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To Helen Analysis

Author: Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe Type: Poetry Views: 3340

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Helen, thy beauty is to me

Like those Nicean barks of yore,

That gently, o'er a perfumed sea,

The weary, wayworn wanderer bore

To his own native shore.

On desperate seas long wont to roam,

Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,

Thy Naiad airs have brought me home

To the glory that was Greece

And the grandeur that was Rome.

Lo! in yon brilliant window-niche

How statue-like I see thee stand,

The agate lamp within thy hand!

Ah, Psyche, from the regions which

Are Holy Land!


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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Poe's poetry may be dark and deep, but no one can argue that it isn't brilliant. His use of simile leads you to believe things are something else. "To Helen" is a great example of this. You think "Helen" is a person, but it is a place. Consider this poem a work of art, for most of us do not respect this genius.

| Posted on 2016-11-22 | by a guest

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The poem “To Helen” is Romantic Poetry because Edgar Alan Poe uses allusion to Greek mythology to promote the advocacy of free thought, and a belief in the supernatural while also displaying a passion for human emotion. Poe alludes to the story of the cupid as well as the “glory that was Greece.” Apart from being a poem from the Romantic Period,lasting from the late seventeen-hundreds till eighteen-fifty, this poem is quiet literally a romantic poem written from a man to his lover. These types of poems were very common in the Romantic Period, late 1700's-1850's, because the world was tired of the constant waring and oppression of their leaders. The people wanted to get away from reality and dream about heroic battles, damsels in distress, and the supernatural. However, over time the Romantic Era progressed into the Impressionist Era which showed the world for what is really was and left the heroic dreams behind for the reality of the future. People were no longer interested in mythological creatures and romance stories between the gods and mortal men, but desired the freedom of religion, and the advocacy of free thought. This is one of the prominent messages this poem exemplifies.
-Ash Phantom

| Posted on 2014-10-04 | by a guest

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I usually never do this, but when I saw the comment about Edgar Allan Poe being called a \"rapist\" I couldn\'t stay silent. How can people say such a stupid things without thinking? This is unbelievable! Please, do not say anything if you have never study beyond 3rd grade. His poetry, as well as every poem out there, is for intrepetation to however you feel at the moment of your life, thus there really is no right answer to how you read a poem and the understanding of it. But when they say things like this person did, it just makes them look, not really stupid, but ignorent. Which is even worst. Edgar Allan Poe was one of the greatest poets and authors in the world, and To Helen like the rest of his poems are just great and dark. They are master picieces. Please respect him, and the people who love his work like me. It insults us beyond what words can say.

| Posted on 2012-09-08 | by a guest

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This is poe\'s dark poem which starts with simile HELEN.The poet regards HELEN as a place of safety after his weary wanderings around the world.This HELEN is of Tory\'s only ,it is clear in poetry ,through the words in line2-\"NICEAN\",in line7-\"HYACINT\",in line8-\"NAIAD\" ,in line9-\"GREECE\",in line13-\"AGATE\",in line14-\"PSYCHE\".

| Posted on 2012-03-08 | by a guest

.: :.

Poe is a teltubbie and so am i..
poe was the red teletubbie.
I think that poe was named after a teletubbie so no one would forget his work.
Poe was red because maybe it symbolized the red death..
what do i know.. im only fourteen

| Posted on 2011-11-21 | by a guest

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what does the imagery in lines 7-8 suggest to you abuot the speaker\'s feeling for Helen?

| Posted on 2011-01-12 | by a guest

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The guest who called Poe a rapist is stupid/retarded who should do their studying on Poe and this poem.

| Posted on 2010-12-18 | by a guest

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This poem is (as other comments have mentioned) is about the ideal beauty in a woman. Poe is on an imaginative/spiritual journey on finding what isthe purest form of beauty. In the 1st stanza, he uses the allusion of Helen of Troy to symbolize physical beauty. The 2nd stanza uses the Naiad as a form of meta-physical and the 3rd stanza is the Psyche, which is the mind and soul. It is a slow transition from physical beauty to spiritual beauty

| Posted on 2010-12-12 | by a guest

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wow it is great poem hehehhe nice doing
ahwp written

| Posted on 2010-08-17 | by a guest

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Poe was a rapist who teased women and got it good from helen so he wrote a poem to helen explkaining why he did what he did

| Posted on 2010-05-13 | by a guest

.: :.

