The text on this page is from David Lavery, "An Owen Barfield Readers Guide." Seven 15 (1998): 97-112.

A Barfield Sampler

A Barfield Sampler. Ed.  Jeanne Clayton Hunter and Thomas Kranidas. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993.

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 planet in its light,
Bones in the rosy blood
Like land in the sea,
Marrow in a skeleton--
And I in Me.
("In," An Owen Barfield Sampler 54)

If Lewis and Barfield had been asked back in their Oxford days what in their fondest dreams the future would hold for them, it is likely that they would have both confessed to the desire to become creative writers. Though both ended up holding down different "day jobs," Lewis nevertheless did become a creative writer, publishing novels, science-fiction, and children’s literature, though his aspiration to be a poet as well never quite materialized. Though not as prolific as Lewis, Barfield, too, continued to write fiction and poetry, though most of it was completed in the first half of his life. Tom Kranidas’ and Jeanne Clayton Hunter’s An Owen Barfield Sampler, a true labor of love and the result of at least two decades of gleaning and gathering, puts together in one volume a substantial portion of Barfield’s belletristic writing, including the novella "Night Operation," the short story "Dope" (which had in its day been praised by none other than T. S. Eliot), and a good deal of Barfield’s often exquisitely beautiful, and surprisingly autobiographical, lyric poetry. Kranidas’s and Hunter’s introduction is one of the best concise overviews of Barfield’s work available.


Table of Contents

Sonnet: Once, once, this evening, let me say: I love you
Translation from Petrarch: Amor, ed io si pien di meraviglia
La Dame A Licorne
Sonnet: How shall I work that she may not forget
The Silent Piano (For E. B.)
Bad Day
Song of the Bakerloo
The Song They Sing
Girl in Tube
A Visit to Beatrice
Can Light be Golden?
Pollaiuolo’s Apollo and Daphne
Sonnet: I am much inclined towards a life of ease
The Angry Boffin
Emeritus (on not trying to publish verse)
Al Fresco (on Modern Poetry)
The Queen’s Beast (1954)
You’re Wrong
Funeral Oration
Song of Anger
Hagar and Ishmael
    I. Hagar and Ishmael
    II. The Spy
    III. Ishmael
The Merman
At a Promenade Concert
The Milkmaid and the Unicorn
Video Meliora
Sonnet: Where can we hope to swim in love’s bright wave?
“How dolefully you raked into a blaze”
Sonnet: When the too-muchness of this angry trade
The Song of Pity or The Compassionate Society
Speech by a Gadarene Cabinet Minister
Sonnet: You said, and not as one exaggerating
The Sonnet and Its Uses
Mr. Walker
The Coming of Whitsun
Washing of Feet
A Meditation
From Orpheus: A Verse Drama Act II (lines 89-259)
Closing lines from “Riderson Pegagus”

Short Stories
The Devastated Area
Mrs. Cadogan
Two Prophetic Nouvelles

  • The Rose on the Ash-Heap (from the novel in manuscript English People)
  • Night Operation
Afterword by Owen Barfield