The HyperTexts

"Pale Though Her Eyes"
by Michael R. Burch

Form, Theme, Analysis and Meaning, Tone, Diction and Literary Devices

"Pale Though Her Eyes" is a vampire poem inspired by the contrast between innocence, sexuality and what one might call "bloodlust." While we usually think of young girls as being innocent, in reality most of them are carnivores who eat meat. The animals whose flesh they devour may not see them as being entirely innocent. Some adult men are attracted to young girls: for instance, Humbert Humbert in Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita. Thus innocence, like beauty, may be in the eye of the beholder. (Please keep in mind that I think children should be protected from predators and would not harm or take advantage of a young girl myself). "Pale Though Her Eyes" is a work of fiction, but it raises questions about reality versus appearances. What if a girl was hungry and you were her intended meal?

Pale Though Her Eyes
by Michael R. Burch

Pale though her eyes,
her lips are scarlet
from drinking of blood,
this child, this harlot

born of the night
and her heart, of darkness,
evil incarnate
to dance so reckless,

dreaming of blood,
her fangs—white—baring,
revealing her lust,
and her eyes, pale, staring ...

"Pale Though Her Eyes" is the #4 monster poem of all time, according to Aesthetic Poems, after "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe, "The Vampire" by Conrad Aiken, and "Ghost" by Cynthia Huntingon. "Pale Though Her Eyes" is also one of the eight best vampire poems, along with Burch's poem "Vampires" and poems by Charles Baudelaire, Ernest Dowson and William Butler Yeats, according to Pick Me Up Poetry.

Form, Theme, Analysis and Meaning: "Pale Though Her Eyes" is a lyric poem about living in a world where one creature survives at the expense of another's extinction. The poem's main theme is the contrast between appearances and reality. If a lovely little girl wants to cuddle with you, she may seem the very appearance of innocence. If she wants to eat you, not so much.

Tone: The poem's tone is dark, menacing. What if we are the prey?

Diction: The poem's language is on the harsh side with words like "scarlet," "harlot" and "incarnate." The language is meant to make the reader feel uneasy, out of sorts. How do we feel and how do we react when we encounter the unexpected, the unsettling?

Literary Devices: The poem’s primary literary devices are meter, rhyme, alliteration, repetition, imagery and metaphor/symbolism.

Pale eyes suggest a lack of mercy. Lips scarlet from drinking blood suggest bloodlust. "Born of the night" suggests the capacity for evil.

The poem employs alliteration, primarily of sibilant “s” sounds with words like: eyes, lips, scarlet, darkness, reckless, fangs, lust, staring. 

The poem employs contrasting imagery, with images of red lips, a black heart, white fangs and pale eyes.

The poem employs repetition, ending where it began with ominous pale eyes.

For a fairly short poem there is quite a bit going on. I hope you liked the poem and thanks for taking the time to get this far, if you got here!

Bio: Michael R. Burch is an American poet who lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife Beth, their son Jeremy, and three outrageously spoiled puppies. His poems, epigrams, translations, essays, articles, reviews, short stories and letters have appeared more than 9,000 times in publications which include TIME, USA Today, The Hindu, BBC Radio 3,, Daily Kos, The Washington Post, Light Quarterly, The Lyric, Measure, Writer's Digest—The Year's Best Writing, The Best of the Eclectic Muse, Unlikely Stories and hundreds of other literary journals, websites and blogs. Mike Burch is also the founder and editor-in-chief of The HyperTexts, a former columnist for the Nashville City Paper and, according to Google's rankings, a relevant online publisher of poems about the Holocaust, Hiroshima, the Trail of Tears, Darfur, Haiti, Gaza and the Palestinian Nakba. He has two published books, Violets for Beth (White Violet Press, 2012) and O, Terrible Angel (Ancient Cypress Press, 2013). A third book, Auschwitz Rose, is still in the chute but long delayed. Burch's poetry has been translated into fourteen languages and set to music by nine composers. His poem "First They Came for the Muslims" has been adopted by Amnesty International for its Words That Burn anthology, a free online resource for students and educators. Burch has also served as editor of International Poetry and Translations for the literary journal Better Than Starbucks.

For an expanded bio, circum vitae and career timeline of the poet, please click here: Michael R. Burch Expanded Bio.

Related Pages: "Davenport Tomorrow" Analysis, "Epitaph" Analysis, "Neglect" Analysis, "Passionate One" Analysis, "Something" Analysis, "Self Reflection" Analysis, "Will There Be Starlight" Analysis, "Pale Though Her Eyes" Analysis, "Thin Kin" Analysis, Literary Criticism

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