|"Apollo and Daphne" by Waterhouse
|In THE METAMORPHOSIS, Apollo pursues Daphne. (art courtesy of artmagick.com)
Apollo in pursuit of Daphne (Metamorphoses, Book One)
when he saw her waxed distraught,
and filled with wonder his sick fancy raised
delusive hopes, and his own oracles
deceived him.--As the stubble in the field
flares up, or as the stacked wheat is consumed
by flames, enkindled from a spark or torch
the chance pedestrian may neglect at dawn;
so was the bosom of the god consumed,
and so desire flamed in his stricken heart.
He saw her bright hair waving on her neck;--
How beautiful if properly arranged!
He saw her eyes like stars of sparkling fire,
her lips for kissing sweetest, and her hands
and fingers and her arms; her shoulders white
as ivory;--and whatever was not seen
more beautiful must be.
Swift as the wind
from his pursuing feet the virgin fled,
and neither stopped nor heeded as he called;
O Nymph! O Daphne! I entreat thee stay,
it is no enemy that follows thee--
why, so the lamb leaps from the raging wolf,
and from the lion runs the timid faun,
and from the eagle flies the trembling dove,
all hasten from their natural enemy
but I alone pursue for my dear love.
Alas, if thou shouldst fall and mar thy face,
or tear upon the bramble thy soft thighs,
or should I prove unwilling cause of pain!
The wilderness is rough and dangerous,
and I beseech thee be more careful--I
will follow slowly.--Ask of whom thou wilt,
and thou shalt learn that I am not a churl--
I am no mountain dweller of rude caves,
nor clown compelled to watch the sheep and goats;
and neither canst thou know from whom thy feet
fly fearful, or thou wouldst not leave me thus.
The Delphic Land, the Pataraean Realm,
Claros and Tenedos revere my name,
and my immortal sire is Jupiter.
The present, past and future are through me
in sacred oracles revealed to man,
and from my harp the harmonies of sound
are borrowed by their bards to praise the Gods.
My bow is certain, but a flaming shaft
surpassing mine has pierced my heart--
untouched before. The art of medicine
is my invention, and the power of herbs;
but though the world declare my useful works
there is no herb to medicate my wound,
and all the arts that save have failed their lord.,
(text available from Perseus Project at www.perseus.tufts.edu)