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The Beauty of Helen
“To Helen” by Edgar Allen Poe is a letter written as a poem to the mythical person, Helen of Troy. She was believed to be the most beautiful person in Ancient Greece. Poe describes her beauty by using metaphors and rhymes to give the reader a clear perception of Helen’s beauty.
In the first stanza Poe uses the sea to describe her beauty. “That gently, o’er a perfumed sea, / The weary, way-worn wanderer bore / To his own native shore.” (Line 3) This representation displays the fact that her beauty makes him feel as though he were at home. He feels comforted like some one who has been lost at sea for a long time and
finally finds his way back to his homeland.
The second stanza symbolizes the features of the fictitious woman that the author very much enjoys. He describes her face as a timeless masterpiece, her hair
flowing like the sea, her glory, and her magnificence. Through magic he has been brought to a place that is the equivalent to home. Like Greece in all its glory and Rome in
its greatness this place is the best of both worlds.
In the final stanza, the author pictures himself in a position where he views her as an unreachable, unmoving object. As known in Greek mythology, Helen was an
unattainable lover, because she was destined to be only with Menelaus, her husband. However, the poem “To Helen” the author can attain her only through his innermost thoughts and imagination.
“To Helen” begins a painting that only one’s imagination can complete. It takes a person’s own feelings and puts them into the meaning of the poem. The reader must imagine the “perfect person” for them. Then confront the fact that they will never be able to have a fully intimate relationship with this “perfect person” since destiny will not
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Greek mythology, Poetry by Edgar Allan Poe, Literature, Mythology, To Helen, Helen of Troy, Menelaus, Edgar Allan Poe, Helen, British poetry
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