

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