The Myth of Apollo and Daphne before the Renaissance 5


Irene Vrijmoed 0359432

Roselinde Supheert

August 2011

Tradition and Innovation

Table of Contents


The Myth of Apollo and Daphne before the Renaissance

Edmund Spenser’s Amoretti and in Particular Sonnet XXVIII

Thomas Carew’s “A Rapture”

Elias Ashmole’s “A Discription of the Stone”

Conclusion: Imitation or Innovation?

Works cited





A Rapture


A Discription of the Stone













The myth of Apollo and Daphne recounts how the deity Apollo pursues the human

Daphne until she is turned by an outside force into a laurel tree to escape his attentions.

Originally, the myth was created to explain the laurel as an attribute of the Greek god Apollo.

It was only after Ovid, a Roman poet, created his version of the tale that authors began to use

3 it in different ways and almost all later adaptations and imitations of the myth are loosely based on his narration in the Metamorphoses . Ovid uses Apollo’s Latin name, which explains why in most Renaissance works the god is called Phoebus. Ovid wrote the myth in such a way that others were able to use it, insert their own ideas and interpret it to their liking.

It is in the poetry of the sixteenth and seventeenth century that Britain’s poets began to do more with the myth than merely imitating the original. This thesis will look at some of the different views on the Apollo and Daphne story from its very beginnings until the end of the

English Renaissance. This will be illustrated through Edmund Spenser’s Amoretti , Sonnet

XXVIII from 1595, Thomas Carew’s “A Rapture” which was published sometime in the seventeenth century


and “A Discription of the Stone” which can be found in Elias Ashmole’s collection of alchemical writings and has been published in 1652. The poems can be viewed in full in the appendices.

Of course, there are numerous mentions of the myth to be found in Renaissance poetry, but the three selected poems provide more than a mere mention. Each poem makes use of the myth in a way that differs (at the time of publishing) from the standard use, which is why they were chosen for this thesis. It is, however, not yet clear to what extent the usages of the myth in the selected poems are in fact innovative. It is the aim of this thesis to discuss how

1 Precise publishing data are unavailable. Even Carew’s year of death is unknown.

4 the story of Apollo and Daphne is used and to compare it to earlier representations of the myth.

To be able to understand and compare poems it is necessary to have some knowledge of the myth up to the Renaissance. Therefore, the first chapter focuses on the earliest versions that date back to the Hellenic


period and several other (later) influential versions that predate the English Renaissance such as Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Petrarch’s

Il Canzoniere .

Over time, the myth has been adapted to suit religious beliefs among other things and, therefore, the first chapter also focuses on several different interpretations.

It is necessary to know what authors have done with the myth in order to be able to draw the right conclusions on whether or not the studied authors added something new to the use of the myth of Apollo and Daphne. Therefore, in the following chapters detailed analyses can be found on the sonnet written by Edmund Spenser, the poem by Thomas Carew, and an alchemical poem by an unknown author.

2 “Period of ancient Greek culture from 11th cent. b.c. to the death of Alexander the Great in 323 b.c.” (Hellenic)

The Myth of Apollo and Daphne before the Renaissance

By the time Renaissance authors came to use the myth of Apollo and Daphne, it had already gone through several accounts. The standard version of the myth can be found in


Metamorphoses , but the earliest narrative can be traced “back to the Alexandrian era”

(Barnard 1) and, more specific, to “the second half of the third century BC” (Giraud 272),

5 which is long before Ovid wrote his Metamorphoses . In fact, some believe it more ancient still and estimate that the myth’s “origins are . . . oriental” (Giraud 272). Over time, the myth travelled through different regions resulting in several different versions. In the Alexandrian era the following “three principal versions” of the myth can be found: “Arcadian, Thessalian and Laconian” (Barnard 1). Mary Elizabeth Barnard has described these early versions in detail in her book The Myth of Apollo and Daphne

3 and the page references in the next paragraph are to this book.

In the Arcadian version Daphne is the daughter of the earth and the river Ladon and she asks her mother for aid when Apollo pursues her. Earth responds to her pleas and Daphne vanishes into the earth and on the exact spot where she disappeared a laurel tree appears (2).

In the Thessalian version Daphne’s father Peneus, a river-god, causes her transformation into a laurel. Though there is no mention of Daphne’s mother in this account of Apollo and

Daphne, “[i]n Hyginus’s fab.203 . . . Peneus is presented as Daphne’s father but the maiden calls on her mother for deliverance” (2). Further, it is in the Thessalian version that Apollo

“crowns himself with a wreath made of branches from the laurel tree” (2). It is the Laconian version of Apollo and Daphne that differs considerably from the other two principal versions, because in this tale Daphne is the daughter of the Spartan king Amyclas (2). The son of king

Oenamaus falls in love with Daphne and disguises himself as a girl to be near her and his

3 Full title: The Myth of Apollo and Daphne: Some Medieval and Renaissance Versions of the Ovidian Tale

scheme works until Apollo, jealous as he is, makes Daphne and her friends bathe in the river


Ladon and the prince’s scheme is uncovered (2-3). Prince Leucippus is killed and Apollo starts to pursue Daphne, though this time it is Zeus who changes Daphne into a laurel tree (3).

This overview of the three earliest principal versions of the myth of Apollo and Daphne shows that all have in common that Apollo chases Daphne until the maiden is transformed into a laurel tree in answer to her pleas to be able to escape Apollo. However, there is another version nearly as old as the three principal ones, though this one is a “foundation-legend which accounts for the origin of Daphne, a suburb near the city of Antioch on the Orontes”

(3). It describes how a hunter comes across a place where he finds evidence that it is where

Daphne must have been was transformed into a laurel tree (3). For this reason the hunter decides to found a suburb and build a sanctuary on that same location (3). Though this foundation legend mentions the myth, it does not account for anything else but the suburb of


After these Hellenic accounts of Apollo chasing Daphne, there are more versions of

Apollo and Daphne: respectively an Ovidian, a Christian and a Petrarchan one (Barnard 3).

All are earlier narratives than those of the Renaissance and all have had great influence on the use of the myth in that period. Ovid may have been inspired by the earliest versions, but since he wrote his version of Apollo and Daphne in his Metamorphoses , the way he narrated it has obviously been used as inspiration whenever another adaptation was created. In the Middle

Ages the myth remained successful “due to the fact that the myth had been appropriated for

Christianity” because of “the deeper meaning assumed to lie hidden in this kind of . . . story”

(Giraud 275). Finally, the Petrarchan version is responsible for the form and even content of many Renaissance works. The extent of influence of these three pre-Renaissance narrations is discussed in the following paragraphs.


The subject matter of Ovid’s Metamorphoses inspired others. However, the form in which he presented the myth is also of great importance for Ovid presented it in “clear stages

. . . [which] provided a sense of structure [that was] obviously useful to later authors” (Giraud

274). And, according to Yves Giraud, Ovid did not suggest an interpretation which would indeed invite other authors to do just that (275). Furthermore, Apollo has become an

“unsatisfied, longing creature who is forever suffering the pangs of romantic love” after Ovid wrote his version of the myth (Barnard 12). This image of a despairing lover who cannot achieve the love he wants and who has to make do with what he can get is frequently seen in

Renaissance texts. All allusions in this thesis are to the story of Apollo and Daphne found in


Metamorphoses and not to another earlier narration.

