Ovid's Metamorphoses : Orpheus and Eurydice

                         Truly Hymen there
                         was present during the wedding festivities
                         of Orpheus and Eurydice, but gave
                         no happy omen, neither hallowed words
                         nor joyful glances; and the torch he held
                   10  would only sputter, fill the eyes with smoke,
                         and cause no blaze while waving. The result
                         of that sad wedding, proved more terrible
                         than such foreboding fates.
                         While through the grass
                   15  delighted Naiads wandered with the bride,
                         a serpent struck its venomed tooth in her
                         soft ankle-- and she died.--After the bard
                         of Rhodope had mourned, and filled the highs
                         of heaven with the moans of his lament,
                   20  determined also the dark underworld
                         should recognize the misery of death,
                         he dared descend by the Taenarian gate
                         down to the gloomy Styx. And there passed through
                         pale-glimmering phantoms, and the ghosts
                   25  escaped from sepulchres, until he found
                         Persephone and Pluto, master-king
                         of shadow realms below: and then began
                         to strike his tuneful lyre, to which he sang:--
                         "O deities of this dark world beneath
                   30  the earth! this shadowy underworld, to which
                         all mortals must descend! If it can be
                         called lawful, and if you will suffer speech
                         of strict truth (all the winding ways
                         of Falsity forbidden) I come not
                   35  down here because of curiosity
                         to see the glooms of Tartarus and have
                         no thought to bind or strangle the three necks
                         of the Medusan Monster, vile with snakes.
                         But I have come, because my darling wife
                   40  stepped on a viper that sent through her veins
                         death-poison, cutting off her coming years.
                         "If able, I would bear it, I do not
                         deny my effort--but the god of Love
                         has conquered me--a god so kindly known
                   45  in all the upper world. We are not sure
                         he can be known so well in this deep world,
                         but have good reason to conjecture he
                         is not unknown here, and if old report
                         almost forgotten, that you stole your wife
                   50   is not a fiction, Love united you
                         the same as others. By this Place of Fear
                         this huge void and these vast and silent realms,
                         renew the life-thread of Eurydice.
                         "All things are due to you, and though on earth
                   55  it happens we may tarry a short while,
                         slowly or swiftly we must go to one
                         abode; and it will be our final home.
                         Long and tenaciously you will possess
                         unquestioned mastery of the human race.
                   60  She also shall be yours to rule, when full
                         of age she shall have lived the days of her
                         allotted years. So I ask of you
                         possession of her few days as a boon.
                         But if the fates deny to me this prayer
                   65  for my true wife, my constant mind must hold
                         me always so that I can not return--
                         and you may triumph in the death of two!"
                         While he sang all his heart said to the sound
                         of his sweet lyre, the bloodless ghosts themselves
                   70  were weeping, and the anxious Tantalus
                         stopped clutching at return-flow of the wave,
                         Ixion's twisting wheel stood wonder-bound;
                         and Tityus' liver for a while escaped
                         the vultures, and the listening Belides
                   75  forgot their sieve-like bowls and even you,
                         O Sisyphus! sat idly on your rock!
                         Then Fame declared that conquered by the song
                         of Orpheus, for the first and only time
                         the hard cheeks of the fierce Eumenides
                   80  were wet with tears: nor could the royal queen,
                         nor he who rules the lower world deny
                         the prayer of Orpheus; so they called to them
                         Eurydice, who still was held among
                         the new-arriving shades, and she obeyed
                   85  the call by walking to them with slow steps,
                         yet halting from her wound. So Orpheus then
                         received his wife; and Pluto told him he
                         might now ascend from these Avernian vales
                         up to the light, with his Eurydice;
                   90  but, if he turned his eyes to look at her,
                         the gift of her delivery would be lost.
                         They picked their way in silence up a steep
                         and gloomy path of darkness. There remained
                         but little more to climb till they would touch
                   95  earth's surface, when in fear he might again
                         lose her, and anxious for another look
                         at her, he turned his eyes so he could gaze
                         upon her. Instantly she slipped away.
                         He stretched out to her his despairing arms,
                  100 eager to rescue her, or feel her form,
                         but could hold nothing save the yielding air.
                         Dying the second time, she could not say
                         a word of censure of her husband's fault;
                         what had she to complain of -- his great love?
                  105 Her last word spoken was, "Farewell!" which he
                         could barely hear, and with no further sound
                         she fell from him again to Hades.