The Evolutionary Hymn

A poem by C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)

Lead us, Evolution, lead us
  Up the future's endless stair;
Chop us, change us, prod us, weed us.
  For stagnation is despair:
Groping, guessing, yet progressing,
  Lead us nobody knows where.

Wrong or justice, joy or sorrow,
  In the present what are they
while there's always jam-tomorrow,
  While we tread the onward way?
Never knowing where we're going,
  We can never go astray.

To whatever variation
  Our posterity may turn
Hairy, squashy, or crustacean,
  Bulbous-eyed or square of stern,
Tusked or toothless, mild or ruthless,
  Towards that unknown god we yearn.

Ask not if it's god or devil,
  Brethren, lest your words imply
Static norms of good and evil
  (As in Plato) throned on high;
Such scholastic, inelastic,
  Abstract yardsticks we deny.

Far too long have sages vainly
  Glossed great Nature's simple text;
He who runs can read it plainly,
  'Goodness = what comes next.'
By evolving, Life is solving
  All the questions we perplexed.

Oh then! Value means survival-
  Value. If our progeny
Spreads and spawns and licks each rival,
  That will prove its deity
(Far from pleasant, by our present,
  Standards, though it may well be).

From The New Oxford Book of Light Verse
Chosen and edited by Kingsley Amis
Oxford University Press, 1987

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