Eye quotes, or statements concerning the human eye, have been numerous throughout history, recorded by poets, philosophers, and lay observers, alike. The irony of this is that such observations are essentially self-reflective, with the eyes being the organ through which the outside world and eyes of others are mirrored back to the observer. While it is certainly tough to select only six eye quotes from the very lengthy recorded history of people talking about eyes, the following quotations are a pretty solid representation.
1. “The eyes indicate the antiquity of the soul.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
One may indeed tell a lot about the respective age of another’s soul through the portal of the eyes. Emerson, as one of America’s most profound thinkers, was the leader of the transcendentalist movement, which preached individual self-reliance and vision as a means of attaining wisdom and true community.
2. “The harvest of a quiet eye, That broods and sleeps on his own heart.” – William Wordsworth
As a contemporary of Emerson’s from “across the pond,” Wordsworth was a major English romantic poet who, along with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped launch the Romantic Age in English literature. This quote reminds of nature and the seasons, two of Wordsworth’s favourite poetic topics.
3. “The soul that can speak through the eyes, can also kiss with a gaze.” – Gustavo Adolfo Becquer
The eyes are not merely representative of wisdom or the soul, but also of love, of course (which may in fact be the deepest/most Unitarian wisdom). This quote from Spanish post-romanticist writer Gustavo Adolfo Becquer speaks to the fact that eyes, like a picture, can relate a thousand unspoken words.
4. “You never know just how you look through other people’s eyes.” – Gibby Haynes
Paraphrasing another quote of Emerson’s, musician Gibby Haynes mentions a great deal about perception in the song “Pepper” by his band, The Butthole Surfers — namely, the corresponding lyric: “I don’t mind the sun sometimes, The images it shows. I can taste you on my lips, And smell you in my clothes.”
5. “The eyes like sentinel occupy the highest place in the body.” – Marcus Tulius Cicero
Whether your main objective is to figure out what another person thinks of you, or, perhaps, what the world of nature thinks of the human race, the best way to do so (as Bob Dylan intimates on “All Along the Watchtower“) is to “keep the view.”
6. “A million eyes, a million boots in line, Without expression, waiting for a sign.” – W.H. Auden
From the poem “The Shield of Achilles,” this is one of the greatest eye quotes symbolizing the human race’s fate, led to war and industrial servility that they can only escape through their own humble understanding.
Above all else, these few telling eye quotes remind how important our eyes are and what an advantage they offer for more acute understanding. What a blessing it is to watch and to witness with refined, 20/20 sight!