July 9, 2012 § Leave a comment
It was one tweet I read last May, I think a Borges verse, which planted the image of mirrors into my head. Then a few tweets of mine (my online poetry meditations) in May and again now in July where this image stubbornly keeps returning to me. Nothing seldom about that of course. A mirror is one of the strongest and quite common images in literature, for who is not worried about how our body changes, due to age or emotional stress, and what we see in the mirror? And who’s not looking for her true self in an imaginary mirror, or wondering if what we see in there is really what other people see in us, too? Or even, who hasn’t been mirrored ‘in’ an other person, willingly or unwillingly, as self-deceiving projection or as a discovery adventure, finding pieces of our own soul in that person’s soul? A reflexion which might leave us disappointed or happily surprised.
I found, as expected, many poems about mirrors. I just host here two of them whose brevity, imaginary, and emotional impact are my taste. Simple as that. Expect no big analysis here. It’s just for the joy of reading and my little study before I do something with these fragments of mirrors which keep breaking at my feet.
Sylvia Plath’s ‘Mirror’ speaks for itself, and is a mirror of truth, that’s how it excuses its cruelty. My next birthday is coming up soon, and as I am not twenty anymore, I’m not immune to the truths of this poem, or if you’d like, its cruelty.
Charles Simic’s ‘Mirrors at 4 a.m.’ shows night mirrors which are to be ‘surreptitiously’ treated, avoided if possible in our night strolls, but which are also themselves unwilling to reflect one anyway, as they’re quite self-contented in their emptiness. I almost like this one more, for its irony and ambiguity.
by Sylvia Plath
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful —
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.
Mirrors at 4 a.m.
by Charles Simic
You must come to them sideways
In rooms webbed in shadow,
Sneak a view of their emptiness
Without them catching
A glimpse of you in return.
The secret is,
Even the empty bed is a burden to them,
They are more themselves keeping
The company of a blank wall,
The company of time and eternity
Which, begging your pardon,
Cast no image
As they admire themselves in the mirror,
While you stand to the side
Pulling a hanky out
To wipe your brow surreptitiously.