© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

Mirrors and Glass

Symbol Analysis

In a poem that has a lot of self-reflection in it (Who am I? What's my name? Why am I dying?) it's probably not too hard to figure out where mirrors, glass, and crystal fit into the picture. Here's a little hint, though: just because the speaker says he has no reflection sometimes, doesn't mean he's a vampire. Maybe he's a werewolf, or a ghost or—oh, wait, no maybe he's having a hard time looking into himself and his past. Identity crisis, much?

  • Line 1: The willow made of crystal reminds us of self-reflection, like someone looking into their reflection in the water. 
  • Line 34-35: The speaker seems to be bodiless here, as he is erased by a reflection.
  • Line 58: The skirt of crystal comes right before the skirt of water, once again reminding us of the connection between transparent, reflective crystal and water.
  • Line 90: The mirrors reflect the speaker's shattered image. As we move from crystal to mirrors, the speaker is no longer calm and integrated—he's shattered and fragmented.
  • Line 194: The speaker goes down a passage of mirrors that repeats his reflection and always goes back to where it began—like the poem. 
  • Lines 211-213: In these lines it is the lack of windows that signals the way the speaker is trapped inside of himself, searching for his memories. 
  • Lines 371-372: The love between brothers and sisters is compared to love between mirrors in this simile.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...