The Pearl

Notes on poem entitled ‘The Pearl’

There is a medieval (14th century) poem, anonymous, called ‘The Pearl’, and someone reminded me of this recently after watching the film of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, in which C.S. Lewis’s children are all Kings and Queens in Narnia.

In the medieval poem, a little girl of two dies and her grieving father has a vision of a heavenly garden with a young woman of about twenty in it.  She explains that she is his daughter, and although she died as a baby, in heaven everyone is the ideal age. 

‘Now I am Queen of Heaven,’ she said, and her father asked her how that could be, since she was just an ordinary person on earth.

‘We are all kings and queens in heaven,’ she explains.

Presumably C.S. Lewis got an idea of this kind from this poem, or perhaps it occurs elsewhere in the more obscure parts of the Christian traditions, but I have not come across it as explicitly as this.

It is very interesting as an indication that there was originally some higher level psychology in the Christian tradition, although this has been almost entirely suppressed, and C.S. Lewis has no understanding of centralisation to speak of.

This is in spite of the fact that, in Perelandra, he is able to produce an allegory of part of the structural difference between higher and lower level psychology, in so far as the latter depends on unawareness of the existential uncertainty, which actually prevents awareness of significance or reality, and so militates against any but the most primitive and socially derived forms of centralisation.

Of course, the statement that everyone is a king or queen on a higher level (or in Heaven) is very fundamental, and otherwise there is in the Christian traditions practically no indication of insight into the psychodynamics of a higher level state.  Of course, the male image takes precedence, on account of the fact that the female image is virtually inseparable from some elements of decentralisation.  This was apparently also understood, at least originally, since Gnostic writers asserted the need for women to ‘become men’ in order to enter the Kingdom.