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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Effect of Orpheus’s Song in Hades
By Ovid (43 B.C.–18 A.D.)
 
Translation of Henry King

SO sang he, and, accordant to his plaint,
As wailed the strings, the bloodless ghosts were moved
To weeping. By the lips of Tantalus
Unheeded slipped the wave; Ixion’s wheel
Forgot to whirl; the Vulture’s bloody feast        5
Was stayed; awhile the Belides forbore
Their leaky urns to dip; and Sisyphus
Sate listening on his stone. Then first, they say,
The iron cheeks of the Eumenides
Were wet with pity. Of the nether realm        10
Nor king nor queen had heart to say him nay.
Forth from a host of new-descended shades
Eurydice was called; and halting yet,
Slow with her recent wound, she came alive,
On one condition to her spouse restored,—        15
That, till Avernus’s vale is passed and earth
Regained, he look not backward, or the boon
Is null and forfeit. Through the silent realm
Upward against the steep and fronting hill,
Dark with obscurest gloom, the way he led;        20
And now the upper air was all but won,
When, fearful lest the toil o’ertask her strength,
And yearning to behold the form he loved,
An instant back he looked—and back the shade
That instant fled! The arms that wildly strove        25
To clasp and stay her, clasped but yielding air!
No word of plaint even in that second death
Against her lord she uttered,—how could love
Too anxious be upbraided?—but one last
And sad “Farewell!” scarce audible, she sighed,        30
And vanished to the ghosts that late she left.
 
 
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