What is that you Express in your Eyes it seems to me more Words

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Charles Carville's Eyes

A melanholy face Charles Carville had,
But not so melancholy as it seemed,
When once you knew him, for his mouth redeemed
His insufficient eyes, forever sad:
In them there was no life-glimpse, good or bad,
Nor joy nor passion in them ever gleamed;
His mouth was all of him that ever beamed,
His eyes were sorry, but his mouth was glad.

He never was a fellow that said much,
And half of what he did say was not heard
By many of us: we were out of touch
With all his whims and all his theories
Till he was dead, so those blank eyes of his
Might speak them. Then we heard them, every word.

Edwin Arlington Robinson

Sonnet CXXX: My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red:
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound.
I grant I never saw a goddess go:
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

William Shakespeare

Some Last Questions

What is the head
A. Ash
What are the eyes
A. The wells have fallen in and have
Inhabitants
What are the feet
A. Thumbs left after the auction
No what are the feet
A. Under them the impossible road is moving
Down which the broken necked mice push
Balls of blood with their noses
What is the tongue
A. The black coat that fell off the wall
With sleeves trying to say something
What are the hands
A. Paid
No what are the hands
A. Climbing back down the museum wall
To their ancestors the extinct shrews that will
Have left a message
What is the silence
A. As though it had a right to move
Who are the compatriots
A. They make the stars of bone

W. S. Merwin

Stanzas

Oh, weep not, love! each tear that springs
In those dear eyes of thine,
To me a keener suffering brings,
Than if they flowed from mine.
And do not droop! however drear
The fate awaiting thee;
For my sake combat pain and care,
And cherish life for me!

I do not fear thy love will fail;
Thy faith is true, I know;
But, oh, my love! thy strength is frail
For such a life of woe.

Were't not for this, I well could trace
(Though banished long from thee,)
Life's rugged path, and boldly face
The storms that threaten me.

Fear not for me -­ I've steeled my mind
Sorrow and strife to greet;
Joy with my love I leave behind,
Care with my friends I meet.

A mother's sad reproachful eye,
A father's scowling brow -­
But he may frown and she may sigh:
I will not break my vow!

I love my mother, I revere
My sire, but fear not me­
Believe that Death alone can tear
This faithful heart from thee.

Anne Bronte

The Mind's Liberty

The mind, with its own eyes and ears,
May for these others have no care;
No matter where this body is,
The mind is free to go elsewhere.
My mind can be a sailor, when
This body's still confined to land;
And turn these mortals into trees,
That walk in Fleet Street or the Strand.

So, when I'm passing Charing Cross,
Where porters work both night and day,
I ofttimes hear sweet Malpas Brook,
That flows thrice fifty miles away.
And when I'm passing near St Paul's
I see beyond the dome and crowd,
Twm Barlum, that green pap in Gwent,
With its dark nipple in a cloud.

William Henry Davies

Sonnet 43: When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see

When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected;
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright, are bright in dark directed.
Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
How would thy shadow's form, form happy show
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so!
How would, I say, mine eyes be blessèd made,
By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay!
All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.

William Shakespeare

Mismet

He was leaning by a face,
He was looking into eyes,
And he knew a trysting-place,
And he heard seductive sighs;
But the face,
And the eyes,
And the place,
And the sighs,
Were not, alas, the right ones--the ones meet for him--
Though fine and sweet the features, and the feelings all abrim.

II

She was looking at a form,
She was listening for a tread,
She could feel a waft of charm
When a certain name was said;
But the form,
And the tread,
And the charm,
And name said,
Were the wrong ones for her, and ever would be so,
While the heritor of the right it would have saved her soul to know!

Thomas Hardy

The Poor Relation

No longer torn by what she knows
And sees within the eyes of others,
Her doubts are when the daylight goes,
Her fears are for the few she bothers.
She tells them it is wholly wrong
Of her to stay alive so long;
And when she smiles her forehead shows
A crinkle that had been her mother’s.

