Lost C.S. Lewis Poem Showcasing ‘Lewis’s Writing at its Best’ Discovered

A poem by C.S. Lewis, previously unknown, has recently been discovered after remaining overlooked for over a decade since its acquisition by the University of Leeds.

Dating back to 1935, this 12-line poem reflects Lewis’s passion for Old English literature, particularly the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf. Written under the pen name “Nat Whilk,” the poem is believed to be a thank-you note from Lewis.

The recipients of the poem, Dr. Ida Lilian Gordon and Eric Valentine Gordon, were specialists in Medieval English and a professor of English language, and close friends of J.R.R. Tolkien, author of ‘The Lord of the Rings‘.

The discovery was credited to Dr. Andoni Cossio of the University of Glasgow during his research endeavours. In an interview with The Telegraph, he shared that the poem, “had everything I could wish for – biographical details, Old English, alliterative meter, and Lewis’s writing at its best… It had passed completely unnoticed…”

“It was kept by the Gordons, then by their daughter, until she sold the collection of letters and different manuscripts that are now at Leeds. So this has been hidden from the public eye. Nobody, except the Gordons, had seen this literary work by Lewis.”

C.S Lewis as a Poet

Although being best known for his ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ series and books on Christian theology, Lewis’s literary journey began with poetry.

‘Spirits in Bondage‘, is a collection of 40 poems written mainly during 1915-1918, a period in Lewis’s early life that spanned from his time as a student to a soldier in the trenches of World War 1. Published under the pseudonym Clive Hamilton in 1919, this collection reflects his experiences and disillusionment during the war and explores themes of suffering, loss, and the human condition.

Despite his shift in publishing output, Lewis continued to write poetry throughout his life, often keeping it private or sharing it only with close friends. Some of his verses, including two Narnia poems, were published posthumously.

Dr. Cossio says the “discovery of this hidden treasure made me feel elated. I was astonished to find that this poem doesn’t appear in any of [Lewis’s] collected works.”

“The excitement mostly comes from the fact that it is difficult to find new works from these writers, especially because people have mined the archives, searching for these kinds of things. Normally we get letters or other documents, but not poetry or literary works…”

You can view the poem transcript here.

1 Response

  1. What lovely news! I look forward to reading it.
    If only there were a book with the name Narnia on it, and an Eight on its spine, lying around in a private collection of old papers…