28 MAY 1921, Page 21



MR. HOUSMAN'S The Death of Orpheus shows, unlike most poetic dramas, a good deal of dramatic sense. The theme of it is the enmity felt by a rout of Bacchanals against a certain kingdom of shepherds, whose chief minstrel is Orpheus. The business of Orpheus' descent into Hades is very cleverly managed from the stage point of view. The whole of the journey is related to the audience as it takes place by the chief of the Bacchantes who sees it all in a drunken trance. She hates Orpheus, and is hoping all the time for the catastrophe. Here is an example of the verse. Orpheus has bought Eurydice back from the lords of Hell. He gces in front harping :—

" rnarassa. He goeth : but night is upon him. And where gooth he, Only a voice can she hear ; and the upward way Is rugged and long :

Not yet can thine eyes see day—

Not yet, not yet And hark how, robbed of their prey, The Furies cry as they circle, and hover, and throng ! And loud in the caverned way Is the beat of their wings : And distant and faint grows the sound of the minstrel's song. And.ound her flicker in rings Red mouths with the fang that stings : Their coils are a net in the path, The blast of their breath is flame ; Hither, thither, with eyes of wrath,

• The Death of °rams. Br Laurence Housman. London: Sidgwick and Jackson. 15s. net.j

They meet, and part, and point in the gloom ; And blind is the way beneath her feet, And the narrow rock becometh a tomb.

But ever a voice that cries her name—

His voice, his voice she hears, in a world of darkness and doom."

The critic will perceive that this is sound, melodious verse. The interest of the story is very well upheld ; the reader will find himself excellently carried along by it, and we imagine that, if it were acted, so would the spectator.