Monday, February 21, 2022



I was a god's nymph of the deep ravine,
a dancer in the dusk on dandelion greens
til listening to you I felt a dog's duress
that I in your spellsong's locket be possessed.

Under the purple awning of the night
whitened stars beat down in falling flight.
I felt yet didn't hear your naked voice.
I took and later rued an arrow's choice.

And when your always-wooing sleepless noise
drew the jackal out from the sour wood,
I tried to turn and run as best I could;
you played untouched as the snake saw me destroyed.

Even then you could not let me rest,
bright in poppy sleep in the dreaming earth
but played until your will outgrew my worth
and petals bloomed on the stone of Hades' breast.

But as you pulled me up the iron route
I saw my dandelion days were all undone,
and rejoiced in the malediction of your doubt,
freed at last where death and dreams are one.
 February 2022

 posted for Word Garden Word List #14

where I am hosting this week for Shay, who is taking the week off. Come join us!
Note; This poem has absolutely nothing to do with Neruda, but it is what the words on the list brought out. In the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, Eurydice is seduced by the legendary music of Orpheus and his harp and marries him. One day the minor god Aristaeus sees and pursues her. As she runs away, she is bitten by a viper and dies. Orpheus famously follows her to Hades' underworld, where his singing persuades the god to let her return to the earth. ".. the condition was attached that he must walk in front of her and not look back until both had reached the upper world. Soon he began to doubt that she was there, suspecting that Hades had deceived him. Just as he reached the portals of Hades..he turned around to gaze on her face, and because Eurydice had not yet crossed the threshold, she vanished back into the Underworld...Several meanings for the name Eurydice have been proposed such as true judgement or profound judgement...In some accounts, she was instead called Agriope which means "savage face" ~wikipedia
Images: Orpheus and Eurydice, 1515,  relief by Peter Vischer the Younger Public Domain
Eurydice Bitten By The Viper, 1508, Titian  Public Domain


  1. The story of Eurydice is one of my favorites and I have written to it myself on more than one occasion. I was sure you'd write something heartbreaking and Neruda-ish, but you've gone mythological instead, and elegantly. I do have a question, though, about the rhyme scheme. In the first two stanzas, lines 1 & 2 rhyme, as do 3 &4. Then, in the 3rd and 4th stanzas, it's 1 & 4 and 2 & 3. Finally, the final stanza switches again, with 1 & 3 and 2 & 4. Was this by design or just how it played out? It all reads smooth as satin, I'm just curious. You always have a fine knack for writing about these characters from the various myths and traditions, and this is no exception, Joy.

    1. By design, and because I can. ;_) I wanted it to be less predictable, and not so sing-songy, tho who knows how well that worked out. I too wanted to write a poem more inspired by Neruda, but this is all I had. Thanks, Shay, for reading.

  2. Slick, velvety and rich as chocolate cake. The myth is a solid base (I mean, which poet doesn’t love the stories of the greatest poet of Greek myth) but, you’ve been able to springboard that into a lucid standalone poem, that is as powerful out of context, as with.

  3. This is just exquisite, Joy. I've often been quite absorbed by this myth in the past and I love how it comes across as if Eurydice is trying to free herself of his bewitchment and in the end because of his error (or her blessing) she is "freed at last where death and dreams are one." Stunning.

    I loved this line too:

    "You played untouched as the snake saw me destroyed." - illustrates how non-heroic he was, plucking away while she meets her demise. I enjoyed the contrast of these parallel scenes.

    But I loved the whole verse. I think you'd really enjoy Carol Ann Duffy's version from her collection The World's Wife, though she writes hers with a bit of a wicked tongue, yet it is also quite funny. <3

    1. I really like Carol Ann Duffy, so I will make it a point to check that out. Thanks so much for your kind and enthusiastic comment, Sunra.

    2. You are more than welcome, Joy <3

  4. Can't get away, can't get away, can't get away. But most all things have to end, even bad ones. This was an interesting situation for me. I also liked your composition, rhyme and meter. If it were mine I would call it "irregular rhyme," but mine generally is very random and has some inside rhyme as well. But I don't use the rhyme very often anymore.

  5. Persephone's rape by Hades is reversed here though it still turns on desire -- Orpheus the lyre of greening life chasing the virgin Eurydice to the gates of Hell and then turning back. In both myths virginity is protected when violated from the other dimension. Go figure ... the mythologem here is the fret of every nymph chased by outrageous desire, clinging to an innocence, reading the advances of the other who would become Beloved as hurtful (men don't experience rending pain bursting free of their virginity). This stays faithful to the nymph and weaves its willow-rhyme accordingly. The archetype of all romantic disappointment, read by the sober light of day.

    1. Thanks, B. I agree on the tropes you mention. At its heart this is a story about (in my opinion) the destructive nature of desire. It is usually presented as a praise song about the strength of Orpheus' love and I wanted to flip it a bit and look at an alternate reading where it is more about possession, guilt and arrogance decked out showily in the trappings of deep love, and of course most of all, the hubris--that is, in this case a lack of acceptance that yes, the worst can happen, and there is nothing you can do about it. Also, no one ever tells it as Eurydice's love story, so perhaps it really wasn't.

    2. HW - that really comes through. Orpheus's pursuit is oppressive and a perpetrator.

  6. Love your reading/writing of Eurydice!!! (And flawless, effortless inclusion of the words, plus double points for the additional stricture of rhyming...) So many of these lines are "Oooh!" - esp. outstanding are: "felt a dog's duress", and "pulled me up the iron route"

    1. Thanks, qbit. There is something timeless about the myths of our early history that make them echo in our own lives even centuries later.

  7. Joy, I picked up a lot of what was going on in the poem but am glad you included the story also. You so fluidly rolled out what feels like relentless torment upon this poor soul, where return to Hades is the only relief she gets. In modern times that almost feels like a stalker or an employment harassment situation. How many females have been tormented this way over the years I wonder. Y


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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