Hilda Doolittle

(10 September 1886 – 27 September 1961 / Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)

Helen In Egypt, Eidolon, Book Iii: 4 - Poem by Hilda Doolittle

Helen herself seems almost ready for this sacrifice-at least, for the immolation of herself before this greatest love of Achilles, his dedication to 'his own ship' and the figurehead, 'an idol or eidolon . . . a mermaid, Thetis upon the prow.'

Did her eyes slant in the old way?
was she Greek or Egyptian?
had some Phoenician sailor wrought her?

was she oak-wood or cedar?
had she been cut from an awkward block
of ship-wood at the ship-builders,

and afterwards riveted there,
or had the prow itself been shaped
to her mermaid body,

curved to her mermaid hair?
was there a dash of paint
in the beginning, in the garment-fold,

did the blue afterwards wear away?
did they re-touch her arms, her shoulders?
did anyone touch her ever?

Had she other zealot and lover,
or did he alone worship her?
did she wear a girdle of sea-weed

or a painted crown? how often
did her high breasts meet the spray,
how often dive down?


Comments about Helen In Egypt, Eidolon, Book Iii: 4 by Hilda Doolittle

  • Rajnish Manga (4/2/2017 5:51:00 AM)


    How much reality and how much myth is there when we talk about Helen. So many questions remain unanswered but her sensuous beauty had the kings vying for her hand. Thanks. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 30, 2012



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