“A Meditation”

Light in the world—
World in the mind—
Mind in the heart—
Heart in the night.

Pain in the day—
Strength in the pain—
Light in the strength—
World in the light.

Note: First published in The Golden Blade (1971), this version is from A Barfield Sampler.


How shall I welcome not this light
Or, wakened by it, greet with doubt
This beam as palpable to sight
As visible to touch? How not,
Old as I am and (some say) wise,
Revive beneath her summer eyes?

How not have all my nights and days,
My spirit ranging far and wide,
By recollections of her grace
Enlightened and preoccupied?
Preoccupied: the Morning Star
How near the Sun and yet how far!

Enlightened: true, but more than true,
Or why must I discover there
The meaning in this taintless dew,
The dancing wave, this blessed air
Enchanting in its morning dress
And calm as everlastingness?

The flame that in the heart resides
Is parcel of that central Fire
Whose energy is winds and tides—
Is rooted deep in the Desire
That smilingly unseals its power
Each summer in each springing flower.

Oh Lady Nature—Proserpine,
Mistress of Gender, star-crowned Queen!
Ah Rose of Sharon—Mistress mine,
My teacher ere I turned fourteen,
When first I hallowed from afar
Your Beautyship in avatar!

I sense the hidden thing you say,
Your subtle whisper how the Word
From Alpha on to Omega
Made all things—you confide my Lord
Himself—all, all this potent Frame,
All save the riddle of your name.

Wisdom! I heard a voice that said:
“What riddle? What is that to you?
How! By my follower betrayed!
Look up—for shame! Now tell me true:
Where meet you light, with love and grace?
Still unacquainted with my face?”

Dear God, the erring heart must live—
Through strength and weakness, calm and glow—
That answer Wisdom scorns to give.
Much have I learned. One problem, though,
I never shall unlock: Who then,
Who made Sophia feminine?

Note: This poem is annotated “Summer 1978” and is transcribed from the manuscript at the Bodleian Library (Barfield Papers, Dep. c. 1114).