Walt Whitman

(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892 / New York / United States)

A Hand-Mirror

Poem by Walt Whitman


HOLD it up sternly! See this it sends back! (Who is it? Is it you?)
Outside fair costume--within ashes and filth,
No more a flashing eye--no more a sonorous voice or springy step;
Now some slave's eye, voice, hands, step,
A drunkard's breath, unwholesome eater's face, venerealee's flesh,
Lungs rotting away piecemeal, stomach sour and cankerous,
Joints rheumatic, bowels clogged with abomination,
Blood circulating dark and poisonous streams,
Words babble, hearing and touch callous,
No brain, no heart left--no magnetism of sex; 10
Such, from one look in this looking-glass ere you go hence,
Such a result so soon--and from such a beginning!


Comments about A Hand-Mirror by Walt Whitman

  • Mohammed Asim Nehal (2/26/2019 12:43:00 PM)

    Wonderful poem:
    Such, from one look in this looking-glass ere you go hence,
    Such a result so soon- and from such a beginning!(Report)Reply

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  • olivia (8/8/2018 12:02:00 AM)

    wow amazing notttttt: ((Report)Reply

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  • Subhas Chandra ChakraSubhas Chandra Chakra (4/20/2018 12:11:00 AM)

    It should be read as magnificent poem, instead of mag magnificpoem.(Report)Reply

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  • Subhas Chandra ChakraSubhas Chandra Chakra (4/20/2018 12:08:00 AM)

    A beautiful poem. Tons of imageries make my whole being of nothingness shiver with a craving for a celestial mirror that could fill me with a perfect introspection of the wholeness of the Universe around.
    For the first time in my life, I have come across such a beautiful, mag magnificpoem.
    Great work. Thanks.(Report)Reply

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  • Susan WilliamsSusan Williams (4/19/2018 5:26:00 PM)

    well, so much for the golden years! I will remove all mirrors in my house immediately. Yet truth is applied here in layer upon layer so I think it best if we keep a physical or metaphorical mirror at hand at all times to keep an eye on who we are becoming.(Report)Reply

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  • Marieta MaglasMarieta Maglas (4/19/2018 3:38:00 PM)

    Walt Whitman describes the human devolution, but at the same time, this process is reversible. The end of a civilization means the beginning of a new one. The last line seems to be relevant in this prophetic poem.(Report)Reply

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  • Edward Kofi LouisEdward Kofi Louis (4/19/2018 1:49:00 PM)

    The hand mirror! ! Hold it up!

    Thanks for sharing this poem with us.(Report)Reply

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  • Carl RoussellCarl Roussell (4/19/2018 8:45:00 AM)

    This is brilliant! And I agree with it more and more as each year goes - Such a result so soon - and from such a beginning.(Report)Reply

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  • Gajanan MishraGajanan Mishra (4/19/2018 7:40:00 AM)

    words babble- poisonous stream, good one(Report)Reply

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  • Glen KappyGlen Kappy (4/19/2018 7:25:00 AM)

    Wow! My first time reading this and quite a contrast to the Whitman I know. I wonder who the person was that Walt had in mind. It sounds like some Dorian Gray. -GK(Report)Reply

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  • Bernard F. AsuncionBernard F. Asuncion (4/19/2018 1:50:00 AM)

    Such a great write by Walt Whitman👍👍👍(Report)Reply

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  • Robert Murray SmithRobert Murray Smith (4/19/2018 1:39:00 AM)

    The mirror shows what is there in all its fury.(Report)Reply

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  • Sylvaonyema UbaSylvaonyema Uba (2/11/2017 6:54:00 AM)

    Well expressed!

    Sylva(Report)Reply

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  • Chandra Basnet (10/19/2015 4:49:00 AM)

    Such a result so soon- and from such a beginning!(Report)Reply

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  • Aftab Alam KhursheedAftab Alam Khursheed (9/16/2014 8:02:00 AM)

    It is mandatory to know about our self in the mirror of our mind find find find(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
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  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (4/25/2014 3:38:00 AM)

    The poet asks ourselves to look and understand what we are. good poem.(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Cambridge Keenan (7/10/2013 7:45:00 PM)

    This is about aging, not so gracefully perhaps(Report)Reply

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  • Kristen Hall (2/6/2013 11:44:00 AM)

    This reminds me of The Lumineers' line from Slow it Down: Smile less and dress up some more.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
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  • Joy Vanderhelm (1/21/2006 8:43:00 PM)

    Oh, the horros that come with age! I, for one, plan on inventing a time-machine that doesn't go back in time, rather just creates a bubble. One that allows me to remain super sexy and relatively healthy until my death bed.(Report)Reply

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Read all 19 comments »




What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: dark, mirror, heart



Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002



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