Artwork by Julie Matthews
How 'Daphne's Flight' came to be
After the excitement and success of their first performance at Cambridge there was an immediate reaction to do it all again as soon as possible. From there it was an easy jump to planning an album and then a tour the following year. There were many suggestions for a name but all of them, good as they were, were already taken. Christine Collister was reading a great deal of mythology at the time and a particular Greek myth took her fancy.
Daphne was the daughter of Gaia, Goddess of the Earth and a lesser known river God whose name was Paean. Daphne was a strong, athletic, independent and beautiful Naiad (or river sprite) who lived in a forest in harmony with the natural world around her. Apollo heard of Daphne's Great beauty and athleticism and went to see her for himself. On sight he fell madly in love with her but she was repelled by his attentions, being happy in her freedom. So she ran from the great God and he persued her all the more. This is Daphne's flight.
Despite being able to keep Apollo at bay Daphne understood she couldn't do so for much longer and so the story goes, when her strength is finally spent she prays to her father.
"Destroy the beauty that has injured me, or change the body that destroys my life."
Before her prayer was ended, torpor seized on all her body, and a thin bark closed around her gentle bosom, and her hair became as moving leaves. Her arms were changed to waving branches and her active feet as clinging roots were fastened to the ground. Her face was hidden with encircling leaves.
Yet Apollo lost none of his passion for Daphne.
Even like this he loved her and placing his hand against the trunk, he felt her heart still beating under the new bark. He clasped the branches as if they were parts of human arms and kissed the wood. But even the wood shrank from his kisses and the god said "since you cannot be my bride, you must be my tree! Laurel, with you my hair will be wreathed, with you my lyre, with you my quiver. You will go with the Roman generals when joyful voices acclaim their triumph, and the Capitol witnesses their long processions. You will stand outside Augustus's doorposts, a faithful guardian and keep watch over the crown of oak between them. And just as my head with its uncropped hair is always young, so you also will wear the beauty of undying leaves."
Paean had done, the laurel bowed her newly made branches, and seemed to shake her leafy crown, like a head giving consent."