Helen

All Greece hates

the still eyes in the white face,

the lustre as of olives

where she stands,

and the white hands.

 

All Greece reviles

the wan face when she smiles,

hating it deeper still

when it grows wan and white,

remembering past enchantments

and past ills.

 

Greece sees unmoved,

God’s daughter, born of love,

the beauty of cool feet

and slenderest knees,

could love indeed the maid,

only if she were laid,

white ash amid funereal cypresses.

H. D., “Helen” from Collected Poems, 1912-1944. Copyright © 1986 by New Directions Publishing Corporation. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation. 

Source: Collected Poems, 1912-1944 (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1986).