Things That Were Hidden

by Neil Philip

May the Muse inspire my song
of things never told before
of Chaos and Time and the Night.

What singer has ever sung
such words of power
to counter the songs of the sirens

or sung the mysteries
of twice-born Dionysos
to teach us how to flee the wheel of sorrow.

On my wedding day
the torch of Hymen sputtered and smoked
and flat refused to burn.

Walking in the meadows with the Naiads
my lovely bride Eurydice
was bitten on the ankle by an adder.

And so I left this world,
descended through black choking fog
to the thin realm of ghosts.

The god and goddess of that silent land
longed to hear my songs,
but I did not touch my lyre.

All I wanted was Eurydice,
thrilling with life as she used to be,
warm and mortal in my arms.

Even the bloodless ghosts
wept tears for me.
Even the Furies cried.

And there was Eurydice,
limping, snake-bitten,
but alive as you or me.

She can come with you,
but till you have left the black valley
don’t look back.

Long, long we trudged
up the steep path.
Wrapped in darkness and silence.

She was limping hard,
falling behind, falling behind.
I turned to give her my arm,

At the very lip of light.
As my hands wrapped round her,
she dissolved in my embrace.

Where once she was
was only air,
never to be held again. Beyond despair.

These are my soul’s truths.
Now I am gone, hear from the echo of my voice
the things that were hidden.

*Editor’s Note* — This poem is from Neil Philip’s interview with Joseph Thomas, “Of Things Never Told Before”, wherein Philip “live”- crafted this poem within the interview. Above is a version he later revisited, about which he writes, 

It’s 15:46 on 11 June 2021, let’s see if I can improve my Orpheus poem in the next 45 minutes. 16:26 now, I don’t think I am going to do anything but damage with further tinkering. A few bits and pieces changed, the most significant to me being ‘the thin realm of ghosts’ rather than ‘the realm of thin ghosts’ “. 

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