Thursday, November 12, 2009

To Helen

Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicean barks of yore,
That gently, o'er a perfumed sea,
The weary, way-worn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.

On desperate seas long won't to roam,
Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
To the glory that was Greece
And the grandeur that was Rome.

Lo! in you brilliant window niche
How statue-like I see thee stand!
The agate lamp within thy hand
Ah! Psyche, from the regions which
Are Holy Land!

- Edgar Allan Poe

The way-worn wanderer was Dionysus or Bacchus, after his renowned conquests. His native shore was the Western Horn, called the Amalthean Horn. And the Nicean barks were vessels sent from the island Nysa, to which in infancy Dionysus was conveyed to screen him from Rhea. The perfumed sea was the sea surrounding Nysa, a paradisaical island.