Ovids Metamorphoses line 576-748 Tells the story of the Greek myth Completed in 8 A.D.
Apollo was an over confident archer who one day ran into Eros, an archer and the son of Aphrodite. Apollo, in boasting of his archery skills, insults Eros. Eros has two arrows: one dipped in gold and another dipped in lead. He strikes Apollo with the one dipped in gold and Daphne, daughter of Peneus the river god, with the one dipped in lead. Apollo is cursed, desperate for Daphnes love. Daphne runs from him. In order to save her, Peneus transforms Daphne into a laurel tree. Apollo adorns himself with some of the laurel tree leaves and holds in his heart a special place for the tree as a symbol of Daphne.
Canzoniere Part 23 Nel dolce tempo de la prima etade (1327-1368) Story of Daphne and Apollo Also presented in comparison with several other Ovidian myths in this work A Young Lady Beneath a Laurel Tree Mentions laurel tree in reference with the speakers love for Laura young lady beneath a laurel tree when the green leaves are no more on the laurel I will follow that sweet laurel/through the burning sun or through the snow Love floods at the foot of the hard laurel my idol sculpted in living laurel Speaker compares himself with Apollo which leads Laura to be unattainable A more traditional view of the Daphne and Apollo myth, holds to the Greek tradition
The Story of Phoebus and Daphne, Applied Written in 1645 Carries metaphor as a figure of unattainable love throughout poem Like Phœbus sung the no less amorous boy;/ Like Daphne she, as lovely, and as coy Wallers adaptation of the story of Daphne and Apollo applied to the courtship of Lady Dorothy Sidney
Endymion Book Four 1818 Ye shall for ever live and love, for all Thy tears are flowing. By Daphnes fright, behold Apollo! Tells the story of the Greek myth of Endymion who loved and pined after the moon goddess, Selene, named Cynthia in the poem The comparison to Daphne and Apollo in book four implies that Cynthia was unattainable for Endymion, but this metaphor does not hold out when Cynthia declares that she couldnt move on from him.
The Tree 1908-1911 I stood still and was a tree amid the wood, Knowing the truth of things unseen before; Of Daphne and the laurel bow And that god-feasting couple old that grew elm-oak amid the wold. Shows the speaker knew the truth about lovers, such as Daphne and Apollo, and that they would never be together Portrays the idea of love that will never be reciprocated in a different way, so that it wasnt the woman that was unattainable, but the love itself
A Prayer for My Daughter 1921 O may she live like some green laurel Rooted in one dear perpetual place. How but in custom and in ceremony Are innocence and beauty born? Ceremony's a name for the rich horn, And custom for the spreading laurel tree. The speaker in the first quote wishes for their child to be as desirable and beautiful as Daphne, represented by the laurel tree, but wishes her to be as stubborn and untouchable by lovers as Daphne was when she was turned into a laurel The second quote shows the laurel as innocent and beautiful.
Virgin In A Tree 1958 Ever since that first Daphne Switched her incomparable back For a bay-tree hide, respect's Twined to her hard limbs like ivy The Daphne in Plaths poem is a symbol of innocence and beauty as well as a virginal symbol. Plath compares a woman to a tree to suggest that women should protect themselves.
Where I Live in the Honorable House of the Laurel Tree 1981 Compares speaker to Daphne as being tortured by Apollo and by being turned into a tree Follows along the line of Plaths poem in the way where Apollo is seen as a negative figure The speaker, as a laurel tree, suffers. I live in my wooden legs and O my green green hands. Too late to wish that I had not run from you, Apollo, blood moves still in my bark bound veins, I, who ran nymph foot to root in flight, have only this late desire to arm the trees I lie within. The measure that I have lost silks my pulse. Each century, the trickeries of need pain me everywhere. Frost taps my skin and I stay glossed in honor, for you are gone in time. The air rings for you, for that astonishing rite of my breathing tent undone with your light. I only know how this untimely lust has tossed flesh at the wind forever and moved my fears toward the intimate Rome of the myth we crossed. I am a fist of my unease as I spill toward the stars in the empty years. I build the air with the crown of honor; it keys my out of time and luckless appetite. You gave me honor too soon, Apollo. There is no one left who understands how I wait here in my wooden legs and O my green green hands.
The allusion to the myth of Daphne and Apollo where Daphne is transformed into a laurel tree changes through poetic history. Keats poem is where the first shift begins to happen because the love is achieved in the end. Then, Pound moves away from the unattainable woman to the unattainable love. Yeats writes pushing the speakers daughter to be innocent and beautiful and unattainable like Daphne is when she is a laurel tree. Plath continues in the same route as Yeats, inspiring women to protect themselves as beautiful, innocent, and virginal like Daphne as a laurel tree. Sexton applies the myth post-transition by presenting the speaker as Daphne when she is a laurel tree and is tortured by nature and Apollo.
As the myth of Daphne and Apollo shifted in poetry, it moved away from the idea of a woman being unattainable to a man who lusted after her, and into the idea that Daphne, symbolically represented by the laurel tree, was a beautiful, innocent, and virginal figure. The speakers of several poems urge their audience to remain innocent by being like Daphne and the laurel tree. However, Sextons representation of the myth, being the most recent, applies both the original meaning of the myth in an inventive way by having the speaker of the poem be Daphne as the laurel tree as well as the more modern, developed meaning of Daphne as a suffering character.