Strange how your eyes reveal you!

Some spirits are best made known through brow or lips, or the chiselling of the nose, or the head's carriage, or the hand's proportions, or the gait and rhythm of the whole body. But you stand always at the open windows of your eyes, looking at people passing in that thronged street, the world. Intent and self-oblivious, you do not peep through curtains; you lean frankly forward on the sill, where all, can see you, in the sun- light. (Or is that brightness all your own?) Every passer-by can see you, but one who has watched for decades sees you best.

But eyes? How can those globes of gristle, those camera lenses, speak the soul? They were not made for communication, but just for watching. Ancestral women watched the flying spindle, and the potter's wheel. Ancestral men aimed the flint arrow. Ancestral beasts looked for hand-holds on the trees, judged the ripeness of the golden fruit, caught with the eye's mere corner the tell-tale movement of long grass, or gauged the leap. And much longer ago, long before colour dawned in any mind, ages before even shape was clearly seen, far lowlier creatures, eyed only with blisters on light-sensitive skin, groped their way. And earlier still the wholly-eyeless vaguely felt the contrast of light and shade falling on the body's surface.

Those eyes of yours, those well-proportioned windows through which an inner beauty sees and is seen, are the flower of all that history. But of how much more besides! For as reptilian claws fathered the ape's hands, and these the human artful instruments of making and of gesture, so eyes have found new powers. Through all the human generations they have seen beauty, and they have expressed the spirit. Wide open with interest, half-closed with languor or contempt, staring with hate or sorrow, narrowed for peering at far horizons, crow’s-footed at the corners with frequent smiling, prone to sidelong glancing in shrewdness or in shy enticement, veiled or bright with love, eyes have slowly, little by little though the ages of human living, created their own language.

What wonder, then, that some clear spirits reveal themselves most surely in the unwitting speech of eyes!

Chapter 4

Chapter 3

Death Into Life Contents