a-preface-to-paradise-lost-400x400-cslewisThe older poetry, by continually insisting on certain Stock themes–as that love is sweet, death bitter, virtue lovely, and children or gardens delightful–was performing a service not only of moral and civil, but even of biological, importance. Once again, the old critics were quite right when they said that poetry “instructed by delighting,” for poetry was formerly one of the chief means whereby each new generation learned, not to copy, but by copying to make, the good Stock responses. Since poetry has abandoned that office the world has not bettered. While the moderns have been pressing forward to conquer new territories of consciousness, the old territory, in which alone a man can live, has been left unguarded, and we are in danger of finding the enemy in our rear. We need most urgently to recover the lost poetic art of enriching a response without making it eccentric, and of being normal without being vulgar. Meanwhile–until that recovery is made–such poetry as Milton’s is more than ever necessary to us.

Reading John Milton‘s Paradise Lost has been a delight and C. S. Lewis is one of my favorites. In this “Preface” (a series of lectures), Lewis illuminates the entire genre of epic poetry.  Even Ayn Rand recognized the beauty of poetry and art to inspire and elevate to new heights.
What have been your experiences with art and poetry?
In what way do you value art and poetry? Why?
I would love to hear your recommendations.


On Goodreads.com

Preface to Paradise Lost
by C. S. Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347999313l/207546.jpgThe sixth chapter is entitled “Virgil and the Subject of Secondary Epic.” After arguing that Homer’s subject is not what makes an epic, Lewis seems to say that Virgil’s subject rescues the Aeneid from obscurity when he builds so much depth and substance around his characters and events that we feel as if national, or even cosmic, issues are at stake.

You can find more reviews and discussions of this and many other books on Goodreads.com (including my own reviews and comments about this and other books). It’s one of my favorite sites to help me organize my own reading and keep up with others. When you’re on Goodreads, please visit my author page and “Like” The Soul of Atlas. Consider writing a review and sharing it with your friends on Goodreads and Facebook.com.


C. S. Lewis
Preface to Paradise Lost (London: Oxford University Press, 1961), 57

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