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This new book-length poem by the imagist poet who acquired great fame in the '20's for her exquisite lyrics is based on the post-Homeric story of Helen as told by Stesichorus in about 555 B.C. According to this later version, Helen was never in Troy: her story had been transposed from Egypt. The suggestion is that a phantom Helen appeared on the walls of Troy, and that Greeks and Trojans alike fought for an illusion. While in Egypt, always the symbolical total of the dead, Helen has an affair with the traditionally dead Achilles, and their son is Euphorian (who appears in Goethe's Faust, Part II). H.D.'s Helen in Egypt is a recreation, in her own quite personal terms, of the Helen-Achilles myth. Her style has always been classical and disciplined, and there is a cameo-cut purity to her phrases. The same intrinsic, personal manner pervades this epic length poem which is a study of identity, a story of death and resurrection, and an abstraction which plays with the concepts of space and time. Greek myths have always lent themselves to never-ending retellings- witness in our day Joyes's Gide's Theseus. Robert Graves' dedications to The White Goddess. Though H.D. is often considered a poet's poet, it is likely that in time this poem will find a permanent literary place and it is highly recommended for its spiritual beauty and enchantment.

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1961
ISBN: 0811205444
Publisher: Grove Press