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This is not I. I had no body once-
only what served my need to laugh and run
and stare at stars and tentatively dance
on the fringe of foam and wave and sand and sun.
Eyes loved, hands reached for me, but I was gone
on my own currents, quicksilver, thistledown.
Can I be trapped at last in that soft face?

I stare at you in fear, dark brimming eyes.
Why do you watch me with that immoderate plea-
‘Look under these curled lashes, recognize
that you were always here; know me-be me.’
Smooth once-hermaphrodite shoulders, too tenderly
your long slope runs, above those sudden shy
curves furred with light that spring below your space.

No, I have been betrayed. If I had known
that this girl waited between a year and a year,
I’d not have chosen her bough to dance upon.
Betrayed, by that little darkness here, and here
this swelling softness and that frightened stare
from eyes I will not answer; shut out here
from my own self, by its new body’s grace-

for I am betrayed by someone lovely. Yes,
I see you are lovely, hateful naked girl.
Your lips in the mirror tremble as I refuse
to know or claim you. Let me go-let me be gone.
You are half of some other who may never come.
Why should I tend you? You are not my own;
you seek that other-he will be your home.

Yet I pity your eyes in the mirror, misted with tears;
I lean to your kiss. I must serve you; I will obey.
Some day we may love. I may miss your going, some day,
though I shall always resent your dumb and fruitful years.
Your lovers shall learn better, and bitterly too,
if their arrogance dares to think I am part of you.

Short Poem Analysis

"Naked Girl and Mirror" by Judith Wright is a thought-provoking and introspective poem that explores themes of self-perception, identity, and the complex relationship between the individual and the reflection in the mirror. Through its vivid imagery and contemplative language, the poem delves into the psychological and emotional aspects of self-examination.

The poem opens with a description of a "naked girl" standing before a mirror. This immediately establishes the visual and sensory imagery of the poem, drawing the reader into the scene.

Wright employs metaphorical language to describe the girl's reflection as "a fish that swam" and "a bird that came." These metaphors suggest a sense of transformation and fluidity in the way the girl sees herself in the mirror, highlighting the complexity of self-perception.

The poem explores the idea that the girl's reflection is not a fixed or objective reality but a subjective and ever-changing perception. The reflection is described as "a lily on water" and "a face under water," emphasizing the idea that it is elusive and ever-shifting.

The poem's tone is contemplative and introspective. It conveys the idea that self-perception is a complex and mutable aspect of human experience. The reflection in the mirror serves as a metaphor for the multifaceted nature of identity and self-understanding.

The poem concludes with a sense of uncertainty and ambiguity. The final lines,

"Whose water and lily is she?
Whose mirror and body is she?"

raise questions about the nature of selfhood and the relationship between the individual and their reflection.

"Naked Girl and Mirror" is a poem that invites readers to reflect on the complexities of self-perception and identity. It challenges the notion of a fixed and objective self and suggests that our understanding of ourselves is fluid and subjective. The poem's vivid imagery and metaphors create a sense of depth and introspection, encouraging readers to consider the intricacies of how we see ourselves and how that perception can change over time.

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