Beneath her beauty, blanched with pain,
And wistful yet for being cheated,
A child would seem to ask again
A question many times repeated;
But no rebellion has betrayed
Her wonder at what she has paid
For memories that have no stain,
For triumph born to be defeated.

To those who come for what she was—
The few left who know where to find her—
She clings, for they are all she has;
And she may smile when they remind her,
As heretofore, of what they know
Of roses that are still to blow
By ways where not so much as grass
Remains of what she sees behind her.

They stay a while, and having done
What penance or the past requires,
They go, and leave her there alone
To count her chimneys and her spires.
Her lip shakes when they go away,
And yet she would not have them stay;
She knows as well as anyone
That Pity, having played, soon tires.

But one friend always reappears,
A good ghost, not to be forsaken;
Whereat she laughs and has no fears
Of what a ghost may reawaken,
But welcomes, while she wears and mends
The poor relation’s odds and ends,
Her truant from a tomb of years—
Her power of youth so early taken.

Poor laugh, more slender than her song
It seems; and there are none to hear it
With even the stopped ears of the strong
For breaking heart or broken spirit.
The friends who clamored for her place,
And would have scratched her for her face,
Have lost her laughter for so long
That none would care enough to fear it.

None live who need fear anything
From her, whose losses are their pleasure;
The plover with a wounded wing
Stays not the flight that others measure;
So there she waits, and while she lives,
And death forgets, and faith forgives,
Her memories go foraging
For bits of childhood song they treasure.

And like a giant harp that hums
On always, and is always blending
The coming of what never comes
With what has past and had an ending,
The City trembles, throbs, and pounds
Outside, and through a thousand sounds
The small intolerable drums
Of Time are like slow drops descending.

Bereft enough to shame a sage
And given little to long sighing,
With no illusion to assuage
The lonely changelessness of dying,—
Unsought, unthought-of, and unheard,
She sings and watches like a bird,
Safe in a comfortable cage
From which there will be no more flying.

Edwin Arlington Robinson

A Child Asleep

How he sleepeth! having drunken
Weary childhood's mandragore,
From his pretty eyes have sunken
Pleasures, to make room for more---
Sleeping near the withered nosegay, which he pulled the day before.

Nosegays! leave them for the waking:
Throw them earthward where they grew.
Dim are such, beside the breaking
Amaranths he looks unto---
Folded eyes see brighter colours than the open ever do.

Heaven-flowers, rayed by shadows golden
From the paths they sprang beneath,
Now perhaps divinely holden,
Swing against him in a wreath---
We may think so from the quickening of his bloom and of his breath.

Vision unto vision calleth,
While the young child dreameth on.
Fair, O dreamer, thee befalleth
With the glory thou hast won!
Darker wert thou in the garden, yestermorn, by summer sun.

We should see the spirits ringing
Round thee,---were the clouds away.
'Tis the child-heart draws them, singing
In the silent-seeming clay---
Singing!---Stars that seem the mutest, go in music all the way.

As the moths around a taper,
As the bees around a rose,
As the gnats around a vapour,---
So the Spirits group and close
Round about a holy childhood, as if drinking its repose.

Shapes of brightness overlean thee,---
Flash their diadems of youth
On the ringlets which half screen thee,---
While thou smilest, . . . not in sooth
Thy smile . . . but the overfair one, dropt from some aethereal mouth.

Haply it is angels' duty,
During slumber, shade by shade:
To fine down this childish beauty
To the thing it must be made,
Ere the world shall bring it praises, or the tomb shall see it fade.

Softly, softly! make no noises!
Now he lieth dead and dumb---
Now he hears the angels' voices
Folding silence in the room---
Now he muses deep the meaning of the Heaven-words as they come.

Speak not! he is consecrated---
Breathe no breath across his eyes.
Lifted up and separated,
On the hand of God he lies,
In a sweetness beyond touching---held in cloistral sanctities.

Could ye bless him---father---mother ?
Bless the dimple in his cheek?
Dare ye look at one another,
And the benediction speak?
Would ye not break out in weeping, and confess yourselves too weak?

