The History of a Pair of Eyes

" You — tell the history of mine eyes?
Well — some men's fancies are unruly!
'T would take three volumes at the least —
Ay — twenty, — if you told it truly."
" No matter: let me try the task,
Though possibly my heart may rue it,
If, gazing on their light meanwhile,
I strive to render justice to it.

" One morn — 't was twenty Mays ago —
The meadows gleamed with flowery whiteness,
When on the world those eye-lids oped,
And showed their inner orbs of brightness;
Two little gem-like spheres they were,
That knew no change of day or morrow;
Yet shone 'mid tears, as if to prove
The joy that had been shown 'mid sorrow.

" Ere May a second time return'd,
Those little worlds were worlds of graces;
They looked upon the earth and sky
And knew the light of loving faces.
They wept — they glittered — wept again —
And friends from strangers could remember,
And garner'd smiles beneath their lids,
To dart like meteors of November.

" Seven springs and summers cheer'd the earth —
Seven winters howl'd with stormy bluster,
And every season as it passed,
Left on those eyes increasing lustre.
They glow'd with many a baby-joy,
Suffused with tears of childlike gladness,
And sparkled with affections pure —
With hopes, and sympathies, and sadness.

" Ten years; and then on Nature's face,
Their long and silken lashes under,
At sunlight, starlight, or the moon,
They gazed with pleasure or with wonder.
They loved all lovely things of earth —
They beam'd with every sweet emotion —
Turn'd to the ground with modest grace,
Or look'd to Heaven with young devotion.

" But sixteen seasons wrought a change —
They learn'd a secret — by this token: —
That they could read in others' eyes
The admiration never spoken.
They learned what tell-tale mirrors showed —
That whosoe'er might flout their bearer,
There might be maids as fair, perchance,
But not a living maiden fairer.

" The knowledge brought its natural fruit,
But being linked with gentle feeling,
With sense, and modesty, and truth,
And virtue, past my wits' revealing;
Men's hearts were overthrown at once,
And through the world, you bright enslaver,
You walked — a thing of life and light —
On whom to look was joy and favor.

" The hearts you wounded, who shall count?
Talk of three volumes of romances!
A hundred could not chronicle
The hurts, fatalities, mischances!
I cannot tell such endless tales
Half through, or quarter; who could read 'em?
Then, oh, be spiteful — heartless — vain —
And leave, oh, leave us to our freedom!

" But while, as now, you win our hearts
By sense and virtue, wit and kindness,
We gaze — we doat — we kneel — we pray —
The wisest worst, for utter blindness.
Take pity, Clara, — make your choice —
The story of your eyes I've told you;
The sooner wed, the better fate
For those who hope as they behold you."

*****

So sang a knight of olden time;
The eyes he praised, with pleasure shining;
And Clara tripping from the porch,
Unloosed his arms around her twining.
" I've made my choice, for love is blind,
And it has proved my wits' undoing;
So fix the day, you foolish knight —
I'll marry you, and stop your wooing!"
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