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


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 pencil 🙂 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:

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

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.


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’,


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



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 know it’s been quite some time since I wrote the first part of the review. Truth is am not sure what to write really. Hahaha… let’s give it a try. Hurmmm, I think it’d be good to talk bout the message rite? The message in my opinion is very clear and apparent. Just like “If” by Kipling, this poem is similar in the sense that it’s trying to give you an advice, but the similarities stop there. The message here is actually an advice especially for young girls. “Don’t be fooled by appearance”, and “Looks can be deceiving” might be the suitable phrase here. What do you think?

Since we’re still with this poem, I’d like to share some part of the poem that I found really interesting. Take a look at this;

To her, those quiet eyes
Were breathing desolate sighs
Imploring her to be nice
And to render him paradise

In literal meaning, this is my version: She was hypnotized by the emptiness look in his eyes, because of that she feels obligated to be nice to him, exactly the effect that he intended. In being nice to him, obviously, she’ll do anything that he asked, in order to make him happy.

This poem brings out the concept of the power of the eyes and how, since ages and ages ago (this poem is written in 1968) up till today, Casanovas all around the world are still using the same old trick and women, all over the world still fall for it. Thus, I am really hoping that by teaching this poem to our students, we could teach them and prepare them to face the ugliness of the real world. However, based on my experience, it would be a lil bit difficult for them to digest and most of the time they will not see the sense in the advice until it’s too late. Regardless, let’s try our best, and make the lesson as interesting as it can be.Okay, that’s all for now. Thank you for reading.


“…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.

“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…”

– comment from my blog reader; suituapui


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