He is harmless---ye are sinful,---
Ye are troubled---he, at ease:
From his slumber, virtue winful
Floweth outward with increase---
Dare not bless him! but be blessed by his peace---and go in peace.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Bilbo's Last Song (At the Grey Havens)

Day is ended, dim my eyes,
But journey long before me lies.
Farewell, friends! I hear the call.
The ship's beside the stony wall.
Foam is white and waves are grey;
beyond the sunset leads my way.
Foam is salt, the wind is free;
I hear the rising of the sea.

Farewell, friends! The sails are set,
the wind is east, the moorings fret.
Shadows long before me lie,
beneath the ever-bending sky,
but islands lie behind the Sun
that i shall raise ere all is done;
lands there are to west of West,
where night is quiet and sleep is rest.

Guided by the Lonely Star,
beyond the utmost harbour-bar,
I'll find the heavens fair and free,
and beaches of the Starlit Sea.
Ship my ship! I seek the West,
and fields and mountains ever blest.
Farewell to Middle-earth at last.
I see the star above my mast!

J. R. R. Tolkien

Love Calls Us To The Things Of This World

The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded
soul
Hangs for a moment bodiless and
simple
As false dawn.
Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with
angels.

Some are in bed-sheets, some are
in blouses,
Some are in smocks: but truly there
they are.
Now they are rising together in calm
swells
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they
wear
With the deep joy of their impersonal
breathing;

Now they are flying in place,
conveying
The terrible speed of their
omnipresence, moving
And staying like white water; and now
of a sudden
They swoon down in so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.
The soul shrinks

From all that it is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every
blessed day,
And cries,
"Oh, let there be nothing on
earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising
steam
And clear dances done in the sight of
heaven."

Yet, as the sun acknowledges
With a warm look the world's hunks
and colors,
The soul descends once more in bitter
love
To accept the waking body, saying now
In a changed voice as the man yawns
and rises,

"Bring them down from their ruddy
gallows;
Let there be clean linen for the backs
of thieves;
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be
undone,
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure
floating
Of dark habits,
keeping their difficult
balance."

Richard Wilbur

Babyhood

A baby shines as bright
If winter or if May be
On eyes that keep in sight
A baby.

Though dark the skies or grey be,
It fills our eyes with light,
If midnight or midday be.

Love hails it, day and night,
The sweetest thing that may be
Yet cannot praise aright
A baby.

II.

All heaven, in every baby born,
All absolute of earthly leaven,
Reveals itself, though man may scorn
All heaven.

Yet man might feel all sin forgiven,
All grief appeased, all pain outworn,
By this one revelation given.

Soul, now forget thy burdens borne:
Heart, be thy joys now seven times seven:
Love shows in light more bright than morn
All heaven.

III.

What likeness may define, and stray not
From truth's exactest way,
A baby's beauty? Love can say not
What likeness may.

The Mayflower loveliest held in May
Of all that shine and stay not
Laughs not in rosier disarray.

Sleek satin, swansdown, buds that play not
As yet with winds that play,
Would fain be matched with this, and may not:
What likeness may?

IV.

Rose, round whose bed
Dawn's cloudlets close,
Earth's brightest-bred
Rose!

No song, love knows,
May praise the head
Your curtain shows.

Ere sleep has fled,
The whole child glows
One sweet live red
Rose.

Algernon Charles Swinburne

The Puritan's Ballad

My love came up from Barnegat,
The sea was in his eyes;
He trod as softly as a cat
And told me terrible lies.

His hair was yellow as new-cut pine
In shavings curled and feathered;
I thought how silver it would shine
By cruel winters weathered.

But he was in his twentieth year,
Ths time I'm speaking of;
We were head over heels in love with fear
And half a-feared of love.

My hair was piled in a copper crown --
A devilish living thing --
And the tortise-shell pins fell down, fell down,
When that snake uncoiled to spring.

His feet were used to treading a gale
And balancing thereon;
His face was as brown as a foreign sail
Threadbare against the sun.

