Today’s poet may need a little introduction. His name is Charles Williams and he was a British novelist, playwright, and theologian, as well as one of the integral members of the famous Oxford Inklings. He was rather obscure in his own day, and even more so seventy years after his death, but nevertheless, he is regarded as one of the most talented of that exceedingly talented group of authors.
This poem, addressed to his then-fiancée Florence Conway, appears in Poems of Conformity, his second published book of poetry.
by Charles Williams
How many a woman is by process ta’en !
Of her rich land some robber-prince of men
Raids first the marches, then the sensuous plain
Seizes, then towers of dream, the throne’s self then.
But thou, O islanded from such defeat!
O thou Atlantis whence all pirates fail!
At once my ragged and disfurnished fleet
Lett’st all thy crimson navies forth to hail.
Nay, now too humbly thy advance I wrong;
Thou hadst not why to aspire or condescend ;
Nor war nor flight provoked thy love along,
Equal we wheeled unto an equal end.
Wiles are for others, we as best behoved.
Solely and simply each, loved and were loved.