In his first book of the Metamorphoses Ovid gives a short account of the Giants’ War, in which Apollo slays a python (14). Afterwards he tells how Apollo boasts to Cupid about his conquest and how the god ridicules the smaller god (14). Cupid then takes his revenge, which causes Apollo to fall madly in love with Daphne, who is repulsed by love, which is also

Cupid’s doing (15). The Ovidian version seems to have been based upon the earlier

Thessalian one, because “the Latin poet presents Thessaly as the locale and introduces

Daphne as the daughter of the river-god Peneus and not Ladon” (Barnard 11). From Ovid onward the story of the quarrel between Apollo and Cupid has regularly been related to the story of Apollo and Daphne.

Not only does the myth provide an account of how Apollo pursues Daphne, it also explains the origin of the laurel as a tree sacred to Apollo. Ovid reminds readers that at the end of the Giants’ War the victors were not crowned with laurel, because at that time Apollo had not been the victim of Cupid’s revenge:

Here all whose hand or foot or wheel had won,

Received the honour of a wreath of oak.


Laurels were still unknown; Apollo then

The greenery of any tree would wear

For garlanding his long and lovely hair. (14 20-24)


The passage segues to the next part of the Metamorphoses , in which the first actual metamorphosis takes place, as it introduces the myth of Apollo and Daphne which explains why Apollo is associated with laurel.

In the Middle Ages the Ovidian myth was pushed to the background, but later in this period, by the twelfth century, Ovid’s works were studied more frequently, because “Ovid’s medieval fame shifted somewhat in the later period” (Bush 75) which allowed for more people to read and study the texts that were inappropriate due to their polytheistic nature.

Ovid’s texts were, however, like so many other texts from the Classical Period, allegorised

“as a method of exegesis” (Barnard 64), because it was difficult for the religious medieval man to deal with all the immoral pagan deities and their mythological adventures. There were different ways to deal with such barbaric gods and immoral texts. One way to interpret the gods was Euhemerism. It is the same as historical allegory, but also known as Euhemerism

“after Euhemerus, a Greek of the third century BC [who] invented it” (Rivers 22). This approach interprets the gods as ordinary mortals who have been deified by their subjects and worshippers (Seznec 12). This solution to the problem the pagan deities formed for Christians was a way for people to deal with the classics without having to “reject . . . time-honoured tales” (Seznec 12). Another interpretation of the pagan gods is mentioned by Thomas Roche

Jr. who describes in his book Petrarch and the English Sonnet Sequences how “Giovanni

Boccaccio rationalises Ovid’s myth in . . . a naturalistic way,” so that Apollo as the sun


The selected translation of Ovid provides a general indication of line numbers of the Latin text that does not match the English lines. For instance, page two is a translation of lines 28 to 62 of the Metamorphoses , but the English text on that same page has five more lines. Due to this problem a reference to Ovid will consist of a page number and quotes will have a page number and will be accompanied with line numbers that correspond to lines on that page.

“draws up moisture (Daphne) produced by the water (Peneus)” and this way of dealing with

9 the ancient gods is physical or natural allegory (12). This approach assumes that the gods were needed to explain natural phenomena, for which in those days no scientific explanation was available. The last kind of allegory is moral allegory “which turns the gods into personifications of virtues and vices” (Rivers 22). In other words, it provides how one should behave or act in the present and is a lesson for a reader. However, it is not any of the allegories but “Figurism” that “becomes the dominant view in the European Middle Ages”

(Barnard 71). Figurism is another word for typology and the only difference between the two is that Figurism is Latin whereas typology is Greek (Rivers 140). In this method symbolic representation is key, which means that everything can be seen as signs that are foreshadowing future events. Christian authors placed the Old Testament in context of the

New and this method of seeing the old in terms of the new was used to fight against other religions. It is because of Figurism that Apollo and Daphne are a part of the “Christian scheme of sin and Redemption,” of which the best example is Ovide Moralisé (Barnard 87).

In this allegorised version of Ovid’s

Metamorphoses the Python slain by Apollo can be seen as evil, Apollo as Jesus, Daphne as the Holy Virgin and the laurel tree as Christ’s cross.

Another interpretation of the transformation of Daphne into a laurel tree is that it “signifies the emancipation from the temptations of the flesh” (Barnard 87).

For now, it is important to know that there are many ways to look at this myth, not only because originally there were several versions, but also because in the course of time the myth has lost parts that were deemed inappropriate or not befitting a period, has been added to, altered and turned around.


Petrarch and His Rime Sparse: Il Canzoniere

Ovid’s work, and in particular his

Metamorphoses , clearly inspired Petrarch. It is especially the latter’s Canzoniere , a series of over three hundred sonnets, that influenced many Renaissance authors. Many sonnet sequences that were written during the English

Renaissance bear similarities to his work and use of the myth of Apollo and Daphne. Briefly summarised, in his Canzoniere Petrarch writes about unrequited love, for which the lover writes poetry as solace and the poet receives a laurel crown for his efforts. Petrarch writes this sonnet sequence to his love Laura, who is in many ways similar to the unattainable Daphne.

Firstly, the two are similar because the meaning of the name Daphne is “laurel or bay-tree” and the name Laura is an obvious pun on laurel which means that the names Daphne and

Laura have the same meaning and are, therefore, associated with qualities of the bay

(Daphne). Secondly, both women are a prize in the eyes of their lover. Since the laurel has become associated with Apollo, it has been awarded as a prize to, for instance, winners of the

Pythian Games held in honour of the pagan god, other heroes, and poets.

According to Roche, the Laura of Petrarch’s

Canzoniere is “part of that re-enactment of Apollo and Daphne that Petrarch chose to explain his life” (Roche 31). Both Laura and

Daphne shy away from their respective lovers whereas the lovers’ adoration and devotion never changes, even after it is clear nothing will or can happen. Both attract a man and make him suffer by rejecting his love and courtship. What it does to a man to be smitten with the beauty of a lady is what Petrarch describes in his Canzoniere . Even the form which Petrarch has given to his adaptation of the myth, which is known as the Petrarchan sonnet, has been imitated and emulated many times in the Renaissance (Sonnet).

Ovid may have been an inspiration to Petrarch, but it is Petrarch’s work that continues to be “used to illustrate the themes of the pain of love, of love beyond reach, of the ceaseless

11 quest, of transfiguration through love and of the idealisation of emotion” (Giraud 277).

George Braden states that most of the “Renaissance love poetry . . . [consists of] imitations and reactions to Petrarch’s


” (8). Braden, however, also notes that “the laurel and not Daphne might well have been the real goal” (11) even in Petrarch’s Canzoniere and calls the quest for poetic fame “the subtler agenda” of “Petrarchan love poetry” (12) which is another concept embraced by later authors in their works. For instance, Edmund Waller in his poem “The Story of Daphne and Phoebus Applied” aims for poetic recognition and “invites us to see . . . that the trade-off is not . . . a bad one” (Braden 6).

