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

  • (8/8/2018 12:02:00 AM)

    wow amazing notttttt: ( (Report) Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Subhas Chandra Chakra (4/20/2018 12:11:00 AM)

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

  • Subhas 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

  • Susan 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

  • (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

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

    The hand mirror! ! Hold it up!

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

  • Carl 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

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

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

  • Glen 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

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

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

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

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

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

    Well expressed!

    (Report) Reply

  • (10/19/2015 4:49:00 AM)

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

  • Aftab 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

  • (4/25/2014 3:38:00 AM)

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

  • (7/10/2013 7:45:00 PM)

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

  • (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

  • (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

Read all 18 comments »

User Rating:
3,0 / 5 ( 103 votes ) 18

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: dark, mirror, heart

Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Famous Poems

  1. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  5. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  6. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  7. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  8. Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
    Mary Elizabeth Frye
  9. I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
    Pablo Neruda
  10. Television
    Roald Dahl
[Report Error]