Poe was a rapist who teased women and got it good from helen so he wrote a poem to helen explkaining why he did what he did

| Posted on 2010-05-13 | by a guest

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Poe was awesome. Helen and Annabel Lee are awesome. Who he's taling about, I think, isnt so important as what he's trying to say. That beauty is the corruption of man; and the hearth of love.

| Posted on 2010-03-24 | by a guest

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To whom this poem is directed to is not of importance. What he does with his words is like what we hear in love songs today. He is inspired by woman of beauty and emphasizes it throughout the poem. Just because he uses the name Helen does not mean the literal historical Helen of Troy but does add to the emotion. He constantly brings up fictional characters like Nymphs and Psyche which can only mean that beauty is indescribable to non-fictional writing style.

| Posted on 2010-03-07 | by a guest

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in short the man who posted beneath me is in fact an imbicile, to avoid another blitherin fool comment it is a poem of love we need not determine the essence of whom helen is, but more understand the feeling she arouses. poems are not documentaries they are not about information, they are about emotion. so please, discuss the emotion not the information

| Posted on 2010-01-18 | by a guest

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This has nothing to do with what any of you all are saying. This Poem is about a woman named Helen who was married to a man named Menelaos who was King of sparta.
If you read The Odyssey, you will understand the story but basically, Athena, goddess of Wisdom, Aphoriditis, Goddess of love and Hera, Zeus's wife, were running in what you would call a beauty contest, The most beautiful woman got to hold what was called the "Golden Apple" which basically meant you were the most beautiful of all goddesses. Paris, Prince of Greece, was a judge and it was up to him to choose who won.All of the goddesses got a chance to brive him and aphroditis being the godess of love told him he could have ANY woman in the world to be all his, IF he chose her, and he did. Paris then told Aphoriditi that he wanted HELEN, and she granted his wish. So he went to Helen and they ran off together. Her being forced of course. Menelaos decided he would not have it so he began what soon became to be the Trojan War, where Troy and Greece fought against each other for 10 years. and then the battle ended, but people thought that it was all Helen's fault. when it really wasn't. Edgar Allen Poe is seeing the good side of helen.

| Posted on 2009-11-30 | by a guest

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I think this peom is about Poe loving a girl named Helen

| Posted on 2009-11-14 | by a guest

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A couple points of clarification:
1.) Jane Stannard died of a brain tumor, she did not go mad, when Poe was 15.
2.) Mrs. Helen Whitman was a poet, who was briefly engaged to Poe in the years following Virginias death. The engagement was ended partly due to Poes drinking, but the main issue was Mrs. Whitmans mother did not want them to marry and told Poe he would have to sign a prenuptial agreement prior to the marriage. This was an insult in Poes mind. She was before his final engagement to Elmira Royster Shelton, who Poe was also engaged to before he married Virginia.
3.) Lastly, Poe refers to Virginia in the poem "The Raven" by the name Lenore and in the poem "Annabel Lee" by the name Annabel Lee, so to believe that he couldn't be both referencing Jane Stannard and Helen of Troy in one poem is very foolish.
4.) If any one has ever read Poe's literary criticism in which he explains how he writes, he mentions the fact that when it comes to naming his characters, he simply looks for names that fit the rhyme scheme of his poems.
5.) Finally to further support my third point, if you have ever read "The Black Cat, you will find he draws on at least 3 different superstitions about black cats: black cats are unlucky, a black cat with a white circle around its neck is a witch, and cats have nine lives.
I know it is said by numerous Poe historians that he wrote this poem while he knew Jane Stannard, so my guess is it was somewhat direct to her.
While I have not listed my sources as our A.P. alumni has, I can assure you that over my last 6 years of teaching Poe and reading and watching numerous documentaries on his life, the information presented is credible.

| Posted on 2009-10-18 | by a guest

.: :.

Poe was a flirt/pimp--
and this poem was not
written for his wife
or Lady of Greece
but to one of his fans,
someone that had a crush on him
and thought very highly of his
He did that alot-- i would call him a tease

| Posted on 2009-10-06 | by a guest

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This has nothing to do with a woman he was in love with. According to a national AP exam, this poem is about Helen of Troy, a Grecian (beautiful) woman carried off by the Trojan prince Paris. You guys should really check your sources before you post incorrect information.

| Posted on 2009-04-26 | by a guest

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Nice try, but no.
This poem was written after one of his best friends mother died. Her name was Jane, but Poe liked the name Helen better. As to the actual analysis; in my opinion, there are so many different explanations, it's hard to put them into one comment.

| Posted on 2009-03-11 | by a guest

.: Helens poem :.

