He Had Such Quiet Eyes – Review Part 1

He Had Such Quiet Eyes
Bibsy Soenharjo

He had such quiet eyes
She did not realise
They were two pools of lies
Layered with thinnest ice
To her, those quiet eyes
Were breathing desolate sighs
Imploring her to be nice
And to render him paradise

If only she’d been wise
And had listened to the advice
Never to compromise
With pleasure-seeking guys
She’d be free from “the hows and whys”

Now here’s a bit of advice
Be sure that nice really means nice
Then you’ll never be losing at dice
Though you may lose your heart once or twice

1968

Before I begin, thanks heaps for kind words and supports from friends and readers. Due to good response, I am now even more motivated to write another review. So, Let’s not waste time and have a look on my take on the poem.

Just like the first poem, I have never heard of the poem nor the poet. You can try googling but I think there’s nothing much there, so don’t bother. She is an Indonesian writer and looking at it positively, I think that this is a good idea. But I really hope that MoE has asked for permission to use her poem because we don’t want another conflict to arise (got my point?). Okay, enough rambling, let’s start…

Dealing with the obvious first, let’s look at the RHYMING SCHEME: a,a,a,a… yes, the rhyming scheme is uniformed throughout the whole poem. This is IMHO the strong point of this poem. This would be an x-factor that could attract students to this poem. Especially, in my case where nurturing the love towards the beauty of literature is quite challenging with poems with the like of Monsoon History (no offence, it’s a good poem… but you got my point right?). For beginner-intermediate students who are still struggling with simple vocabularies, asking them to love such poems is almost like forcing a 0.7mm pencil lead into the 0.5 mechanical pencilđŸ™‚ This poem is different though. It’s meaning is not entirely simple. Yet, it is verbally beautiful. The uniformed rhymes gives life to the poem. A lot of while reading activities can be crafted into interesting lesson when teaching this poem. Just by reading aloud, even without instruction, the poem would still sound interesting. And this is very important for beginner students. This poem is not unlike song lyrics, thus, I think you got my idea.

Okay, let’s settle the LITERARY ELEMENTS first before we go into the Themes and Messages. Let’s do it in a checklist form:

metaphore;
“two pools of lies” should be the metaphore for the eyes (rite?)

symbolism;
I’m not sure but there’s something about the phrase “thinnest ice”. I personally view it as a symbolism of a heartless man or a cold-blooded “hunter”, who would harbor no feelings at all towards his victims.

simile;
nope.

personification;
The way I learn it, personification is giving human quality to inanimate object. However, in this case, the eyes are’nt really inanimate object, furthermore, it’s also part of the human itself. So, where does this one falls into? :
-quiet eyes: the eyes are given the quality ‘quiet’
-breathing desolate sighs: the eyes are portrayed here as ‘breathing’,

onomatopoeia; again, even in this poem, the word ‘sigh’ reappear. So, can anyone tell me whether ‘sigh’ can be counted as one?

assonance;
nope,

alliteration;
nope.

Okay, other elements like plot, setting and characters are not really apparent eventhough we could still debate that these elements exist in the poem. As for POV, it is written in a 3rd person POV. Finally, in term of tone and mood, I think that this poem sets a very mellow tone and it alludes the mood of regret and sadness.

Okay, I’d love to continue, but it’s already 2.00 am, and I’m all alone in the office. Getting real sleepy now, so… I’ll continue this ASAP ok? Thanks for reading, take care and bye!

6 thoughts on “He Had Such Quiet Eyes – Review Part 1

  1. Salam,Thanks for sharing your review with other teachers. Well done, bro. I hope you can link your blog to mine. I am teaching at a secondary school in Tanah Merah, Kelantan. I used to teach at SMK Majakir, Papar from 97 to 01. Salam Aidil Fitri.zukidin.blogspot.comDaddy Zuki

  2. You are awesome Faisal!! Hey, why don't you compile all ur reviews and publish a book?? Hurry and beat the crowd aye? And if you do have anything published, please keep one copy for me yea? hmm.. while i'm at it, maybe i should place an order for another 50++ copies for my students.. hehehe…

  3. "…losing at dice" may symbolise that life is a gamble?"ice" can be a metaphor (Does this word have an "e"?) reflecting the coldness in the eyes…and "thinnest" may be an indication that one can see through it…perhaps, if one looks hard enough.For an onomatopoeia, there is one in the poem "Nature" – the SWISH of water…Just a few observations – yet to study the poems in detail. Keep up the spirit!

  4. P.S.:Oh ya…"the thinnest ice" also symbolises the danger – walking on thin ice. Once it cracks, she will drown in the pool. I think there is imagery here…

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