Home > Hidden Messages > Self-Portrait as Dryad, No. 5

Self-Portrait as Dryad, No. 5

February 8, 2008

After Andy Goldsworthy’s
Sweet chestnut green horn
continuous spiral
each leaf laid in the fold of another
stitched with thorns

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton
9 August 1987

   Thorn-pinned, the leaf horn
Sang of silences to trees,
   Praising blossom-blow,

   Calling green-lit morn
And me. Song was meant to please
   Yet to let me know

   He who made the horn
Played to pluck me from my tree.
   The carrion crow,

   Creaky as a worn
Hinge, cawed as the canopy
   Quaked and let me go.

   His limbs are hawthorn
Flowers, white, a bed of ease.
   Mine are melting snow.

   Now that dreams are shorn
And heartwood betrayed by leaves,
   Only grief may grow:

   Better never born
Or dead than severed from trees—
   Breathless in barrow.

by Marly Youmans

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  1. February 8, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Breathless after reading. Beautiful, Marly.

  2. Robbi Nester
    February 8, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Lovely. It reminds me of Hopkins.

  3. zephyr
    February 9, 2008 at 9:39 am

    i’m always ensnared by the music in your words
    and this one breaks my heart

  4. February 9, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    Marly, Andy Goldsworthy’s work has always spoken to me too, and this beautiful poem is a perfect song to come from that mute, astounding horn. Thank you. I hope you sent it to him; if not perhaps I will send him the link and a note.

  5. February 11, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Sitting here surrounded by my winter naked trees, I can now imagine the sound of sleeping dryads nestled in the trunks and branches. You’ve given them a real voice, Marly. Thanks.

  6. February 12, 2008 at 12:29 am

    Blake– it reminds me of Blake. “He who made the horn”–resonant in just the right way, subtle, suggestive, mythic and musical.

  7. December 2, 2011 at 9:22 am

    What a lovely bunch of comments–don’t know why I didn’t thank you all before this!

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