BY H. D.
All Greece hates
the still eyes in the white face,
the lustre as of olives
where she stands,
and the white hands.
All Greece reviles
the wan face when she smiles,
hating it deeper still
when it grows wan and white,
remembering past enchantments
and past ills.
Greece sees unmoved,
God’s daughter, born of love,
the beauty of cool feet
and slenderest knees,
could love indeed the maid,
only if she were laid,
white ash amid funereal cypresses.
By Edgar Allan PoeHelen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicean barks of yore
That gently, o'er a perfumed sea,
The weary, way-worn 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!
Although H.D. and Edgar Allan Poe each wrote a poem with the same name of "Helen", they both demonstrate very opposite esteem for the subject and couldn't be more divergent. In Poe's writing Helen come across as a very beautiful and inviting women, whereas, H.D. downsizes Helen's beauty with the use of simile and imagery.
Poe writes in three stanzas of five lines that have definite rhyming pattern. The first stanza has the pattern a/b/a/b/b. Poe uses a simile to compare his Helen's beauty to that of Helen of troy, who was considered one of the world's most beautiful women. With tone of reverse and imagery Poe portrays Helen like a goddess. Poe uses the simile and alliteration to show compare Helen beauty's to the emotions of a log that is traveling back to its homeland to be reunited.The poem is a tribute to a beautiful woman, held in high regard.
H.D. and Poe have different views about Helen's beauty, these portrayals of Helen in these two poems are examples of two extreme interpretations of the physical appearance and symbolism of a historic figure.