The grief-stricken birds, the host of wild creatures, the flinty rocks and the woods that had so often followed his songs, all wept for Orpheus. The trees shed their leaves and, with bared heads, mourned for his loss.
Men say that the rivers too were swollen with their own tears, and naiads and dryads tore their hair, and pulled on black garments, over their fine robes. The poet’s limbs were scattered in different places, but the waters of the Hebrus received his head and lyre.
Wonderful to relate, as they floated down in midstream, the lyre uttered a plaintive melody and the lifeless tongue made a piteous murmur, while the river banks lamented in reply. Carried down to the sea, theyleft their native river, and were washed up on the shore of Lesbos, near Methymna.
Here, as the head lay exposed on that foreign shore, its hair dripping with beads of foam, it was attacked by a savage snake: but Phoebus at last appeared, and checked the snake in the very act of biting, turning its open mouth to stone, and petrifying its gaping jaws.
The ghost of Orpheus passed beneath the earth; he recognised all the places he had seen before and, searching through the fields of the blessed, found his Eurydice, and clasped her in eager arms. There they stroll together, side by side: or sometimes Orpheus follows, while his wife goes before, sometimes he leads the way and looks back, as he can do safely now, at his Eurydice.
Some say that all gods and all living creatures originated in the stream of Oceanus which girdles the world, and that Tethys was the mother of all his children.
But the Orphics say that black-winged Night, a goddess of whom even Zeus stands in awe, was courted by the Wind and laid a silver egg in the womb of Darkness; and that Eros, whom some call Phanes, was hatched from this egg and set the universe in motion.
Eros was double-sexed and golden-winged and, having four heads, sometimes roared like a bull, or lion, sometimes hissed like a serpent or bleated like a ram.
Night, who named him Ericepaius and Phaethon Protogenus, lived in a cave with him, displaying herself in triad: Night, Order and Justice. Before this cave sat the inescapable mother Rhea, playing on a brazen drum, and compelling man’s attention to the oracles of the goddess. Phanes created earth, sky, sun and moon, but the triple-goddess ruled the universe, until her sceptre passed to Uranus.
The Homeric and Orphic Creation Myths, Robert Graves
When I awoke next, the party seemed to have ended and I felt more like my usual, down-to-earth self again. I thought it was time to go upstairs for a cup of tea and asked a random individual to lead the way, which he did without enthusiasm and then waved in the direction of some cupboards as soon as we were in the kitchen.
I had sort of forgotten whose house I had entered but was undaunted in my pursuit of refreshment. The cupboard was high on one narrow wall of the oblong room and I needed to stand on the work surface in order to peer comfortably inside. Might I have been exceedingly small?
I opened the door to the cupboard and looked vacantly inside, literally wanting nothing but a decent tea-cup. I was somewhat baffled and unamused, therefore, to actually discover what appeared to be a motley assembly of oddly-shaped, thick earthenware pots (with handles) that were a far cry from the clean, symmetrical, bone-china that I sought.
My first feeling was one of minor irritation but – upon closer inspection – the pots revealed themselves to be uniquely fascinating. The owner of the cupboard was evidently an artisan or collector of some sort, for he had the most marvelous set of vessels in there that one could ever imagine.
Each brown pot – in size the approximate volume of an ordinary tea cup – was fashioned with its own particular, three dimensional design, the majority of which were the faces of what looked to be elves, gnomes and pixies, but could equally have been people, I suppose. There was also a smaller number that were decorated with life-sized birds in flight. This in itself may not seem especially unusual, but if I add that the faces and the birds were real, perhaps the significance of my find might appear greater. Certainly, I was pleased.
I wondered whether the Potter actually owned a full set, the rest of which might have been in use somewhere, or if this was the sum of his collection. Either way, I was impressed, now that the humble beauty of the potter’s hearth was clear before my eyes in the shape of this cupboard full of small creatures that he had made himself.
I wondered if I would ever be permitted a sight of this master at work. The fruits of his craft were indeed marvelous but I was sure the pots were far too precious for me to use for tea, and I was loathe to even examine them in detail as they were evidently of great worth and I was afraid of breaking them. These objects were not for my curiosity or keeping and I thought I should look for something else to drink from.
I opened the adjacent cupboard but found nothing apart from half a dozen boring chipped mugs, some without handles, which generally seemed unfit for use. Someone had obviously been there already and used up all the good ones. My morning cup of tea seemed destined not to happen I thought moodily. I looked over my shoulder into the kitchen for someone who’d made a round of tea without asking me. Spotting two men standing by the door, I suspected that they had helped themselves nicely. I obviously wasn’t part of the in crowd; I didn’t even want stupid tea anymore.
I climbed down from the cupboard and decided to go on holiday, seeing as consciousness still hadn’t arrived and reason was keeping quiet, content to go along with anything for the time-being. I cleared my voice and made a loud announcement: