Priyanka Arora

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ABSTRACT “A Pair of Eyes” is a poem about the “male gaze” that haunts women indiscriminately. It talks about the segregation in place and how it does not solve the issue at hand. Segregation in fact separates the two sexes further, creating a greater barrier. The poem starts with the female position as the victim that gradually then asserts herself with the “I” and taking charge, decides to blind these haunting pair of eyes. There is a pun on “I”. The violent end is a reference and inversion from Shakespeare’s King Lear which is described to be the most gruesome scene.


A Pair of Eyes

A pair of eyes
Haunt my existence
Wherever I may be.
Oh so omnipresent!

I curse God for giving vision
To those pair of eyes
That haunt my days and my nights.
Oh so inexhaustible!

Come experience the hellish fires
In their breath and in their bosom,
Come save my honour from Sin.
Oh so shameful!

The convulsions of my stomach,
The quickness of breath defines
Those pair of eyes that leave me.
Oh so naked!

Piercing through my flesh
Into my very soul,
Demanding, extracting me from myself.
Oh so devilish!

This intangible torque
Of energy that flows
From this fiendish oculus.
Oh so tumultuous!

No purdah, no veil, no “ghunghat”1 I need,
No “zenana”,2 no reserved coaches please.
Will make those pair of eyes suffer,
And How,
“Out, vile jelly, where is thy lustre now?”3


1. Veil or a headscarf. It is often worn by Hindu and Jain women to cover their heads and faces especially in the presence of men. It is etymologically derived from “Avagunthana” meaning veil or hiding and hence is associated with covering one’s face.

2. Harem. It literally translates into “of the women” and hence in South Asia, mostly Persian and Muslim cultures, ‘zenana’ was part of the households that used to be reserved for women. It existed in opposition to “Mardana” or “of the men.”

3. Shakespeare, William. The Arden Shakespeare: King Lear. Ed. R. A. Foakes. Bloomsbury, 2013. pp 301. Cornwall, the second son-in-law of King Lear, utters these words to Earl of Gloucester, while he blinds Gloucester in Act III Scene VII by gouging out his eyes. It is a sight of violence and physical abuse. It leads to the transfer of power from Gloucester to Cornwall as Gloucester becomes a blind, helpless and dependent being.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. 2013. The Arden Shakespeare: King Lear. Edited by R. A. Foakes. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2013


Priyanka Arora is an MPhil student in English literature at Delhi University. She has participated in International Conferences and college seminars in her academic career. Her articles, poems, and short stories have been published in her college magazine whose editor she was for two consecutive years.

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