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

Orpheus: A Poetic Drama

Orpheus: A Poetic Drama. Ed. John C. Ulreich, Jr. West Stockbridge, MA: Lindisfarne Press, 1983.

He shall ascend Parnassus awake and find his soul:
Proteus shall work unsleeping for ever, and forms shall flow
As the meaning of words a poet has mastered. It shall be so
That Zeus shall abandon to Cronos the antique starry crown,
And softly out of Olympus the high Gods shall come down
Shedding ambrosial fragrance in clouds that for ever abide,
And earth shall be covered with blushes and make herself sweet  as a bride.
And her light shall be liquid as honey, her air taste good like bread
In the mouths of them that dwell upon earth, and all shall be fed. (Orpheus 112)

Barfield had written the verse drama Orpheus in the 1930s, partly at the suggestion of C. S. Lewis. The play was performed only once, in 1948, and remained buried in Barfield’s papers until John Ulreich, Jr. of the University of Arizona, tantalized by Barfield’s allusions to it, disinterred it and saw it through to publication in 1983. Ulreich rightly praises Orpheus as "the evolution of consciousness made flesh, the thing itself in human form, the myth made fact as imaginative experience" (119).