A poet that was of great importance to the development of English literature was

Thomas Wyatt who is credited with introducing the sonnet to the English language because he not only translated some of Petrarch’s sonnets, but also wrote original ones. Poets who did not have much knowledge of the Italian language were able to draw inspiration from Petrarch through Wyatt. After Petrarch and Wyatt, famous sonnet sequences like, for instance, Sir

Philip Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella was composed. Sidney incorporates the classic theme of unrequited and unattainable love in this collection of poems that can also be found in

Petrarch’s works.

With Ovid providing inspiration for Petrarch and, in turn, Petrarch providing similar inspiration for later authors such as Edmund Spenser, there are plenty of works that have a direct reference or a more obscure link to the myth of Apollo and Daphne.


Edmund Spenser’s Amoretti and in Particular Sonnet XXVIII

Edmund Spenser has a unique style of writing which Douglas Bush pronounces to be

“essentially original” (28). Spenser adhered to Renaissance tradition by writing a sonnet sequence which may, therefore, seem rather unoriginal, but it is a fact that, nowadays, one of the better known English sonnet sequences is Spenser’s

Amoretti . In The Princeton Handbook of Poetic Terms the Amoretti cycle is listed as “[one of] the most famous or noteworthy . . . cycles” (Sonnet Cycle) though Donna Gibbs notes that “during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, critical commentary on Spenser’s works was almost entirely confined to The

Shepheardes Calender


and The Faerie Queene

” (1). For some time after its publication in

1595 the Amoretti may have gone mostly unnoticed, but their worth has been discovered albeit in later centuries.

Spenser’s cycle of sonnets, like most sonnet sequences, addresses the longing of a lover for his beloved. However, over a large number of poems Spenser does not work his way toward the familiar tragic Petrarchan (and Ovidian) ending where the two lovers never get to consummate their love in any way. Instead, Spenser builds up toward a more positive outcome for the speaker and his love interest. He wrote the sequence after his marriage to

Elizabeth Boyle and Spenser’s marriage might well have been the inspiration for his Amoretti .

However, some, like Syrithe Pugh, argue not Elizabeth Boyle but Queen Elizabeth is the addressee (255) with rather farfetched interpretations of just a few of Spenser’s sonnets. The

Amoretti were originally published along with Spenser’s Epithalamion and it is in the latter that the happy conclusion to the longing of the lover is narrated in the form of a poetic proposal (Larsen 1-2). Because of the betrothal in Epithalamion , to which the Amoretti build up to, it is no longer possible for Queen Elizabeth to be the addressee. Pugh seems aware of

5 Spelling of this title varies, but this is the spelling as found in The Norton Anthology of English Literature . 7th ed.

this yet undeterred continues to argue her point with some success. Without certainty it is

13 easier to refer to a speaker and an addressee instead of referring to Spenser himself and

Elizabeth (either Boyle or Queen) which “opens up the possibility of perceiving the ironic relation of ‘creator’ and ‘creature’” with which Gibbs means the difference between “Spenser as creator of the sequence, and [Spenser as] the persona of the lover” (viii).

The alternative ending in Spenser’s Amoretti offers a major difference from tradition: the lady to whom the poems are dedicated is more attainable than the usual married woman.

Because the object of the lover’s affection in Spenser’s Amoretti is unmarried, the way the speaker sees his beloved influences the image of Daphne when Spenser refers to her in sonnet

XVIII. A husband usually means the lover suffers because he forms an obstacle to keep the woman from becoming involved with the speaker. Though there is no husband to overcome, the addressed woman is hesitant and perhaps, like Daphne, fearful to engage in a relationship.

The opening lines of sonnet XXVIII show a lover who is hopeful that he can change his beloved’s mind persuading her to start a relationship with him, because the lady he loves wears a laurel leaf and the lover sees this as a sign that the lady likes him:

The laurell leafe, which you this day doe weare, giues me great hope of your relenting mynd: for since it is the badg which I doe beare, ye bearing it doe seeme to me inclind: (1-4)

The laurel symbolises “an emblem of victory or distinction in poetry” (Laurel). Apollo and

Daphne, from the myth upon which this sonnet has been based, and Petrarch and his lady, from the major influence for English sonnets, were never able to be together the way desired by the men. Therefore, it is remarkable for the speaker to be optimistic and hopeful. Apollo and Petrarch’s hope can be described best as despair.


Those familiar with Ovid’s Metamorphoses will spot the hints to the Apollo and

Daphne story in the first quatrain. Kenneth Larson comments that the badge Spenser mentions is “an emblem distinguishing the retainers of a noble person” and that Spenser bears one

“because he is a poet” (159). The indirect hint to Apollo is as follows: poets are rewarded with wreaths made from laurel leaves and Ovid attributed the laurel to Apollo, the deity associated with music, poetry and arts and the speaker is a poet who wears laurel as his badge.

The more obscure reference to Daphne follows from her connection to Apollo and Spenser’s use of the word “inclind” (4) because in the Metamorphoses , after Daphne has already transformed into a laurel tree, she inclines toward Apollo in response to his words: “Thus spoke the god; the laurel in assent / Inclined her new-made branches and bent down,” (Ovid

18 3-4). Thus from the beginning of the sonnet the connection to Apollo and Daphne has been made.

Spenser continues the poem writing how the laurel leaf often gives the speaker hope and strength and how he wishes it has a positive effect on the beloved: “The power thereof, which ofte in me I find, / let it lykewise your gentle brest inspire / with sweet infusion,” (5-7).

Gibbs’s view of what exactly “sweet infusion” might imply is simple: “the mistress [is] to become infused with inspiration from the laurel leaf as [the speaker] does” (52) though what precisely it is that the speaker gains from the laurel is left unexplained. Larsen provides an even more impersonal interpretation in his commentary on what the words may connote and offers two possibilities of which the first is that sweet infusion is “the inpouring of divine life and grace into the heart” and the second is that “poetic inspiration” is meant (159). Both

Gibbs and Larsen overlook the meanings of the word infusion which may signify other possible interpretations. Infusion is not only “the action of pouring in (a liquid),” but it is also

“the action of infusing or introducing a modifying element or new characteristic” (Infusion).

It seems illogical for the speaker to intend poetic inspiration because there is no reason for the

mistress to need that. Perhaps the laurel leaf should infuse the mistress with its qualities and

15 strengthen her hope or wish to be together with the speaker. Perhaps a draught drawn from the laurel is to cure the beloved of her distant attitude or it is to act as a remedy for all that may keep her from entering a relationship. There is a possibility that the power of the laurel is to inspire the mistress’s lusts considering that Daphne had none she wanted to pursue. Certainly, the laurel is supposed to have an effect, which may be Larsen’s proposed “inpouring of divine grace” (159), but Spenser’s choice of words suggests that it is not mere inspiration.

