Poem with an explanation: the mirror of many years ago

looking into the mirror
of many years ago
and wishing to speak
so the words would be different


This poem is about the idea of a person talking to their past self.  It is based off of the thought that people sometimes have where they wonder what they would tell their past self so that their current life would be different than it is.

In the poem, the person is looking at a photograph of themselves.  The photograph is “the mirror of many years ago” in the poem.  When a person looks at a photograph of themselves, it is like they are looking into a mirror, except the image is from the past.

As the person looks at themselves, they wish they could give their past self advice (and wishing to speak).  They want to give their past self advice so that their current situation would be different.  In other words, they would tell their past self to make different decisions than they themselves actually did.

If the person were able to do this, and their past self took the advice, then they would be currently living a different life.  If that were so, the words they would say to their past self when they look at their photograph would be different than the words that they said at this time (so the words would be different).  They wouldn’t be giving their past self advice, at least they hope, rather they would be telling their past self that they made the right decisions.

This poem is about looking back on the past and wishing it were somehow different.

A photograph to inspire poetry: two light purple and white flowers

two light purple and white flowers

Above is a photograph of two light purple and white flowers.  It can inspire poetry.  A poet could write about:

  • Pairs. These flowers form a pair and a poet could be inspired to write about other kinds of pairs.

  • Cooperation and competition. Depending on perspective, these two flowers could be seen as cooperating with each other or competing against each other.  They could be cooperating, in that because there is more color in the area than if there was only one flower, they are more likely to attract pollinators.  They could be competing in that they are competing for pollinators.  A poet could write about either of these ideas or a situation where both exist.

  • Not talking. The two flowers are not facing each other.  This could remind a poet of two people who are not talking to each other.  A poet could write a poem about this.

Below is a poem inspired by this photograph.  It uses the experimental poetry form four by four.

After bee told one,
what butterfly had said,
the other had said,
neither spoke a word.