From the Grey Town below of eternal self-vision,

A despairing, hollow place,

To the Bright Lands above of expedition,

At a slow, infernal pace.

Every step taken leads further up, in

Where something real prods

At the soul and sole of waning apparitions

To answers far beyond

The grasp of the dead and self-seeking men

Who come from below.

And there a lonely man traverses and eaves

On other lonely Shades

Who meet with Bright People of former days,

Often with dismay.

Excuses and memories, exchanged in words

Turning Shades away.

Broken hearts, broken lives, broken minds prefer

To keep plucking hands at bay.

Every hair, every feather, their soul will hold firm;

They will to be the Shade.

Enters the teacher, with thick Scottish brogue,

A certain, heavenly guide,

Who with wise words of admonition

Dares to provide

New, honest eyes to see the connection

Shades want to hide.

Deep in their hearts and in shallow pockets,

Hell’s flame resides.

They do not seek Heaven for its blessed profit—

They seek to be justified.

They seek selfish comfort, just as before?

— In earthly life.

The only reason they peer through Hell’s door?

— To nip at Bright minds.

There’s really no escape? Is that for sure?

— The door’s locked inside.

The Bright Ones can’t take the Shades by force?

— It’s their chosen strife.

Then why let them crack Hell’s damned door?

— To settle temporal minds.

To Assure The Twain Acquire Divorce.

“No, there is no escape. There is no heaven with a little of hell in it — no plan to retain this or that of the devil in our hearts or our pockets. Out Satan must go, every hair and feather.”[1]

Citation Information

Donald W. Catchings, Jr., “A Heavenly Guide: Lewis’s ‘Teacher’ in The Great Divorce,” An Unexpected Journal: George MacDonald 3, no. 4. (Advent 2020), 143-146.

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[1] George MacDonald, “The Last Farthing” in Unspoken Sermons Series Two, accessed September 13, 2020,