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

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Sonnet LVII: You Best Discern'd

You best discern'd of my mind's inward eyes,
And yet your graces outwardly divine,
Whose dear remembrance in my bosom lies,
Too rich a relic for so poor a shrine;
You, in whom Nature chose herself to view
When she her own perfection would admire,
Bestowing all her excellence on you,
At whose pure eyes Love lights his hallow'd fire;
E'en as a man that in some trance hath seen
More than his won'ring utt'rance can unfold,
That, rapt in spirit, in better worlds hath been,
So must your praise distractedly be told,
Most of all short when I would show you most,
In your perfections so much am I lost.

Michael Drayton

Erin! The Tear and the Smile in Thine Eyes

Erin! the tear and the smile in thine eyes
Blend like the rainbow that hangs in thy skies,
Shining through sorrow's stream,
Saddening through pleasure's beam,
Thy suns with doubtful gleam,
Weep while they rise.

Erin, thy silent tear never shall cease,
Erin, thy languid smile ne'er shall increase,
Till, like the rainbow's light,
Thy various tints unite,
And form in heaven's sight
One arch of peace!

Thomas Moore

The Holy of Holies

‘Elder father, though thine eyes
Shine with hoary mysteries,
Canst thou tell what in the heart
Of a cowslip blossom lies?

‘Smaller than all lives that be,
Secret as the deepest sea,
Stands a little house of seeds,
Like an elfin’s granary.

‘Speller of the stones and weeds,
Skilled in Nature’s crafts and creeds,
Tell me what is in the heart
Of the smallest of the seeds.’

‘God Almighty, and with Him
Cherubim and Seraphim,
Filling all eternity—
Adonai Elohim.’

G. K. Chesterton

APRIL.

TELL me, eyes, what 'tis ye're seeking;

For ye're saying something sweet,

Fit the ravish'd ear to greet,
Eloquently, softly speaking.

Yet I see now why ye're roving;

For behind those eyes so bright,

To itself abandon'd quite,
Lies a bosom, truthful, loving,--

One that it must fill with pleasure

'Mongst so many, dull and blind,

One true look at length to find,
That its worth can rightly treasure.

Whilst I'm lost in studying ever

To explain these cyphers duly,--

To unravel my looks truly
In return be your endeavour!

1820.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Single Vision

Before I am completely shriven
I shall reject my inch of heaven.

Cancel my eyes, and, standing, sink
Into my deepest self; there drink

Memory down. The banner of
My blood, unfurled, will not be love,

Only the pity and the pride
Of it, pinned to my open side.

When I have utterly refined
The composition of my mind,

Shaped language of my marrow till
Its forms are instant to my will,

Suffered the leaf of my heart to fall
Under the wind, and, stripping all

The tender blanket from my bone,
Rise like a skeleton in the sun,

I shall have risen to disown
The good mortality I won.

Drectly risen with the stain
Of life upon my crested brain,

Which I shall shake against my ghost
To frighten him, when I am lost.

Gladly as any poison, yield
My halved conscience, brightly peeled;

Infect him, since we live but once,
With the unused evil in my bones.

I'll shed the tear of souls, the true
Sweat, Blake's intellectual dew,

Before I am resigned to slip
A dusty finger on my lip.

Stanley Kunitz

Air Of Diabelli's

CALL it to mind, O my love.
Dear were your eyes as the day,
Bright as the day and the sky;
Like the stream of gold and the sky above,
Dear were your eyes in the grey.
We have lived, my love, O, we have lived, my love!
Now along the silent river, azure
Through the sky's inverted image,
Softly swam the boat that bore our love,
Swiftly ran the shallow of our love
Through the heaven's inverted image,
In the reedy mazes round the river.
See along the silent river,

See of old the lover's shallop steer.
Berried brake and reedy island,
Heaven below and only heaven above.
Through the sky's inverted image
Swiftly swam the boat that bore our love.
Berried brake and reedy island,
Mirrored flower and shallop gliding by.
All the earth and all the sky were ours,
Silent sat the wafted lovers,
Bound with grain and watched by all the sky,
Hand to hand and eye to . . . eye.

Days of April, airs of Eden,
Call to mind how bright the vanished angel hours,
Golden hours of evening,
When our boat drew homeward filled with flowers.
O darling, call them to mind; love the past, my love.
Days of April, airs of Eden.
How the glory died through golden hours,
And the shining moon arising;
How the boat drew homeward filled with flowers.
Age and winter close us slowly in.

Level river, cloudless heaven,
Islanded reed mazes, silver weirs;
How the silent boat with silver
Threads the inverted forest as she goes,
Broke the trembling green of mirrored trees.
O, remember, and remember
How the berries hung in garlands.

