Helen

By H. D. 1886–1961 H. D.
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.

H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), “Helen” from Collected Poems 1912-1944. Copyright © 1982 by The Estate of Hilda Doolittle. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Collected Poems 1912-1944 (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1982)

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Poet H. D. 1886–1961

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Imagist

Subjects Heroes & Patriotism, Mythology & Folklore, Greek & Roman Mythology

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Imagist

 H.  D.

Biography

H.D.’s life and work recapitulate the central themes of literary modernism: the emergence from Victorian norms and certainties, the entry into an age characterized by rapid technological change and the violence of two great wars, and the development of literary modes which reflected the disintegration of traditional symbolic systems and the mythmaking quest for new meanings. H.D.’s oeuvre spans five decades of the twentieth . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Heroes & Patriotism, Mythology & Folklore, Greek & Roman Mythology

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Imagist

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Imagist

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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