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The poem opens with the speaker comparing Helen's beauty to some ships that transported a lonely wanderer back home. In the second stanza, the speaker again compares himself to a lonely man for whom Helen's beauty has functioned like a saving grace (this time, her hair and face remind him of ancient Greece and Rome). In the third stanza, the speaker describes Helen standing in a "window-niche" (11), looking like a statue and like a beautiful woman from Greek mythology (Psyche).