Daphne & Apollo

from by Francesca Baines

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Daphne & Apollo is about the dynamic of desire; attachment and aversion, and is a fresh take on an old Greek myth, told by Ovid in Metamorphoses. In vengeance for mocking him, Eros smites the sun god Apollo with a gold-tipped arrow so that when he sees the wood nymph Daphne he falls helplessly in-love with her. Daphne, who is smitten with a lead-tipped arrow feels deep aversion and as she runs away so begins the chase. As Apollo finally closes in on her, Daphne calls on her father, the river god Peneus, to help her, and he casts her into a laurel tree. Apollo can no longer have her body, but he cuts a bough in which he makes the first lyre, and the laurel branch becomes the mark of champions at the Olympic games and of the Caesers; pretty ironic, as Apollo is hardly a winner in this story. In some analyses this story is about rape. For me, Daphne the virgin nymph represents that in us that is wild, the free, the untouched. Apollo, the accomplished doer in the story of our selves, mocks Eros and underestimates his power (as Cupid, Eros represents the infantile nature of clinging love) and in his desire to attain this beautiful free aspect of self he changes her form, which comes about in Daphne's metamorphosis into a tree. If the unattainable becomes attained, its essence is no longer the same. In this song, through playing the lyre, Apollo tells his side of the story, and yet this instrumental body of Daphne also begins to tell her part in the second half of the song.
It was an honour and and experience to work with Sarah Grocer on this project. She plays the baroque family of string instruments; the viols, viola de gamba, the violone, similar to the violin family but with frets and variations in stringing and tuning. Their timbre for me evokes the energy of a more ancient time, and the violone is some growling bear of an instrument! - perfect for a bit of menace. Bringing Alex Petcu into the studio, his timpani and other percussive instruments was a fine day. A-bang-banging all Rik's kitchen utensils out of their holdings. His musical understanding and ability is mind-blowing and he added such dramatic intensity to the whole piece, rather effortlessly. Again, this was a difficult track to arrange and produce, because of its complexity and the fullness of the mix, but I think, with Rik's skill we pulled it off. When the mastering engineer Jon Astley finished the track, he exclaimed "Phew! That was exhausting!" Well so it should be if you are running for your life.


"Crown me in your leaves
Wreath your body around
The forehead of my grief
So the wind moves your fingers of bay
Across my brow
To soothsay our sorrow I'll play
A lyre from your bough
And you will sing sweet to me
Of quivers their arrows
The lead to gold alchemy
Of the shivering darts
From the flickering bow of Eros

One serpent slain cocky I came
To love in child-soft play
In toys of war he was medalling
And I the warrior was game
And oh for the mocking of him
The greater fool was I
The greater snake was him that day
When Daphne I did spy....

A creature firm as wood
Her eyes as soft as a fawn
If wildness is her sport
Her life hood is my porn
When I watch her sprint
I want to suck the soles of her feet
I want to feast my senses on
The nymph she is my meat

I can match your stride
You won't make it
I want you're hide
You can fake it
I am the god of the Sun
I speak the oracle
And you can be my hight priestess
Girl you can be my miracle"

And she flees through the forest
Un-teasing from the briars who bare her buttocks
To spur him on
He follows fast and curious
Grasping furiously
For a beauty so free it can never be won

She feels his breath upon her neck
He can almost taste her hair
She cries to her father a river
"Is there something in me left to spare?"

"He rooted me in the ground
In bark my wandering limbs are bound
My sinew the lignin
The rising sap my blood
My thirst is a searching
Lips writhing through the mud
And oh I feel fragile
For my lungs they pant from every branch
I shake in my trunk so still
For my heartwood knows
How we shrink and we grow from Eros

Apollo he kneels before me
As I in new skin am born
He reaches up to cut a piece
From my now rigid form
For those who rest on my laurels
With such tragic irony
That I should mark the champions
The Caesars and their chiefs
For the chase...."

Love is not a prize


from VelA, released October 21, 2012
Francesca Baines: voice, banjo
Sarah Groser: viol, violone
Alex Petcu: timpani, percussion kit
Joachim Mouflin: cymbals


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Francesca Baines Cork, Ireland

"A spirited and spiritual intervention in the world-music it celebrates.”

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