Poetry

The following poems, some of which have never before been published, are representative of Barfield’s range as a poet. The selections are arranged chronologically based on the date of writing and/or publication.

Editor: Tiffany Brooke Martin, PhD.

1910s

“Air-Castles”

When I grow up to be a man and wear whate’er I please,
Black-cloth and serge and Harris-tweed—I will have none of these;
For shaggy men wear Harris-tweed, so Harris-tweed won’t do,
And fat commercial travellers are dressed in dingy blue;
Lack-lustre black to lawyers leave and sad souls in the City,
But I’ll wear Linsey-Woolsey because it sounds so pretty.
I don’t know what it looks like,
I don’t know how it feels,
But Linsey-Woolsey to my fancy
Prettily appeals.

And when I find a lovely maid to settle all my cash on,
She will be much too beautiful to need the gauds of fashion.
No tinted tulle or taffeta, no silk or crepe-de-chine
Will the maiden of my fancy wear—no chiffon, no sateen,
No muslin, no embroidery, no lace of costly price,
But she’ll be clad in Dimity because it sounds so nice.
I don’t know what it looks like,
I do not know its feel,
But a dimpled maid in Dimity
Was ever my ideal.

Note: This was Barfield’s first published poem, unsigned in Punch 152 (14 Feb. 1917).

“An Autumn Bicycle-Ride”

The leaves, grown rusty overhead,
Dropped on the road and made it red.
The air that coldly wrapped me round,
Stained by the glowing of the ground,
Had bathed the world in the cosy gloom
Of a great, red-carpeted, firelit room;
It filled my lungs, as I rode along,
Till they overflowed in a flood of song,
And joy grew truculent in my throat,
Uttering a pompous trombone-note;
For this elegant modern soul of mine
Was warm with old Autumn’s rich red wine.

Note: This poem was possibly written in 1919 and is transcribed from the typescript at the Bodleian Library (Barfield Papers, Dep. c. 1103).
Copyright © 1997 — Owen Barfield Literary Estate.       Return to Top.