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To Helen

Edgar Allan Poe

Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicéan barks of yore,
That gently, o’er a perfumed sea,
The weary, way-worn wanderer bore
5 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,
10 And the grandeur that was Rome

Lo! in yon brilliant window-niche
How statuelike I see thee stand,
The agate lamp° within thy hand!
Ah, Psyche,° from the regions which
15 Are Holy Land!


H. D.

All Greece hates
the still eyes in the white face,
the luster as of olives
where she stands,
5 and the white hands.

All Greece reviles
the wan face when she smiles,
hating it deeper still
when it grows wan and white,
10 remembering past enchantments
and past ills.

Greece sees unmoved,
God’s daughter,° born of love,
the beauty of cool feet
15 and slenderest knees,
could love indeed the maid,
only if she were laid,
white ash amid funereal cypresses.

1. In the first two lines of Poe’s poem, the main poetic device is —

A personification

B simile

C symbol

D metaphor

2. In line 4 of Poe’s poem, the main poetic device is —

F personification

G alliteration

H onomatopoeia

J simile

3. In Poe’s first two stanzas the speaker is saying that Helen’s beauty makes him —

A feel weary and desperate

B long to travel by sea

C feel angry

D feel as if he is returning home

4. In the third stanza of Poe’s poem, what is Helen compared to?

F A lamp

G Greece

H A statue

J Rome

5. In H. D.’s poem, Helen’s eyes are compared to —

A water

B olives

C ash

D cypresses

6. In H. D.’s poem, how do the Greek people feel about Helen?

F They pity her because she is a victim.

G They condemn her for causing the Trojan War.

H They forgive her for her past misdeeds.

J They are jealous of her beauty.

7. In the second stanza of H. D.’s poem, Helen grows increasingly pale because —

A she knows she is growing old

B she is angry at the Greeks’ attitude toward her

C she thinks she will be murdered and buried among cypresses

D she is troubled by memories of her past

8. In the third stanza of “Helen,” the speaker is saying that the people of Greece can love Helen —

F despite the trouble she has caused

G because they feel sorry for her

H only when she is dead

J because she is “God’s daughter”

9. In contrast to Poe’s poem, the overall tone in H. D.’s poem is —

A bitter while Poe’s tone is romantic

B adoring while Poe’s tone is bitter

C envious while Poe’s tone is ironic

D reserved while Poe’s tone is humorous

10. Unlike Poe’s poem, H. D.’s poem depicts Helen as —

F a symbol of classic beauty

G a victim of male domination

H an object of societal hatred

J an ordinary woman

Essay Question

In an essay, compare and contrast these two poems. Pay particular attention to each poet’s attitude toward feminine beauty and its effects. Be sure to consider how Poe’s poem reflects some of the key characteristics of American Romanticism (see page 143) and how H. D.’s poem goes against them.

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