Swift is interested in a boy who can’t see her. He is looking at a lady who can’t see him. Swift is sad because she believes that if the boy saw her they could be a “beautiful, miracle, unbelievable / Instead of just invisible.”
Literary Device: Double Rhyme
Double Rhyme (also known as Feminine Rhyme) occurs when two syllables rhyme at the end of a phrase instead of only one. Swift uses this device three times in the chorus of Invisible:
And I just wanna show you
She don’t even know you…
And you can see right through me
But if you only knew me
We could be a beautiful, miracle, unbelievable
Instead of just invisible
In the first chorus, these rhymes stick out both because they are double rhymes and because they are the first rhymes in the song up until this point. In a song about invisibility, Swift uses double rhyme as an illustration of the opposite condition: visibility. When two rhymes are paired together, they are impossible not to notice — the opposite of invisible. Similarly, in the song, if Swift and her beloved were a pair, they would be a “beautiful, miracle, unbelievable” just like the beautiful miracle of double rhyme. Swift thus uses rhyme to suggest that if she were part of a pair she would no longer be invisible.
Swift is in the same conundrum she was in back in Teardrops on my Guitar. In both songs, Swift is pursuing a boy who likes somebody else and can’t see Swift. Both songs rely heavily on the vocabulary of light and sight, with Invisible using words related to eyes, sight, and vision often multiple times each.
Whereas Teardrops on my Guitar focused on the biological function of seeing, Invisible focuses on what it means to remain unseen by someone who is important to you.
Swift signifies the boy’s interest in another girl by describing where he focuses his vision: “You stop and stare / whenever she walks by.”
Unfortunately, this girl does not reciprocate his act of seeing: “She can’t see the way your eyes / Light up when you smile” and “She’ll never notice how you stop and stare.”
In sharp contrast, Swift not only sees him but associates him with light, the very mechanism that enables sight. Swift points out twice that his eyes “light up when you smile,” she tells him “There’s a fire inside of you / that can’t help but shine through” and warns him “She’s never gonna see the light / No matter what you do,” thrice associating him with light.
Tragically, he does not return her act of seeing: “you can’t see me wanting you,” and “you just see right through me.” Although he is the very light that enables her vision, he cannot see her.
Swift’s song thus explores three characters whose lines of sight are mismatched rather than shared.
If he is a light, why can he not see? If light, the boy, is present, and Swift, the object of sight, is present, he should be able to see her. In the bridge, Swift provides a clue by comparing the two of them to “shadows in a faded light.” Shadows are created when another body comes between the source of light and the object of vision. In this case, that body is the other girl. Not only does she not see the boy, but she intercepts his light and makes him unable to see Swift.
Swift believes that if he could see her, he would know her and therefore love her. Swift states “you just see right through me, but if you only knew me / We could be a beautiful, miracle, unbelievable.” Swift equates not being seen with not being known elsewhere in the song as well. In the bridge, she declares: “I just wanna open your eyes, and make you realize.” The act of opening eyes is equated with the act of realization — with the dawning of new knowledge. In Swift’s epistemology and theory of love, seeing is knowing, and knowing is loving. In Invisible Swift thus reemphasizes the point that she made in I’m Only Me When I’m With You. Love, like friendship, is knowing and being known by somebody else. Being known and being seen reify the self. Since Swift is not seen, she is unsubstantiated — invisible. On the other hand, Swift sees and knows this boy and makes him permanently visible through this song.