"Dolce Far Niente," John William Godward, 1904, WikiArt photo.
“Dolce Far Niente,” John William Godward, 1904, WikiArt photo.

Part 5: Dolius and Apollo

With heaving heart, Ilithya reached entrance
Of oracular temple, marble porticoes, veined
Cream-color in bright sunlight, scent of cedars,
Flower petal-floating reflecting pools. Towering
Above mountaintops, Apollo’s presence moved
Ilithya, father of her child, she swooned on
Marble steps, Dolius at her side, who stood in
Defiance of god-present ceremony. “My lord,
This child requires rest, food in cool shade,”
Dolius advised, his robed hood back pushed,
Silver curls flowing, shoulders manly square,
Countenance equal to Apollo’s, as he carried
Ilithya to quiet lily-clad waters, reviving her
With sips of wine, honeyed figs and fruit.

"Apollo and Daphne," John William Waterhouse," 1908, WikiArt photo.
“Apollo and Daphne,” John William Waterhouse,” 1908, WikiArt photo.

“Who are you?” Apollo asked, his thoughts
Echoing throughout his temple domain. “We
Are collective voices of oracles of Mycenaean
Age, ancient bones temple shrouded,” replied
Dolius, his voice time-resonant. “Ilithya is as
Much ours as yours. We will inhabit the child
She carries, as archaic gods have decreed.” In
Ethereal light, Apollo appeared. “To that I will
Agree. Such flight I withhold, Ilithya my bride
Will not be,” Sun god stated, recollecting Eros’
Arrows of gold and lead, laurel-tree transformed
Daphne. “As father and oracular daughter, you
Shall be, not predator nor prey, even gods evolve,
By love’s reason I relinquish her to thee.”

"Cleopatra," John William Waterhouse, 1887, Wikimedia photo.
“Cleopatra,” John William Waterhouse, 1887, Wikimedia photo.

At mountain crossroads, three had met, Ilithya,
Sun god, and hermit sage, whether by past or
Future plights, concessions made. Who held
Greater love, he who stood before the gods or
Gods who giveth in love divine? In absence of
Painful contest, hearts rejoiced, and Ilithya with
Father Dolius at her side, entered ancient temple,
Deep bows made, shutter of realization as Apollo
Spoke to her pliant mind, Ilithya’s first recorded
Oracular statement made: “Witnessed have I that
Which has not been known nor seen, goddess or
Sun-bronzéd maid, by love, death and dawning
Resurrection, new life stirring within, I speak
Henceforth with vital voice of Apollo.”

This closing stanza was inspired by lines from Ovid’s
“The Metamorphoses”: “’Midst speech discursive, great
Æneas said, “Be thou a goddess, or but mortal maid
favoured by gods, ever be thou to me a deity. By thy
benignity I have walked through the house and home
of death, and am returned from thence with vital breath…” 

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