1960s

“Mr. Walker”

Mr. Walker lies in bed
Every morning, shamming dead,
Till I, returning from a land
Of outward dark and inward light,
Rejoin him—when, at my command,
Mr. Walker stands upright.
But when, as if to be erect
Were insufficient miracle,
Across the floor he carries me
Out to get the morning tea,
What infinite mysteries direct
His locomotion! Who shall tell
With what Pythagorean art
Of space-commuted harmony
He deals to each related part
Proportioned stresses:—do, re, mi!
Hear, as above the tray I bend
And straighten, how he takes the weight,
My musical, my lifelong friend
Inaudibly articulate!
So all through yesterday he went
And all my days—my spirit’s base,
My soul’s precision instrument
To find her bearings here in space:
Left, right, up, down, behind, before . . .
Ah, let uneasy fools abhor
The bogy man their fancy spies—
That jointed spindle underneath
The blank, imaginary eyes,
Those gaping nostrils, grinning teeth
Mocking and symbolising Death—
Let them abhor!
But I— But I—
How often in my bath I lie
In Archimedean repose,
Twixt gravity and levity,
And thank, as I uncurl his toes,
The gods who wove this tender skin
And put dear Mr. Walker in!

Note: First published in Anthroposophical Quarterly (1960), this version is from A Barfield Sampler.

“In”

Fruit in a blossom
And petals in a seed;
Reeds in a river-bed,
Music in a reed;
Stars in a firmament
Shining in the night;
Sun in a galaxy
And planets in its light;
Bones in the rosy blood
Like land in the sea;
Marrow in a skeleton,
And I in me.

Note: First published in Anthroposophical Quarterly (1961), this version is transcribed from the manuscript at the Bodleian Library (Barfield Papers, Dep. c. 1114). The manuscript also has a musical setting by Mark Mytton.
Copyright © 1997 — Owen Barfield Literary Estate.       Return to Top.