Blog series · Poetry

MIRROR (Poem #13)

This poem was suggested by Joel Abakah @ Jplatform whose blog you can check out here!

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Born on October 27, 1932, Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer. Known primarily for her poetry, Plath also wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. Along with Anne Sexton, Plath is credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry initiated by Robert Lowell and W.D. Snodgrass. Despite her remarkable artistic, academic, and social success at Smith, Plath suffered from severe depression and underwent a period of psychiatric hospitalization. Plath took her own life on the morning of February 11, 1963.

[Image and bio from Goodreads]

A short, two-stanza poem written in 1961, ‘Mirror’ is believed to have portrayed Plath’s disinclination towards the idea of growing old and settling down. The ‘I‘ in the poem refers to the mirror and consequently, the entire poem is written from the mirror’s point of view. According to Owlcation, “This poem is all about appearances and the search for the self. In particular, she wanted to highlight the issue that some females have with their image, and the inner turmoil that can be caused as the ageing process picks up its pace. The poet’s own struggle for a stable identity only adds to the idea that the face in the mirror must stay young, pretty and perfect.”

The poem starts off with a self-introduction by the mirror. Along with a description of itself, the mirror states that it exhibits non-discriminatory results as in, the reflections we see in a mirror are unbiased and ‘unmisted by love or dislike.’ From Owlcation, “…the mirror reinforces the idea of neutrality–it simply tells the story as it is, no fuss, no elaboration, no fabrication. And it is this quality of truthfulness which allows the mirror to declare itself as the eye of a little god; an all-seeing minor deity holding disproportionate power over its subjects.” The ‘pink‘ in the following lines could suggest a nod to the mirror’s feminine side but the mirror is unsure as ‘faces and darkness‘ seem to hinder its sight of the ‘pink‘ wall.

The second stanza sees a gentle change of portrayal as the mirror refers to itself as a lake. Andrew Spacey at Owlcation phrases it as “the mirror becomes a liquid, it gains depth and a different dimension.” The mirror proceeds to mention a woman bending over it to discover who she truly is. It goes on to term the ‘candles‘ and the ‘moon‘ as ‘liars‘ as they don’t provide a precise and untarnished reflection of the person or the object like the mirror does. Quoting Owlcation which provides an in-depth analysis of the moon’s and candles’ reflections, “Candlelight can’t help her cause because it’s a deceptively romantic way of looking at things, and the moon, likewise, governs only madness and the haunting of the blood.” The truth is not received well by the woman as the line ‘rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands‘ seems to imply.

In conclusion, it is revealed that the woman is in a way, mourning her lost younger self and looks at herself in the mirror each morning, showing her reliance and trust in the mirror. It appears that the woman has drowned her younger self by her own hand and the mirror incessantly reflects an old woman, rising “like a terrible fish.”

Quoting Owlcation, “Sylvia Plath’s poem has her hallmark stamp of powerful language, sharp imagery and dark undertones. Together with unusual syntax, no obvious rhyme or meter and an astute use of enjambment, “Mirror” is a personification poem of great depth.” The Personification is immediately evident in the metaphors of “I am silver and exact” and “Now I am a lake“. Other poetic devices include metaphor, allusion and imagery.

Referred Sources:

I found this poem to be relatable in quite a few ways. I particularly liked the element of personification and the rich imagery deserves praise as well. Hope you enjoyed reading. This is also the thirteenth and the final poem in the series. A huge thank you to each and every one of you for taking the time to suggest your favourites and read the poems!!

Please don’t hesitate to point out errors or required additions. Thank you for reading!


8 thoughts on “MIRROR (Poem #13)

  1. Thanks a lot for considering my suggestion enough to post it. The poem’s explanation is on point.

    I really like this poem because it focuses on a woman’s insecurity about her beauty. An insecurity that she thinks is because of how the mirror is making her look. But rather stems from her own self judgement. As it is her opinion about herself that can will her mirror the power to dictate to her her beauty or otherwise. Really glad you posted it💚🔥

    Liked by 1 person

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