Who is "To Helen" to?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

I really need help finding on the internet sites that give their opinions on who Poe wrote his 1831 poem "To Helen" to.

-- Anonymous, May 21, 2001



Most biographers seem to agree that the poem was written in remembrance of Ms. Jane Stanard, the mother of a boyhood friend and classmate of Poe's. She was a kind and sympathetic shoulder to lean on when Poe was a troubled youth of 14 and he developed a rather strong crush. She died about a year later, allegedly from a brain tumor or cancer if I recall. The poem is a "celebration of beauty" symbolized by the idealistic vision of beauty, Helen of Troy, "the face that launched a thousand ships." See Arthur H Quinn's "Edgar Allan Poe - A Critical Biography".


-- Anonymous, May 21, 2001

yes and quickly as in other Poe "love" poems the woman figure becomes something more than a mere romance. She becomes a "Beatrice" figure, the Ideal of all love and highest spiritual passion. She becomes Psyche-the soul of the poet and his greatest Muse. The earliest version shows Psyche holding a "little scroll" instead of a lamp, suggesting Strandard's encouragement of Poe as a poet perhaps, and the classical works she may have introduced him to. The lamp shows the later Poe image of the Ideal as a beacon away from earthly trouble.

This is in order to get beyond the innocent prejudgment that the love poems of great poets, like Poe, Baudelaire, Dante or Petrarch are simply that, when in fact they invest in the full spiritual breadth of the poetic quest.

-- Anonymous, May 21, 2001

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