In the seminar this week, we looked at mirror poems by Lee Harwood, Paul Muldoon and Ian Mcmillan, but here are some others…
The Mirror by Edwin Morgan
(from Collected Poems)
There is a mirror only we can see.
It hangs in time and not in space. The day
goes down in it without ember or ray
and the newborn climb through it to be free.
The multitudes of the world cannot know
they are reflected there; like glass they lie
in glass, shadows in shade, they could not cry
in airless wastes but that is where they go.
We cloud it, but it pulses like a gem,
it must have caught a range of energies
from the dead. We breathe again; nothing shows.
Back in space, _ubi solitudinem
faciunt pacem appellant_. Ages
drum-tap the flattened homes and slaughtered rows.
Auferre trucidare rapere falsis nominis imperium, atque ubi solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant. (They plunder, they slaughter, and they steal: this they falsely name Empire, and where they make a wasteland, they call it peace.) Spoken in Tacitus’ Agricola which tells of the life and death of a Roman general. The words are spoken by a British chieftain.
The Mirror on the Ceiling by Sinead Morissey
(from There Was A Fire in Vancouver)
I took it down two years ago, but he still comes knocking.
There was too much space in him.
I gave him everything on the outside—-
The long curve of my spine; arms, feet, thighs.
He was the actor and director of his own imagination,
Dying for every exterior. The moving
Crown of my head was the rising star in his heaven.
Never whole and never alone, I got to wanting it
Without sight of it. No show, no reflection—-
Not even in his eyes, which were so outside of himself,
So beside himself, so down on every last cell of himself—-
I craved for nothing but blind discretion.
He stands on my doorstep, pleading his lost barbiturate,
But the mirror is in the outhouse. I promise cobwebs, whitewash.
Moments of Vision by Thomas Hardy
Which makes of men a transparency,
Who holds that mirror
And bids us such a breast-bare spectacle see
Of you and me?
Whose magic penetrates like a dart,
Who lifts that mirror
And throws our mind back on us, and our heart,
until we start?
Works well in these night hours of ache;
Why in that mirror
Are tincts we never see ourselves once take
When the world is awake?
Can test each mortal when unaware;
Yea, that strange mirror
May catch his last thoughts, whole life foul or fair,
Mirror by Sylvia Plath
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 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 woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.