Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nic├Žan 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!

Analysis, meaning and summary of Edgar Allan Poe's poem To Helen 1

33 Comments

  1. ADDISU TEMESGEN says:

    why he use a traditional style of writing, because peoples that can not learn literature can not came to
    the intended meaning.

  2. MarHin says:

    I read that Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, “To Helen”, was inspired by Sarah Helen Whitman, the beautiful young mother of one of Poe’s boyhood friends , the woman in the title is compared to Helen of Troy “the face that launched a thousand ships.”

  3. SHAILA says:

    I think “To Helen” is a nice poem . But whenever I am going to read it for exam it becomes a boring one to me .I find some similarities between “To Helen” and “Bonolotha sen”.”Bonolotha Sen” is written by Gibonanondo Das . He is a bengali poet . OK I can’t find anything else to write . Oh God just save me from the Allan Poe .BYE.

  4. Tony says:

    The poem is hard to be understood due to my eastern background.i’m not familiar with the myths of Greece,but Helen was so famous for her beauty which lighted ten years war fire of Troy. The poem was inspired,as poe admitted,by Mrs.Jane Stanard.who died in 1824 when Allan was at the age of fifteen. Poe called her” the first purely idasl love of my soul”, the draft of the poem was wroten when Poe was fourteen and rigorous revisions had been made before it first published in 1831. maybe the personal emotion of young poet was almost sublimated in the idealization of the supernal beauty in art which Poe had always insisted untill his death in 1849

  5. Jocylin says:

    Actually Arielle is correct, the poem is in fact about Helen of Troy. I am not saying that there could not be some underlying meaning in the poem but on the AP exam the graders stated…”The following poem is about Helen of Troy…Renowned in teh ancient world for her beauty Helen was the wife of Menelaus, A Greek king..etc.”

  6. ang says:

    why does he use the w..like i know its a repetitive words..with w? but why w..?

  7. shinny says:

    erin helped a lot, thanks…
    now about the subject….there’s never a concrete answer, has anyone ever considered that a poem is layered with an obvious meaning and other meanings at the same time….yea it’s about helen, the college board says so anyway…but if it were ONLY about helen then it wouldn’t be classic poetry, it’d be a poem about helen….the underlying themes and purposes are left to interpretation and only poe could tell us who it was about…but instead of finding a specific person who could be the subject, generalizations will get you closer to the theme of the poem and will give you a more universal sense of its meaning and significance….so yeah

  8. miranda says:

    This poem isn’t about Helen of Troy. He makes a metaphor to Helen of Troy and Psyche in order to describe the beauty of his first love, Mrs. Stanard. Helen of Troy was the most beautiful woman in Greek mythology and Psyche was a princess whom Eros (the Greek and Roman god of love) was in love with. Psyche literally means soul in Greek, and therefore Helen of Troy represents Mrs. Stanard’s physical beauty while Psyche represents Mrs. Stanard’s soulful beauty.

    Trust me. I did a 4000 word essay on this.

  9. Altri 3 says:

    WE AGREEEE!!! UH UH

  10. igor & steo says:

    This poem seems us very beautiful

  11. jessica says:

    atually this poem is written about Helen Whitman a poet. She wrote him a poem on valentimes day and he returned the favor by writing “to helen”

  12. Deborah says:

    And Arielle, how are you so positively sure that it is a poem based on Helen of Troy? Although it’s a very popular idea, it does not mean it’s right.

    I believe that although the poem may have had some influence from Helen of Troy, Poe does not describe her beauty, but rather the idea of beauty at its perfection.

  13. Sarah says:

    Poe is not specifically apostrophizing Helen of Troy. Rather, he is discussing beauty and all beautiful woman. He longs for the comfort and hope that such perfection embodies. A flawlessly beautiful woman holding a light is a beacon of hope. I like to think of the Statue of Liberty as an image for this poem, although it did not exist when Poe composed this work.

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