Below, you’ll find a part of an analysis of the poem ‘Orpheus Confesses to Eurydice’ by Sujata Bhatt.

Includes a breakdown of the stanzas, an insight into the speaker + voice of the poem, and an exploration of the themes and deeper meanings. This is only a quick overview to help you get to grips with the poem; you can access a full in-depth breakdown of the poem on the links below.


If you’re interested in our complete Sujata Bhatt Poetry course, click here.

For a limited time, our Sujata Bhatt Poetry course is 50% off! Just use the code BHATT50 at checkout to receive the course for only £9! You can preview some of the videos and documents for free to make sure that it’s right for you.

For all our English Literature and Language courses, click here.


LINK TO THE FULL POEM

STORY/SUMMARY

Stanza 1: I admit my fault – it was a lack of faith. I didn’t believe enough in you or even in the power of my song. I needed constant reassurance. Yes, I saw how the Furies cried as I sang slower, softer – Time stopped for me – but still, I didn’t think that the Underworld would let you go. I didn’t think that you’d be free to follow me. And so, I looked back, wondering: were you really there? 

Stanza 2: I’ve caught the snake that bit and killed you – I keep him alive. He’s become a sort of pet – he’s such a small viper, and so supple – my last connection to you. And his brightness: eyes, skin – how he shines in the sun – it keeps me alert and reminds me at times of how bright you were: I remember the sun in your hair, the jewels around your neck. 

Stanza 3: At first, of course, I thought about revenge. I thought about hurting the snake or throwing him into a fire. But I wasn’t sure at first, so I waited, and now I’ve grown to like him. 

2. 

Stanza 1: Once when I stood by the cliffs, singing, a sharp stone fell from the rocks – and then a lizard darted to the east and her tail was sliced off by it (some lizards can sacrifice their tails and they grow back) – and then she rushed back the other way, to the west – and I watched the tail shudder and twitch – a yellow-green thing that moved so fast. 

Stanza 2: Now I’ve become a torn-off tail, like the lizard’s tail – except the tail is my tongue, and it lives in my head, that has been cut from its body, my tongue still sings against the noise of the river. 

Stanza 3: Maybe this is what I really wanted: to just be a tail, a tongue, a lizard’s tail without the lizard attached to it. 

Stanza 4: To just be a pure voice, without my tired and awkward body. 

Stanza 5: Now, without my body, I’m almost weightless and I’m about to be swallowed up by the ocean – I will become a stronger voice. 

SPEAKER/VOICE

The poem is written in the form of a dramatic monologue, where the speaker is Orpheus himself (see the context for info). Orpheus, according to the title, is in the process of ‘confess[ing]’ to Eurydice, so the poem reads like a confession – similar perhaps to an individual on trial who admits fault and culpability, or when a Christian confesses their sins to a priest. In some ways, we can interpret it as an apology or justification for why Orpheus could not adhere to the rule of looking back at Eurydice, even though it meant that it cost him his future happiness and her life. Overall, Orpheus’ tone is despondent yet analytical,  and he concludes that perhaps he always had an urge to be a disembodied voice –  for the suffering of his body to melt away so that only his song (his art form) remained.

THEMES

TASK: For each of the themes below, make a mind map and explore quotations that relate to it. What, in your opinion, is Bhatt’s final message or statement about each theme? 
  • Art 
  • Death 
  • Creation 
  • Love 
  • Tragedy 
  • Grief + Loss

Thanks for reading! If you’re studying this particular poem, you can buy our detailed study guide here. This includes:

  • Vocabulary
  • Story + Summary
  • Speaker + Voice
  • Language Feature Analysis
  • Form and Structure Analysis
  • Context
  • Attitudes + Messages
  • Themes + Deeper Ideas
  • Key Quotations
  • Extra tasks to complete by yourself

If you’re interested in our complete Sujata Bhatt Poetry course, click here.

For a limited time, our Sujata Bhatt Poetry course is 50% off! Just use the code BHATT50 at checkout to receive the course for only £9! You can preview some of the videos and documents for free to make sure that it’s right for you.

For all our English Literature and Language courses, click here.