Clytie was not always a sunflower, turning on her stem to watch the journeying
Long ago she was a water nymph and lived in a cave at the bottom of the
sea. The walls
of the cave were covered with pearls and lovely pink sea shells. The floor
was made of
amber, with soft, mossy cushions.
On each side of the cave opening was a forest of coral and sea fans. Behind
were Clytie's gardens. Here she spent long hours taking care of her sea
star lilies, or in planting rare kinds of seaweed. Clytie kept her favorite
horses in the
garden grotto. These were the swift-darting goldfish and the slow moving
For a long time she was very happy and contented. The sea nymphs loved Clytie,
wove for her dresses of the softest of green sea lace. They told her all
of their best
stories. One day they took her to the mermaid's rock to hear the mermaid
liked one song best of all. It told of a glorious light which shone on the
top of the water.
After Clytie heard this song, she could think of nothing else, but longed
day and night to
see the wonderful light. But no ocean nymph dared take her to it, and she
unhappy. Soon she neglected her garden and all her sea creatures.
In vain the other nymphs begged her to forget the enchanting light. They
told her no
sea nymph had ever seen it, or ever could hope to see it. But Clytie would
not listen, and
to escape them she spent more and more of her time in her shell carriage,
riding far away
from her cave. In this way, she could dream, undisturbed, of the glorious
light which the
mermaid called the "sun".
Now it happened that late one summer night, when the sea was warm and the
were going very slowly, Clytie fell asleep. Unguided, the turtles went on
and on and up
and up, through the green waters, until they came out at last close to a
As the waves dashed the carriage against the shore, Clytie awoke. Trembling
filled with wonder, she climbed out of the shell and sat down upon a rock.
It was early dawn, and the waking world was very beautiful. Clytie had never
the trees and the flowers. She had never heard the birds chirping, or the
rustling through the leaves. She had never smelled the fragrance of the
meadows, or seen
the morning dew upon the grass.
She was dazed by all these wonders, and thought she must be dreaming, but
forgot all about them, for the eastern sky blazed suddenly with light. Great
curtains were lifted, and slowly a great ball of dazzling fire appeared,
blinding her eyes
with its beauty. She held her breath and stretched out her arms toward it,
for she knew at
once that this was the glorious light she had dreamed about and longed for.
This was the
sun. In the midst of the light was a golden chariot, drawn by four fiery
steeds, and in the
chariot sat a wonderful, smiling King, with seven rays of light playing
around his crown.
As the steeds mounted higher and higher in their path, the birds began to
sing, the plants
opened their buds, and even the old sea looked happy.
Clytie sat all day upon the rock, her eyes fixed upon the sun with a great
longing in her heart. She wept when the chariot disappeared in the West
came over the earth. The next day from sunrise to sunset she gazed upon
the sun, and at
night she refused to go home. For nine days and nights she sat with her
unbound, tasting neither food nor drink, only longing more and more for
the smile of the
glorious King. She called to him and stretched out her arms, yet she had
no hope that he
would ever notice her or know of her great love.
On the tenth morning, when she leaned over the water, she was amazed, for
her own face, a beautiful flower looked up at her from the sea. Her yellow
become golden petals, her green dress had turned into leaves and stems,
and her little feet
had become roots which fastened her to the ground. Clytie had become a small
the sun. The next morning, when she lifted her face to the beautiful light,
it was so
radiant with happiness that the great King himself seemed to smile back
kindly at the
And so, Clytie began her life upon the earth, and she became the mother
of a large
family of flowers with bright faces like her own. Her children are called
you may find them scattered all over the country, even in the dry and dusty
other flowers will not grow. And if you care to, you may find out for yourselves
or not it is true that all the sunflowers in the world turn upon their stalks,
from sunrise to
sunset, so that they may always keep their faces toward the sun.