Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Lizards and Stallions

Since Paul mentioned this on OC yesterday, and it has come up a couple of times recently, I thought I'd post this climactic excerpt from Lewis' The Great Divorce, chapter 11:  

The Angel’s hands were almost closed on the Lizard, but not quite.  Then the Lizard began chattering to the Ghost so loud that even I could hear what it was saying, 

‘Be careful,’ it said.  ‘He can do what he says.  He can kill me.  One fatal word from you and he will!  Then you’ll be without me for ever and ever.  It’s not natural.  How could you live?  You’d be only a sort of ghost, not a real man as you are now.  He doesn’t understand.  He’s only a cold, bloodless abstract thing.  It may be natural for him, but it isn’t for us.  Yes, yes.  I know there are no real pleasures now, only dreams.  But aren’t they better than nothing?  And I’ll be so good.  I admit I’ve sometimes gone too far in the past, but I promise I won’t do it again.  I’ll give you nothing but really nice dreams – all sweet and fresh and almost innocent.  You might say, quite innocent …’

‘Have I got your permission?’ said the Angel to the Ghost.

‘I know it will kill me.’

‘It won’t.  But supposing it did?’

‘You’re right.  It would be better to be dead than to live with this creature.’

‘Then I may?’

‘Damn and blast you!  Go on, can’t you?  Get it over.  Do what you like,’ bellowed the Ghost:  but ended, whimpering, ‘God help me.  God help me.’
Next moment the Ghost gave a scream of agony such as I never heard on Earth.  The Burning One closed his crimson grip on the reptile:  twisted it, while it bit and writhed, and then flung it, broken-backed, on the turf.

‘Ow!  That’s done for me,’ gasped the Ghost, reeling backwards.

For a moment I could make out nothing distinctly.  Then I saw, between me and the nearest bush, unmistakably solid but growing every moment solider, the upper arm and the shoulder of a man. Then, brighter still and stronger, the legs and hands.  The neck and golden head materialised while I watched, and if my attention had not wavered I should have seen the actual completing of a man – an immense man, naked, not much smaller than the Angel.  What distracted me was the fact that at the same moment something seemed to be happening to the Lizard.  At first I thought the operation had failed.  So far from dying, the creature was still struggling and even growing bigger as it struggled.  And as it grew it changed.  It’s hinder parts grew rounder.  The tail, still flickering, became a tail of hair that flickered between huge and glossy buttocks.  Suddenly I started back, rubbing my eyes.  What stood before me was the greatest stallion I have ever seen, silvery white but with mane and tail of gold.  It was smooth and shining, rippling with swells of flesh and muscle, whinneying and stamping with its hoofs.  At each stamp the land shook and the trees dindled.

The new-made man turned and clapped the new horse’s neck.  It nosed his bright body. Horse and master breathed each into the other’s nostrils.  The man turned from it, flung himself at the feet of the Burning One, and embraced them.  When he rose I thought his face shone with tears, but it may have been only the liquid love and brightness (one cannot distinguish them in that country) which flowed from him.  I had not long to think about it.  In joyous haste the young man leaped upon the horse’s back.  Turning in his seat he waved farewell, then nudged the stallion with his heels.  They were off before I well knew what was happening.  There was riding if you like!  I came out as quickly as I could from among the bushes to follow them with my eyes; but already they were only like a shooting star far off on the green plain, and soon among the foothills of the mountains.  Then, still like a star, I saw them winding up, scaling what seemed impossible steeps, and quicker every moment, till near the dim brow of the landscape, so high that I must strain my neck to see them, they vanished, bright themselves, into the rose-brightness of that everlasting morning.


mushroom said...

So here and everywhere else, I want to say, Thank you, Ben! You are the best.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Bringing a bit of joy to you sparks a great joy in myself, Mushroom.
You are welcome and Thank You!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I love it when angels and men can work together to vanquish evil.

Man is very much a partof the war on evil. Often it is just like this portrayal, where the angel can finally act because man gives the Word.

Another good lesson illustrated here is that humans cannot negotiate with evil. Otherwise, evil survives to fight another day and surely, the lizard would not negotiate with us in good faith because it can't, else it would not be evil.
No, best to do our part to destroy it, for Goodness sakes.

mushroom said...

That's a good point. Earlier in the dialog, the Ghost had suggested that it might be better to do the "operation" gradually. The Angel says, "The gradual process is of no use at all."