Eye colour

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A queen, with swarthy cheeks and bold black eyes / Brow-bound with burning gold ~ Alfred Tennyson
Down-dropp’d brown eyes, so tender! ~ Thomas Ashe

Eye colour is a polygenic phenotypic trait in many animals. In humans, the pigmentation of the iris varies from light brown to black, depending on the concentration of melanin in the iris.


  • Brownish color and black eyes are more closely related to the sublime, blue eyes and blond color to the beautiful.
    • I Kant, Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime (1764)

Dark eyes

  • Sweet poets of the gentle antique line,
      That made the hue of beauty all eterne,
      And gave earth’s melodies a silver turn,—
    Where did you steal your art so right divine?—
    Sweetly ye memoried every golden twine
      Of your ladies’ tresses:—teach me how to spurn
      Death’s lone decaying and oblivion stern
    From the sweet forehead of a lady mine.
    The golden clusters of enamouring hair
      Glow’d in poetic pictures sweetly well;—
    Why should not tresses dusk, that are so fair
      On the live brow, have an eternal spell
    In poesy?—dark eyes are dearer far
      Than orbs that mock the hyacinthine-bell.
  • Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!
      Our virgins dance beneath the shade—
    I see their glorious black eyes shine; ...
    • Lord Byron, "The Isles of Greece", Don Juan, Canto 3
  • Although her eyes be not of blue,
      Nor fair her locks, like English lasses,
    How far its own expressive hue
      The languid azure eye surpasses!
    Prometheus-like, from heaven she stole
      The fire that through those silken lashes
    In darkest glances seems to roll,
      From eyes that cannot hide their flashes: ...
    • Lord Byron, "The Girl of Cadiz" (1832)
  • I turning saw, throned on a flowery rise,
    One sitting on a crimson scarf unroll’d;
    A queen, with swarthy cheeks and bold black eyes,
    Brow-bound with burning gold.
  • The Musmee has brown velvet eyes
      Curtain’d with satin, sleepily;
    You wonder if those lids would rise
      The newest, strangest sight to see;
    But when she chatters, laughs, or plays
      Kôto, biwa, or samisen,
    No jewel gleams with brighter rays
      Than flash from those dark lashes then.
    • Sir Edwin Arnold, "The Musmee",
      Daily Alta California, 84:32 (1 February 1891)
  • O sweet brown hat, brown hair, brown eyes,
    Down-dropp’d brown eyes, so tender!
  • ‘Eyes so black they draw one trembling near,
    Brown eyes, caverns flooded with a tear,
    Cloudless eyes, blue eyes so windy clear—’
            ‘O look at me!’
    • Thomas Sturge Moore, "A Duet",
      The Vinedresser, and Other Poems (1899)

Light eyes

See also: Blue eyes
  • And how she’d open her green eyes,
    As if in some immense surprise,
  • So stir the fire and pour the wine,
    And let those sea-green eyes divine
    Pour their love-madness into mine:
    • Mortimer Collins, "To F. C." (1875)
  • She was a sharp-jawed, pout-lipped beauty and her eyes were green as scum.
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