Comparing the poem "mirror" with "At grass"

Essay by pusiu January 2004

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Comparing Mirror with At Grass

At grass is a poem about retired horses. It explains that the horses are now relaxing in a field. They do not have to race as they once had to. They "stand at ease" The sibilance and alliteration in "summer by summer all stole away, the starting-gates, the crowds and cries" draws attention to how their lives have changed over time. The lines sound soft and wistful. This shows the poem to be a happy poem. Although "memories [probably] plague [the horses] ears like flies" are enjoying their retirement. Before they used to be timed when racing and they were always being watched, now they can "gallop for what must be joy".

The poem mirror is about an omniscient "eye of a little god" that sees all that is around it. One of the things that it sees is an old woman that reaches towards the lake to use it as a mirror to see what she really is.

The metaphor of calling candles and the moon "liars" show that they distort the real view of the woman. Only the lake "reflects [the image] faithfully. However, the old woman, now realising what she looks like "regards [the lake] with tears and an agitation of hands". She is obviously unhappy about growing old. The metaphor, "In me she has drowned a young girl" shows that the woman has been coming to the lake for many years. She has metaphorically "drowned" her former self. At the end of the poem, the negative description of growing old being a "terrible fish" is used. This ends the poem on a very negative note

Both poems describe aging. One is about the retirement of a former racehorse and the other of an old woman. However, At Grass is...