a famous quote

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hi,kind of a trivia question here.....did he write anything that made the famous quote.."beauty lies in the eye of the beholder"?...if so, what was its oragin?..........thanks

-- Anonymous, April 18, 2003


Renowned in the ancient world of Greece for her beauty, Helen of Troy, daughter of King Menelaus, was abducted by the Trojan prince Paris and brought to Troy; thus, igniting the Trojan War. “To Helen” written by Edgar Allen Poe and the poem “Helen” composed by Hilda Doolittle, expressed through diction and tone a shared understanding of Helen’s beauty and power, but contrast on their opinions of Helen’s importance and meaning to the country of Greece. Poe’s “To Helen” is written in utter admiration to Helen. In the opening stanza the speaker makes a comparison of Helen and the country of Greece. “Helen thy beauty is to me […] To his own native shores.” Implying that Helen, to the speaker, is representative of his home. The sight and thought of Helen brings the speaker back to the beauty and wonder of Greece; “Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face.” By comparing Helen to Grecian motifs Poe pronounces that Helen is a perfect symbol of Greece. She resembles the classic art, beauty, and culture that embody the spirit of ancient Greece. To render validity to the metaphorical comparison Poe uses words such as “hyacinth,” “classic,” “naiads,” and “statue-like” all having positive connotations reflective of Classic Greece. Hilda Doolittle sees a different face of Helen than Poe. In her characterization of Helen the speaker recognizes the beauty of Helen and understands the admiration the people of Greece may have towards her. From the tone and language of the poem Doolittle reveals that even though Helen was beautiful and adored, she was the cause of the Trojan War, and therefore considered destructive by the speaker. “Remembering past enchantments/ and past ills,” this contrast shows the speakers acknowledgement of Helen’s ability to memorizing the people by her beauty, yet he is still unwilling to look past the unlawful activity her beauty has caused. Doolittle applies many negative connotations throughout her poem, “Helen,” to portray the speaker’s pessimistic feelings towards Helen; such as, “hate,” “ills,” and “unmoved.” Doolittle illustrates the speaker’s understanding of the effects of Helen’s beauty on the people by mixing in positive diction representing the popular characteristics of Helen; for example: “luster,” “love,” and “enchantments” words often used to describe Helen. “Helen” ends in a negative tone, “Could love indeed the maid, / only if she were laid, / white ash amid funeral cypress.” Thus describing the situation in which the speaker could only feel love and satisfaction towards the idea of Helen. “To Helen” and “Helen” both establish a shared view and understanding of the effects of Helen’s beauty, but the authors conflict in the acknowledgement of Helen’s true importance and meaning she has to Greece and its people. Edgar Allen Poe (“To Helen”) portrays Helen as the spirit of Greece, possessing beauty and charm; while Hilda Doolittle (“Helen”) describes her as a disgrace to Greece. Beauty does not always bring about great things; rather, it can evoke jealously, hate, and in Helen’s case war, Virtues that do not resemble the greatness of a country. Yet, we can not forget the truth “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

-- Anonymous, April 22, 2003

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