Post by Will Dockery
That informaation is not in the poem, Pendragon.
The poem is often titled "To Helen (Stannard)," but that's beside the point. A critical reading of the poem makes it abundantly clear that he cannot be addressing Helen of Troy:
Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicéan barks of yore,
"Of yore" means "of long ago." Since the fall of Troy predates recorded history, there isn't much history of a contemporary of Helen's to be drawing on; so it's a safe assumption that the speaker is addressing a modern woman as "Helen."
Similarly, the lines:
That gently, o'er a perfumed sea,
The weary, way-worn wanderer bore
To his own native shore
allude to both the travels of Odysseus (post-Trojan War) and the 10th Century (or earlier) OE poem, "The Wanderer" (which was, obviously, written long after Helen's time).
Further, in the poem's most celebrated lines,
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
To the glory that was Greece,
And the grandeur that was Rome.
the speaker refers to both Classical Greece (500+ years after the Trojan War) and Rome (which, according to Virgil, was founded after the Trojan War) in the past-tense. His use of past tense means that the speaker must be from some period after the fall of Rome (approx. 1,600 years after the Trojan War), since no historical context is given regarding the speaker, we can assume that he is speaking from the date of the poem's composition (first published in 1831, but believed to have been written eight or more years earlier).
So, while you wouldn't be expected to know that the poem was addressed to Mrs. Jane Stith Craig Stanard (Jane "Helen" Stannard [Poe's spelling]), any educated reader should be able to draw the immediate conclusion that the poem is set in the (then) present day, and that a modern woman is being addressed as "Helen" as a means of comparing her beauty to that of the legendary queen.
Now, I've given you quite a good deal of information with which you can *begin* to explain what you think the poem means. I suggest you first acquaint yourself with "The Wanderer," as an understanding of it is crucial to any interpretation of Poe's work.
Care to take another stab at it?
“Allen Ginsberg had sexual activity with a young man who was NOT 15, but 17/18, and he made a hyperbolic error in using the word '15'.”
-- Stephen “Lady Pickles” Pickering