“No Second Troy” is the title of a poem by WB Yeats that was published in 1916. Yeats happens to be my all-time favorite poet (besides my niece, Lauren Henley), so it’s not surprising, really, that I would turn to Yeats for the title of my latest strip abstract. In the poem, Yeats uses a bitter tone to compare his beloved, Maud Gonne, with Helen of Troy (you know: the daughter of Zeus whose abduction by Paris—according to Homer—“launched a thousand ships” to start the Trojan War). Maud repeatedly refused to marry Yeats, and he used her as an archetype in many of his poems.
In his Autobiographies, Yeats compared her face to that of a Greek statue, for she appeared to show no emotion (especially to Yeats) during those passionate days in Ireland.
Lines 6-10 I find particularly relevant to my image:
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern?
The women in my version of “No Second Troy” remain aloof and emotionless, like the classical statue on the right. The contemporary women are in profile, not engaging the viewer, isolated in their beauty and grace. Obviously this archetype still exists—at least in advertising—but does it still have relevance today? Can a woman’s face still launch a thousand ships?