Eideolon, Book 3, Section 7

By H. D. 1886–1961 H. D.
     Was Helen stronger than Achilles even "as the arrows fell"? That could not be, but he recognised in her some power other than her legendary beauty.

 
                 He could name Helena,
                 but the other he could not name;
                 she was a lure, a light,

                 an intimate flame, a secret kept
                 even from his slaves, the elect,
                 the innermost hierarchy;

                 only Helena could be named
                 and she was a public scandal
                 in any case, a cause of shame

                 to Agamemnon and Menelaus;
                 it was not that she was beautiful,
                 true, she stood on the Walls,

                 taut and indifferent
                 as the arrows fell;
                 it was not that she was beautiful,

                 there were others,
                 in spite of the legend,
                 as gracious, as tall;

                 it was not that she was beautiful,
                 but he stared and stared
                 across the charred wood

                 and the smouldering flame,
                 till his eyes cleared
                 and the smoke drifted away.

Hilda Doolittle, "Eideolon, Book 3, Section 7" from Helen in Egypt. Copyright © 1961 by Hilda Doolittle.  Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation

Source: Helen in Egypt (New Directions, 1961)

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Poet H. D. 1886–1961

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Imagist

Subjects Love, Desire, Mythology & Folklore, Greek & Roman Mythology

Poetic Terms Prose Poem, Series/Sequence

 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 Love, Desire, Mythology & Folklore, Greek & Roman Mythology

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Imagist

Poetic Terms Prose Poem, Series/Sequence

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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