Edgar Allan Poe And Helen Essay

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Despite Edgar Allan Poe and H.D. 's respective poems "To Helen" and "Helen" dealing with the same subject matter, their unique usage of subtle literary techniques allows them to communicate two very different messages. Poe 's "To Helen" is a sentimental piece that alludes to imagery commonly associated with Helen and classical works in general. H.D., on the other hand crafts a much darker picture of Helen and the tragedy she instigated. How the two poets manage to do this by focusing every aspect of their poems, from the title to the conclusion and everything in between, at communicating a specific theme.

"To Helen" is much closer to what one would expect a poem about a legendary Greek beauty would resemble. It is flowing and reverent,
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H.D. 's "Helen" is radically different from both Poe 's poem and what the reader would expect. The most telling difference is communicated through anaphora. The repetition of Greece 's attitude toward Helen at the beginning of each stanza indicates to the reader what the overall tone of the poem is. Because Greece 's attitude is defined by words such as "hate", "revile", and "unmoved", the context of the entire poem is changed. Independently, the description of Helen H.D. gives seems delicate and refined. However, when this is juxtaposed with such overpoweringly negative language, Helen seems fragile and sickly more than anything else. The poem 's primary shift is the last nail in the almost literal coffin of Helen 's condemnation. In the final three lines, H.D. switches from description to action. Greece not only hates her, it actively wants her dead. In this way, H.D. quite bluntly communicates his more cynical take on Helen.

Because Helen embodied both beauty and violence, Poe and H.D. were able to write two poems on her at opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. Where Poe writes in an idealistic tone, H.D. writes bitterly. Both poets strive to convey an attitude toward Helen using every element of their poem, be it flowery syntax or venomous descriptions. Because the writing is so tightly knit, the reader can easily understand complex feelings without them being
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