The Forgotten Inkling

Owen Barfield’s writing will inspire you.

Owen Barfield is an author who piques my interest and challenges my thought as few others recently have. A member of the Inklings and one of C.S. Lewis’ dear friends, Barfield’s study was the field of consciousness; how we know, how we experience reality, and how language forms, reflects, and livens that experience. I am in the midst of his Saving the Appearances and am about to start Poetic Diction, both classics when it comes to the study of language, imagination, and human consciousness. All of these are topics I am very keen to study to the depths and I’ll be writing more on what I find in his books. So, when I discovered this lovely poem, it seemed an easy way to introduce him to you. Not only is it a fitting poem with which to welcome October, it also offers the reader a deepened awareness of the world, a heightened consciousness if you will, that comes with the gift of well-woven words.

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.

By Owen Barfield. Used with the kind permission of the Owen Barfield Literary Estate (link below). Note: this poem was possibly written in 1919 and is transcribed from the typescript at the Bodleian Library (Barfield Papers, Dep. c. 1103).

For those whose interest was piqued like mine, take a look at these resources.

Check out these books to start withSaving the Appearancesand Poetic Diction.

Listen to this podcast by Malcolm Guite:

And visit the The Owen Barfield Literary Estate.

Sarah Clarkson
Sarah Clarkson is an author, blogger, and student of theology at the University of Oxford. She loves books, beauty, and imagination and wants everyone else to understand why they should too. She is the author of Read for the Heart (a guide to children’s literature) and Caught Up in a Story, an exploration of the way that narrative and imagination form a child’s sense of self. She wrote The Lifegiving Home with her mother, Sally Clarkson, and blogs about home, books, Oxford, and beauty at When not chasing doctrinal mysteries down in the Bodleian, walking the meadows, or drinking another good cup of coffee, Sarah can be found at home with a good novel in the red-doored English house she shares with her husband, Thomas.

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