It is obvious through the many works of Edgar Allan Poe, that the author's life was marked with much tragedy in regards to women. Several of his poems seem to be a direct reflection of his trials in life having to deal with the death or loss of many of the women who were very close to him. Some of his poems are more of a generalization of the many losses he endured throughout his life. Regardless of the direct inspiration for any one of Poe's works, one can most certainly make the assumption that the great deal of suffering he went through during his life, in respect to women, was immense.
Edgar Allan Poe was born to Elizabeth and David Poe in 1809. In December of 1811, Poe lost the first and arguably the most important woman in his life, his mother Elizabeth. His father died shortly after his wife, and Poe was taken to live with John and Frances Allan in Great Britain. He attended school kept by the Misses Dobourg and later the Manor House School at Stroke Newington. The Allan's then moved to Richmond, Virginia, where Poe enrolled in Joseph H. Clark's school. He was doing well in school, but decided to close his education there and move to Baltimore, Maryland and enroll in William Burke's school. It was here that Poe met the first woman who would inspire one of his poems. Jane Stith Stanard was the sister of Robert Craig Stanard, one of Poe's classmates at William Burke's. She ended up being the inspiration for "To Helen.".
In the poem, "To Helen," Poe seems to somewhat glorify women. It is believed that he directed this poem to his "ideal love." Poe wished to be loved and cared for and therefore reveres Helen's beauty in the poem, for she is his "ideal love." This is obvious in the first few lines of the poem, "Helen, thy beauty is to me/Like those Nicean barks of yore." It seems that there is some kind of journey or quest in the poem, for it is obvious that someone is going somewhere in the second stanza.