All Greece hatesDoolittle is describing an ancient statue of Helen. In the time the statues were created, they were painted quite loudly. Now they have been reduced to the Greek art that we are familiar with, white and weathered. The whiteness of Greek sculpture influenced the development of later sculpture, and became the standard way for creating sculpture. The statue above, for example, was by Antonio Canova in the early 1800s. Looking upon the statue of Helen in the days of Greece would have been a spectacular sight to behold; however, when H.D. saw it, it had faded to white.
the still eyes in the white face,
the lustre of olives
where she stands,
and the white hands.
Greece hates Helen for the Trojan War. Paris, the Trojan prince, comes to visit Menelaus, the Greek king, and falls in love with his wife Helen. They elope to Troy. The Greeks besiege Troy in a ten-year war to "win back the affections of Helen." The Greeks should have found as much fault in the men as they did in the woman, for it was they who decided to commit to war. "Never blame yourself when there is a woman handy to blame," was the Greek philosophy. H.D. claims that Helen has turned pale thinking about the woes of war that came about because of her.
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.
Zeus came down in the form of a swan to rape Leda because he was infatuated with her. Helen was the result of this act. This was not an act of love. They could love her only is she would die. Helen, of course, can not die, she is eternal.
Greece sees unmoved,
God's daughter, born of love,
the beauty of cool feet
and slenderest knees,
coul love indeed the maid,
only if she were laid,
white ash amid funereal cypresses.
H. D. is shriveling
up like the seeds around her, much like the rest of the world on this mid
summer day. Everything is drying up in the summer. The deep-rooted poplars
can find water far below the surface. Hilda does not see herself as the
poplar, instead, she sees herself as the little dried up seed on the path.