Irish History Bitesize
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Mirror in February

Ireland’s 100 favourite poems

Mirror in February is Thomas Kinsella’s second entry in Ireland’s 100 favourite poems.

The poem is about Kinsella shaving and as he looks in the mirror he reflects on his life as he begins to get older.

Mirror in February by Thomas Kinsella. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Mirror in February

The day dawns with scent of must and rain,
Of opened soil, dark trees, dry bedroom air.
Under the fading lamp, half dressed – my brain
Idling on some compulsive fantasy-
I towel my shaven jaw and stop, and stare,
Riveted by a dark exhausted eye,
A dry downturning mouth.

It seems again that it is time to learn,
To which, for the time being, I return.
In this untiring, crumbling place of growth
Now plainly in the mirror of my soul
I read that I have looked my last on youth
And little more; for they are not made whole
That reach the age of Christ.

Below my window the awakening trees,
Hacked clean for better bearing, stand defaced
Suffering their brute necessities,
And how should the flesh not quail that span for span
Is mutilated more? In slow distaste
I fold my towel with what grace I can,
Not young and not renewable, but man.

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Mirror in February by Thomas Kinsella. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Ireland's 100 favourite poems

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