From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
To Helen

To Helen


by Edgar Allan Poe

Analysis: 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 title that you can read here. We should note that the short version we discuss in this module is much more famous than the other one, which is a lot longer. Unlike the first "To Helen," this one was actually addressed to a woman whose real name was Helen (well, Sarah Helen Whitman but close enough). The fact that Poe wrote two poems with the exact same title tells us something about his fascination with the name and, probably, all that it symbolizes (beauty most of all).

In addition to these two poems, Poe tossed the name around occasionally in his letters, usually when speaking of Jane Stanard, the woman who inspired the first "To Helen." Thus, in a letter to Sarah Helen Whitman (the name just keeps coming up!), he referred to Jane Stanard as "Helen Stanard." Moreover, in the same letter, he actually talks about the poem "To Helen"! Wow. Just think about this: he writes a letter to a woman named Helen, mentions another woman he calls Helen, and then talks about his poem "To Helen." Helen, Helen, Helen indeed!

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...