The Dyer’s Hand

The wall of my office is a patchwork of quotations, scotch-taped cutouts hanging from the bookcases every which way. One of them has been reaching out to me for days.

My nature is subdued to what it works in, like the dyer’s hands.
-William Shakespeare

The unconscious works interestingly, in that I have been hearing in my mind the words, “the dyer’s hands.” For days, maybe some weeks, the phrase drifts in. I had a sense of what that quote means to me, but finally thought, “Ok, just sit down and think about this, pay attention. Why do the words keep coming into my head?”

“My nature is subdued…” Start with that. Is nature always subdued to what it works in? Does it mean that no matter where one goes, what one does, nature is both amplified by that and subdued at the same time? I believe it means that. My nature is Nature. It is as big and complex and endless and multivalent as that. Of course it has to be trained, domesticated and subdued to live and work in the human manufactured world.

What part of my nature has been subdued by living alone on a mountain for these past 7 years? The mountain colored everything, like the dyer’s hand is colored. Now I am living in town half of the time. What part of my nature is subdued by being in that landscape? It also colors everything. Doing dreamwork has a hue, being part of a business networking group has a hue, my new Tae Kwan Do practice has a hue, friendships add their color. Is it so that none of these are “me” or my nature, they are the color on the outside, like dye on the dyer’s hand.

So what is my nature? That’s the question. Wash away all of the colors and what do we see? For some reason my psyche has been urging this question.

Perhaps if I live into the question for a bit, I will stumble into the answer, as Rilke suggests.

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2 Responses to “The Dyer’s Hand”

  1. Tara Says:

    Sonnet CXI
    O! for my sake do you with Fortune chide,
    The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,
    That did not better for my life provide
    Than public means which public manners breeds.
    Thence comes it that my name receives a brand,
    And almost thence my nature is subdued
    To what it works in, like the dyer’s hand:
    Pity me, then, and wish I were renewed;
    Whilst, like a willing patient, I will drink
    Potions of eisel ‘gainst my strong infection;
    No bitterness that I will bitter think,
    Nor double penance, to correct correction.
    Pity me then, dear friend, and I assure ye,
    Even that your pity is enough to cure me.

    Tayria, I had to comment as I think the whole sonnet is worthwhile to your post. Some say that S’speare in this sonnet was bemoaning his life in the theater, the public stain of working for a disreputable profession. I thought it was interesting that the lines that are before and follow your quote. An interesting meditation on the public vs. private self or something?

    • Tayria Ward Says:

      Tara, Thank you so much for sending the whole sonnet! It is remarkable – it does seem to apply to the whole conflict or meditation I’m experiencing. Issues of identity. “Pity me then, my dear friend, and I assure ye, Even that your pity is enough to cure me!” I like it. Whiners unite. Hope you’re well…

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