All Quiet along the Potomac and other poems/Human Eyes


IGROW afraid of human eyes,
Flashing and shining everywhere,
Holding such fearful mystery
Of silent souls in prison there—

Afraid of that sweet, solemn thing
That upward looks from children's eyes,
Wistfully gazing far away,
As tho' homesick for Paradise—

Afraid of eyes, tho' fair they beam,
Starry and dark, or bright and blue;
Crafty and cold, or soft and warm—
All with a soul still looking through;

Peering from out each curtained gate,
Watching beneath the eyelid's fall ;
Asking, answering, quest and glance,
Without a word or breath at all ;

Leaping from quick and busy brain,
Muscle and nerve like serfs obey,
And hasten at the spirit's call
To gather lash and lid away,

Till by the iris' shifting shade
It stops and looks at you and me;
An eye—a soul—or ill or good;
Demon, or angel mystery.

Mentor or siren, friend or foe,
The wily tongue may weave its spell;
But there outlooking stands the soul,
A steadfast tale of truth to tell.

If Anger holds her court within,
Or starry Hope, or bitter Woe,
Or gentle Love, or dewy Faith,
Truth telegraphs the tidings through,

Till mortal eyes no more they seem,
But watching soldiers, sent to stand
Between the body and the soul—
The pickets of the Spirit Land.