Daphne and Apollo
“O foolish Cupid,” fair Apollo mocked.
“To think that you, a wanton boy, should dare To think yourself the equal to a man
Of arms, or even to a god like me,
In putting arrows full into the mark
Of foes or even targets made of straw.
Your skill is like unto a man born blind
Or as an ox with hooves instead of hands. So lay aside your arrows and your bow
And seek some other way to ply your craft; By throwing stones, perhaps, or better yet, By blowing sloppy kisses all about.”
With words like these the son of Zeus amused Himself at the expense of Venus’ son.
But as for Cupid, he was not amused
But plotted vengeance in his impish mind So as to break the smug Apollo’s heart And make him eat his bitter, scornful words.
With practiced skill beyond his mocker’s ken
A gold-tipped arrow fitted to his bow Was sent aloft until, unseen, unfelt,
It struck Apollo and released a curse
That filled him with a passionate desire
To claim the naiad, Daphne as his own.
Then Cupid sent a second, lead-tipped dart
That struck the unsuspecting naiad true, And placed within her tender, youthful heart An irresistible desire to flee
The god who sought to seek, pursue, despoil, And conquer her as he was wont to do.
By strength of will, by cunning, stealth and wit Did Daphne give the lusting god the slip. Until, at last, his prize within his grasp,
The god, with strength far greater than her own, Subdued, embraced, and pulled her to himself To claim his hard-won trophy with a kiss.
“O, Peneus, my father!” Daphne cried.
“Deliver me from foul Apollo’s arms
And rescue me from his unwanted kiss.”
The river god responded with a spell
That turned her fingers into twigs and leaves, And all the rest into a laurel tree.
Apollo grieved his loss, embraced the tree, And felt her heart yet beating deep within.
"So shall I honor her whose tender leaves
Shall henceforth be both loved and prized by all. A wreath made from her leaves shall be a crown And great men by their laurels shall be known.
James A. Tweedie is a recently retired pastor, poet and composer living in Long Beach, Washington. He likes to walk on the beach with his wife. He has written and self-published four novels and a collection of short stories. He has several hundred unpublished poems tucked away in drawers.