His arms were thick as hickory logs
Whittled to little wrists;
Strong as the teeth of a terrier dog
Were the fingers of his fists.

Within his arms I feared to sink
Where lions shook their manes,
And dragons drawn in azure ink
Lept quickened by his veins.

Dreadful his strength and length of limb
As the sea to foundering ships;
I dipped my hands in love for him
No deeper than the tips.

But our palms were welded by a flame
The moment we came to part,
And on his knuckles I read my name
Enscrolled with a heart.

And something made our wills to bend,
As wild as trees blown over;
We were no longer friend and friend,
But only lover and lover.

"In seven weeks or seventy years --
God grant it may be sooner! --
I'll make a hankerchief for you
From the sails of my captain's schooner.

We'll wear our loves like wedding rings
Long polished to our touch;
We shall be busy with other things
And they cannot bother us much.

When you are skimming the wrinkled cream
And your ring clinks on the pan,
You'll say to yourself in a pensive dream,
'How wonderful a man!'

When I am slitting a fish's head
And my ring clanks on the knife,
I'll say with thanks as a prayer is said,
'How beautiful a wife!'

And I shall fold my decorous paws
In velvet smooth and deep,
Like a kitten that covers up its claws
To sleep and sleep and sleep.

Like a little blue pigeon you shall bow
Your bright alarming crest;
In the crook of my arm you'll lay your brow
To rest and rest and rest.

Will he never come back from Barnegat
With thunder in his eyes,
Treading as soft as a tiger cat,
To tell me terrible lies?

Elinor Wylie

El Cafetal

I came with the rising sun and I've brought
nothing but two eyes, all I have,
simply two eyes, for the harvest
of grief that's hidden in this jungle
like the coffee shrubs. Fewer,
but they fling themselves upwards, untouchable,
are the trees that invidiously shut out
the light from this overwhelming indigence.
With my machete I go through the paths
of the cafetal.

Intricate paths
where the tamags lies in wait, sunk
in the luxuriant vegetation of the tropics,
the carnal luxury that gleams
in the eyes of the Creole overseer; sinuous
paths between junipers and avocados
where human thought, cowed
since before the white man, has never
found any other light than the well
of Quich; blind; drowning in itself.
Picking berries, the guanacos
hope only for a snort to free them
from the cafetal.

Through the humid shade beneath
the giant ceibas, Indian women
in all colors crawl like ants, one
behind the other, with the load balanced
on a waking sleep. They don't exist. They've never been born
and still they are dying daily, rubbed raw,
turned to wet earth with the plantation,
hunkered for days in the road to watch over the man
eternally blasted on booze, as good as dead
from one rain to the next, under the shrubs
of the cafetal.

The population has disappeared
into the coffee bean, and a tide of white lightning
seeps in to cover them. I stretch out a hand, pluck
the red berry, submit it to the test
of water, scrub it, wait for the fermentation
of the sweet pulp to release the bean.
How many centuries, now? How much misery
does it cost to become a man? How much mourning?
With a few strokes of the rake, the stripped bean
dries in the sun. It crackles, and I feel it
under my feet. Eternal drying shed
of the cafetal!

Backwash of consciousness,
soul sown with corn-mush and corn cobs,
blood stained with the black native dye.
Man below. Above, the volcanos.
Guatemala throws me to my knees
while every afternoon, with rain and thunder,
Tohil the Powerful lashes
this newly-arrived back. Lamentation
is the vegetal murmur, tender
of the cafetal.