Still in the river see the shallop floats.
Hark! Chimes the falling oar.
Still in the mind
Hark to the song of the past!
Dream, and they pass in their dreams.

Those that loved of yore, O those that loved of yore!
Hark through the stillness, O darling, hark!
Through it all the ear of the mind

Knows the boat of love. Hark!
Chimes the falling oar.

O half in vain they grew old.

Now the halcyon days are over,
Age and winter close us slowly round,
And these sounds at fall of even
Dim the sight and muffle all the sound.
And at the married fireside, sleep of soul and sleep of fancy,
Joan and Darby.
Silence of the world without a sound;
And beside the winter faggot

Joan and Darby sit and dose and dream and wake -
Dream they hear the flowing, singing river,
See the berries in the island brake;
Dream they hear the weir,
See the gliding shallop mar the stream.
Hark! in your dreams do you hear?

Snow has filled the drifted forest;
Ice has bound the . . . stream.
Frost has bound our flowing river;
Snow has whitened all our island brake.

Berried brake and reedy island,
Heaven below and only heaven above azure
Through the sky's inverted image
Safely swam the boat that bore our love.
Dear were your eyes as the day,
Bright ran the stream, bright hung the sky above.
Days of April, airs of Eden.
How the glory died through golden hours,
And the shining moon arising,
How the boat drew homeward filled with flowers.
Bright were your eyes in the night:
We have lived, my love;
O, we have loved, my love.
Now the . . . days are over,
Age and winter close us slowly round.

Vainly time departs, and vainly
Age and winter come and close us round.

Hark the river's long continuous sound.

Hear the river ripples in the reeds.

Lo, in dreams they see their shallop
Run the lilies down and drown the weeds
Mid the sound of crackling faggots.
So in dreams the new created
Happy past returns, to-day recedes,
And they hear once more,

From the old years,
Yesterday returns, to-day recedes,
And they hear with aged hearing warbles

Love's own river ripple in the weeds.
And again the lover's shallop;
Lo, the shallop sheds the streaming weeds;
And afar in foreign countries
In the ears of aged lovers.

And again in winter evens
Starred with lilies . . . with stirring weeds.
In these ears of aged lovers
Love's own river ripples in the reeds.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Japanese lullaby

Sleep, little pigeon, and fold your wings,--
Little blue pigeon with velvet eyes;
Sleep to the singing of mother-bird swinging--
Swinging the nest where her little one lies.

Away out yonder I see a star,--
Silvery star with a tinkling song;
To the soft dew falling I hear it calling--
Calling and tinkling the night along.

In through the window a moonbeam comes,--
Little gold moonbeam with misty wings;
All silently creeping, it asks, "Is he sleeping--
Sleeping and dreaming while mother sings?"

Up from the sea there floats the sob
Of the waves that are breaking upon the shore,
As though they were groaning in anguish, and moaning--
Bemoaning the ship that shall come no more.

But sleep, little pigeon, and fold your wings,--
Little blue pigeon with mournful eyes;
Am I not singing?--see, I am swinging--
Swinging the nest where my darling lies.

Eugene Field

I Cannot be Known

I cannot be known
Better than you know me

Your eyes in which we sleep
We together
Have made for my man's gleam
A better fate than for the common nights

Your eyes in which I travel
Have given to signs along the roads
A meaning alien to the earth

In your eyes who reveal to us
Our endless solitude

Are no longer what they thought themselves to be

You cannot be known
Better than I know you.

Paul Eluard

Archaic Bust Of Apollo

(After Rilke)


We cannot know the indescribable face
Where the eyes like apples ripened. Even so,
His torso has a candelabra's glow,
His gaze, contained as in a mirror's grace,

Shines within it. Otherwise his breast
Would not be dazzling. Nor would you recognize
The smile that moves along his curving thighs,
There where love's strength is caught within its nest.

This stone would not be broken, but intact
Beneath the shoulders' flowing cataract,
Nor would it glisten like a stallion's hide,

Brimming with radiance from every side
As a star sparkles. Now it is dawn once more.
All places scrutinize you. You must be reborn.

Delmore Schwartz

Pan with Us

Pan came out of the woods one day,--
His skin and his hair and his eyes were gray,
The gray of the moss of walls were they,--
And stood in the sun and looked his fill
At wooded valley and wooded hill.

He stood in the zephyr, pipes in hand,
On a height of naked pasture land;
In all the country he did command
He saw no smoke and he saw no roof.
That was well! and he stamped a hoof.

His heart knew peace, for none came here
To this lean feeding save once a year
Someone to salt the half-wild steer,
Or homespun children with clicking pails
Who see so little they tell no tales.

