Sin of Self-love/The Mirror

                  SONNET 62

Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye,
And all my soul, and all my every part;
And for this sin there is no remedy,
It is so grounded inward in my heart.
Methinks no face so gracious is as mine,
No shape so true, no truth of such account,
And for myself mine own worth do define,
As I all other in all worths surmount.
But when my glass shows me myself indeed,
Beated and chopped with tanned antiquity,
Mine own self-love quite contrary I read;
Self, so self-loving, were iniquity.
‘Tis thee, myself, that for myself I praise,
Painting my age with beauty of thy days.


                  The Mirror

It’s not self-love that possesses my eye
As I gaze into the shaving mirror.
Life’s depredations haven’t passed me by
But turned my likeness into another.
Bald pate, gaunt face, slack jaw and staring eyes
Belong to some old and grizzled neighbour
Who, seeing me, reflects my own surprise
At time’s ravaging, unceasing labour.
But, inward, in my internal mirror,
A face emerges I know is my own.
Blonde locks, bright eyes, and carefree manner,
In love with the world and possessed by none.
It’s I, myself, that the mirror amazes
And in myself , I must find my praises.


My sonnet – The Mirror – was derived from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 62. I could not emulate the lovely cadences of Sonnet 62 nor its stately grace. I could use the frame of the sonnet to write a modern version. In both poems there are echoes of Ovid’s tale of Narcissus. In mine the depredations of ageing as seen in the mirror undermine the internal image of my younger self. Narcissus transfixed by his reflection in the lake never ages but fades away and in some version becomes the narcissus flower.