Eurydice – Poem by Emily Roy

This poem titled Eurydice by Emily Roy was the winner of the Open Junior Section of the 2023 New Zealand Poetry Society International Competition, which World History Encyclopedia was proud to sponsor this year.

Emily Roy is a 15 year-old student attending Columba College, Dunedin, New Zealand. She explains the inspiration behind her award-winning poem: “For me, Eurydice was inspired by the overlap between both modern and ancient women. Whether it’s 3000 years ago or yesterday, our stories and tragedies often revolve around the man and how it affects him. I wanted to focus on the tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice while focusing on the betrayal Eurydice would’ve felt rather than the pain of Orpheus for his own mistake. I’m also an enormous Plath enthusiast, so echoes of her may be present if you look for them.”

The World History Encyclopedia team congratulates Emily on her well-deserved win!


Walk like you have to.
Life entrusted in the head
that wishes to turn.
Don’t look at me.
For when you look at me
you merely look through;
You watch me slip away before you.
Skeletal fingers clutch my sides
a boned corset that your gaze tightens.

There’s something about the crinkling folds
of your scripture face
that tells me you only noticed how my hair falls;
Snaked down on my left side,
when I was pale-faced;
a corpse in the grass.
And when you count your steps
on the railroad to hell
tell yourself it’s for me.

A snake.
Just in time to latch;
a winding scaled sandal
with a poisoned buckle.
Now you walk before me.
Suddenly it’s difficult to avert your eyes,
Suddenly my presence is limited;
Suddenly we are blind leading the mute.
You still cover your ears.
Face me.
And know the shock in my face
is not because you failed.
But your eyes met mine
for the first real time.

For more of Emily’s work, follow @emilyroynz and @erismusicnz (her band) on Instagram.