A Book of Myths
Page: 23“Combien d’autres sont morts de même! C’est la [Pg 41] lutte éternelle de la force brutale contre l’intelligence douce et sublime inspirée du ciel, dont le royaume n’est pas de ce monde.”
In the heavens, as a bright constellation called Lyra, or Orpheus, the gods placed his lute, and to the place of his martyrdom came the Muses, and with loving care carried the fragments of the massacred body to Libetlera, at the foot of Mount Olympus, and there buried them. And there, unto this day, more sweetly than at any other spot in any other land, the nightingale sings. For it sings of a love that knows no ending, of life after death, of a love so strong that it can conquer even Death, the all-powerful.
Conqueror of all conquerable earth, yet not always victorious over the heart of a maid was the golden-locked Apollo.
“What hast thou to do with the weapons of war, saucy lad?” he said. “Leave them for hands such as mine, that know full well how to wield them. Content thyself with thy torch, and kindle flames, if indeed thou canst, but such bolts as thy white young arms can drive will surely not bring scathe to god nor to man.”
Then did the son of Aphrodite answer, and as he made answer he laughed aloud in his glee. “With thine arrows thou mayst strike all things else, great Apollo, a shaft of mine shall surely strike thy heart!”
Carefully, then, did Eros choose two arrows from his quiver. One, sharp-pointed and of gold, he fitted carefully to his bow, drew back the string until it was taut, and then let fly the arrow, that did not miss its mark, but flew straight to the heart of the sun-god. With the other arrow, blunt, and tipped with lead, he smote the beautiful Daphne, daughter of Peneus, the river-god. And then, full joyously did the boy-god laugh, for his [Pg 43] roguish heart knew well that to him who was struck by the golden shaft must come the last pangs that have proved many a man’s and many a god’s undoing, while that leaden-tipped arrow meant to whomsoever it struck, a hatred of Love and an immunity from all the heart weakness that Love can bring. Those were the days when Apollo was young. Never before had he loved.
But as the first fierce storm that assails it bends the young, supple tree with its green budding leaves before its furious blast, so did the first love of Apollo bend low his adoring heart. All day as he held the golden reins of his chariot, until evening when its fiery wheels were cooled in the waters of the western seas, he thought of Daphne. All night he dreamed of her. But never did there come to Daphne a time when she loved Love for Love’s sake. Never did she look with gentle eye on the golden-haired god whose face was as the face of all the exquisite things that the sunlight shows, remembered in a dream. Her only passion was a passion for the chase. One of Diana’s nymphs was she, cold and pure and white in soul as the virgin goddess herself.