The Dryad, Evelyn de Morgan (1884-1885)

“On The Difficulty Of Conjuring Up A Dryad”

by Sylvia Plath

    Ravening through the persistent bric-a-brac

    Of blunt pencils, rose-sprigged coffee cup,

    Postage stamps, stacked books’ clamor and yawp

    Neighborhood cockcrow — all nature’s prodigal backtalk,

    The vaunting mind

    Snubs impromptu spiels of wind

    And wrestles to impose

    Its own order on what is.

    ‘With my fantasy alone,’ brags the importunate head,

    Arrogant among rook-tongued spaces,

    Sharp greens, finned falls, ‘I shall compose a crisis

    To stun sky black out, drive gibbering mad

    Trout, cock, ram,

    That bulk so calm

    On my jealous stare,

    Self-sufficient as they are.’

    But no hocus-pocus of green angels

    Damasks with dazzle the threadbare eye;

    ‘My trouble, doctor, is: I see a tree,

    And that damn scrupulous tree won’t practice wiles

    To beguile sight:

    E.g., by cant of light

    Concoct a Daphne;

    My tree stays tree.

    ‘However I wrench obstinate bark and trunk

    To my sweet will, no luminous shape

    Steps out radiant in limb, eye, lip,

    To hoodwink the honest earth which pointblank

    Spurns such fiction

    As nymphs; cold vision

    Will have no counterfeit

    Palmed off on it.

    ‘No doubt now in dream-propertied fall some moon-eyed,

    Star-lucky sleight-of-hand man watches

    My jilting lady squander coin, gold leaf stock ditches,

    And the opulent air go studded with seed,

    While this beggared brain

    Hatches no fortune,

    But from leaf, from grass,

    Thieves what it has.’