Poetry Essay

In: English and Literature

Submitted By owens1979
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“Helen” & “To Helen”

History tends to provide inspiration for poets and authors alike. One such example is with Helen of Troy, who provided the inspiration for both Edgar Allan Poe in “To Helen”, and H.D. in “Helen”. Helen of Troy is contrasted between the Poe and H.D. , by Poe beholding her beauty as opposed to H.D condemning her beauty. The attitudes towards Helen dier greatly between Poe and H.D. Poe is setting Helen on a pedestal by comparing her beauty to a ship by saying, “ Thy beauty is to me like those Nicean barks of yore ”, meaning that Helen’s beauty is enough to make him want to come home. He also says she carries home the “ Weary way-worn wanderer ” meaning he has been away for too long. H.D. on the other hand, gave Helen no such admiration nor adorement going so far as to say, “ All Greece hates the still eyes in the white face ”, stating that Greece absolutely hates Helen for her betrayal and causing of the war. Their differences are also present within their titles. Poe’s title is reminiscent of a love letter “ To Helen ” as H.D.’s title, “ Helen ”, is cold and straight forward. The differences continue to unveil throughout both of the poems as they drag on. Poe also praises her beauty and uses his imagery to depict a woman who is wholesome, kind, and just. He says, “ How statue-like I see thee stand! ”, he sees her as a great figure who is the pride of Greece, almost livening her to Greece. H.D continues to condemn Helen. His imagery depicts a woman who is weak, pale, and frail by saying “ All Greece reviles the wan face when she smiles ”. H.D.’ s ultimate statement was, “ Could love indeed the maid , only if she were laid, white ash amid funereal cypresses. ”, meaning she could only be loved if she were dead. Albeit the same topic, it was expressed in different ways between the poets. History can be interpreted in different ways and…...

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