Holes for the Eyes

By
Daniel Chen
Daniel Chen is a member of the Class of 2023.

Helmet, Greek (Corinth), ca. 700-650 BCE, 22.2 cm (H) x 17.0 cm (W) x 25.5cm (D), The Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum, Kemper Simpson Collection, Accession Number K59.

Poet’s Statement

The poem that I wrote, “Holes for the Eyes,” was inspired by the bronze helmet. It’s in allegory form, much like Seamus Heaney’s “The Grauballe Man.” In it, I hoped to give a fictional backstory on the everyday use of that particular helmet and the many possible things that the helmet might have been through. I also really wanted to link it military service and the mental toughness those ancient soldiers must have had, which was something that a helmet would have served to protect.

Holes for the Eyes

Solemn-faced and modest,

its bronze casted dome

reflects the sunlight

into the eyes of its comrades,

 

its holes for the eyes

masking the emotions

of the souls behind them

as the march continues.

 

What had those eyes beheld?

Was it the infinite path

ahead? Perhaps the savage

sword of their Maker?

 

Or maybe those eyes

had served enough

and hung up this old relic,

never thought of again.

 

A survivor of both

time and tussle,

its memories are as real

as they are fantastic.

 

The polished bronze,

so willingly warped and bent

but, like the eyes behind it,

refusing to be broken,

 

its determination

smelted, pounded and

gifted by the raging

fire of the forge.