The intention of the lover is to remind his beloved of Daphne’s fate: “. . . and put you in mind / of that proud mayd, whom now those leaues attyre:” (7-8). The use of such an attributive adjective to describe Daphne may or may not be positive as “proud” can mean several things for instance “feeling greatly honoured, pleased, or satisfied by something” or

“disposed to feeling superior” (Proud). At this point in the poem proud can be taken either way. Considering the fact Spenser uses the verb “scorn” in line nine of the sonnet, which means “to hold in disdain, to contemn, despise” (Scorn), which directly follows the first use of the word proud, it is unlikely that proud should be interpreted positively. Because proud has a negative denotation the reminder of Daphne’s fate becomes a warning: think of that maiden who was too proud and now only exists as a tree.

The next few lines retell the basics of the Apollo and Daphne myth, but with a twist to the advantage of the lover for in Spenser’s interpretation of the myth Daphne is wilful and angers the gods by running away from Apollo’s love for which they punish her:

Proud Daphne scorning Phaebus louely fyre, on the Thessalian shore from him did flee: for which the gods in theyr reuengeful yre did her transforme into a laurell tree. (9-12)

Daphne may have been too proud in the eyes of Spenser, but Ovid certainly did not portray

16 her that way. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses Daphne is a beautiful maiden, reserved, repulsed by

Apollo’s ceaseless amorous advances and terrified at the prospect of losing her virginity.

There is no indication that the addressee of this sonnet is a terrified virgin. Nevertheless,

Spenser uses the reference to Daphne as a warning for the speaker’s lady not to turn away from his love. He portrays the act of running away from love as a crime or sin that is punishable by higher powers, which can be deduced from the words “gods” and “reuengeful yre”. Larsen calls the phrase “revengeful ire” “A Spenserian addition to the myth,” (159) indicating that this interpretation has not been found before Spenser. The concept that Daphne turns into a laurel tree because she will not submit to Apollo’s love is not an uncommon one.

In fact, Petrarch is attributed the start of portraying Daphne as a woman who would not submit and is transformed for that reason (Larson 159) yet Spenser manages to twist this concept into something different.

Something that should be noted is the setting Spenser uses for the myth: “Proud

Daphne . . . / on the Thessalian shore from him did flee” (9-10). From the earliest three principal versions that tell the story of Apollo and Daphne it seems that Spenser uses the

Thessalian one as a basis for his sonnet. Arguably, this is the case because Ovid used that version for his rendition of the myth and Petrarch used Ovid as inspiration for his famous sonnet sequence and Petrarch had a major influence on Renaissance love poetry. Spenser may have taken the setting directly from his predecessors, but he certainly invented his own way to write a sonnet. A Spenserian sonnet deviates from earlier sonnet rhyme schemes like

Petrarch’s and Shakespeare’s to facilitate rhyming in English (Sonnet).

The end of the sonnet is a logical conclusion to the rest and shows the moral of the sonnet and expresses what the speaker desires. He wants his lady to accept his love by referring to himself as Apollo: “Then fly no more fayre love from Phebus chace, / but in your

17 brest his leafe and loue embrace” (13-14). The speaker, like Apollo, pursues a (sexual) relationship with a woman who does not seem willing to engage in one. If the mistress accepts

Apollo, it is implied that she will accept the speaker. The beloved is asked to embrace in her heart “leafe and love”. According to Larsen, “leafe” may be a homonym for life, which he bases on an entry in an Old English dictionary, or it may refer to the laurel leaf (159). It is preferable to assume that ‘leaf’ is a way of saying ‘life’ than that it takes on the meaning of

‘laurel leaf because when two people engage in a relationship two lives come together through love.

Overall, sonnet XXVIII portrays a too proud Daphne who is forever punished for abandoning Apollo’s love by having been turned in to a laurel tree so that the addressed woman can look at Daphne and choose not to follow in her footsteps and a speaker who has high hopes that his mistress will heed his warning and become his. Spenser cleverly constructed the sonnet to reflect the myth in a different light, one that the speaker of the poem can take advantage of.


Thomas Carew’s “A Rapture”

Opinions of Thomas Carew seem to vary from him being a minor poet to others claiming him to be at the top and worthy of more attention than he has been given, like

Edward Selig does: “Carew has been generally ignored” (1). Though Carew did not write a poem that revolves around Daphne and Apollo, the appearance the two make in his poem “A

Rapture” is one worthy of examination. The poem that is “probably the most erotic poem of the era” is a long metaphor where the act of making love is described “in highly evocative terms” under the guise of a long journey (Abrams 1656). Because of its erotic tone or

“uninhibited celebration of sexual desire” (Selig 68), there have been numerous critics who have shared their opinion and interpretation of the poem and of Carew’s use of Ovid’s myth.

The poem does not lend itself for scrutinising and deciphering all of its text the way, for instance, Spenser’s sonnet XXVIII does, as some of the text is not necessarily relevant to this thesis. That does not mean that only the few lines in which Daphne and Apollo feature will be discussed, because there are other connections to the Ovidian myth to be made than the mention of the two unfortunate lovers.

The tone of Carew’s poem is set when in the first two lines Celia is invited to share bliss with the speaker: “I will enjoy thee now, my Celia, come, / And fly with me to Love’s

Elysium (1-2). Ancient Greeks believed Elysium to be a place where those favoured by the gods went after they had died to live a carefree existence (Reimer 88). Whether Carew intended it or not, Elysium can be a bridge to Daphne as Apollo fervently favoured her and

Elysium is a place reserved for those favoured by the gods. Additionally, “Love’s Elysium” is more likely to point to Daphne than any of the other classical characters that Carew refers to, because Apollo bestowed his love upon her and wished to bed her like the speaker of this poem wants with Celia. Other references to classical characters include Danaë, who was raped

by Jove (Reimer 77), Lucrece, who was raped by a cousin (Reimer 140), and Laïs, who was


“a beautiful and accomplished temptress” (Laïs). A god may have favoured Danaë in a similar fashion to Daphne, but Carew’s reference to her is nothing more than a fleeting mention in the whole of the poem. The other references are not related to any god and, therefore, are not connected to Elysium.

The connection to Apollo and Daphne is enhanced in the next lines with obscure references to both:

The giant, Honour, that keeps cowards out

Is but a masquer, and the servile rout

. . . whilst the nobler train

Of valiant lovers daily sail between

The huge Colosse’s legs (3-8).

Daphne, in Metamorphoses , is a maiden only interested in keeping her virginity and

“honour”. Honour, especially when it applies to women, means “chastity, purity, as a virtue of the highest consideration” (honour). Ovid’s Daphne is afraid to lose her chastity and, as she flees, Apollo begs her not to run away from him: “Stay sweet nymph! Oh Stay! / I am no foe to fear” (16 10-11). The speaker of “A Rapture” seems to have a similar goal, which is to take away the woman’s fears so that she will allow his advances. The woman, Celia, is encouraged to believe that giving in to her fear of losing her virginity is an act of cowardice and that making love is an act of bravery. Carew refers to Apollo by using “Colosse” as it means “a statue or image of the human form of very large dimensions” and the “most famous in antiquity being the bronze statue of Apollo at Rhodes” (Colossus).

