He Had Such Quiet Eyes
By: Bibsy Soenharjo
3.1 SYNOPSIS OF THE POEM
The poem is about a woman who has been deceived to think that she was loved by a man with ‘quiet eyes’. She suffers for this and only learns on hindsight not to trust or give in to men who seek women only for pleasure. The poet gives an advice on being able to recognise what is true and what is not, when a person is truly friendly and when he is not. You may lose in the game of love and give your heart away, but knowing the truth of the situation will mean that you will not suffer any lasting losses.
3.2 UNDERSTANDING THE POEM [STANZA BY STANZA
The woman is taken up with his ‘quiet eyes’. The eyes mesmerise and beg her to ‘be nice’ to him and make him extremely happy, that is ‘render him paradise’. The poet uses a very long imagery of the eyes ‘breathing desolate sighs’ to enhance the effect of the eyes on the girl. The woman, being enamoured with those eyes, does not notice he is deceiving her. It would not be difficult to see through the man if the woman had her feet on the ground because the eyes have only the ‘thinnest ice’, easy to break through to learn the man’s true nature. Stanza 2
Something has happened to the woman and she has learnt the truth about the man. The poet suggests that she has learnt the hard way that is she learns her lesson through bad experience. She has made a mistake of trusting the man because she has refused to listen to the advice not ‘to compromise’, that is, lower her standards or expectations in order to please a man who seduces women. Stanza 3
The poet extends her friendly advice to women to understand what is meant by ‘nice’ what it means when men are ‘nice’ to you. When he is ‘nice’, friendly and pleasant to you, make sure that he is sincere and trustworthy and not because he has ulterior motive, that is he wants something from you in return. The poet further comments that love may be a gamble as suggested in ‘dice’, you take your chances with someone, you may find true love or you may not. The important issue here is that ultimately you have not lost anything because you have not compromised, you are not deceived.
3.3 THE POEM – LINE BY LINE
STANZA 1 MEANING BY LINE
* He had such quiet eyes – His eyes were calm and quiet * She did not realise – She did not know
* They were two pools of lies- His eyes were like two pools filled with lies * Layered with thinnest ice – Thinly veiled, like very thin ice * To her, those quiet eyes – To the woman, those calm and quiet eyes * Were breathing desolate sighs – Looked very sad and desolate * Imploring her to be nice – The eyes were begging her to be nice to him * And to render him to paradise – And to give him happiness and bliss so that he would feel like he was in paradise (heaven) STANZA 2 MEANING BY LINE
* If only she’d been wise – The woman wished she had been wiser in her past actions * And had listened to the advice – And she had listened to the sound advice given to her by people who cared about her * Never to compromise – They had advised her not to give up her moral values or principles * With pleasure-seeking guys – When she was with men who wanted only pleasure and fun * She’d be free from the ‘hows and whys’ – If she had listened to them, she would not be haunted by questions of hows and whys and the difficult situation she was in. STANZA 3 MEANING BY LINE
* Now here’s a bit of advice – Let me give you a bit of advice * Be sure that nice really means nice – Make sure that the person you think is nice, is truly sincere and trustworthy * Then you’ll never be losing at dice – Then, you will not lose in a game of chance or a game of love where you can lose your heart to an undeserving man * Though you may lose your heart once or twice – Even if you should fall in love and lose your heart to love once or twice 3.4 Elements of the Poem – Literal and Figurative Meaning Stanza 1
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