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My Father's Eyes
(by Eric Clapton)

Sailing down behind the sun,
Waiting for my prince to come.
Praying for the healing rain
To restore my soul again.
Just a toerag on the run.
How did I get here?
What have I done?
When will all my hopes arise?
How will I know him?
When I look in my father's eyes.
My father's eyes.
When I look in my father's eyes.
My father's eyes.
Then the light begins to shine
And I hear those ancient lullabies.
And as I watch this seedling grow,
Feel my heart start to overflow.
Where do I find the words to say?
How do I teach him?
What do we play?
Bit by bit, I've realized
That's when I need them,
That's when I need my father's eyes.
My father's eyes.
That's when I need my father's eyes.
My father's eyes.
Then the jagged edge appears
Through the distant clouds of tears.
I'm like a bridge that was washed away;
My foundations were made of clay.
As my soul slides down to die.
How could I lose him?
What did I try?
Bit by bit, I've realized
That he was here with me;
I looked into my father's eyes.
My father's eyes.
I looked into my father's eyes.
My father's eyes.
My father's eyes.
My father's eyes.
I looked into my father's eyes.
My father's eyes.

 

            “My father’s eyes” contains a few different meanings.  The song’s variation in meaning depending upon the way the listener interpret it fits in with my view of poetic vision.  In my opinion, for something to be truly poetic, it must be multi faceted in meaning.  Just like a tree containing many birds within that cannot be seen by the casual observer, Eric Clapton’s song contains a few different levels of meaning. 

 

            The entire song narrates the story of one man’s search for kind of meaning and truth within his life, an experience that all of us can relate to.  The problem with our search for meaning is that we may not recognize our purpose for what it is when we finally discover it.  In some ways the meaning of the song takes on a religious aspect.  The writer of the song might not be talking about his father when he says, “how will I know him.”  Often times throughout the Bible, Jesus appears in a less than grandiose fashion.  In most of these situations, those who see him do not recognize him for who he truly is.  The message here, is that we need to be prepared to find our purpose and truth in unexpected places. 

 

            Another point illustrated by the song is the way we often fail to appreciate what we have in life until it is gone.  Though I don’t know much about Eric Clapton’s relationship that with his true father, I do know that his father left him and his mother after his tour of duty with the Canadian army ended.  This song might be a way for the writer to express his wish that he might have gotten to know his father.  Though I know both of my parents, I can see how he would have wanted to get to know his.  Whenever I need advice or help, my parents are usually the ones who provide it for me.  I can’t imagine living my life without the influence of my parents; I would certainly be a very different person than I am now.

 

            The poem “footprints” in the sand expresses the idea that God is with us during all times in our lives, even when we might no recognize his presence.  “My father’s eyes” also carries such a message of hope in the line, “Bit by bit, I’ve realized, that he was here with me; I looked into my father’s eyes.”  In life, it is easy to feel abandoned and fall into the trap of despair.  I sometimes feel this way, even though I have never really felt that I have had anything to complain about in life.  For me, I need to remember that I am not the center of the universe.  For those who are truly lost in life, the answer is not so simple.  Though it can be hard to be faithful during times of hardship, some of the most content people in the world are those who have very little.  They believe that their living circumstances are the work of whatever deity they might believe in.  As long as they are carrying out the work of their God, they are content.  For those of us who generally have everything we need, but sometimes receive hardship, we need to remember that faith is the one thing that cannot be stripped away from us. 

My Father's Eyes:
Recorded by Eric Clapton
Written by Eric Clapton
Warner Brothers
Album: "Pilgrim" - 1998