Eurydice: Listening: A Picture By Burne Jones

Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward

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As sentient as a wedding-bell,
The vibrant air throbs calling her
Whose eager body, earwise curved,
Leans listening at the heart of hell.
She is one nerve of hearing, strained
To love and suffer, hope and fear--
Thus, hearkening for her Love, she waits,
Whom no man's daring heart has gained.


Oh, to be sound to such an ear!
Song, carol, vesper, comfort near,
Sweet words, at sweetest, whispered low,
Or dearer silence, happiest so.
By little languages of love
Her finer audience to prove;
A tenderness untried, to fit
To soul and sense so exquisite;
The blessed Orpheus to be
At last, to such Eurydice!


I listened in hell! I listened in hell!
Down in the dark I heard your soul
Singing mine out to the holy sun.
Deep in the dark I heard your feet
Ringing the way of Love in hell.
Into the flame you strode and stood.
Out of the flame you bore me well,
As I listened in hell.


I listen in hell! I listen in hell!
Who trod the fire? Where was the scorch?
Clutched, clasped, and saved, what a tale was to tell
--Heaven come down to hell!
Oh, like a spirit you strove for my sake!
Oh, like a man you looked back for your own!
Back, though you loved me heavenly well,
Back, though you lost me. The gods did decree,
And I listen in hell.

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