Throughout the poem, the speaker alternates describing how he and Celia could consummate their love with reasoning why she ought not to let the fear of losing her honour stand in the way of having sex. By advising Celia to “[b]e bold and wise” (9), the speaker

20 hopes that “[Celia shall] scorn what we were wont to fear” (14) which would be intimacy and losing one’s virginity. Carew’s speaker pleads with Celia for the duration of the poem, which is much longer than Ovid’s Apollo did. In addition, the way he and Apollo try to persuade their maiden differs, though they have the same purpose. Ovid’s Apollo tries to stop Daphne from running away from him by explaining to her who follows her and desires her body: “you fly / . . . because you do not know. / I am the lord of Delphi” (16 21-23). Carew’s speaker does not rely on who he is to alter his beloved’s mind. He attempts to convince Celia to cast aside her fear and he wants to draw Celia nearer by describing how they will make love and how other chaste women ended up.

The speaker imagines what it would be like to love Celia and Carew makes him envision positive endings for a few unlucky couples as well. For example, Petrarch’s

Canzoniere is all about unrequited love, which leaves the lover unable to satisfy his desires, and Carew brings Laura together with Petrarch:

. . . Next her, Laura lies

In Petrarch’s learned arms, drying those eyes

That did in such sweet smooth-pac’d number flow,

As made the world enamour’d of his woe. (139-142)

There are a number of similarities to Petrarch in “A Rapture” in addition to the mention of his name. In many of his works, Carew addresses a woman named Celia, copying the way

Petrarch wrote to his beloved Laura. The link between Petrarch and Ovid’s Metamorphoses , or rather Apollo and Daphne, has already been established, which, therefore, establishes the more indirect connection Carew has to Ovid.

Obscure references aside, the part that makes “A Rapture” interesting, where it concerns the myth of Apollo and Daphne, is when Daphne breaks through the bark that holds

21 her virginity intact to be able to love Apollo, effectively defying the gods that detained her in a laurel tree:

Daphne hath broke her bark, and that swift foot

Which th’ angry gods had fasten’d with a root

To the fix’d earth, doth now unfetter’d run

To meet th’ embraces of the youthful Sun. (131-134)

In all of the works that mention Daphne this is a time she is first transformed before the whole story changes. Thus far, Daphne has always been the laurel tree, the way Ovid described her:

. . . her tender bosom

Was wrapped in thin smooth bark, her slender arms

Were changed to branches and her hair to leaves;

Her feet but now so swift were anchored fast

In numb stiff roots, her face and head became

The crown of a green tree (17 21-26)

However, Carew seems to think of Daphne as an untransformed woman held captive because all she needs to do to regain her freedom is to break through the bark that surrounds her. The image that supports the point of view that Daphne is untransformed is found in the words:

“and that swift foot / Which th’ angry gods had fasten’d with a root” (131-132). Daphne’s foot is not the root, but a root holds her foot in place. It certainly is different to think of

Daphne not as a laurel tree, but in one.

The highly erotic poem puts Apollo and Daphne in a more sensual setting than they have been before and, additionally, Carew has Daphne burst out of her prison to embrace “the youthful Sun” which means the two are no longer subjected to an unhappy end. Even Carew’s speaker changes tactics and departs from the usual path that men with unrequited love seem to follow. To persuade Celia he does not rely on hope (the way Spenser’s speaker does) or on his

status to change her mind to bed him (like Apollo does), nor does he try to frighten her by

22 warning her of what may happen when she continues to refuse him (again Spenser). He also does not take the Petrarchan route. Instead, he seems to want to reason with Celia that the world’s ideas on what is honourable are not quite right so that she may let go of her fears.

A number of aspects in Carew’s poem match the standard myth or are seemingly innovative. That Daphne angered the gods who then punished her deviates from the standard version of the myth is true, but when Carew wrote “A Rapture” it was no longer innovative.

Spenser preceded him with this innovation as he published his Amoretti , in which he describes the scenario of Daphne having been punished for her chaste behaviour in sonnet XXVIII, around the time that Carew was born. Carew’s apparent idea that Daphne did not transform into a laurel tree, however, is an innovative view, as is the way he has his speaker tackle convincing his Celia to have sex with him.


Elias Ashmole’s “A Discription of the Stone”

A unique application of the myth of Apollo and Daphne is found in Elias Ashmole’s

Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum , 6 a compilation of verse and prose about alchemy published over six decades in the seventeenth century. The book contains several works from known authors yet also numerous poems and texts from anonymous ones and is “a major contribution to the preservation of . . . alchemical texts written in poetic form” (Linden 222). Stanton

Linden notes that Ashmole’s achievements “are noteworthy” and important enough to be remembered and honoured: his “remarkable assemblage of curiosities . . . became the foundation of the Ashmolean Museum” (222).

“A Discription of the Stone” is one of the poems written by an anonymous author that can be found in the Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum . The poem will be more comprehensible with some knowledge of the goals of alchemy. Alchemy is the science that studied how to create gold from base metals in the Middle Ages (Hornby 28). The objective is to create the philosopher’s stone with which it is possible to transform a metal like lead into gold among other things, but “traditional alchemy had a much broader meaning” and was meant to find a cure for all ills as well as eternal life (Debus xv). Without reading this poem, the relation between the myth and alchemy may seem obscure, but it becomes clear from “A

Discription of the Stone” what the myth has in common with alchemy and how they differ from one another. The title of the poem may already hint at what is to come for, perhaps deliberately, the word description is spelled as “discription”. ‘Di-’ in science means two as in, for example, dioxide and in many words it also signifies two like dichromatic (two-coloured) or dichotomy (division into two) (Martin 412, 414). That means that the title has a double

6 Full title: Theatrum chemicum Britannicum : Containing Severall Poeticall Pieces of our Famous English

Philosophers, who have written the Hermetique Mysteries in their owne Ancient Language / Faithfully Collected into one Volume with Annotations thereon by Elias Ashmole, Esq.

meaning: not only is the poem to provide a description, but it also provides look at the two

24 sides that make up the Stone.

The poem begins with the unlikely suggestion that Apollo and Daphne will come together as one: “Though Daphne fly from Phoebus bright, / Yet shall they both be one,”

(Ashmole l. 1-2). It is improbable, because it is the essence of the myth that Apollo can never be with Daphne as they are each other’s opposites, especially where it concerns their feelings about love. However, the next lines explain the opening for it is as likely for Apollo and

Daphne to become one as it is for an alchemist to discover the philosopher’s stone: “And if you understand this right, / You have our hidden Stone” (Ashmole l. 3-4). Alchemists believed that “divine will” influenced the “primal matter” to form “precious metals” and

“[that] metals . . . perfect[ed] themselves over a long time span” (Debus xiii-xiv). They thought they were able to create gold, like nature does, only much faster “through . . . a catalytic agent” which they called the philosopher’s stone (Debus xv).

The poem continues to set out the differences between Apollo and Daphne, describing the maiden as a “Water Nymph”, “fair”, “white” and also, more importantly, as “volatile”

(Ashmole 420). Fair and white are most likely a description of Daphne’s looks. However, white may refer to skin colour but may mean pure as well as beautiful. Daphne is a virgin, which makes the connection between white and pure even more probable as virgins are commonly considered innocent and untainted. Hornby provides the following definition of virgin: “in its original pure or natural condition and not changed, touched or spoiled” (1444).

