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Orpheus is a poem by American poet William Jay Smith (b.1918). In his long career he has been poetry consultant to the Library of Congress (the position now known as the U.S. Poet Laureate) and has been a member of The Academy of Arts and Letters since 1975. He is particularly known for his translations into English, and has written ten collections of poetry.
This poem is a sonnet in praise of Orpheus, a character in classical mythology known as the chief among poets and musicians. It was said that he could charm birds, animals and fish, and coax the rocks and forests to dance.
Written for Auckland Choral to mark the 200th anniversary of the death of Franz Joseph Haydn
Text by William Jay Smith
02 Aug 2009: Pounamu