Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Poetry of Eyes

- Madeline DeFrees

In a dark time, Roethke writes,
the eye begins to see. But only with the heart.
The history of eyes, like their anomalies,
is written on the retina, in every image stored
and every stunning line of record.
Bogan’s ambition: a passion wholly of the mind,
Thought divorced from eye

and bone. The eye as horseman
passes by Yeats’s limestone epitaph,
casts a cold eye / On life, on death, and knows not why
faith strikes a bargain with the Tyger
burning in Blake’s song, its fearful symmetry
framed by immortal hand or eye.
God, too, burns bright in the Burning Bush

whose downward rush of flame demands a dimming of
the glare with filmy veils of gossamer:
that is, goose summer or even God’s summer—a spell
of fine weather in late fall. The fragile
cloth of Mary’s winding sheet as she goes back
to Heaven, and we celebrate our new-found vision:
the Indian summer of the eye.


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