Literary Analysis of To Helen by Edgar Allan Poe and Helen by H.D
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Men have idealized prominent female figures in society like Marilyn Monroe as the literary and symbolic emblem of sexual beauty; while her beauty brought her overwhelming popularity, it ultimately lead to her destruction. Similarly, Helen of Troy, a mythic symbol of voluptuous desires, has also been subjected to such actions; in fact, since the times of the Odyssey, many people had joined in on elaborating her mythical beauty. Although both poems agree that Helen is the epitome of beauty, Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “To Helen” focuses on the positive effects of beauty—bringing comfort and joy to the man who beholds her—while H.D.’s “Helen” draws readers’ attention to the negative consequences of overwhelming beauty—an object of the Greeks’ detestation.
In his poem “To Helen,” Poe reveals Helen’s profound effect on the speaker by presenting her as a woman of inspiring, idealistic beauty. In the first stanza, the speaker’s exhaustion before seeing Helen is revealed by the alliterative “weary, wayworn traveler,” as if he who looks upon Helen has a sickness that only Helen’s beauty can cure...