"Eyes Too Expressive To Be Blue, Too Lovely To Be Grey"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Perhaps no other English poet has written with greater serenity and calm about the end of love and the misery of unrequited love than Matthew Arnold; many of his most famous lyrics open with a lovers' quarrel and develop into a speaker's plea for a renewal of the now thwarted love. In these poems he repeats that it is only through the beloved's eyes that the momentarily locked up love can be released. Staring silently into the beloved's eyes causes a bolt deep inside the lover to be thrown back, and he escapes from his sorrow by discovering his true self which has been buried. The group of lyrics in which this quotation appears are descriptive of a romance that has ended because the beloved does not return the poet's love; hoping that if he can gaze into her lovely eyes his sorrow will cease and the romance will again return, he begs his beloved to grant him this final wish. The poem is addressed to Frances Lucy Wightman, his courtship of whom was interrupted because of his poor financial prospects.

So let me lie, and, calm as they,
Let beam upon my inward view
Those eyes of deep, soft, lucent hue–
Eyes too expressive to be blue,
Too lovely to be grey.