He tossed his pipes, too hard to teach
A new-world song, far out of reach,
For sylvan sign that the blue jay's screech
And the whimper of hawks beside the sun
Were music enough for him, for one.

Times were changed from what they were:
Such pipes kept less of power to stir
The fruited bough of the juniper
And the fragile bluets clustered there
Than the merest aimless breath of air.

They were pipes of pagan mirth,
And the world had found new terms of worth.
He laid him down on the sun-burned earth
And raveled a flower and looked away--
Play? Play?--What should he play?

Robert Frost

Sonnet XVI

ONe day as I vnwarily did gaze
on those fayre eyes my loues immortall light:
the whiles my stonisht hart stood in amaze,
through sweet illusion of her lookes delight.
I mote perceiue how in her glauncing sight,
legions of loues with little wings did fly:
darting their deadly arrowes fyry bright
at euery rash beholder passing by.
One of those archers closely I did spy,
ayming his arrow at my very hart:
when suddenly with twincle of her eye,
the Damzell broke his misintended dart.
Had she not so doon, sure I had bene slayne,
yet as it was, I hardly scap't with paine.

Edmund Spenser

To the Same

Cyriack, this three years’ day these eyes, though clear,
To outward view, of blemish or of spot,
Bereft of light, their seeing have forgot;
Nor to their idle orbs doth sight appear
Of sun, or moon, or star, throughout the year,
Or man, or woman. Yet I argue not
Against Heaven’s hand or will, nor bate a jot
Of heart or hope, but still bear up and steer
Right onward. What supports me, dost thou ask?
The conscience, friend, to have lost them overplied
In liberty’s defence, my noble task,
Of which all Europe rings from side to side.
This thought might lead me through the world’s vain mask
Content, though blind, had I no better guide.

John Milton

Appeal

Oh, I am very weary,
Though tears no longer flow;
My eyes are tires of weeping,
My heart is sick of woe;

My life is very lonely,
My days pass heavily,
I'm wearing of repining,
Wilt thou not come to me?

Oh, didst thou know my longings
For thee, from day to day,
My hopes, so often blighted,
Thou wouldst not thus delay!

Anne Bronte

The Christ of the 'Never'

With eyes that are narrowed to pierce
To the awful horizons of land,
Through the blaze of hot days, and the fierce
White heat-waves that flow on the sand;
Through the Never Land westward and nor'ward,
Bronzed, bearded, and gaunt on the track,
Low-voiced and hard-knuckled, rides forward
The Christ of the Outer Out-back.

For the cause that will ne'er be relinquished
Despite all the cynics on earth---
In the ranks of the bush undistinguished
By manner or dress---if by birth;
God's preacher, of churches unheeded---
God's vineyard, though barren the sod---
Plain spokesman where spokesman is needed,
Rough link 'twixt the bushman and God.

He works where the hearts of a nation
Are withered in flame from the sky,
Where the sinners work out their salvation
In a hell-upon-earth ere they die.
In the camp or the lonely hut lying
In a waste that seems out of God's sight,
He's the doctor---the mate of thee dying
Through the smothering heat of the night.

By his work in the hells of the shearers,
Where the drinking is ghastly and grim,
Where the roughest and worst of his hearers
Have listened bareheaded to him;
By his paths through the parched desolation,
Hot rides, and the long, terrible tramps;
By the hunger, the thirst, the privation
Of his work in the farthermost camps;

By his worth in the light that shall search men
And prove---ay! and justify---each,
I place him in front of all churchmen
Who feel not, who know not---but preach!

Henry Lawson

Marvel of Marvels

MARVEL of marvels, if I myself shall behold
With mine own eyes my King in His city of gold;
Where the least of lambs is spotless white in the fold,
Where the least and last of saints in spotless white is stoled,
Where the dimmest head beyond a moon is aureoled.
O saints, my beloved, now mouldering to mould in the mould,
Shall I see you lift your heads, see your cerements unroll'd,
See with these very eyes? who now in darkness and cold
Tremble for the midnight cry, the rapture, the tale untold,--
The Bridegroom cometh, cometh, His Bride to enfold!

Cold it is, my beloved, since your funeral bell was toll'd:
Cold it is, O my King, how cold alone on the wold!

