Charles Hopkins on Orpheus
Type of Spiritual Experience
This tells the story of Orpheus and Eurydice better than I could. So some of his powers were fuelled by grief
A description of the experience
History of Love, by Charles Hopkins
So in old times the mournful Orpheus stood,
Drowning his sorrows in the Stygian flood,
Whose lamentable story seems to be
The nearest instance of a wretch like me.
Already had he pass'd the courts of death,
And charm'd with sacred verse the powers beneath;
While hell with silent admiration hung
On the soft music of his harp and tongue,
And the black roofs restored the wond'rous song.
No longer Tantalus essay'd to sip
The springs that fled from his deluded lip.
Their urn the fifty maids no longer fill;
Ixion lean'd and listen'd on his wheel,
And Sisyphus's stone for once stood still.
The ravenous vulture had forsook his meal,
And Tityus felt his growing liver heal;
Relenting fields to torture souls forbore,
And furies wept who never wept before;
All hell in harmony was heard to move
With equal sweetness as the spheres above.
Nor longer was his charming prayer denied;
All hell consented to release his bride.
Yet could the youth but short possession boast,
For what his poem gain'd, his passion lost;
Ere they restor'd her back to him and life,
They made him on these terms receive his wife:
If till he quite had pass'd the shades of night,
And reach'd the confines of ethereal light,
He turn'd to view his prize, his wretched prize
Again was doom'd to vanish from his eyes.
Long had he wander'd on, and long forborne
To look, but was at last compelled to turn.
And now arriv'd where the sun's piercing ray
Struck thro' the gloom, and made a doubtful day,
Backwards his eyes the impatient lover cast
For one dear look, and that one look his last.
Straight from his sight flies his unhappy wife,
Who now liv'd twice, and twice was robb'd of life.
In vain to catch the fleeting shade he sought,
She too in vain bent backwards to be caught.
Gods ! what tumultuous raging passions toss'd
His anxious heart, when he perceiv'd her lost!
How wildly did his dreadful eye-balls roll!
How did all hell at once oppress his soul!
To what sad height was his direction grown!
How deep his just despair! how near my own!
In vain with her he labour'd to return,
All he could do was to sit down and mourn.
In vain, but ne'er before in vain, lie sings
At once the saddest and the sweetest things.