I wed the lovely nymph Eurydice
In midst of summer as the days grew long.
The sorrow soon to come I did not see:
I played the lyre and sang a joyful song
And gloried in the beauty of my bride
But, as she danced, a serpent took her life.
A bride, but still a maid untouched, she died,
And I, so late a bridegroom, mourned my wife.
Without her here my music is no more,
Without her by my side I cannot live.
Restore to me what I called mine before,
The gift that you alone have pow'r to give.
O mighty Hades, unseen king of death,
Return to my Eurydice her breath.
They warned me not to look upon her face
'Til from the darkness of the earth we're free,
But I begin to doubt her silent grace
Can it in truth be my Eurydice?
Or has the unseen god my hopes deceived:
Am I as empty-handed as I came?
I'll take one look, not more once I've perceived
My wife, my love, who sets my heart aflame.
I turn to see her shining in the grey,
But, as I look, she's fading like the rain,
And through my fingers slipping fast away,
The love I lost before, and lose again.
Now I have no Eurydice to clasp.
Now stone and earth are all that meet my grasp.
A weak sun rises on each empty day;
I have naught but my lyre left to me.
Without Eurydice I can but play
The sounds of grief no song of jubilee.
All beasts of fur and feather 'round me draw:
The lion and the lamb together lay;
Each with a silent throat and gentle paw,
No predator devours his rightful prey.
I sing to them of sorrow and of woe,
Of fair Eurydice and her twice-death.
I've long since wept my last; no tears do flow,
But still my bride does haunt my ev'ry breath.
The nymphs and maenads beg me join their dance,
But no room's in my heart for new romance.
A head without a body floating by
The bathing nymphs do shriek and shrink away.
A head without a body now am I,
Interred in river-water, not in clay.
For as I played and sang, a maenad throng
Called me to join the wine-soaked Bacchic rites;
My love for dead Eurydice still strong,
I could not leave behind my lonely nights.
Because I would not join their frenzied dance,
The mad bacchantes tore me limb from limb
And flung me to the river in their trance,
No more to play an anthem or a hymn.
But lift me, and my cold, pale lips you'll see
Shall sing to you one name: Eurydice.