Christina Rossetti

Bluenote Time

in the soft jazz and midnight hour
your eyes are dancing close to mine
a sway of hips, a touch of lips

while on the stand
piano player’s fingers
dance around the tune
above a gentle touch
caressing music from the bass

your fingers up and down my spine

in the soft jazz and midnight hour
we lose ourselves in bluenote time

Adrian Green

Prometheus

Titan! to whose immortal eyes
The sufferings of mortality,
Seen in their sad reality,
Were not as things that gods despise;
What was thy pity's recompense?
A silent suffering, and intense;
The rock, the vulture, and the chain,
All that the proud can feel of pain,
The agony they do not show,
The suffocating sense of woe,
Which speaks but in its loneliness,
And then is jealous lest the sky
Should have a listener, nor will sigh
Until its voice is echoless.

Titan! to thee the strife was given
Between the suffering and the will,
Which torture where they cannot kill;
And the inexorable Heaven,
And the deaf tyranny of Fate,
The ruling principle of Hate,
Which for its pleasure doth create
The things it may annihilate,
Refus'd thee even the boon to die:
The wretched gift Eternity
Was thine--and thou hast borne it well.
All that the Thunderer wrung from thee
Was but the menace which flung back
On him the torments of thy rack;
The fate thou didst so well foresee,
But would not to appease him tell;
And in thy Silence was his Sentence,
And in his Soul a vain repentance,
And evil dread so ill dissembled,
That in his hand the lightnings trembled.

Thy Godlike crime was to be kind,
To render with thy precepts less
The sum of human wretchedness,
And strengthen Man with his own mind;
But baffled as thou wert from high,
Still in thy patient energy,
In the endurance, and repulse
Of thine impenetrable Spirit,
Which Earth and Heaven could not convulse,
A mighty lesson we inherit:
Thou art a symbol and a sign
To Mortals of their fate and force;
Like thee, Man is in part divine,
A troubled stream from a pure source;
And Man in portions can foresee
His own funereal destiny;
His wretchedness, and his resistance,
And his sad unallied existence:
To which his Spirit may oppose
Itself--and equal to all woes,
And a firm will, and a deep sense,
Which even in torture can descry
Its own concenter'd recompense,
Triumphant where it dares defy,
And making Death a Victory.

Lord Byron

Speak, God Of Visions

O, thy bright eyes must answer now,
When Reason, with a scornful brow,
Is mocking at my overthrow!
O, thy sweet tongue must plead for me,
And tell why I have chosen thee!

Stern Reason is to judgment come,
Arrayed in all her forms of gloom:
Wilt thou, my advocate, be dumb?
No, radiant angel, speak and say
Why I did cast the world away;

Why I have presevered to shun
The common paths that others run,
And on a strange road journeyed on,
Heedless alike of wealth and power,
Of Glory's wreath and Pleasure's flower.

These once, indeed, seemed Beings Divine;
And they, perchance, heard vows of mine,
And saw my offerings on their shrine;
But careless gifts are seldom prized,
And mine were worthily despised.

So, with a ready heart I swore
To seek their altar-stone no more;
And gave my spirit to adore
Thee, ever-present, phantom thing—
My slave, my comrade, and my king.

A slave, because I rule thee still,
Incline thee to my changeful will,
And make thy influence good or ill;
A comrade, for by day and night
Thou art my intimate delight,—

My darling pain that wounds and sears,
And wrings a blessing out of tears
Be deadening me to earthly cares;
And yet, a king, though Prudence well
Have taught thy subject to rebel.

And I am wrong to worship where
Faith cannot doubt, nor Hope despair,
Since my own soul can grant my prayer?
Speak, God of Visions, plead for me,
And tell why I have chosen thee!

Emily Bronte

Sonnet XXXV

MY hungry eyes through greedy couetize,
still to behold the obiect of their paine:
with no contentment can themselues suffize,
but hauing pine and hauing not complaine.
For lacking it they cannot lyfe sustayne,
and hauing it they gaze on it the more:
in their amazement lyke Narcissus vaine
whose eyes him staru'd: so plenty makes me poore
Yet are mine eyes so filled with the store
of that faire sight, that nothing else they brooke,
but lothe the things which they did like before,
and can no more endure on them to looke.
All this worlds glory seemeth vayne to me,
and all their showes but shadowes sauing she.

Edmund Spenser

Thomas Ross, Jr.

This I saw with my own eyes:
A cliff-swallow
Made her nest in a hole of the high clay-bank
There near Miller's Ford.
But no sooner were the young hatched
Than a snake crawled up to the nest
To devour the brood.
Then the mother swallow with swift flutterings
And shrill cries
Fought at the snake,
Blinding him with the beat of her wings,
Until he, wriggling and rearing his head,
Fell backward down the bank
Into Spoon River and was drowned.
Scarcely an hour passed
Until a shrike
Impaled the mother swallow on a thorn.
As for myself I overcame my lower nature
Only to be destroyed by my brother's ambition.

Edgar Lee Masters
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