Owen Barfield composed the long narrative poem in c.1950.
It remains unpublished.
The original manuscript is held in the Bodleian Library.
A transcript copy manuscript is in the Marion E. Wade Center
[Reference: OB/MS-105/X and OB/MS-166]
“ Lovely atmosphere, like W. Morris without his coldness. Emotionally delicate & tender without sentimentality. Rather decorated. Sprightly & witty, never losing pace & rigour. Opening lines wonderfully witty & compact. Technique throughout admirable, the occasional internal rhymes etc. saving the easy rhythm from monotony. Visualisation brilliant, coming right into focus. The piety is quite lovely and decent, I accept it joyfully, conscious of the portent (how impossible this poem would have been 25 years ago) and feeling enlarged by it. The rough coquetry of the Unicorn is really ravishing. (It is usually represented as a delicate beast except in its strength & wildness, but I accept this version gladly). … The abrupt, light, humorous end is as good as the opening in a different way. I think the length, weight, pattern of the piece well suited to the subject. Wouldn’t it make a good cantata? ”
The Lady and the Unicorn
(Musée national du Moyen Âge, Paris)
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