Songs Before Sunrise


To Victor Hugo

Algernon Charles Swinburne

ORPHEUS, the night is full of tears and cries,
    And hardly for the storm and ruin shed
    Can even thine eyes be certain of her head
Who never passed out of thy spirit’s eyes,
But stood and shone before them in such wise
    As when with love her lips and hands were fed,
    And with mute mouth out of the dusty dead
Strove to make answer when thou bad’st her rise.

Yet viper-stricken must her lifeblood feel
    The fang that stung her sleeping, the foul germ
    Even when she wakes of hell’s most poisonous worm,
Though now it writhe beneath her wounded heel.
    Turn yet, she will not fade nor fly from thee;
    Wait, and see hell yield up Eurydice.

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