Poems Helen

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Edgar Allan Poe and Hilda Doolittle use diction, imagery and tone to offer two distinctly different views of Helen of Troy. Poe gushes over her beauty and Doolittle demonizes her for "past ills".
In the Edgar Allan Poe poem the speaker is an admirer of Helen who is professing his love. His tone is one of wonder at her perfection and beauty. With Poe's diction you can imagine Helen's majestic beauty. He describes very aptly the "face that launched a thousand ships". The author uses imagery effectively throughout the poem, for example, those Nicean barks of yore/ That gently, o'er a perfumed sea". The mental picture of Helen standing by the window is lasting and shows that the speaker views Helen as statuesque. The second poem, "Helen" by H.D. takes a distinct turn from the tone of the first poem; it is tone is one of animosity towards Helen. The speaker is probably a spokesperson for the people of Greece. The author's diction is especially effective. With words such as "hate" and "reviles" the speaker shows her disdain. The first and last lines best show the active dislike the speaker has for Helen. The first line, "All Greece hates", sets the tone of the poem. The last two lines, "only if she were laid, white ash amid funeral cypresses", further showing the resentment towards Helen. The visual imagery running throughout the poem is strong also. The luster of Helens eyes is compared to that of olives (3). The speaker makes a reference to Helen's face as "wan" a total of three times, not a flattering description for someone who was considered the most beautiful woman in the world. These two poems show that although the two authors are talking about the same person they cause the reader to have two completely different perceptions of her.
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