Mirror I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions. Whatever I see, I swallow immediately.Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislikeI 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 longI think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me.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 womanRises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.
Structure 2 stanzas 9 lines in each stanza Free form No rhyme
The Poem’s Purpose Explains the coldness of truth Shows the passing of time with old age Portrays the human desire for approval in his or her quest for identity
Point of View First person The speaker is the mirror It claims: “I am silver and exact” ln. 1 By allowing the mirror to be the speaker of the poem it acts in the way of a riddle. While the title is the answer, the reader still looks to find the accuracy of the mirrors description for itself. As the mirror talks about itself, it acts as its own mirror.
Personification By speaking the mirror is given a human qualities. It gives itself human qualities such as truthful, with no preconceptions, not cruel, unmisted by love etc. It has human actions as it: swallows, meditates, looks, and even claims to have a heart The mirror goes so far as to say it is a “eye of a little god” ln. 5 By having these human qualities and abilities, the mirror seems almost relatable in a sense as we find ourselves to act in this judgmental way. By saying it is a “god,” we see the fault and error of this supercilious being.
Metaphor The mirror then compares itself to a lake, “Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me, searching my reaches for what she really is.” As the mirror becomes part of the nature world, it is seen less as the glass man made object but with more beauty. In this stanza the mirror loses its perfect reflection by placing itself with a higher standard above the “candles or the moon.” ln. 12
Imagery- Water As the mirror compares itself to a lake, its viewer then becomes the fish. The girl looking in the mirror kills her youth by looking in the mirror when she “drowned” herself with this reliance on her ‘important’ mirror. The girl then in her old rises as “a terrible fish” giving the perfect image as old, smelly, wrinkly, and very unappealing. Her youth has drowned and from it rises a stinky fish
Punctuation The mirror speaks with short, direct sentences that are meant to be taken as fact. Only two sentences are long enough where they go to the next line “I have looked at it so long/ I think it is a part of my heart” (l. 7-8) Shows the continuing search as the line goes on “In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish” (l. 17-18) Could imply how time goes on and continues as old age is inevitable
Tone The mirror has a negative connotation with its haughty manner. “She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands. I am important to her” (l. 14-15) The reader feels sorry for the mirror when it longs for its heart “I meditate on the opposite wall. It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers. Faces and darkness separate us over and over” (l. 6-9)
Tone (continued) The reader also sees that the mirror is hurt when the woman leaves it “Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon. I see her back, and reflect it faithfully” Although the mirror is jealous, it still continues to perform its task The reader identifies with the mirror as it feels haughty, wishful, and jealous The reader also sees itself as the young woman searching for truth and her identity
How does it Accomplish the purpose? The Coldness of truth By using the mirror which is “exact” and “truthful” its cold personality explains the harsh truth that faces us all. Through the imagery of the cold lake which drowns and produces terrible fish, the reader sees again this parallel to the truth she faces. Passing of time As time passes on the author allows the line to continue to the next. She also uses water imagery to show the harshness of a drowning youth and old age as a fish
Accomplish Identity The mirror explains its own identity as a riddle giving details as it personifies itself The mirror gives identity to others: “Searching my reaches for what she really is” (l. 11) The woman looking in the mirror continues to look for her identity until the one she wanted has died and her new identity is just old age
How Important is the purpose? The purpose of the poem is important as it describes and explains human emotions conveyed through an object that we all understand and see This object gives us truth about ourselves through what it shows us, but also how we identify with the object itself The mirror also shows the harshness of the passing of time which is inevitable for all of us unless we want to die with our head in an oven The poem gives us great truth into our lives just as a mirror would