To Helen

Length: 3 Pages 787 Words

In “To Helen”, Poe depicts a weary traveler called home by the majestic image of the beautiful Helen. Through idealistic imagery and diction, he develops the romantic image of feminine beauty. The lofty rhyme scheme throughout the poem similarly enhances the speaker’s admiration of Helen. In response to Poe’s picturesque description, H.D. reveals her title character in “Helen” as a brutal reminder of the hardships of war. Her usage of imagery and diction create a cold, undercutting tone, which, along with the flat rhyme of the poem, echo Helen’s association with death and destruction. In equating Helen with the dark images of war, H.D. mocks Poe’s idealistic image of feminine beauty. The speaker of “To Helen” feels weary from the hardships he faces at sea. During his travels, however, the image of Helen motivates him until he may return home. In relating his semblance of her, the speaker describes a majestic, admirable woman. The imagery Poe employs contributes to his romanticized perception of beauty. Upon seeing Helen, the speaker note, “How statue-like I see thee stand.” This image evokes thoughts of a woman placed high on a Continue...


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These damaging, hurtful words mirror the speaker's feelings. She views Helen as a dark reminder, rather than a classic inspiration, and so she uses powerfully negative words to develop her direct, insipid tone. Similarly, the speaker uses the word, "wan and white, in portraying Helen's face. Just as Helen returns the weary sea wanderer home, Poe associates these words in his rhyme. 's rhyme proves flat and unmoving, mirroring the speaker's deadpan response to Helen. Similarly, the lines, "Could love indeed the maid only if she were laid, act in the same manner. Her speaker describes Helen's eyes as having, "the luster as of olives. As he journeys far and wide, the speaker always keeps Helen in his mind. His words exude admiration and love, contributing to his romantic depiction. Both of these instances place Helen up as majestic and admirable, as they create the lofty tone used by the speaker.

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