Descending for the last time to the underworld,
the soul of Orpheus addresses his audience.

 

It’s true, of course, that the dusk-umbered leaves
Deepening on the hawthorn are a mere sleight
Of sun and shadow, true the olive groves
And tamarisks beside the river sway
To an off-key breeze, not to their own delight—
And the blue teal, arrowing through the stray
October clouds, keep to their appointments
According to schedule but not with us in mind,
Though you would have it otherwise. What sense
Is there in listening to the sun-shot wind
Croon through the autumn branches, once the song
Behind the song is finished? Always you listened
With your heads tilted towards the absolute
As if the gods would sing to you, while the long
Phrase of my sorrow held your world together,
Your world of stripped fields and the ripening fruit
That weighs each thick bough earthward. Everywhere
You turned, the lavish music of farewell
Lent consequence to things, so that desire
Itself became fulfillment to your ear.
And though the mist that swept the cold laurel
Was neither Apollo stroking Daphne’s hair
Nor Ceres weeping at the doors of hell,
Though nothing I sang could raise Eurydice
Up from the mute depths again, note by note,
It makes no difference now for me to say
The gods are silent, or that the world seems less
For what the hours and seasons claim from us.
More than the sounds that set the stones and trees
In place, and that arrange both shade and light,
A sad music ripens in the heart; caught
Between oblivion and paradise,
It enters the world as loss, though in such ways
That the cadences of grief resound as praise.