Displays for the first time the complete work of a neglected poetic genius
Although best known as C. S. Lewis's wife, Joy Davidman was a gifted writer herself who produced, among other things, two novels and an award-winning volume of poetry in her short lifetime.
The first comprehensive collection of Davidman's poetry, A Naked Tree includes the poems that originally appeared in her Letter to a Comrade (1938), forty other published poems, and more than two hundred previously unpublished poems that came to light in a remarkable 2010 discovery.
Of special interest is Davidman's sequence of forty-five love sonnets to C. S. Lewis, which offer stunning evidence of her spiritual struggles with regard to her feelings for Lewis, her sense of God's working in her lonely life, and her mounting frustration with Lewis for keeping her at arm's length emotionally and physically.
Readers of these Davidman poems -- arranged chronologically by Don King -- will discover three recurring, overarching themes: God, death, and immortality; politics, including capitalism and communism; and (the most by far) romantic, erotic love. This volume marks Joy Davidman as a figure to be reckoned with in the landscape of twentieth-century American poetry.
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Joy Davidman (1915-1960) was an American poet and writer who married C. S. Lewis in 1956. Her published books include Letter to a Comrade, an award-winning volume of poetry, and Smoke on the Mountain: An Interpretation of the Ten Commandments.
Don W. King is professor of English at Montreat College and editor of Christian Scholar's Review. He is the author of over sixty articles on C. S. Lewis, and his other books include C. S. Lewis, Poet and Hunting the Unicorn: A Critical Biography of Ruth Pitter.
Marjorie Lamp Mead
— Marion E. Wade Center, Wheaton College
"Those seeking to better understand the brilliant and complicated writer Joy Davidman would do well to spend time with this vivid collection of her verse, much of it previously unpublished and only recently made available due to the generosity of her son Douglas Gresham. . . . In the poignant intensity of these poems, you will meet the gifted poet who so captivated C. S. Lewis and eventually became his beloved wife."
— coeditor of Mere Christians: Inspiring Stories of Encounters with C. S. Lewis
"Astounding! With A Naked Tree, Don King has made an extraordinary and permanent contribution that rattles the foundations of what we thought we knew not only about Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis but also about twentieth-century poetry. Along with her earlier works, Davidman's poignant love poems to Lewis, filled with playfulness, pathos, longing, and sheer humanness, will captivate a wide array of readers for years to come. This carefully curated volume brings to new light a literary love life that ranks among the most compelling in recent memory. Bravo!"
Bruce L. Edwards
— editor of C. S. Lewis: Life, Works, and Legacy (4 volumes)
"Don King here continues his remarkable streak of extraordinary editorial achievements illuminating the life and literary legacy of Joy Davidman. This volume provides unprecedented access to the full chronological range and power of Davidman's poetry. . . . Bravo!"
Lyle W. Dorsett
— author of And God Came In: The Extraordinary Story of Joy Davidman
"A superbly edited book and an important primary source that reveals both Davidman's love for C. S. Lewis and her considerable talent as a poet."
"In A Naked Tree, Davidman's gift to Lewis becomes a gift to the reader. Her sonnets exalt a virtue many do not appreciate in a woman: earnest romantic pursuit. Davidman's demeanor recoils at the idea that bravery is reserved for boys. She proves herself a Ruth with rhythm. Using tight and true lines, painfully personal, she wins the affection and protection of a man who held her at arm's length for far too long. And for that, you love her."
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