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To Helen

Edgar Allan Poe

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Summary of "To Helen"
Added by: Pixie
I must admit if I got this poem at first I would not be sure whether it was a complement or not! But, I looked up all the difficult words I now I understand it more. The persona is saying that Helen's love is precious, as important to him a a ship is to a sailor. In fact, Helen is so beautiful that she reminds the persona of the time when Rome and Greece were grand. As the persona sees Helen posed at her window, lantern stretched forth, he is convinced she must be from a holy place. (Well, maybe he doesn't really think that, maybe he put it down to flatter Helen!) A good summary of this poem would be, "Yo Helen, you're looking good!" Nothing else need be said...
Added by: Mary
This poem is not written to a woman specifically named "Helen". It is, however, dedicated to a mother of one of his friends. He is simply comparing her to Helen of Troy. He greatly admirers her beauty, speaking of her flowing hair and classic face. He also reffers to her as Psyche, the goddess of the soul, which leads us to believe that he was in love with this woman.
Added by: Asma A.
In the online Columbia Encyclopedia (bartleby.com) it says that he is infact writing about Sarah Helen Whitman whom he was courting and was engaged to for a short time after the death of his wife, for whom he wrote Annabel Lee.
Added by: ANN
"To Helen" was written about a specific person: Helen of Troy. It just happens that Poe has many women he admired and loved in his life. Also, some of his other poems are about women eho are no longer alive: Lenore, Ulalume, Annabele Lee, and Helen.
This poem is "to" Helen about her beauty. She is "The face that launched a thousand ships."
correction on "helen"
Added by: days
According to my verson of a poetry collection of Poe's, "To Helen" was inspired by Jame Stith Craig Stanards who helped to raise him since his parents died when he was so young. However "Helen" was a lover of his. I found a website that talk about Poe's relationship with "helen"


yeah I just looked it up because I thought the reference to "helen of troy" was way too queer
correction on days
Added by: Justin
That website is referring to Poe's other poem entitled "To Helen." The one this page is discussing is the poem for Mrs. Craig Stith Stannard, which does compare her to Helen of Troy
correction to sarah helen whitman
Added by: Charlotte
This particular poem was not written about sarah helen whitman because he met her in 1846. this poem was written in 1831, so it possibly couldnt be her. I think this poem was about Jane stith stanard, his classmate's mother. but he was using helen of troy as a comparison. (there is actually another poem called To Helen that Poe wrote. that one is about sarah helen whitman)
Added by: dgarg
In this poem, Poe is describing a special someone using vivid imagery and metaphors to compare that person (Helen) with beautiful and grand objects. In the first stanza, a comparison is made to the peacfulnesses of the sea from the eyes of a native. In the second stanza, a comparison is made to the glory of Rome and Greece when they were dominant empires. In the third stanza, Poe compares "Helen" to the divineness of Psyche, a god, standing by the window shedding light on her surroundings. I think that Helen itself is a metaphor referring to someone Poe admires in real life - Helen itself means "the most beautiful woman in the world."

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