Lord, that unhappy man,
who through these great fields of death
goes calling on Eurydice,
whom you have just heard
thus sweetly lamenting,
has moved such pity in my heart
that once more I turn to pray
that your spirit will yield to his prayers.
Ah, if from these eyes
you have ever taken loving sweetness,
if the serenity of this brow has pleased you
that you call your heaven, on which you swear
to me not to envy Jove his lot,
I beg you, by that fire
with which Love set afire your great soul.
Let Eurydice return
to enjoy those days
that she used to pass, living in festivities and in song,
and console the weeping of wretched Orpheus.
Although severe and immutable fate
is against your desires, beloved wife,
yet nothing ever can be refused
such beauty, together with such prayers.
His dear Eurydice
against the command of fate, Orpheus may recover.
But before he takes his way from these abysses
he must never turn his desirous eyes to see her,
since her eternal loss
a single look will cause for sure.
So do I command. Now in my kingdom
O servants, make known my will,
so that Orpheus may understand it
and Eurydice understand it,
nor may anyone hope to change it.
A Spirit from the Chorus
O of the dwellers in eternal shadows
powerful King, let your order be law,
that to seek other reasons
for your will our thoughts must not turn.
Another Spirit from the Chorus
From these terrible caverns will Orpheus
lead his bride, will he use his understanding
so that youthful desire not overcome it,
nor forget these weighty commands?
What thanks may I give you,
now that so noble a boon
you grant to my prayers, kind Lord?
Blessed be the day that first I pleased you,
blessed the seizing of me and the sweet trickery,
since, to my good fortune,
I won you, losing the sun.
Your sweet words
love’s ancient wound
revives in my heart.
Let your soul not so long more
for heavenly delight
as to abandon your marriage-bed.
Chorus of Spirits
Pity, today, and Love
triumph in Hades.
Here is the gentle singer,
who leads his bride to the heaven above.
What honour will be worthy of you,
my all-powerful lyre,
for you have, in the kingdom of Tartarus,
been able to make yield every hardened heart?
A place shall you have among the fairest
images of heaven,
where at your sound the stars
shall dance in rounds, now slow, now fast.
I, through you happy to my fill,
shall see the beloved face,
and in the white bosom
of my lady today shall I rest.
But while I sing, ah me, who can assure me
that she follows me?
Ah me, who hides from me
the sweet light of her beloved eyes?
Perhaps, spurred on by envy,
the gods of Avernus,
so that I should not be happy here below,
prevent me looking at you,
blessed and joyful eyes,
that only with a look can bless others?
But what do you fear, my heart?
What Pluto forbids, Love commands.
The more powerful spirit
that overcomes men and gods I must obey.
(There is a noise off-stage)
But what do I hear? Ah me, alas,
perhaps to my loss there arm themselves
with such fury the enamoured Furies
to take from me my love, and I let it happen?
(Now Orpheus turns)
O sweetest eyes, I see you now, I see...
..but what eclipse, ah me, obscures you?
You have broken the law and are unworthy of pardon.
Ah, too sweet and too bitter a sight,
so through too much love, then, do you lose me?
And I, wretched, lose
the power to enjoy more
light and life, and lose together
you, dearer than all, O my consort.
Return to the shades of death,
nor can you hope to see again the stars,
for now Hades is deaf to your prayers.
Where are you going, my life? Lo, I follow you,
but who stops me, ah me? A dream or madness?
What hidden power of these horrors,
from these beloved horrors draws me, in my despite, and leads me
to the hateful light?
Chorus of Spirits
Virtue is a ray
of celestial beauty,
prize of the soul, where alone it is valued:
the assault of time
this does not fear, but greater
in man do years render its splendour.
Orpheus conquered Hades and then was conquered
by his feelings.
Worthy of eternal glory
is he that will have victory over himself.