Helen's Lament   
copyright 1998  by Tracy Marks
(Torrey Philemon of Ancient Sites)

How Was I To Know?

I only followed my heart, the dart
of Cupid, that sparked a fire,
the flaming awakening of desire,
so long dead in this foundering
union, with Menelaus, my spouse,
who never could arouse
my love.

Not long before 
I knew adoration,
the fascination of our nation,
of men who saw in me
a beauty I could never feel.
Inside, a wild Aphrodite
cried to live with passion,
to be real.

How was I to know
that I'd be captive -
mother, wife, compelled
to give, to live for others,
receiving wealth
from kings and princes, 
but losing myself?

How was I to know that 
yearning for life,
that touching my lips 
to Paris's lips
would launch the ships,
would cause such burning,
death, loss, strife?

How was I to know
that if I fled, to soar 
the sky, breathe Aphrodite's air, 
and fly on Cupid's wings,
that men would die?

How was I to know
that I'd be wooed, 
pursued, acclaimed,
then later booed?
That waking to Paris,
to mutual gain,
would bring such pain?

That what I lost 
when I left Greece
would cost such a price,
would brand me a whore,
would cause such a war?
How was I to know?

How was I to know 
that to surrender to caring
would render me victim 
to years of despairing,
that to shun the ways
of Spartan wives
would mean that men 
would lose their lives?

How was I to know
I would feel such shame,
receive such blame,
and forever regret
that I ever met
young Paris of Troy?

How was I to know?

Paintings  top to bottom:  (All were cropped and converted from gif to jpg
from sources on the Web. I am currently attempting to clarify copyright issues;
if any painting here violates copyright, I will, of course, remove it.)
Rossetti: Helen of Troy     David: Paris and Helen
Reni: Abduction of Helen     Francken:  L'enlevement of Helen

copyright 1999 Tracy Marks
(alias Torrey Philemon at Ancient Sites/Ancient Worlds)
Arlington, Massachusetts

go back to Torrey Philemon's Helen of Troy Links
go back to Torrey Philemon's Greek Mythology Resources
go to Ancient Greece and Troy Maps
go to Iliad Terminology: The Greek Language

Web page created October 14, 1998
Update October 15, 2006

This page is now at http://www.webwinds.com/thalassa/helen.htm

Since April 3, 1997,  you are visitor Pergatory_II_Counter