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To Helen
To Helen
by Edgar Allan Poe

To Helen Analysis

Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Form and Meter

Regular Iambic Tetrameter, with Regularly Irregular Rhyme Scheme…A lot of "To Helen" is written in a meter called iambic tetrameter. This means that many of the lines contain four (tetra-) iambs....

Speaker

What do we know about the speaker of this little gem of a poem? Well, actually quite a bit. First and foremost, he's, like totally in love with the woman he calls Helen. The remarks about her beaut...

Setting

Lots of places get mentioned, alluded to, conjured up, and hinted at in this short poem. Sometimes, it's more of a question of what isn't in here rather than what is. Some of the places mentioned a...

Sound Check

"To Helen" is a love poem. It's got all the classic sounds of one, from the enumeration of attributes ("thy beauty," "thy […] hair," "thy […] face," "thy […] airs") to grandiose assertions ab...

What's Up With the Title?

"To Helen" is more than a title, gang. It's a dedication! Everything in the poem (title included) is framed as a shout-out to a woman named Helen. But most critics and scholars are agreed that Poe...

Calling Card

Helen, Thy Name…There was something about the name Helen that Poe really liked. He not only wrote the "To Helen" that we've been talking about, but also another poem in 1848 with the exact same t...

Tough-o-Meter

(4) Base Camp "To Helen" isn't the easiest poem in the world, but it's not liable to make your brain explode with difficulty. The sentences aren't super-long and tricky or anything like that, but t...

Trivia

After her death, Poe would visit Jane Stanard in the cemetery at night. As a woman who knew him explained: "It was his habit to visit nightly the cemetery where the object of his boyish idolatry la...

Steaminess Rating

PGWell, we've got a nice love poem here that alludes to a whole lot of mythological love stories, but where's the sex? Sadly, there isn't any. None, zero, zilch, nein, nada. Still, we get what movi...

Allusions

Literary and Philosophical ReferencesRoman poet Catullus (2-5)Homer, Odyssey (2-5)Mythological ReferencesHelen (1, 7-8)Naiads (8)Psyche (14-15)Historical ReferencesJane Stanard, mother of Poe's chi...

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