THE ORPHIC VOICE: Poetry and Natural History by Elizabeth Sewell

THE ORPHIC VOICE: Poetry and Natural History

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This is a curious, interesting but somewhat baffling book. The superficial theme is to name and quote passages from writers who have been influenced by the great myth of Orpheus. These include Ovid, Bacon, Shakespeare, Goethe, Wordworth, Rilke, to name the most important. The first four fifths of the text actually serve to introduce the fifth part, consisting of the author's own poems. And these poems state the real theme, already hinted at in early sections, that the poet is the ""maker"" and as the ""maker"" may be physicist, biologist or psychologist. And the theme of Orpheus is used to exemplify the underlying myth of creation and inspiration in its many metamorphosed forms. The dualism of mind and body, organic and inorganic, have been questioned since Sir James Jeans- was it not- voiced the theory that ""we must consider the universe as a thought"". It is the curious equating of this writer with the myth of Orpheus that makes her book at once original and not quite clear. Definitely this is a book for ""highbrows"". Some will love it; others will demand a theme less elusive and clearer in presentation.

Publisher: Yale University Press