Throughout ‘Never Trust a Mirror,’ the poet uses direct syntax. This includes basic word choice and imagery. Most readers, no matter their age or education, should be able to easily relate to and understand this poem. Hanson skillfully taps into near-universal themes of self-worth while acknowledging the unmeetable beauty standards in the contemporary world.
Explore Never Trust a Mirror
‘Never Trust a Mirror’ by Erin Hanson was written to remind readers that one’s reflection, or what they look like, is not an indication of their self-worth.
The poem starts with the speaker telling whoever is reading the poem to remember that mirrors are untrustworthy. They show someone looking into them what’s on the surface. But, they have no access to what’s inside one’s mind or heart. Nor can they see “you” when you’re living in the happiest moments of life or sleeping peacefully. One should be wary of basing their self-worth off of what they see in the mirror.
You can read the full poem here.
Never trust a mirror,
For the mirror always lies,
It makes you think that all your worth,
When you’re drifting off to sleep,
It doesn’t show you what he sees,
When you’re only being you,
In the first lines of the poem, the speaker begins by noting that it’s important to “Never trust a mirror.” Mirrors lie to use when we look into them by suggesting that what’s on the surface is the only thing that matters. One’s glance at their reflection may indicate to them that they aren’t beautiful or aren’t worthy of being appreciated for who they are on the inside.
The speaker wants to ensure that the reader is reminded of this fact and that mirrors aren’t the only judge of character. They can’t see “how your eyelids flutter” as you’re falling asleep. They show the surface, but there is so much more to “you” that they have no access to.
Or how your eyes just light up,
When you’re loving what you do,
And if you think that it dictates your worth,
It’s time you looked within.
In the next lines, the speaker returns to the image of one’s eyes once again. They “light up, / When you’re loving what you do.” This is a light-hearted and beautiful image that should be relatable to anyone reading the poem. The speaker isn’t confining their imagery to one specific person or type of person. Instead, it is made relatable to everyone reading the poem.
In the final lines of the piece, the poet returns to the same images and themes they used in earlier lines. They remind the reader that “your worth” is not dictated by what’s on your skin.
Structure and Form
‘Never Trust a Mirror’ by Erin Hanson is a twenty-line poem that is contained within a single stanza of text. The lines use numerous examples of rhyme but do not follow an exact pattern. For example, within the first ten lines, the word “mirror” is used as an exact rhyme, and the words “deep” and “sleep” are used as perfect rhymes.
Throughout this piece, the poet makes use of several literary devices. These include but are not limited to:
- Alliteration: occurs when the poet repeats the same consonant sound at the beginning of multiple words. For example, “light” and “loving” in lines eleven and twelve.
- Imagery: occurs when the poet uses particularly interesting descriptions. These should evoke an image in the reader’s mind and inspire them to use their senses. For example, “You can’t see how your eyelids flutter, / When you’re drifting off to sleep.”
- Personification: the speaker personifies the mirror, suggesting that it is intrinsically untrustworthy. One has to assume that it’s going to lie to them, she suggests.
The themes at work in this poem are those of true beauty and self-worth. The speaker knows that in the contemporary world, it is all too easy to get caught up in one’s reflection and not take the time to see beneath the surface.
The purpose is to remind readers that one’s reflection, or what they look like, is not an indication of their self-worth. There is far more under the surface than the mirror can ever reveal.
The tone is inspiring and encouraging. The speaker spends the lines addressing someone who may spend too much time worrying about their appearance and not appreciating the beauty underneath their skin.
The speaker is unknown. It is someone who has a thoughtful appreciation for someone’s self-worth and beauty. They take a calm and soothing approach to important concepts of beauty and value in the contemporary world.
Readers who enjoyed this piece should also consider reading some related poems. For example:
- ‘Pretty Ugly’ by Abdullah Shoaib – cleverly explores the ups and downs of self-worth, body image, and confidence. The poem is meant to inspire readers to love themselves for who they are.
- ‘Beautiful’ by Carol Ann Duffy – explores the physical and mental damage that can come from beauty. Duffy traces four women: Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, Marilyn Monroe, and Princess Diana.
- ‘Beauty’ by Louis Untermeyer – speaks on themes of obsession, the value of beauty, and strength.