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Normally I’m the kind of person who prefers poetry that I can understand, at least partially. “Ozymandias” is about hubris, time, and the futility of human endeavor. “In Michael Robins’s class minus one” is about dealing with death and sudden absences. “You Who Never Arrived” is about another kind of absence, the kind that stems not from something leaving, but from something that may never have existed in the first place. I enjoy subtly and layers, but for the most part I want to feel like I know what’s going on in a poem, what it’s driving thought is.

I have no idea what today’s poem “means.” I get the allusions, and I can see the imagery, but I couldn’t tell you really what it’s about. I don’t care, though, because I love it anyway.

Oh man, I wonder if she was ever awarded an honorary doctorate?

Howdy do, Hilda Doolittle?

Helen by H.D.

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.
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