Review-Mirror-Sylvia Plath

Black and white image of Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath’s life and work is dark and mysterious and today I am reviewing one of my favourite poems written by her called Mirror. I cannot republish it here however if you google it you will be able to find it easily.

The poem is about a mirror presumably hung in a woman’s bedroom ‘I meditate on the opposite wall. It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long’ and what the mirror sees day by day. I love this poem because it is poem about what an everyday object does and the unattended consequences this has on its owner.

The mirror has human traits describing its self as pure and clear and that is has to justify itself. ‘I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.’ ‘Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike’ The second stanza talks about the mirror’s owner and ageing, the woman looks at the mirror every single day and is upset about getting older. The candles and moon – all of which is not pure light doesn’t show everything, the mirror is not a person who can lie. The mirror thinks that it is doing the owner a favour – she is being honest but it just upsets her.

It is clear the owner is struggling with becoming older ‘A woman bends over me, searching my reaches for what she really is.’ ‘She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands’ and the final sentence which confirms her fears:

In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman 

Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.’

It is such a short but despondent poem, but has stuck with me for all of those years because it is a powerful description on the simple process of ageing.

What is your favourite Sylvia Plath poem? Leave a comment below!