Narcissus Saw Himself Only Once

“Due to the poor quality, high cost, and small size of these ancient glass mirrors, solid metal-mirrors primarily of steel were usually preferred until the late nineteenth century.” ~Wikipedia, “Mirror”

I wonder if improvements in the way
That mirrors show us beauty in our youth
Has changed our basic make up. Has their sway
Distorted us like far too much vermouth?
If we are shown from adolescent years
How beautiful we are, then how can we
Now, in the age of photos’ new frontiers,
Resist the iPhone loveliness we see?
Until Rococco times no human saw
Himself or herself as all others did.
Oils made young Dorian stand in awe—
And look what that accomplished. God forbid.
__When I see young’uns posting selfie snaps,
____I want destruction of infernal apps.


If Orpheus Had Not Looked Back

If Orpheus had not looked round, his wife
Would not have fallen back to death. He would
Have had her all his unheroic life.
The Argosy was past. He understood
That. It was likely he would not have gone
Out on another quest with Jason or
His like. Eurydice would see him yawn
With tedium. She would have heard him snore
Instead of singing love and death with lyre
And holy words. She would have made him stew
And porridge by their Thracian hearthside fire.
She would have seen their lust go up the flue.
__His voice would have lost its edge, his song
____Its passion. Boredom would have come along.


Phillip Whidden is a poet published in America, England, Scotland (and elsewhere) in book form, online, and in journals.  He has also had an article on Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum est” published in The New Edinburgh Review.

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One Response

  1. Sultana Raza

    I found the first poem to be more interesting than the second one, specially the last two lines. As for ‘If Orpheus Had Not Looked Back,’ I’m afraid I don’t share your point of view at all. If someone could play music that could bring all animals together, and even pacify or tame the gods, then I don’t think this genius would have been content to sit bored at home. These kinds of geniuses almost always are forever trying to improve themselves, or to innovate. If nothing else, Orpheus would have continued to play to maintain harmony in nature. Isn’t it funny, how we can still get all hot and bothered about mythical figures?

    Please note that I appreciate your poems in general, and this is a comment on the modern take on the subject of Orpheus, and not on the form of your poem. The average Joe ends up like the person in your poem, but not necessarily a creative genius. After all, perhaps you know from personal experience, once a creator, always a creator…


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