The process the speaker watches is the growing hatred of Helen and the overwhelming effect it has upon her. The emotion directed in judgment against Helen is intense–we are aware of this not only because the verbs “hates” and “reviles” stand out so starkly, but also because the impersonality of “all Greece” generalizes the condemnation. In Poe’s poem, he alone worships Helen. In W.B. Yeats’s “No Second Troy,” the poet’s feelings for Helen are more ambivalent, but Yeats still records a private experience between himself and his mythic mask for Maude Gonne. In her poem, however, H.D. generalizes those who regard Helen until they take on the dimensions of a collective culture. “Greece” is a country, not a person, not even a people. H.D.’s choice of “Greece” in place of the more logical “Greeks” suggests that the entire weight of a cultural tradition “reviles” Helen. The structural repetition of “all” at the beginning of the first two stanzas reinforces the image of a whole culture set in powerful opposition to one woman. And the lack of a realistic setting in this portrait of “all Greece” regarding Helen underlines the real subject, of the poem: woman’s place in male-dominated tradition.
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