Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Magician and the Dryad

Out of your dim felicity of leaves, oh Nymph appear,
answer me in soft-showery voice, attempt the unrooted dance
--My art shall sponsor the enormity. Now concentrate,
Around, where in your vegetative heart it drowses deep
In seminal sleep, your feminine response. Conjuro te
Per Hecates essentiam et noctis silentia,

Breaking by Trivia's name your prison of bark. Beautiful, awake.

Risen from the deep lake of my liberty, into your prison
She has come, cruel commander.

I have given speech to the dumb.
Will you not thank me, silver lady?

Oh till now she drank
With thirst of myriad mouths the bursting cataracts of the sun,
The drizzle of gentler stars, and indivisible small rain.
Wading the dark earth, made of earth and light, cradled in air,
All that she was, she was all over. Now the mask you call
A Face has blotted out the ambient hemisphere's embrace;
Her light is screwed into twin nodules of tormenting sight;
Searing divisions tear her into five. She cannot hear
But only see, the moon; earth has no taste; she cannot breathe
at every branch vibrations of the sky. For a dome of severance,
A helmet, a dark, rigid box of bone, has overwhelmed
Her hair...that was her lungs...that was her nerves...that kissed the air.
Crushed in a brain, her thought that circled cooly in every vein
Turns into poison, thickens like a man's, ferments and burns.
She was at peace when she was in her unity. Oh now release
And let her out into the seamless world, make her forget.

Be free. Relapse. And so she vanishes. And now the tree
Grows barer every moment. The leaves fall. A killing air,
Sighing from the country of Man, has withered it. The tree will die.

~C.S. Lewis, "The Magician and the Dryad", Poems (1964)

4 Comment(s):

At Fri Jan 21, 07:11:00 PM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

This poem reminds me of the later Earthsea books...

At Fri Jan 21, 08:47:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

He and Tolkien were such tree-lovers, weren't they? I find it interesting that the Magician thinks the dryad wants to become human, and that is ultimately what kills her spirit.

I wish I could translate the Latin incantation, but alas, no Latin in my background. I did find a quite extensive site on the goddess Hecate, if anyone is interested: Hecate's History

At Sat Jan 22, 04:04:00 PM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

The Latin says something like "I conjure you through essential Hecate and with the silent night."

At Wed Nov 23, 04:16:00 PM EST, Blogger The Muse In Willits said...

Lovely, I would love to do this with my youth pagan group as part of our ritual theater program at the Lyceum of the Muse Of Isis... Love it.
Very inspiring. Keep me posted on your work. awesome

Mana From the Muse Of Isis


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