White is also associated with cold, for instance white as snow, which is another contrast to

Apollo in this poem for he is described as the opposite of cold and he consumes Daphne with his heat.

Apollo is a stable person as word “fixed” suggests and the poem refers to him as red which may have more than on interpretation: “Phoebus a fixed God of might, / and red as

blood is he” (Ashmole l. 7-8). Based on the four humours or temperaments which was a popular thought in the Renaissance “particularly, through its variant the four humours,” the

25 colour red implies that Apollo is a sanguine, warm and amorous person and associated with air (Gage 73, 128). Red has multiple meanings, especially according to colour-science, but is well-known for its link to blood and, therefore, is related to giving life (Gage 110).

Furthermore, in alchemy, red may refer to the philosopher’s stone or “the red elixir,” the one item that alchemists believe may help procure eternal life among other things (Reidy 116).

Apollo can be interpreted as the bringer of life if he were to take on the connotations of the colour he has been ascribed in this poem.

Ovid’s love-struck Apollo burns with desire for Daphne, but in “A Discription of the

Stone,” which portrays a what-if scenario of the two getting together, he dries her “moysture” with his “heate” until they are literally one:

Daphne is a Water Nymph,

And hath of Moysture store,

Which Phoebus doth consume with heate,

And dryes her very sore (Ashmole l. 9-12)

Once reduced into one, the poem tells what must happen for the desired stone to come into existence:

They being dryed into one,

Of christall flood must drinke,

Till they be brought to a white Stone:

Which wash with Virgins milke,

So longe until they flow as wax,

And no fume you can see

Then have you all you neede to aske (Ashmole l. 13-19)


The process that is described may be alike a chemical experiment to be conducted in a laboratory, though the required substances are impossible to determine; much like those needed to create the philosopher’s stone. The dried-into-one Apollo-Daphne substance should absorb (“drinke”) a clear fluid (“christall flood”) “[t]ill they be brought to a white Stone”

(Ashmole l. 14-15). According to John Reidy’s helpful glossary, the white stone refers to “the elixir for silver” (121). This may indicate that the Apollo-Daphne substance should be mixed with a clear fluid until it becomes the white stone or that, at some moment in the experiment, the white stone should be added to the mix. If at this time in the poem the stone to create silver has been made, then the process is almost finished, but it is not done until the mixture can transform metals to gold. Because silver may be a precious metal, it is not the ultimate goal for it is not the highly desired gold alchemists tried to create. If at this point in the poem the white stone should be added to the mix, it still comes down to the fact that the entire process is one step from being completed. Only after no vapours rise from the created elixir that must still be as fluid “as wax”, the impossible to make philosopher’s stone is finished

(Ashmole l. 18-19).

The entire process bears a resemblance to natural allegory and the way the myth was interpreted through that line of thinking. This type of allegory is meant to explain natural phenomena and it reduces the characters of the myth to substances, the way the author of “A

Discription of the Stone” has done. In the poem the phenomenon that is clarified is how it is naturally impossible to create a substance that will give a person eternal life or that will transform base metals to precious metals. It seems unlikely that the natural allegory in this case is a means to facilitate coping with barbaric gods in this poem. Rather, the myth is a perfect metaphor.

Alchemists often experimented with substances to attempt to make the philosopher’s stone and in this poem Daphne features as a pure, moist and volatile substance and Apollo as

a hot and stable one. Alchemists believed the necessary knowledge to make the stone could


“be obtained by divine Grace alone – either by some direct mystical experience or by direct experimentation in nature” which is why nature and the elements are important in alchemy and used to conduct tests (Debus xii). Furthermore, the alchemist himself had to be pure in order to be bestowed such divine grace. At the end of “A Discription of the Stone,” after the impossible process to create the philosopher’s stone, all that rests to be done is “Praise God and thankfull be” (Ashmole l. 20). Considering the beliefs of alchemists, to be grateful for the given divine grace and to worship whatever god one believes in is indeed what remains to be done after successfully creating the stone.

The poem means to provide a description of the philosopher’s stone and a way to create it by portraying how Apollo and Daphne can become one in the alchemist’s approach.

It certainly manages to show how unfeasible it is for the stone to be made and for Apollo to be with Daphne. However, a less obvious interpretation of the poem is that Daphne may represent the alchemist who is a human being and subjected to change throughout life whereas Apollo may represent the unchanging knowledge or something that, when combined with the former, allows for the creation of the elusive stone.

Though Apollo and Daphne and alchemy may not seem a likely combination, there is one major comparison as is clear from a look at “A Discription of the Stone”: both alchemy and the myth have a person who desires (although in the case of alchemy there is more than one person searching to fulfil their desires) an elusive something that they are incapable of finding.


Conclusion: Imitation or Innovation

One may think that the English Renaissance brought nothing new to the table where the myth of Apollo and Daphne is concerned and that the renewed interest in all things classic resulted in authors imitating and retelling what had been already been done and told. Giraud even states “the story of Daphne has inspired no first-rate works of literature” (283).

However, it cannot be overlooked that the Amoretti is one of the most famous English sonnet sequences and that Spenser managed to make his own mark on the Apollo and Daphne myth with something that Larson calls “a Spenserian addition” (159). Not only did Spenser manage to add something to the myth that is new, but he also created his own form for the popular sonnet, the Spenserian sonnet, which follows a different rhyme scheme. A close look at the text of sonnet XXVIII and it is clear that Spenser manages to use the myth of Apollo and

Daphne as a warning for the woman to whom the poems are addressed so that she may learn from the example of Daphne’s fate and start a relationship with the speaker before she angers a higher power. Before Spenser, there certainly have been different interpretations, but no one appears to have applied the myth as a warning for their mistress to heed.

Where Spenser uses the myth to say to the mistress that refusing the advances of the speaker may have her end up like the nymph Daphne, Carew uses it to persuade Celia not to fear intimacy. Carew’s poem illustrates, by describing the pleasures of making love, how valiant it makes a person to enjoy the bliss of a sexual relationship and how brave someone is to free him or her self from restraints such as honour, chastity, and what religion dictates. Like in Spenser’s sonnet, the gods punished Daphne for her refusal to love. However, unlike any earlier version, Carew has Daphne free herself out of desire for Apollo. He portrays her as a strong woman, rather than as a fearful maiden, who bravely breaks her wooden prison and is afterwards happy in love. Daphne is never an actual tree in this poem and Carew does not

switch the traditional roles in the myth the way, for instance, Shakespeare has done. Instead,

29 he ignores the basic mythological element that Daphne does not desire love or men at all and willingly fled from Apollo so that there is an unusual happy end for the two.

Spenser’s and Carew’s poems provide an interpretation of the myth. These two authors manage to put their own spin on the classic tale of unrequited love in both form and style and underlying ideas. On the one hand, “A Discription of the Stone” does not change or add anything new to the story. On the other hand, it is the only alchemical poem that has been published that makes use of Apollo and Daphne to illustrate how impossible it is to create the elusive philosopher’s stone.

