ON THE ISLE OF CRANAE
The world an abject vassal to her charms,
And kings competing for a single smile,
Yet love she knew not, till upon this isle
She gave surrender to abducting arms.
Not Theseus, who plucked her lips’ first kiss,
Not Menelaus, lawful mate and spouse,
Such answering passion in her heart could rouse,
Or wake such tumult in her soul as this.
Let come what will, let Greece and Asia meet,
Let heroes die and kingdoms run with gore;
Let devastation spread from shore to shore –
Resplendent Helen finds her bondage sweet.
The whole world fights her battles, while she lies
Sunned in the fervour of young Paris’ eyes.
ON THE ISLE OF RHODES
The battles ended, ardent Paris dead,
Of faithful Menelaus long bereft,
Time is the only suitor who is left:
Helen survives, with youth and beauty fled.
By hate remembered, but by love forgot,
Dethroned and driven from her high estate,
Unhappy Helen feels the lash of Fate
And knows at last an unloved woman’s lot.
The Grecian marvel, and the Trojan joy,
The world’s fair wonder, from her palace flies
The furies follow, and great Helen dies,
A death of horror, for the pride of Troy.
* * *
Yet Time, like Menelaus, all forgives.
Helen, immortal in her beauty, lives.