Saturday, March 19, 2011


Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Apollo and Daphne
Leave a lover with his thoughts for twenty-four hours and this is what will happen: At the salt mines of Salzburg, they throw a leafless wintry bough into one of the abandoned workings. Two or three months later they pull it out covered with a shining deposit of crystals. The smallest twig, no bigger than a tom-tit's claw, is studded with a galaxy of scintillating diamonds. The original branch is no longer recognizable. What I have called crystallization is a mental process which draws from everything that happens new proofs of the perfection of the loved one.

— Stendhal, De l'Amour 1

And yet the crystalline bough is no longer the leafless branch. Reaching out for his beloved, Apollo feels Daphne turn to living tree under his very fingertips at the moment of his touch. Captured, the beloved disappears.

She leaves.

1 As quoted in Anne Carson, Eros the Bittersweet: An Essay, Princeton, 1986, p. 64.

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