Instead of being forgot like several of the stories in Ovid’s

Metamorphoses are, Apollo and Daphne feature in many a Renaissance work and not only as a way to show learnedness.

Despite the many transitions the myth went through before the English Renaissance, the authors of that era were able to reinvent ways to use it in their works. What definitely remains from the earliest versions of Daphne’s metamorphosis is the unrequited love of Apollo for the nymph and the way it inspires artists and authors alike. Other aspects that have remained intact are Apollo’s chase of the maiden, Daphne’s transformation, Thessaly as the myth’s likely setting, and Apollo appropriating the laurel as his tree. The list of what new things have been added and what has been altered is much longer, even at the time of the Renaissance.


Works Cited

Abrams, M.H., ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature . 7th ed. Vol. 1. New York: W.

W. Norton & Company, 2000. Print.

Ashmole, Elias. Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum : Containing Severall

Poeticall Pieces of our Famous English Philosophers, who have written the

Hermetique Mysteries in their owne Ancient Language / Faithfully Collected into one

Volume with Annotations thereon by Elias Ashmole, Esq.

New York: Johnson Reprint

Corporation, 1967. Print.

Barnard, Mary Elizabeth. The Myth of Apollo and Daphne: Some Medieval and Renaissance

Versions of the Ovidian Tale . Michigan U.S.A: University Microfilms International,

1983. Print.

Braden, Gordon. “Beyond Frustration: Petrarchan Laurels in the Seventeenth Century.”

Studies in English Literature .

Vol. 26.1. Houston: Rice University, 1986. 5-23. Print.

Bush, Douglas. Mythology and the Renaissance Tradition in English Poetry . New York:

Pageant Book Company, 1957. Print.

Carew, Thomas. “A Rapture”.

Minor Poets of the Seventeenth Century . Ed. R.G. Howarth.

London: J. M. Dent & Sons LTD, 1953. 103-107.


“Colossus, n.”. OED Online. June 2011. Oxford University Press. 10 August 2011


“Daphne, n.”. OED Online. June 2011. Oxford University Press. 27 July 2011


Debus, Allen. Introduction. Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum : Containing Severall

Poeticall Pieces of our Famous English Philosophers, who have written the


Hermetique Mysteries in their owne Ancient Language / Faithfully Collected into one

Volume with Annotations thereon by Elias Ashmole, Esq.

By Elias Ashmole. 1652.

New York: Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1967. ix-xlix . Print.

“Elysium, n.” OED Online. June 2011. Oxford University Press. 10 July 2011


Gage, John. Colour and Meaning Art, Science and Symbolism . London: Thames and Hudson,

1999. Print.

Gibbs, Donna.

Spenser’s Amoretti: A Critical Study

. Hants: Scolar Press, 1990. Print.

Giraud, Yves. “Daphne.” Companion to Literary Myths, Heroes and Archetypes . Trans.

Wendy Allatson, Judith Hayward and Trista Selous. Ed. Pierre Brunel. London and

New York: Routledge, 1992. 272-284. Print.

“Hellenic, adj. and n.”. OED Online. June 2011. Oxford University Press. 12 August 2011


“Honour | honor, n.”. OED Online. June 2011. Oxford University Press. 24 June 2011


“Infusion, n.”. OED Online. June 2011. Oxford University Press. 28 July 2011


“Laïs, n.”. OED Online. June 2011. Oxford University Press. 3 August 2011


Larsen, Kenneth J.

Edmund Spenser’s Amoretti and Epithalamion a Critical Edition .


Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies Tempe, 1997. Print.

“Laurel, n. 2”. OED Online. June 2011. Oxford University Press. 13 July 2011

< lse>.

Linden, Stanton J. The Alchemy Reader From Hermes Trismegistus to Isaac Newton .

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Print.

Martin, W. and G. A. J. Tops. Van Dale Groot Woordenboek Engels-Nederlands .

Utrecht/Antwerpen: Van Dale Lexicografie, 1998. Print.

Ovid. Metamorphoses . Trans. A.D. Melville. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.


Book 1 452-567. Print.

“Phoebus, n.”. OED Online. June 2011. Oxford University Press. 24 June 2011


“Proud, adj., n., and adv.”. OED Online. June 2011. Oxford University Press. 13 July 2011


Pugh, Syrithe. “Sidney, Spenser, and Political Petrarchism”.

Petrarch in Britain Interpreters,

Imitators, and Translators over 700 Years . Ed. Martin McLaughlin, Letizia Panizza and Peter Hainsworth. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. 243-257. Print.

Reidy, John.

Thomas Norton’s Ordinal of Alchemy

. London: Oxford University Press, 1975.


Reimer, P. J. Klassieke Oudheid Van A tot Z . 16th ed. Utrecht: Spectrum, 1999. Print.

Rivers, Isabel. Classical and Christian Ideas in English Renaissance Poetry . 2nd ed. London:

Routledge, 1994. Print.

Roche, Thomas P. Jr. Petrarch and the English Sonnet Sequences . New York: AMS Press,

1989. Print.

“Scorn, v.”. OED Online. June 2011. Oxford University Press. 17 July 2011


Seznec, Jean. The Survival of the Pagan Gods the Mythological Tradition and Its Place in

Renaissance Humanism and Art . Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972. Print.

“Sonnet.” The Princeton Handbook of Poetic Terms .

Ed. Alex Preminger, Frank J.

Warnke and O. B. Hardison, JR. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986. Print.

“Sonnet Cycle.”

The Princeton Handbook of Poetic Terms .

Ed. Alex Preminger, Frank J.


Warnke and O. B. Hardison, JR. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986. Print.

Spenser, Edmund. Amoretti. Amoretti and Epithalamion: A Critical Edition . Sonnet XVIII.

Arizona: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies Tempe, 1997. Print.

Appendix 1


By Edmund Spenser in Amoretti

THe laurell leafe, which you this day doe weare, guies me great hope of your relenting mynd: for since it is the badg which I doe beare, ye bearing it doe seeme to me inclind:

The powre thereof, which ofte in me I find, let it lykewise your gentle brest inspire with sweet infusion, and put you in mind of that proud mayd, whom now those leaues attyre

Proud Daphne scorning Phaebus louely fyre, on the Thessalian shore from him did flie: for which the gods in theyr reuengefull yre did her transforme into a laurell tree.

Then fly no more fayre loue from Phebus chace, but in your brest his leafe and loue embrace.


Appendix 2

A Rapture

By Thomas Carew

I WILL enjoy thee now, my Celia, come,

And fly with me to Love's Elysium.

The giant, Honour, that keeps cowards out,

Is but a masquer, and the servile rout

Of baser subjects only bend in vain 5

To the vast idol ; whilst the nobler train

Of valiant lovers daily sail between

The huge Colossus' legs, and pass unseen

Unto the blissful shore. Be bold and wise,

And we shall enter : the grim Swiss denies 10

Only to tame fools a passage, that not know

He is but form and only frights in show

The duller eyes that look from far ; draw near

And thou shalt scorn what we were wont to fear.

