1940s

“Messack Point”

Westward of Carrick Roads the morning haze
Marries all open sea to open heaven;
Sweet waters, like a carpet of calm days,
Lie stretched below me—and still only seven!
The day not started—two hours more to dream
And gaze and hear them say one soft, bright air,
The sea-girt fields, the sea-gull’s far-off scream:
“We are the morning, brother, we are fair!”
Yes, you are fair! O world of woes untold,
Untellable, hold fast! appall, appall!
Life is the art of wisely growing old . . .
All I have felt, thought, said . . . and, after all,
O heart, still, still the same untutored boy!
O Christ, walk thou the waves of this mad joy!

Note: Written in Cornwall, this poem is transcribed from a letter dated 31 July 1945 to Cecil Harwood (Marion E. Wade Center, Barfield papers, Harwood correspondence, folder 6).

“Short History of Theism”

(Source: Chapter II of Miracles by C. S. Lewis, London, 1947)

Since thinking began,
This creature called Man
Made use of it mostly for fancying folly.
He passed through an eerie, odd
Myth-making period,
Chopping up Monotheism to Poly-.

Then down, Gadareno,
(Especially Zeno),
Secure in his dream of resolving a poser,
He slithered and ran
From Poly- to Pan-
(Viz. Wordsworth, Blavatsky, Shaw, Buddha, Spinoza)

Note: This poem is transcribed from the back inside cover of Barfield’s copy of C. S. Lewis’s Miracles at the Marion E. Wade Center.

“Peacock Pie”

(For the seventy-fifth birthday of Walter de la Mare)

Sam, said a Chatterbox,
The Barber’s—Eyes—
Mopser
! But I said
Paradise!

Or ever language
Was joined in words,
Syllables talked
From the trees, like birds.

Harped and carped
In the branches—met,
Chased, hopped, chattered
The Alphabet.

Aleph trembled—
To cup her breast,
Vau wove Aleph
A singing-nest.

Down flew language
On earth from air—
And well you know it,
Young de la Mare!

Note: This poem was written in 1948 and is transcribed from the typescript at the Bodleian Library (Barfield Papers, Dep. c. 1108).
Copyright © 1997 — Owen Barfield Literary Estate.       Return to Top.