Only When it is Remembered

Ransom meeting the hross.*

Ransom meeting the hross.
Source: EagleGosselin

Here’s a fragment of a conversation from C.S. Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet. The main character, Ransom, is on the planet Malacandra speaking with one of its inhabitants, a hross. The hrossa are creatures of poetry and song, and through them Lewis shares both his fondness for poetry and his conviction of its necessity for a meaningful life:

‘A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered. You are speaking, Hman, as if the pleasure were one thing and the memory another. It is all one thing. . . What you call remembering is the last part of the pleasure, as the crah is the last part of a poem. When you and I met, the meeting was over shortly, it was nothing. Now it is growing something as we remember it. But still we know very little about it. What it will be when I remember it as I lie down to die, what it makes in me all my days till then – that is the real meeting. The other is only the beginning of it. You say you have poets in your world. Do they not teach you this?’

‘Perhaps some of them do,’ said Ransom. ‘But even in a poem does a hross never long to hear one splendid line over again?’

. . .’The most splendid line becomes fully splendid only by means of all the other lines after it; if you went back to it you would find it less splendid than you thought. You would kill it. I mean, in a good poem.’ (Out of the Silent Planet, p.73)


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