Apollo, God of youthful, masculine beauty. God of truth, light, and things to come, I give you honor with my words. In this, a retelling of part of your history, I seek to give you respect and offer it to you freely. By my efforts may you be praised for your light.
Apollo, protector of those who do good: grant me wit and will to bring forth this tale with the beauty due to a God of music and writing. Please, accept this as a gift and bring me but a measure of the creativity you command through the fair-voiced Muses.
O Muses, daughters of Zeus who speak and sing with honeyed tones, I praise you for your art so indispensable for we who walk amongst animals though separately. I offer this tale also unto you nine and beg only that you grant me colorful words and pragmatic devices such that the verse will be worthy of a God and Goddesses who live undying.
There was a daughter of a river God in days of old. A nymph of surpassing beauty and feminine airs. Her hair flowed with the liquidity of pure springs from mountain passes. With incalculable grace she walked the banks of her father's rivers and streams. Such beauty she possessed she caught the eyes even of the lord of light himself. Apollon who shines forth from Olympus on high left the snowy peak and heights of heaven to view such a gem more closely.
Now, it happened that as the bright one flew from his home in Father Zeus's mount that cupid glimpsed his flash. As of that from a bow Apollo shot to the river banks, followed only by a small archer's eyes. Cupid chuckled with sprightly abandon and flittered off to intercept the great God. Bow swinging from his small back, the winged child approached the prince of bows. The famed son of Zeus slowed to a stop as the boy interrupted his flight.
"Ah, young bringer of love, to what do I owe the pleasure of thy visit? And with such timing you approach for I believe more of love cannot be amiss," the God spoke in his beautiful, trusting voice.
"Good morn to you o shining son of Leto and Zeus who thunders, I interrupt your path but to wish you luck in the wooing of one so beautiful. As always you speak sooth, for love never goes awry when given freely and to one as beautiful as Daphne daughter of Peneus. May my arrows be a gift to you, freely offered to your greatness if you have need of them," the small cherub answered, bowing low as he hovered above the willows on the riversides.
"HA!" the shining God barked a musical laugh forth, disturbing birds and small creatures around the stream. Pulling forth his great silver bow from powerful shoulders he laughed at the rotund flying love-bringer. "O that I needed your piteous arrows. You disgrace the noble tool better suited to a man. The day that I have necessity for a child's toy I will ask for it myself. Seek for yourself a child's plaything and set down my sister's choice weapon," the singer jested, still chuckling.
Cupid's eyes darkened and flashed. "Your words, o great one of Olympus, though you are free to speak them, shall not avail you in your efforts. May you rue the day you insulted Cupid, bringer of love the greatest weapon of all," the small one chimed back. Finishing his response the sprite drew his bow back, a golden arrow knocked upon its crystalline string. The arrow loosed, striking the glowing God in the thigh. As the prince of Heaven grimaced and looked down his eyes fell, fatefully upon the nymph Daphne. Streaking as a star in a night sky the lord flew to meet such white-armed beauty. Cupid grinned as his love-poisoned arrow took effect. Again drawing string from bow he aimed now for the nymph. Loosing this time a leaden bolt Cupid's deed was done and he flittered away upon his work.
Below on the banks of the flowing stream Daphne glanced up at the brilliant one rushing to her. Lead pointed arrow took her in the shoulder and her face blushed not in love but embarrassment. Turning to flee she ignored the words of the God that dripped honey.
"Please do not flee for my heart's sake o beauteous maiden of Peneus! My soul canst bear a blow as deep as the loss of one so fair."
Streaming between trees as water through rocks the water nymph feared for her safety. Such a great God could have naught in his mind but to take advantage of one so young. She cried to the wind for help, pursued by the ideal youth of the skies:
"O Artemis, protectress of nymphs! Hear my plea; calm the fires of your brother's noble heart and save me from his passion!"
Artemis of the hunt, unfortunately for Daphne, knew better to meddle uninvited in her twin's affairs. As he respected her animals and nymphs so she respected his amorous pursuits of which she herself had none. It was this lack of assistance that kept Daphne running from the thundering footsteps of Apollo far-shooter.
It was utter despair that then gripped the poor, frightened girl and moved her to the fateful actions that next transpired. Feeling she had a suitable lead beyond the reach of the God of truths she slowed in a clearing. Gasping and red-faced she cried out, salty drops springing from her vibrant eyes.
"O mother of all things big and small, Gaia embracing hear my cry! If the Goddess of nymphs will not hear my desperation may you turn your ears to me o mother earth! Keep me safe from the lord of Heaven whose heated heart burns within his breast! Let him not touch me in a way unwanted!"
As Apollon reached the small meadow it was his soul that sank into despair at the sight he then saw. The gorgeous Daphne and her streaming hair was transforming into the design of a tree. Walking now, head hung low with heavy loss, the God reached out to the fresh bark of the tree.
"Woe of all woes is your loss to me! A softening touch to such a blow is the truth that your beauty even as a tree is unmatched to mine eyes amongst thy new brethren. I shall make you sacred and close to my heart always and will not forget you o poor nymph!"
As his words floated away on a breeze that brushed the new tree's leaves Apollon the bright gently snapped a branch off his beloved's many arms. Holding it to his lips, tears glittering to its leaves, he breathed a breath of compassion on her foliage.