somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
by E. E. Cummings
This is far from the only love poem where a speaker goes on about how awesome his or her lover's eyes are. Plenty of songwriters have gone off about their significant other's eyes, too—though not always in a good way. Just ask Paula Abdul. (Yeah, she actually had mad hits before American Idol.) The speaker's lover's eyes apparently have crazy super-powers. With just a flick of her lids, she can totally own him or totally shut him down. We imagine it being like Bill or Eric glamouring somebody on True Blood, but maybe that's because we watch way too much True Blood.
- Lines 1-2: Cummings opens up the poem with the lines, "somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond/ any experience,your eyes have their silence." Now, the syntax of that statement is definitely kind of weird, but you could interpret it to mean that the unexplored place the speaker is heading into is the depths of his lover's eyes. The fact that her "eyes have their silence" makes them seem even more mysterious and unknowable.
Hey, wait a minute. Aren't all eyes silent? They can't talk at all, right? Well, in a way they can. You've probably heard somebody say that "the eyes are windows to the soul." You can look into a person's eyes and see what they're feeling and thinking, which could be described as a way of talking without words. Well, if the speaker's eyes are silent at times, we're guessing that means she can be really hard to read, which only makes her more exciting to the speaker.
- Line 5: At the top of the next stanza, the speaker says that his lady's "slightest look will unclose [him]." Notice that we've gone from inscrutable, silent eyes that don't seem to be paying much attention to him to ones that are at least sparing him a glance. Smitten, he goes crazy for this and opens right up to his illusive lady. As we talk about in our "Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay: Touch," the speaker gives his lover's eyes a ton of power by giving them power over the physical world. Metaphorically at least, she can open his tightly closed fingers with the smallest of glances.
- Line 19: We have to hand it to Cummings. Lines like "the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses" make our heads hurt in a wonderful way. First of all, it's cool how this line brings us back to the silent eyes from line 2. Here, the eyes have a "voice," but it's not any typical voice. It's "deeper than all roses."
Now, this line might be one of those that tick some people off. How is a rose deep exactly? And how does it have a voice? Well, we'll dig deeper into this in our section "Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay: Roses," but suffice it to say this line conjures the image of a lady whose eyes are deep and mysterious. When the speaker looks into them, he can't quite read what's there, but he is mesmerized.