• Sylvia was born on October 27, 1932
in Newton, Massachusetts.
• She married Hughes on June 16, 1956
I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
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.
What it means...
• In the opening line of the poem, the mirror
proclaims “I am silver and exact. I have no
preconceptions.” Throughout the entire
poem, personification is the most prominent
element. While the outside world is
critical, judgmental, and harsh, the mirror points
out that it is always and “only truthful.” It accepts
both things and people for what they are without
trying to change them. The mirror is “the eye of a
little god,” that has looked at the wall for so long
opposite of it that it has become “part of my
heart.” The only thing that separates the mirror
from the wall are the “faces and darkness,” that
pass by and “flicker.”
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 candle 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
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.
What it means…
• The mirror has changed identities and is now a lake. A woman
is looking at herself, searching…for what she really.” As she
ages, she does not like what she sees. It does not understand
that the woman is not searching for her true self, but only
demonstrating her obsession with her physical appearance.
She relies cosmetics, such as candles or the moon, in order to
comfort herself and try to hide her aging. Instead of receiving
the gratitude the mirror thinks it deserves, it receives “tears
and an agitation of hands.” The woman is not pleased with
what she sees every day in the lake. The metaphor in the last
two lines compares the woman to a fish. Fish are generally
very unattractive and ugly creatures and aging can make a
woman feel the same way. Her youth has passed and aging is
gaining on her. The woman has come to the point in her life
where she has realized her youth is gone, and age has risen
towards her “like a terrible fish.”
Addressed by an inanimate object
– Sets out to define itself and its function
– Has no preconceptions because it is
without memory or ability to reason.
– It is omnivorous – swallows everything it
confronts without making judgments
that might blur, mist, or distort.
It is god-like in its objectivity and incapability of emotional
Most of the time it meditates on the opposite
wall, faithfully reproducing its colors and design until
darkness intrudes or intervenes
Analysis Stanza II
The mirror becomes a perfectly reflecting
lake, unruffled by any disturbance
A Woman bends over the lake like the mythical
–No matter how deeply she searches, she sees
only her actuality or surface truth.
–Unlike Narcissus, the speaker cannot fall in
love with what she sees.
• The candles and moon to which the
woman turns are liars capable of
lending untruthful shadows and
romantic highlights – unlike the lake
surface/mirror, which renders only
Unhappy by what she sees, she weeps
and wrings her hands.
–The youth and beauty once reflected
during her morning visits are drowned
in the metaphorical depths of the lake.
–What slowly emerges from those
depths is the terrifying fact that she is
• Pain comes with losing ones
innocence and youth because
society values beauty and
youthfulness more than the truth.