Clytie was a water-nymph and in love with Apollo, who made her no return. So she pined away, sitting all day long upon the cold ground, with her unbound tresses streaming over her shoulders. Nine days she sat and tasted neither food nor drink, her own tears and the chilly dew her only food. She gazed on the sun when he rose, and as he passed through his daily course to his setting; she saw no other object, her face turned constantly on him. At last, they say, her limbs rooted in the ground, her face became a flower [Footnote: The sunflower.] which turns on its stem so as always to face the sun throughout its daily course; for it retains to that extent the feeling of the nymph from whom it sprang.
Hood, in his "Flowers," thus alludes to Clytie:
- will not have the mad Clytie, Whose head is turned by the sun;
The tulip is a courtly quean, Whom therefore I will shun; The cowslip is a country wench, The violet is a nun;--
But I will woo the dainty rose, The queen of every one."
The sunflower is a favorite emblem of constancy. Thus Moore uses it:
"The heart that has truly loved never forgets, But as truly loves on to the close; As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets The same look that she turned when he rose."