I would like info on the 2nd "To Helen" that Poe wrote.

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I haven't found any info on Poe's poem To Helen--it's the longer one that starts, I saw thee once-once only-years ago--I really need info on this so if someone could help me I would be so thankful.

-- Anonymous, April 13, 2000


I have been doing some research on Poe for a paper as well. The only thing I've really found about the 2nd "To Helen" is that in 1848 it was printed in Union Magazine at the time the poem was called "To _____ _____ _______" The blanks are for the name "Sarah Helen Whitman" I found this information at www.nadn.navy.mil/EnglishDept/poeperplex/chronhis.htm

I hope this gives you a little information that will help you find more. Sarah Helen Whitman was on of Poe's loves. They were engaged with conditions, which were he couldn't drink which he broke so the engagement was broke.

-- Anonymous, April 13, 2000


I sent this by e-mail as well as posting it here to ensure you received it. I hope it is a help.


The name Eldorado is actually an American mistreatment of the Spanish name, El Dorado, a noun, which means, "The Gilded One". It was used by Spanish explorers in the 1500s to refer to a legendary Native American Indian Chief that ruled a fabled City in the northern portion of South America. Native American mythology said that the Chief was wealthy beyond imagination and would frequently cover himself with gold dust for ceremonial events.

Later, the name came to refer to a kingdom with a Golden City filled with an incredible wealth of gold and precious stones and was called Manoa. There were many expeditions by the Spanish, the Germans and the English to find the fabled City and possess the wealth. Sir Walter Raleigh wrote of his expedition upon his return to England and placed the fabulous city on an island in the middle of Parima Lake in Guiana. It remained on many maps until its existence was disproved later. As the years passed, the legend or at least the term Eldorado was often incorrectly used to characterize a paradise or Eden, a place not necessarily congruent with fabulous wealth.

"Eldorado" was first printed on April 21, 1849 in the Flag of Our Union. The legend of Eldorado was well known by Poe and he used it in the poem to figuratively represent what was going on out west at the time. On January 24, 1848, James Marshall was a construction foreman contracted to build a sawmill for John A. Sutter in the Culluma Valley, California. Mr. Marshall found gold in the tailrace of the mill and once he confirmed it was gold, the news leaked out and on March 15, 1848, a San Francisco newspaper printed a story. After the rumor reached the East coast, thousands begin traveling to California in the 'Gold Rush' to find their own Eldorado. The poem tells of a traveler's desperate and determined search for this fabulous wealth and the foolish idea that this kind of wealth could be found and possessed in a single lifetime.

To Helen

The poem "To Helen", was originally titled "To _____ _____ _____", but was given the new title by Rufus W. Griswold in 1850. Generally, it is accepted that this poem was intended for Ms. Sarah Helen (Power) Whitman, a widow and poetess from Providence, Rhode Island. Edgar had seen her in 1845 but did not meet her until 1848. Following a brief courtship, they had become engaged to be married but Sarah's Mother was decidedly opposed to their relationship. In a letter to Sarah following their departure, Poe rants against the treatment he received from her Mother but infers that he does not hold Sarah responsible and wishes her well. Sarah's Mother convinced her to place conditions on the engagement that Poe abstain from drinking. Ultimately, he failed and Sarah chose to break off the engagement. Although Sarah Helen Whitman is one of the women most often cited as a "love interest" in Poe's life, their relationship never really seemed to hold the passion and devotion that Poe needed and that he shared so easily with Virginia. I tend to agree with those that feel their relationship was one of true affection, but it was more the result of mutual admiration and respect than love. In 1860 Sarah Helen Whitman published an analysis of his poetry under the title "Edgar Poe and His Critics".

The poem "To Helen" was first printed in November 1848 in the Union Magazine of Literature and Art. This was about a month before their separation in December. The poem seems to represent Edgar's wish to romanticize his first vision of Sarah when he had first seen her in 1845. Edgar was still desperate to fill the void left by Virginia and it appears this poem was an attempt by Poe find the same measure of love, devotion and passion he had felt for Virginia. Ironically, Poe failure to remain temperate could have possibly been intentional on his part and thereby, forcing Sarah to break off the engagement. Perhaps, Edgar knew that the union would lack the passions he shared with Virginia.

I hope this meets yours needs Dwan. Good luck


-- Anonymous, April 13, 2000

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