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Eurydice remains elusive. The beautiful nymph arrived suddenly to strike Orpheus with love; that genial musician who had before only cared for his song. Where she came from no story tells - the woods, the secret sisterhood of nymphs, from the land of dreams, perhaps.

A union between two such wonderful people was too perfect, too good to last. Shortly after their marriage Eurydice was approached by Aristaeus, lustful or love-stricken. She fled from the shepherd in such a panic that she did not see her doom in the grass. Her bare foot fell prey to the snake, and the nymph was taken to Hades.

Orpheus used all the power of his song and managed to persuade the God of the Dead to give her back. But as they both went back to life and love, he the leader, she the shadow, he became more and more filled with doubt. At last he turned and saw Eurydice, evading him one last time.

Eurydice by H.D.

Why did you turn back,
that hell should be reinhabited
of myself thus
swept into nothingness?

Why did you turn?
why did you glance back?

So you have swept me back--
I who could have walked with the live souls
above the earth.
I who could have slept among the live flowers
at last.

so for your arrogance
and your ruthlessness
I am swept back
where dead lichens drip
dead cinders among moss of ash.

What was it that crossed my face
with the light from yours
and your glance?

What was it you saw in my face --
the light of your own face,
the fire of your own presence?

H.D. aka Hilda Doolittle (1886-1961)

Eurydice was written amidst the disintegration of HD's marriage to Richard Aldington (also a poet), so on one level it can be read on a biographical level as an outcry against her unfaithful husband. But H.D. also appears to distain the concept of Eurydice as the passive object of her husband, Orpheus, introducing an unresolved conflict into the poem.

H.D.'s poem "Eurydice" was included in the Amy Lowell collection "Some Imagist Poets" and also included in the section entitled "The God" when her "Collected Poems" was published in 1925.

CST Approved

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