“Bettered After Beasthood”

by C. S. Lewis

We came quickly to the country of downs
That lies so long between the land of dread
And the grim garden. Glory breaking
Unclosed the clouds. Clear and golden
Out into the open swam the orb'd splendour
Of a moon, marvellous. Magic called her.
Pale as paper, where she poured her ray
The downs lay drenched. Dark before us,
Stilly standing, was the stern frontier
Of the aisled forest. Out thence there came
Thunder, I thought it. Thick copses broke.
From dread darkness, with drumming hoofs,
Swept the centaurs, swift in onset,
Abreast, embattled, as a broad army,
To that elf's glimmering. They were his old shipmates,
Unenchanted, as those others were,
Bettered after beasthood. They had the brows of men,
Tongues to talk with, and, to touch the string,
Hands for harping. But the horse lingered,
And the mark of their might, as magic had wrought,
The stamp of that strength was still on them.
Hands for harping, hoofs for running,
Mighty stallions, that were men weeping
Round the dwarf dancing to his deft music.

(from “In a Spring Season I Sailed Away,” lines 603—626)


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