Not only crystal brings me fear,
Impenetrable shadow's sight,
All mirrors end and start in fright,
The unreal space reflected near.
Before the glass-like water's hoax:
Another blue, the deepest sky;
At times sliced through by motion's lie:
Inverted birds or ripple's coax.
Before the silent surface black,
Untrammeled smoothness in soft sheets,
Dreamlike warm whiteness then repeats
Of marble pale and faintest rose.
And now so many years have past
Of roaming by the fickle moon;
I ask myself what chance assumed
That mirrors would leave me aghast.
Mirrors of metal, mirrors in masks,
Mahogany, which in the mists
In reddish dusk through smoke persists,
This face which answers and which asks,
Unending, fatal, sleepless faces,
Fulfiller of an ancient pact,
They multiply within the act
A world awash in selfsame traces.
Expanding this vain, doubtful sky
Within their web at dizzying height,
Their fog will sometimes cloud the night
The breath of someone yet to die.
The crystal waits. And if there hangs
A mirror in my room's four walls,
I'm not alone, my double calls:
His fate held tight in dawn's white fangs.
And once occurred, all things are cleft
From crystal boxes but made for show;
Where fictive rabbis long ago
Read verse and prose from right to left.
And Claudius, an evening's king,
A king in dream – at least until
An actor wore his guilty frill,
A silent art, a portrait's sting.
How strange it is that mirrors live,
And that we dream! Strange that our days
Each feed on the deceptive haze
Reflected in that deepest grid.
And God, I've come to think, might coat
Our architecture with hope's sheen,
And light this ebony unseen
With crystal lands in thoughts remote.
And God has armed the night with dreams
And mirror forms in countless waves,
So that man's mind thinks we are shades,
Reflections vain. Hence come our screams.