Continual Clanging of Symbols

This is an excerpt from Charles Williams' "Bors to Elayne: on the King's Coins"

"...Money is the medium of exchange.

Taliessin's look darkened; his hand shook
while he touched the dragons; he said 'We had a good thought.
Sir, if you made verse you would doubt symbols.
I am afraid of the little loosed dragons.
When the means are autonomous, they are deadly; when words
escape from verse they hurry to rape souls;
when sensation slips from intellect, expect the tyrant;
the brood of carriers levels the good they carry.
We have taught our images to be free; are we glad?
are we glad to have brought convenient heresy to Logres?'

The Archbishop answered the lords;
his worlds went up through a slope of calm air:
'Might may take symbols and folly make treasure,
and greed bid God, who hides himself for man's pleasure
by occasion, hide himself essentially: this abides--
that the everlasting house the soul discovers
is always another's; we must lose our own ends;
we must always live in the habitation of our lovers,
my friend's shelter for me, mine for him.
This is the way of this world in the day of that other's ;
make yourselves friends by means of the riches of iniquity,
for the wealth of the self is the health of the self exchanged.
What saith Heracleitus?--and what is the City's breath?--
dying each other's life, living each other's death.
Money is a medium of exchange."

This whole poem gives various perspectives on money as the/a medium of exchange. This beautiful excerpt, though, discusses money as "a" medium of exchange. Render (exchange) to Caesar what is Caesar's, and God what is God's. And what is God's exchange medium? Love? Acts of love? Symbols of love? Money is one of those, but oh, there are so many more. "My friend's shelter for me, mine for him," and "dying each other's life, living each other's death." This is beautiful exchange. This is symbolic love. This is a love that points to something important, something outside of ourselves.

1 comment:

Hannah B said...

Oh, Charles Williams. Sad I missed half of discussion; Descent Into Hell is the first book we've read that I really wanted to talk about.