"The Night Has A Thousand Eyes"

Ever since I heard this song in my teens, in addition to liking it, I have always wondered about the title. Was it from a movie, was it a quote? It seemed like such an unusual title for a song, that I wondered where the writer the idea for it.

Here it is from YouTube (it’s performed by Bobby Vee):


So after all these years, I decided to research it on google and lo and behold it’s from a poem by Francis William Bourdillon (b. 1852).

“The Night Has A Thousand Eyes”

"THE NIGHT has a thousand eyes,
And the day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
With the dying sun.

The mind has a thousand eyes, 5
And the heart but one;
Yet the light of a whole life dies
When love is done."

Kinda depressing IMO, but my question is should/need attribution have been given?



Don’t know the answer, just dropping by to say hello. How ya doin’ Quasi?

Hi TriP

What’s that old standby answer? As well as can be expected, I guess.

Been pretty busy taking care of my wife who had a stroke (the docs call it “Evolving Stroke”) about two months ago. I may go into a little more detail elsewhere - it’s an interesting story. To the both of us, anyway.

Thanks for the note.


Yo, Quasi!

In case you’ve never heard this other version, and Belafonte singing something besides calypso, check out Harry Belafonte - The Night Has a Thousand Eyes - JazzAndBluesExperience

One of my favorite renditions of this other version is by Horace Silver Quintet - The Night Has a Thousand Eyes

Just a note.

There *was *a film with that title. (Well, okay it omits the word The, but close enough.) It was based upon a popular novel. I suspect the novel and film were better known than the poem at the time.

The song linked by Zeldar was written for the film.

It is a totally different song to the Bobby Vee one.

Bourdillon might have wanted to give attribution to Esaias Tegnér. From Frithiofs saga (1822):

Obey the king! One shall rule with power and wisdom;
dark night has many eyes, but the day one.

Actually, I don’t quite get the simile here; and it sounds a bit like Sauron speaking; but it seems clear to me this is where Bourdillon got it from!

Ditto, Quasi!

That would really be disconcerting…I know it’s a metaphor, but can you picture going outside at night, looking up, and see a thousand eyes looking back at you??! :eek:

‘Picture’? What do you mean, ‘picture’? :eek:

Good to see you Quasi. I was thinking of you just a few days ago.

Sorry to hear about your wife.

Quasi it is GREAT to hear from you! I am so very sorry your Mrs. is sick. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help. Cool song.

The Bourdillon poem seems to be a contemplation on the emotional hazards of romantic love.

The song, OTOH, looks like a guy telling his gal: “I can’t stop you from sneaking around behind my back, but don’t kid yourself that it’s never going to get back to me.”

The songwriter MAY have gotten inspired by reading the poem and thinking the phrase would make a good hook, but that seems to be where the correlation goes away. I wouldn’t think any attribution would be necessary, under the circumstances.

In the words of John Lennon, “Imagine.”

As I said. ‘Imagine’? What do you mean ‘imagine’? :eek:

I mean imagine a thousand eyes looking down at you from the dark night sky!

It makes me think of movie themes like Gene Pitney’s “Town Without Pity”.

Wow, that is impressive!

Without having read anything of the saga beyond the portion that you referenced, I’d say it’s about the conventional wisdom of following a single leader for direction and safety in life; akin to 1 Corinthians 8: 5-6: For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth,
as indeed there are many gods and many lords,
yet for us there is but one God …

From the following link, it appears to be a father giving his son some sagely advice.
Honor the King — for on this earth one man should reign alone.
The sable night hath many eyes — the brighter day but one.

The allusion to the “many eyes” of the night is almost certainly a simile for the stars of the night sky which, while numerous, are not as bright as the singular light of the sun by day. Dad is probably warning his son that, although there are many paths he might take in life, and many people he might look to for guidance, he should follow the leadership of his king if he wants to tread the sure path and not go astray.

And Johny, if you really are seeing a thousand eyes watching you when you look up at the night sky, just give em’ a charming wink. Then tell me if they wink back.

Best wishes to **Quasi **and Mrs Quasi.

If they wink back? That would be disconcerting too… :eek:

Jokes are never funny when you have to explain them.

You said ‘picture’ and ‘imagine’. My replies were meant to indicate I don’t have to imagine, because I really do see a thousand eyes looking at me in the night sky.

I kept wondering what John Lennon had to do with it all.

And do we need to consider which 500 people (or critters) are doing the watching or observing or spying or snooping? Or is it just some random eyes with no connection to each other.

How about 500 Private Detectives? :slight_smile: And what if at least one of them is a Cyclops or wears an eye patch or has a glass eye? The math could get strange indeed.