"like poor Orpheus turning for a last backward glance"

Orpheus Lamenting Eurydice by Corot
Public DomainOrpheus Lamenting Eurydice by Corot

Orpheus is a figure from Ancient Greek legend, a gifted lyre player. When his wife Eurydice died, Orpheus played such sad music that even the gods wept with him. They advised him to travel to the Underworld to ask Hades and Persephone to return Eurydice to life. They agreed, telling Orpheus to walk back to earth, leading his wife, but on no account to look back at her until they had both left the Underworld. As soon as Orpheus reached the upper world he looked back but, as Eurydice was still beyond the gates behind him, in the Underworld, his glance made her disappear back into its depths, separating them forever.