We shall see how the stalking pageant goes 15

With borrow'd legs, a heavy load to those

That made and bear him ; nor, as we once thought,

The seed of gods, but a weak model wrought

By greedy men, that seek to enclose the common,

And within private arms empale free woman. 20

Come, then, and mounted on the wings of Love

We'll cut the flitting air and soar above

The monster's head, and in the noblest seats

Of those blest shades quench and renew our heats.

There shall the queens of love and innocence, 25

Beauty and Nature, banish all offence

From our close ivy-twines ; there I'll behold

Thy bared snow and thy unbraided gold ;

There my enfranchised hand on every side

Shall o'er thy naked polish'd ivory slide. 30

No curtain there, though of transparent lawn,

Shall be before thy virgin-treasure drawn ;

But the rich mine, to the enquiring eye

Exposed, shall ready still for mintage lie,

And we will coin young Cupids. There a bed 35

Of roses and fresh myrtles shall be spread,

Under the cooler shade of cypress groves ;

Our pillows of the down of Venus' doves,

Whereon our panting limbs we'll gently lay,

In the faint respites of our active play : 40

That so our slumbers may in dreams have leisure

To tell the nimble fancy our past pleasure,

And so our souls, that cannot be embraced,

Shall the embraces of our bodies taste.

Meanwhile the bubbling stream shall court the shore, 45


Th' enamour'd chirping wood-choir shall adore

In varied tunes the deity of love ;

The gentle blasts of western winds shall move

The trembling leaves, and through their close boughs breathe

Still music, whilst we rest ourselves beneath 50

Their dancing shade ; till a soft murmur, sent

From souls entranced in amorous languishment,

Rouse us, and shoot into our veins fresh fire,

Till we in their sweet ecstasy expire.

Then, as the empty bee that lately bore 55

Into the common treasure all her store,

Flies 'bout the painted field with nimble wing,

Deflow'ring the fresh virgins of the spring,

So will I rifle all the sweets that dwell

In my delicious paradise, and swell 60

My bag with honey, drawn forth by the power

Of fervent kisses from each spicy flower.

I'll seize the rose-buds in their perfumed bed,

The violet knots, like curious mazes spread

O'er all the garden, taste the ripen'd cherry, 65

The warm firm apple, tipp'd with coral berry :

Then will I visit with a wand'ring kiss

The vale of lilies and the bower of bliss ;

And where the beauteous region both divide

Into two milky ways, my lips shall slide 70

Down those smooth alleys, wearing as they go

A tract for lovers on the printed snow ;

Thence climbing o'er the swelling Apennine,

Retire into thy grove of eglantine,

Where I will all those ravish'd sweets distil 75

Through Love's alembic, and with chemic skill

From the mix'd mass one sovereign balm derive,

Then bring that great elixir to thy hive.

Now in more subtle wreaths I will entwine

My sinewy thighs, my legs and arms with thine ; 80

Thou like a sea of milk shalt lie display'd,

Whilst I the smooth calm ocean invade

With such a tempest, as when Jove of old

Fell down on Danaë in a storm of gold ;

Yet my tall pine shall in the Cyprian strait 85

Ride safe at anchor and unlade her freight :

My rudder with thy bold hand, like a tried

And skilful pilot, thou shalt steer, and guide

My bark into love's channel, where it shall

Dance, as the bounding waves do rise or fall. 90

Then shall thy circling arms embrace and clip

My willing body, and thy balmy lip

Bathe me in juice of kisses, whose perfume

Like a religious incense shall consume,

And send up holy vapours to those powers 95


That bless our loves and crown our sportful hours,

That with such halcyon calmness fix our souls

In steadfast peace, as no affright controls.

There, no rude sounds shake us with sudden starts ;

No jealous ears, when we unrip our hearts, 100

Suck our discourse in ; no observing spies

This blush, that glance traduce ; no envious eyes

Watch our close meetings ; nor are we betray'd

To rivals by the bribed chambermaid.

No wedlock bonds unwreathe our twisted loves, 105

We seek no midnight arbour, no dark groves

To hide our kisses : there, the hated name

Of husband, wife, lust, modest, chaste or shame,

Are vain and empty words, whose very sound

Was never heard in the Elysian ground. 110

All things are lawful there, that may delight

Nature or unrestrained appetite ;

Like and enjoy, to will and act is one :

We only sin when Love's rites are not done.

The Roman Lucrece there reads the divine 115

Lectures of love's great master, Aretine,

And knows as well as Lais how to move

Her pliant body in the act of love ;

To quench the burning ravisher she hurls

Her limbs into a thousand winding curls, 120

And studies artful postures, such as be

Carved on the bark of every neighbouring tree

By learned hands, that so adorn'd the rind

Of those fair plants, which, as they lay entwined,

Have fann'd their glowing fires. The Grecian dame, 125

That in her endless web toil'd for a name

As fruitless as her work, doth there display

Herself before the youth of Ithaca,

And th' amorous sport of gamesome nights prefer

Before dull dreams of the lost traveller. 130

Daphne hath broke her bark, and that swift foot

Which th' angry gods had fasten'd with a root

To the fix'd earth, doth now unfetter'd run

To meet th' embraces of the youthful Sun.

She hangs upon him like his Delphic lyre ; 135

Her kisses blow the old, and breathe new fire ;

Full of her god, she sings inspired lays,

Sweet odes of love, such as deserve the bays,

Which she herself was. Next her, Laura lies

In Petrarch's learned arms, drying those eyes 140

That did in such sweet smooth-paced numbers flow,

As made the world enamour'd of his woe.

These, and ten thousand beauties more, that died

Slave to the tyrant, now enlarged deride

His cancell'd laws, and for their time mis-spent 145


Pay into Love's exchequer double rent.

Come then, my Celia, we'll no more forbear

To taste our joys, struck with a panic fear,

But will depose from his imperious sway

This proud usurper, and walk as free as they, 150

With necks unyoked ; nor is it just that he

Should fetter your soft sex with chastity,

Whom Nature made unapt for abstinence ;

When yet this false impostor can dispense

With human justice and with sacred right, 155

And, maugre both their laws, command me fight

With rivals or with emulous loves that dare

Equal with thine their mistress' eyes or hair.

If thou complain of wrong, and call my sword

To carve out thy revenge, upon that word 160

He bids me fight and kill ; or else he brands

With marks of infamy my coward hands.

And yet religion bids from blood-shed fly,

And damns me for that act. Then tell me why

This goblin Honour, which the world adores, 165

Should make men atheists, and not women whores?


Appendix 3

A Discription of the Stone

By an anonymous author in Elias Ashmole’s Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum

Though Daphne fly from Phoebus bright,

Yet shall they both be one,

And if you understand this right,

You have our hidden Stone.

For Daphne she is faire and white:

But Volatile is she;

Phoebus a fixed God of might,

And red as blood is he.

Daphne is a Water Nymph,

And hath of Moysture store,

Which Phoebus doth consume with heate,

And dryes her very sore.

They being dryed into one,

Of christall flood must drinke,

Till they be brought to a white Stone:

Which wash with Virgins milke,

So longe untill they flow as wax,

And no fume you can see,

Then have you all you neede to aske,

Praise God and thankfull be.