405px-antonio_del_pollaiolo_apollo_and_daphne Upon Revisiting the Account of Daphne and Apollo
in My Grandmother’s Copy of Bulfinch’s The Age of Fable
by Jennifer Finstrom

When I think of transformation, I don’t only contemplate the plight of Gregor Samsa, voiceless and changed on the wall of his room. I think too of The Metamorphoses of Ovid, of Zeus and Apollo, Io and Daphne, Europa on the back of the white bull.

In Greek mythology it is not safe to be a girl. I page through my grandmother’s copy of Thomas Bulfinch’s The Age of Fable, read about Daphne and how “many lovers sought her, but she spurned them all,” read how “Apollo loved her, and longed to obtain her,” and then—when I had always imagined her free though transformed—read how Bulfinch writes of the tree’s gratitude for the god’s regard.

I wrote a poem about Daphne once, saw the woman in the tree growing toward the sun, in love at last with the pursuing heat. Now I would revisit that poem and tell the reader that there are clouds and storms, long cool nights when the tree stands alone and quiet. I would write that the sun is only a part of the story.

IMAGE: “Apollo and Daphne” by Antonio del Pollaiolo (c. 1475).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve always been fascinated by Greek mythology and all of the many transformations that take place there—it’s interesting to look at Kafka’s The Metamorphosis through that lens. I also like to revisit past poems I’ve written to get a sense of my own transformation over time.

Finstrom Metamorphosis

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jennifer Finstrom
 teaches in the First-Year Writing Program, tutors in writing, and facilitates a writing group, Writers Guild, at DePaul University. She has been the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine since October of 2005, and recent publications include Escape Into LifeMidwestern GothicNEAT, and YEW Journal. She also has work appearing in the Silver Birch Press The Great Gatsby Anthology and forthcoming in the Alice in Wonderland Anthology.

PHOTOGRAPH: Jennifer Finstrom in front of some of her bookshelves—and even though you can’t see them, there are many books on mythology there.