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H. D. (Hilda Doolittle; 1886-1961)

Helen


              1All Greece hates
              2the still eyes in the white face,
              3the lustre as of olives
              4where she stands,
              5and the white hands.

              6All Greece reviles
              7the wan face when she smiles,
              8hating it deeper still
              9when it grows wan and white,
            10remembering past enchantments
            11and past ills.

            12Greece sees unmoved,
            13God's daughter, born of love,
            14the beauty of cool feet
            15and slenderest knees,
            16could love indeed the maid,
            17only if she were laid,
            18white ash amid funereal cypresses.

Notes

1] Helen: daughter of Leda and Zeus, wife to Menelaus. Her abduction by Paris, one of the sons of Priam, king of Troy, led to the seven-years' war with the Greeks led by Agamemnon.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Collected Poems of H.D. (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1925): 227. York University Library Special Collections 4928.
First publication date: 1924
Publication date note: Heliodora and Other Poems (London: Jonathan Cape, 1924): 24. PS 3507 O726 H4 Robarts Library
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/21

Form note: irregularly rhyming (abcdd eefghf ijklmml)


Other poems by H. D.