Helen Darbishire and Ernest De Selincourt (eds), The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, Vol. 1: Poems Written in Youth; Poems Referring to the Period of Childhood (Second Edition)
Editor’s NoteXIORPHEUS AND EURYDICE
(Translated from Virgil, Georgics, iv. 464–527.)
- 1He wandering far along the lonely main
- 2Sooth'd with the hollow shell his sickly pain;
- 3Thee, thee, dear wife, [ ] he sung forlorn,
- 4From morn to eve, and thee from eve to morn.
- 5He pierced the grove where brooding darkness flings
- 6A cold black horror from his [ ] wings,
- 7To where Hell's King in griesly state appears
- 8And round him hearts unmov'd by human tears;
- 9On as he pass'd and struck the plaintive shell
- 10Ambrosial music fill'd the ear of hell.
- 11[ ] from the lowest bound
- 12Of Erebus the shadows flock'd around,
- 13As birds unnumbered seek their leafy bower,
- 14Driv'n by the twilight dark, or morning shower,
- 15Boys, men, and matrons old, the tender maid,
- 16And mighty heroes' more majestic shade.
- 17Felt his dear wife the sweet approach of light
- 18Following behind—ah why did Fate impose
- 19This cruel mandate, source of all his woes?
- 20When [ ] a sudden madness stole
- 21His swimming senses from the lover's soul.
- 22The deed might not in vain for pardon sue
- 23If Hell the sweets of gentle pardon knew.
- pg 28424He paus'd, and treading on the edge of day
- 25Mindless, his parting soul dissolved away,
- 26He turn'd and gaz'd. [
- 27 ] and thrice a dismal shriek
- 28From Hell's still waters thrice was heard to break.
- 29Then she—"what God our Ruin hath decreed,
- 30And why, my Orpheus, why this desperate deed?
- 31Once more I hear a dreadful voice, it cries
- 32Come come away [ ]
- 33Farewell my life, farewell my soul's delight,
- 34A death-like darkness tears me from thy sight
- 35But ah, my Orpheus, ah, no longer mine;
- 36Thy fond Eurydice, no longer thine,
- 37[? Still] through the gloomy door with eager pain
- 38Stretches her powerless arm to thee in vain."
- 39What prayers or songs of weeping can now move
- 40The cruel fates to grant again his love?
- 41Even now cold shivering in the boat she stood,
- 42That slowly struggled through the torpid flood.
- 43For seven long moons, by Strymon's desert side,
- 44He wept unceasing to the hollow tide;
- 45While overhead, as still he wept and sung,
- 46Aerial rocks in shaggy prospect hung.
- 47Meek grew the tigers when in caverns hoar
- 48He sung his tale of sorrow o'er and o'er;
- 49The solemn forest at the magic song
- 50Had ears to joy—and slowly moved along
- Critical Apparatus51So darkling in the poplar's shady gloom
- 52Mourns the lorn nightingale her hapless doom;
- 53Mourns with low sighs and sadly pleasing tongue,
- 54Torn callow from their nest, her darling young;
- 55All night she weeps, slow-pouring from her throat
- 56Renew'd at every fall the plaintive note,
- 57Moans round the chearless nest with pious love;
- 58The solemn warblings sadden all the grove.
- 59No maid the mourner's widow'd bosom moves
- 60He sicken'd at the thought of other loves;
- pg 28561Hopeless and sad, with never ceasing moan,
- 62He trod the snowy Tanais all alone.
- 63He lov'd through cold Rhipaean snows to roam,
- 64Cold fields of ice and snow his only home;
- 65[? Reft] of his dear lost partner did he plain
- 66Giv'n to his arms from Death, but giv'n in vain;
- 67For which sad dearer office coldly spurn'd
- 68The fell Ciconian Matrons inly burn'd
- 69[ ] to Bacchus, as they paid
- 70Nocturnal orgies in the midnight shade;
- 71Him, mourning still, the savage maenads found
- 72And strew'd his mangled limbs the plain around;
- 73His head was from its neck of marble torn
- 74And down the Œagrian Hebrus slowly borne.
- 75Then too upon the voice and faltering tongue
- 76Eurydice in dying accents hung;
- 77Ah! poor Eurydice, it feebly cried;
- 78Eurydice, the moaning banks replied.
p. 283. XI. Orpheus and Eurydice: preserved in the same MS. as contains MS. C of the Vale of Esthwaite, and obviously composed shortly afterwards. It is for the most part very carelessly written and not consecutively, so that I have had to piece the translation together; its probable date is 1788–9. The variant of ll. 51–8 appears in a letter from D.W. to Quillinan, 1822.
MS. (after 1820)
- Even so bewails, the poplar groves among,
- Sad Philomela her evanished young;
- Whom the harsh rustic from the nest hath torn,
- An unfledg'd brood; but on the bough forlorn
- She sits, in mournful darkness, and night long
- Renews and still renews her doleful song
- And fills the leavy grove, complaining of her wrong.