"Dryad," Evelyn De Morgan, 1885, Wikipedia photo.
“Dryad,” Evelyn De Morgan, 1885, Wikipedia photo.

Shrine of rock and stream, flowing water
Clear and cool, dryad emerged from oaken
Tree, deific face and form, I knew not if
Messenger of woe or love, yet on sacred
Ground I knelt, eyes shielded from purest
Light, first mist appearing, shy sprite Ede
Greeted us along this ancient glen.

As farming and shepherding clans, we
Worshiped Artemis in rustic rites, drawn
By goddess’ love and protection, we made
Votive offerings, small emblems in her
Honour cast into deep springs where Ede
Dwelt in love of trees and Artemis, quiet
Incantations made in evening light.

Whilst we understood neither her race nor
Forest reign, we respected trees whether
In woods or groves, appeasement made by
Saplings planted at field edges before others
Felled for building and for hearth fires, pain
Ede felt as axe cut bark, fleshy wood, she
Wept at sacred glen, tears stream-falling.

As we grew from hamlet to village, more
Trees we claimed, non-propitiated to honour
Ede and her holy glen, yet wheat fields grew
Under expanse of sun and rain, as did crops
And beasts of field. Each tree fallen was death
Of Ede’s sons and daughters, such grief life
Renouncing, pallid spirit she became.

O! Cutting blows of sharp steel, senseless
Corpses fell, panting breast and bloodstained
Springs, into æther Ede’s life released, by
Artemis her soul received, such accounts of
Misery and abuse, Ede’s sacred oak the bark
Wide-split, leaves dead falling, ignorant acts
Committed upon wild and delicate soul.

Power of nature personified, ancient Greeks believed
in tree nymphs or dryads, minor deities connected to
forests and glens. For more, see this link.

This poem is a companion piece to No. 584 “Thia, Ede Rekindled.”

Social profiles