the features of sumbolism in the poem "to hellen" : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

I don't understand the 8th and 9th lines of the poem "To Hellen" I also want you to help me admire the symbolism features of this poem. where is the mysteriousness of this poem? and where its musicaltality and suggestiveness?

-- Anonymous, May 08, 2004


A really good, even necessary commentary is in Mabbott's book on Poe's poetry. There are many classical allusions suggested but not definitiely clear in "To Helen" which was meant as a tribute to a beloved childhood mentor(crush?) Mrs. Stanard who died while Poe was still young. She introduced him to some classics and encouraged his poetry. The "agate lamp" in her hand was a later change to emphasize the emanation glow. originally it was more connected to "the little scroll" where Stanard waiting in the window by candlelight could be seen holding a book she would share with Poe.

If you are referring to the most famous lines (glory of Greece, grandeur of Rome) those are by far the easiest, the idealistic summation of what the classical age meant to artists drawing from that well. It is the poet Poe's refuge in the classics inspired in him Ideally by Stanard. Poetry itself is Poe's heart's core in a troubled life.

The general symbolism is generally profound and easy. The story, the tone, the message. Getting lost in the allusions and references is frustrating since they are many hard to pin down for so short a work and quite a distraction. You at least have to understand several of them and cross reference them to other Poe poems(like Psyche's legend "Ulalume").

Others like "hyacinth hair"(a reference to the classical tie back curl shape, not the color) are not so important although this is a reference to classical statues tied in with "how statue-like I see thee stand". Stanard's classical hairdo?

-- Anonymous, May 08, 2004

Moderation questions? read the FAQ