Andrew Marvell

(31 March 1621 – 16 August 1678 / Yorkshire, England)

Eyes And Tears - Poem by Andrew Marvell

How wisely Nature did decree,
With the same Eyes to weep and see!
That, having view'd the object vain,
They might be ready to complain.

And since the Self-deluding Sight,
In a false Angle takes each hight;
These Tears which better measure all,
Like wat'ry Lines and Plummets fall.

Two Tears, which Sorrow long did weigh
Within the Scales of either Eye,
And then paid out in equal Poise,
Are the true price of all my Joyes.

What in the World most fair appears,
Yea even Laughter, turns to Tears:
And all the Jewels which we prize,
Melt in these Pendants of the Eyes.

I have through every Garden been,
Amongst the Red,the White, the Green;
And yet, from all the flow'rs I saw,
No Hony, but these Tears could draw.

So the all-seeing Sun each day
Distills the World with Chymick Ray;
But finds the Essence only Showers,
Which straight in pity back he powers.

Yet happy they whom Grief doth bless,
That weep the more, and see the less:
And, to preserve their Sight more true,
Bath still their Eyes in their own Dew.

So Magdalen, in Tears more wise
Dissolv'd those captivating Eyes,
Whose liquid Chains could flowing meet
To fetter her Redeemers feet.

Not full sailes hasting loaden home,
Nor the chast Ladies pregnant Womb,
Nor Cynthia Teeming show's so fair,
As two Eyes swoln with weeping are.

The sparkling Glance that shoots Desire,
Drench'd in these Waves, does lose it fire.
Yea oft the Thund'rer pitty takes
And here the hissing Lightning slakes.

The Incense was to Heaven dear,
Not as a Perfume, but a Tear.
And Stars shew lovely in the Night,
But as they seem the Tears of Light.

Ope then mine Eyes your double Sluice,
And practise so your noblest Use.
For others too can see, or sleep;
But only humane Eyes can weep.

Now like two Clouds dissolving, drop,
And at each Tear in distance stop:
Now like two Fountains trickle down:
Now like two floods o'return and drown.

Thus let your Streams o'reflow your Springs,
Till Eyes and Tears be the same things:
And each the other's difference bears;
These weeping Eyes, those seeing Tears.

Note:
Magdala, lascivos sic quum dimisit Amantes,
Fervidaque in castas lumina solvit aquas;
Haesit in irriguo lachrymarum compede Christus,
Et tenuit sacros uda Catena pedes.


Comments about Eyes And Tears by Andrew Marvell

  • Susan Williams Susan Williams (3/23/2016 2:58:00 PM)

    Save yourself time- -read Moira's lovely comment on this poem. Then read and reread and reread this poem because there are extraordinarily gorgeous lines in it. Sometimes a meal must be eaten slowly, very slowly, to get the most out of its diverse flavors. (Report) Reply

    6 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Moira Cameron Moira Cameron (3/23/2016 1:50:00 PM)

    Wow. I had to read this poem several times to understand it's power and beauty fully. And the more I read it, the more powerful and beautiful it feels. He is describing the ability of our eyes to shed tears; how that is a gift, marking us as unique among creatures who 'see and sleep'. There is a lot in this poem. The phrase, 'Distills the World with Chymick Ray' refers to the Greek mythological Chimera who was a fire breathing hybrid. I don't understand the reference in the line 'Nor Cynthia Teeming show's so fair'. Who is Cynthia? Anybody?

    My favourite verse is the one describing the scene where Magdalen washes the feet of Christ with her tears. The poet uses the phrase liquid Chains could flowing meet To fetter her Redeemers feet - powerful concept! (Report) Reply

  • Kim Barney (3/23/2016 9:52:00 AM)

    Give us a break! A poem from the 1600's with a footnote in Latin for poem of the day? And with a user rating of 5.3? Surely, Poem Hunter, you could have come up with something better.
    Oh, by the way, if you are interested, I put the footnote into Google Translate and this is what it gave me:

    Magdala, wanton, so when released Amantes,
    Chaste, keepers at the lights of the waters in the Fervidaque paid;
    Trapped in the watery tears locked in Christ,
    New wet feet and held sacred. (Report) Reply

  • Ratnakar Mandlik (3/23/2016 4:44:00 AM)

    Mind blowing description and genesis of the greatness of human eyes and equally great couple of tears coming out through them.. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis Edward Kofi Louis (3/23/2016 2:01:00 AM)

    These Tears which better measure all! Nice piece of work. (Report) Reply

  • Brian Jani Brian Jani (5/19/2014 10:32:00 AM)

    Andrew this is a nice idea for a poem (Report) Reply

Read all 6 comments »



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Read poems about / on: laughter, grief, sorrow, nature, happy, green, fire, red, sleep, world, heaven, home, sun, light, lost, spring, star



Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002



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