Glossary:

Cafetal: a coffee plantation
tamag?s: a venomous serpent
guanaco: a pack animal, used insultingly to indicate the native laborers
ceiba: a tall tropical hardwood tree

Rafael Guillen

The Birds reported from the South --
A News express to Me --
A spicy Charge, My little Posts --
But I am deaf -- Today --

The Flowers -- appealed -- a timid Throng --
I reinforced the Door --
Go blossom for the Bees -- I said --
And trouble Me -- no More --

The Summer Grace, for Notice strove --
Remote -- Her best Array --
The Heart -- to stimulate the Eye
Refused too utterly --

At length, a Mourner, like Myself,
She drew away austere --
Her frosts to ponder -- then it was
I recollected Her --

She suffered Me, for I had mourned --
I offered Her no word --
My Witness -- was the Crape I bore --
Her -- Witness -- was Her Dead --

Thenceforward -- We -- together dwelt --
I never questioned Her --
Our Contract
A Wiser Sympathy

Emily Dickinson

Rock And Hawk

Here is a symbol in which
Many high tragic thoughts
Watch their own eyes.

This gray rock, standing tall
On the headland, where the seawind
Lets no tree grow,

Earthquake-proved, and signatured
By ages of storms: on its peak
A falcon has perched.

I think here is your emblem
To hang in the future sky;
Not the cross, not the hive,

But this; bright power, dark peace;
Fierce consciousness joined with final
Disinterestedness;

Life with calm death; the falcon's
Realist eyes and act
Married to the massive

Mysticism of stone,
Which failure cannot cast down
Nor success make proud.

Robinson Jeffers

Twenty Years Hence

Twenty years hence my eyes may grow
If not quite dim, yet rather so,
Still yours from others they shall know
Twenty years hence.

Twenty years hence though it may hap
That I be called to take a nap
In a cool cell where thunderclap
Was never heard,

There breathe but o'er my arch of grass
A not too sadly sighed Alas,
And I shall catch, ere you can pass,
That winged word.

Walter Savage Landor

Lips and Eyes.

IN Celia's face a question did arise,
Which were more beautiful, her lips or eyes ?
“ We,” said the eyes, “send forth those pointed darts
Which pierce the hardest adamantine hearts.”
“ From us,” repli'd the lips, “proceed those blisses
Which lovers reap by kind words and sweet kisses.”
Then wept the eyes, and from their springs did pour
Of liquid oriental pearl a shower ;
Whereat the lips, moved with delight and pleasure,
Through a sweet smile unlock'd their pearly treasure
And bad Love judge, whether did add more grace
Weeping or smiling pearls to Celia's face.

Thomas Carew

The Child's faith is new --
Whole -- like His Principle --
Wide -- like the Sunrise
On fresh Eyes --
Never had a Doubt --
Laughs -- at a Scruple --
Believes all sham
But Paradise --

Credits the World --
Deems His Dominion
Broadest of Sovereignties --
And Caesar -- mean --
In the Comparison --
Baseless Emperor --
Ruler of Nought --
Yet swaying all --

Grown bye and bye
To hold mistaken
His pretty estimates
Of Prickly Things
He gains the skill
Sorrowful -- as certain --
Men -- to anticipate
Instead of Kings --

Emily Dickinson

I measure every Grief I meet
With narrow, probing, Eyes --
I wonder if It weighs like Mine --
Or has an Easier size.

I wonder if They bore it long --
Or did it just begin --
I could not tell the Date of Mine --
It feels so old a pain --

I wonder if it hurts to live --
And if They have to try --
And whether -- could They choose between --
It would not be -- to die --

I note that Some -- gone patient long --
At length, renew their smile --
An imitation of a Light
That has so little Oil --

I wonder if when Years have piled --
Some Thousands -- on the Harm --
That hurt them early -- such a lapse
Could give them any Balm --

Or would they go on aching still
Through Centuries of Nerve --
Enlightened to a larger Pain -
In Contrast with the Love --

The Grieved -- are many -- I am told --
There is the various Cause --
Death -- is but one -- and comes but once --
And only nails the eyes --

There's Grief of Want -- and Grief of Cold --
A sort they call "Despair" --
There's Banishment from native Eyes --
In sight of Native Air --

And though I may not guess the kind --
Correctly -- yet to me
A piercing Comfort it affords
In passing Calvary --

To note the fashions -- of the Cross --
And how they're mostly worn --
Still fascinated to presume
That Some -- are like My Own --

Emily Dickinson
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