Hilda Doolittle

(10 September 1886 – 27 September 1961 / Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)

Helen


All Greece hates
the still eyes in the white face,
the lustre as of olives
where she stands,
and the white hands.

All Greece reviles
the wan face when she smiles,
hating it deeper still
when it grows wan and white,
remembering past enchantments
and past ills.

Greece sees, unmoved,
God's daughter, born of love,
the beauty of cool feet
and slenderest knees,
could love indeed the maid,
only if she were laid,
white ash amid funereal cypresses.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Jerome Peterson (8/22/2006 3:28:00 PM)

    I start out my advanced ESL class by projecting a page from my Poetry Speaks day calendar for that day. For September 9 I find a biography of H.R., so I sought a short poem for the class to read. I found Helen, which couldn't be more apropos. The sentiment is very clear and set forth in imagery that is sharp, a signature of H.R. Helen won the hatred of the Greeks for past enchantments and past ills, and the Greeks could love her only if she were burned in a funeral pyre. Aaargg. (Report) Reply

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