I heard from my english teacher,in the 9th grade, that "Helen" was a beautiful woman, in which he admired greatly, but she only toyed with him, luring him on, but giving nothing to give him real hope. I also heard that he is saying he loved her even though he knew what she was doing, so he wrote a poem about how he felt about this beautiful maiden. So this leaves it at the small rambling of which I heard... I think that all of the above may be true... but I suppose since no one was physicaly there, and here to talk about it.. we'll never know?

| Posted on 2008-03-17 | by a guest

.: :.

In To Helen, the speaker sees pure idealized beauty, both physically and spiritually. He thinks that she is so beautiful that that it is a relief to just be with her and you are calmed by her extraordinary beauty. She has beautiful hair and a classic face, and her inner beauty is also tremendous. The speaker sees Helen as very poised and perfect and ideal. The words that characterize the beauty most clearly are gently, perfumed, hyacinth hair, classic face, statuelike, and brilliant.
2. The speaker says that Helens beauty has brought me home/ To the glory that was Greece/ And the grandeur that was Rome because Poe had opened the poem with the simile Helen, thy beauty is to me / Like those Nicean barks of yore and this compares the beauty of Helen, with small sailing boats (barks) that took travelers home in ancient times. He extends this boat imagery into the lines above, when he says Helen brought him home to the shores of these great civilizations, classical Greece and Rome. Helens beauty inspires the speaker and calms him to a great extent. Just her presence is a blessing to him and being with her gives the speaker relief.
3. The words or phrases that make the reader believe that Helen may not be an actual person are in stanza two, where the speaker says that she has hyacinth hair and a classic face. This is where the poem begins to describe her immense beauty. Later on in the poem, in stanza three, the speaker compares Helen (Mrs. Stanard) to Psyche, who infact wasnt a real woman, but from Greek mythology. The poems allusions are in reference to greek mythology and the classical age.
s are moderated before posted.

| Posted on 2007-12-06 | by a guest

.: Truth about Helen :.

From his biography, This poem was written to a woman poe fell in love with after virgina died. The womans name was Sarah Helen Whitman who was an admiring fan of poes poem "The Raven". In 1845 She wrote him a poem imitated his his style from the raven and even borrowing some of the phrases and rhymes. When he discovered who she was he wrote her this poem and answered her compliments and titling it To Helen.
He met her once but didnt know it was her who wrote the poem to him and once he realized it was her cuz she was a poet also he wanted to see her again. Few years later he left NY to go to her and appeared at her front door, once he spoke with her he fell in love with her and perposed marriage. She did want to marry him but decided against it after she asked him to quit drinking and people said he still drank she became uneasy and didnt get marry him. And that was the end of it. So yeah.

| Posted on 2007-10-21 | by a guest

.: .: Analysis of "To Helen" :.

On pambytes.com I read that:
"About 1823 he became intimate in the home of a schoolmate, Robert Stanard, whose mother, Jane Stith Stanard, took a tender interest in the brilliant young boy, an affection which was ardently and romantically returned. It was to this lady that Poe afterwards addressed his poem "To Helen," beginning...

"Helen, thy beauty is to me"

Mrs. Stanard soon went mad and died. The tragedy was undoubtedly taken to heart by Poe to whom it came as a great blow shocking him significantly. He is said on somewhat questionable authority to have haunted her grave in the lonely cemetery by night. There is no doubt that he continued to cherish her memory as long as be lived. "

P.S. F.Y.I. "About 1823" is when Poe was about 14 years old!!! This might explain how Poe got so messed up with depression, suicide attempt, drinking, and marrying his thirteen year old 1st cousin.


| Posted on 2007-04-30 | by a guest

.: Analysis of "To Helen" :.

This poem is about the ideal beauty of a woman. The poem was written about Poe's friend's mother (her name wasn't Helen). Helen is an allusion to either the Greek goddess of light or Helen of Troy who is considered the most bueatiful woman ever.

| Posted on 2006-06-16 | by Approved Guest

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