To Helen as a Mythological Poem
In the poem, ‘To Helen’ Edgar Allan Poe uses a rare combination of archaic diction, allusions, to Greek Mythology, consistent meter. The archaic language Poe used in many of his poems, Poe alludes to Greek mythology in his poem, ‘Serenade’. Elysium in Greek mythology is referred to as the most celestial place which is called paradise. Allan Poe also used the same thought in his poem which connects to Homer’s Odyssey. However, Poe’s inclination to mythological writing had made an impact on the romantic poetry He has written much poetry in his life.
The present poem, ‘To Helen’ was revised in another version called, ‘Helen’. The true matter of the poem lies in the fact that Poe had a childhood friend called Rob. Once he had visited his house along with his friend. There he met his beautiful mother, Jane Stanard. Who was 17 years old and then the poet was aged 14. The beauty of the lady was so alluring that the boy had fallen in love with the lady. The poet almost candidly admits that part in his confession. The poet confesses that it was his first love. The beauty lady was so much that he compared her to the beauty of Helen.
The most favored beauty of Greek mythology was Helen. Her sweetness was so world-famous that often she was made superior to the beauty of the goddess. She was a property of Greece. But her extra marital affair with the prince of Troy, Paris made a breakthrough in the epic. The Battle of Troy marked a significant episode in the history. But it was their black side of their fate that they lost the battle. But in spite of that the peerless beauty of Helen marked a different place in the history.
However, the poet, Edgar Allan Poe was inclined to Greek mythology. In his poem we fine a superiority of that connection of Greek mythology, Poe did not mention that why he had made such a bold comment on Stanard. He also changed the name of Jane Stanard to Helen. The utmost possible thought behind it may be due to their equivalent beauty. He was enchanted and completely enamoured. Helen made the spark in the Trojan War and Jane Stanard made the spark in the tender heart of the boy poet.
Poe’s elevated poetic diction and framing of the poem are so suggestive here in the poem that the comparison is well justified. Poe mentions Helen as ‘The glory that was Greece’ and ‘the grandeur that was Rome’. Poe also describes Helen’s beauty for her ‘hyacinth hair’ and ‘classical face’. All these descriptions are associated with the female ideals. It is a matter of thinking that if Poe refers her subject as Helen that he has given the character a high praise.
“Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicéan barks of yore,
That gently, o’er a perfumed sea,”
The above mentioned extract from the poem are the first lines in the poem. It suggests a great comparison between these two unparalleled beauties. The poet mentions here as a ‘weary’ wanderer who has come back to home crossing a long way of sea voyage which is perfumed. But to say differently a thousand fleet of ships during the Trojan War made no place in the weary body. Everywhere it was only the scent of oils across the sea. But here the poet’s mind was so full of beauty and his mind was so charmed that his mind was pushed forward to make the comparison.
Poe may have intended the narrator to be a direct reflection of himself who as a boy was enormously welcomed at the house of Jane Stanard. It was beyond controversy that it was a platonic love. But love at first sight was assured here by the poem’s buildings. His direct reference to a victorious Greek warrior returning home after a weary battle is significant. The role of the female character in this poem is really very significant at the same time multifaceted. Helen is shown to guard her household in the most domestic and traditional way. Poet in his poem mentions that in the lines,
“How statue-like I see thee stand,
The agate lamp within thy hand!”
Here in the above lines from the poem the poet suggests Helen as a dependable post of lamp who is waiting for the poet most perhaps for a long time for his return. It recalls the ideals love of Annabel Lee in Poe’s eponymous 1849 poem. At the same time, Helen also stands here as an inspirational figure. Actually Jane Stanard stands for as an inspiration for the poet’s life that helped to speed forward his career. Here, the great mythological character acts as the supreme part. In Greek word, ‘Psyche’ means mind. Here we also find the stress of the some words with positive vibe. The poet’s psych was enriched looking at the lady, Jane Stanard. There are some significant mentions of Naiad or ancient Greek Nymphs.
“Ah, Psyche, from the regions which
A well parallel comparison between these two paralleled beauties is superbly framed by the poet. His psyche was living in the wind love. We can consider the love on another ground of saying. But, here with that consideration we can also think or consider the boy poet’s mental maturity or status. The love which is rhetorically or metaphorically talked about in the poem may be beyond legal justification but on the literary ground it seeks perfect and most important attention by the readers.
However, as a lyrical poem, Poe’s creation and assertion in the poem, ‘To Helen’ is irregular and musical also. It is always remembered as the rare description by the poet. The poem conceives three stanzas. The poem is not too big it is a short narrative poem with a powerful meaning. Each stanza comprised of different rhyming schemes although each having five lines. In the first stanza the rhyming scheme is ababb. The second star the rhyming scheme is ababa and the third stanza it is abbab. By using meaningful archaic words poem progresses towards thematic win, expressing his love for Jane Stanard. Here the mythological character Helen becomes an epitome of the Holy” and making Jane Stanard a supreme one in the eyes of the poet, Edgar Allan Poe.