Featured Poem#1: Mirror – Sylvia Plath

Every writer (successful, aspiring, failed, or whatnot) has an interesting anecdote on that “something” that got him/her started on writing. My “something” was Sylvia Plath’s “Mirror”. I don’t remember much of the details. I know it was in high school at my Creative Writing class under my then-favorite teacher. I remember him handing out copies of this poem and later, reading the poem out loud to a quiet audience.

Don’t get me wrong. There was no lightning bolt. No lightbulb. No sirens. No Eurekas! No exclamation points. There was just this stillness. This incredible stillness. It was dread, resignation, elation, calm, peace, understanding, and truth (a glimpse of the absolute truth?) all rolled into one. It was a lingering ache that stayed for days.

I knew. I didn’t want to be a writer, I needed to be one. I realized that it didn’t matter what I did in the mean time, I would always go back to writing. To borrow from Milan Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being: “Muss es sein? Ja, es muss sein!”

Reading this poem ten years later, it still makes me feel the same way.

Mirror – Sylvia Plath

I am silver an 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.

8 thoughts on “Featured Poem#1: Mirror – Sylvia Plath

  1. I love it! you capture that moment perfectly. Glad you enjoyed my trip to Ted Hughes too. Having seen the books on your reading list I have a question to ask. What you like to read mine? The only small price to pay is to provide some feedback. It is my first draft of first novel, and I think, judging from your literary interests, you may be a great person to provide me with some independent feedback. Anyway, be great to hear from you. David

      1. Hi Kristel- that is excellent- A big and heartfelt thank you! It will be really helpful to have someone who doe’s not know me have a look at this. I think also that you will enjoy it! E mail might be best, is a pdf file ok?

        Best wishes

      2. You’re very welcome. I’m glad I can be of help. 🙂 You can see my email, right? Let me know once you’ve sent the file. (I’m really bad at checking my mail regularly.) If you can’t see my email, let me know too. (I’m bad at the technical aspects of blogging).

      3. Thanks! Do let me know if I can ever return the favour? or help with anything else? I have had a good search around but can not see your email. Mine is davidmarkcain@gmail.com

        If you send me a message i shall send the document by return.

        Have a great day!


      4. Hi David, must update my bio or accounts page then. Sending you an email now. 🙂 Have a great day!

        (And about the favor, I’ll let you know — but don’t worry about it. I’m just happy I can help a fellow writer out. )

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