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I’ve just found in an old note-book a poem, with no author’s name attached, which is rather relevant to something we were talking about a few weeks ago—I mean, the haunting fear that there is no one listening, and that what we call prayer is soliloquy: someone talking to himself. This writer takes the bull by the horns and says in effect: ‘Very well, suppose it is’, and gets a surprising result. Here is the poem:

They tell me, Lord, that when I seem

To be in speech with you,

Since but one voice is heard, it’s all a dream,

One talker aping two.

Sometimes it is, yet not as they

Conceive it. Rather, I

Seek in myself the things I hoped to say,

But lo!, my wells are dry.

Then, seeing me empty, you forsake

The listener’s role and through

My dumb lips breathe and into utterance wake

The thoughts I never knew

And thus you neither need reply

Nor can; thus, while we seem

Two talkers, though are One forever, and I

No dreamer, but thy dream.

Dream makes it too like Pantheism and was perhaps dragged in for the rhyme. But is he not right in thinking that prayer in its most perfect state is soliloquy?

From Letters to Malcolm

Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer. Copyright © 1964, 1963 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1992, 1991 by Arthur Owen Barfield. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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