The Greek myth of Apollo and Daphne is a classic story of unrequited love. Apollo challenged Eros, chided him for his little arrow, scolding him for carrying a weapon he was not worthy to wield. Cupid’s revenge was to shoot an arrow of undying love for Daphne into Apollo’s heart and an arrow of hatred for Apollo into Daphne’s heart. Daphne flatly rejected Apollo’s overtures, running from his relentless chase. To end his mad pursuit, Daphne pleaded with her father, who turned her into a tree. I found Daphne, transformed, in the tree outside my window and composed this poem.
Even Apollo, winged and lit with the fire of a god,
could not win her heart, despite his pursuit.
Daphne's spirit would not be tamed,
denying a kept life in the arms of an angel
and choosing, instead, to root herself in the world,
turning into a tree. She wanted earth
and ground of her own, throwing her hands
to the air in defiance, as if to say to the sky god,
"what you offer is not enough for me.”
Now, she shelters the wild, shades the weary,
and shares herself with sparrow and finch.
Here, she drops her withered leaves
as he circles her in sunrise and sunset,
but it will never sway her from her position.
She turns away, averting his eyes, while he
kneels before her, his unseen head bowed,
holding up a wreath he knows she will not take.
© 2016 Nick LeForce