Walking Shotover Hill: A CS Lewis-Inspired Sonnet

“The very air here calls my heart to dance…” I wrote this sonnet while staying as a Scholar in Residence at the Kilns, C.S. Lewis’ home.

During my stay, I realized that Oxford, and the Kilns and surrounding woods and fields in particular, is a ‘thin place’ for me: a place where what one might call the further dimensions of reality, the spiritual dimensions, were perceptible more vividly and consistently than usual.

I’ve tried to bring that out a little bit here. I also tried to capture my own sense of the connection of landscape and language, with references to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Narnia, Till We Have Faces, and “Meditation in a Toolshed”.

You can click on the title of the poem to hear my reading of it.

The Kilns in morning sun and frost. Photo c. Holly Ordway

Walking Shotover Hill

The hedge is green and silver with the frost,
The garden’s bare brown stems are furred with ice.
A weed becomes a Faerie scepter, lost
In midnight revel; every blade of grass
Is ornamented with the heraldry
Of winter, standing stiff to meet my step
As I set out to walk Shotover Hill.
The hollies stand as sentinel, but let
This walker pass: I give my thanks. The sun
Now gilds the path: I look along the beam,
And see the trees and stones and fence at once
As deeply real and being what they mean.
The very air here calls my heart to dance,
And so it does: this beauty’s not by chance.


Dr. Holly Ordway

Dr. Holly Ordway has a doctorate in English Literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, an MA in English Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Dr. Ordway’s book Not God’s Type: A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith (Moody Publishers, 2010) chronicles her intellectual and emotional journey from atheism to faith in Christ as her Lord and Savior.

She speaks and writes regularly on literature, especially fantasy literature and poetry, and literary apologetics. Her blog, from which this post was used with her permission, is Hieropraxis. In it, she explores the intersection of literature and faith, and of reason and imagination.