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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

APOLLO AND DAPHNE, by                 Poet's Biography

"Apollo and Daphne" is a poem by Philip Ayres, a 17th-century English poet. The poem is based on the Greek myth of Apollo and Daphne and explores themes of love, desire, and transformation.


"Apollo and Daphne" is a narrative poem that retells the classical Greek myth of the love between Apollo, the god of music, and Daphne, a nymph who seeks to escape his advances. Ayres' version explores the themes of desire, love, and the power of the gods, as well as the consequences of rejecting their will. The poem also touches on the ideas of beauty and transformation, as Daphne is transformed into a laurel tree to escape Apollo's grasp.

Form and Style:

The poem is written in rhyming couplets, with each couplet consisting of two lines of iambic pentameter. The use of rhyme and meter creates a sense of rhythm and musicality that enhances the poem's narrative quality. The poem's language and imagery evoke the classical mythology and the lush natural landscapes of Greece, creating a vivid and sensory reading experience.

Poetic Elements:

Imagery: The poem uses vivid and descriptive imagery to evoke the beauty and power of the natural world, as well as the mythological figures and events it describes. The image of Apollo's pursuit of Daphne creates a sense of tension and desire, while the transformation of Daphne into a laurel tree is a powerful image of beauty and metamorphosis.

Allusion: The poem draws heavily on classical mythology and literature, referencing characters and stories from Greek mythology. These allusions add depth and richness to the poem, as well as emphasizing its connection to the larger cultural and literary tradition.

Tone: The poem's tone is both playful and serious, capturing the complex emotions of the characters and the larger themes of the story. The tone shifts between the light-heartedness of Apollo's pursuit and the tragedy of Daphne's transformation, creating a nuanced and multi-layered reading experience.


"Apollo and Daphne" is a powerful and engaging retelling of a classic myth, exploring timeless themes of desire, beauty, and transformation. Ayres' use of vivid imagery, allusion, and language, combined with a sense of rhythm and musicality, create a memorable and immersive reading experience. The poem's message of the power of the gods and the consequences of rejecting their will has resonated with readers for centuries, making it a lasting testament to the enduring power of poetry.

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