Poems, by Andrew Marvell

Eyes and Tears.

HOW wisely Nature did decree,

With the same eyes to weep and see;

That, having viewed the object vain,

They might be ready to complain!

And, since the self-deluding sight

In a false angle takes each height,

These tears, which better measure all,

Like watery 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 joys.

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 flowers I saw,

No honey, but these tears could draw.

So the all-seeing sun each day

Distils the world with chymic ray;

But finds the essence only showers,

Which straight in pity back he pours.

Yet happy they whom grief doth bless,

That weep the more, and see the less;

And, to preserve their sight more true,

Bathe still their eyes in their own dew.

So Magdalen in tears more wise

Dissolved those captivating eyes,

Whose liquid chains could flowing meet

To fetter her Redeemer’s feet.*

Not full sails hasting loaden home,

Nor the chaste lady’s pregnant womb,

Nor Cynthia teeming shows so fair

As two eyes swollen with weeping are.

The sparkling glance that shoots desire,

Drenched in these waves, does lose its fire;

Yea oft the Thunderer pity 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 human 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’erturn and drown:

Thus let your streams o’erflow your springs,

Till eyes and tears be the same things;

And each the other’s difference bears,

These weeping eyes, those seeing tears.

* 29-32. —“Magdala, lascivos sic quum dimisit amantes

  Fervidaque in castas lumina solvit aquas;

Haesit in irriguo lachrymarum compede Christus,

  Et tenuit sacros uda catena pedes.”

(Footnote in 1681 edition.)


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:58