Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE ROOM OF MIRRORS, by EDGAR LEE MASTERS



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THE ROOM OF MIRRORS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I saw a room where many feet were dancing
Last Line: What is this room of mirrors? Who can say?
Subject(s): Dancing & Dancers


I saw a room where many feet were dancing.
The ceiling and the wall were mirrors glancing
Both flames of candles and the heaven's light,
Though windows there were none for air or flight.
The room was in a form polygonal
Reached by a little door and narrow hall.
One could behold them enter for the dance,
And waken as it were out of a trance,
And either singly or with some one whirl:
The old, the young, full livers, boy and girl.
And every panel of the room was just
A mirrored door through which a hand was thrust
Here, there, around the room, a soul to seize
Whereat a scream would rise, but no surcease
Of music or of dancing, save by him
Drawn through the mirrored panel to the dim
And unknown space behind the flashing mirrors,
And by his partner struck through by the terrors
Of sudden loss.

And looking I could see
That scarcely any dancer here could free
His eyes from off the mirrors, but would gaze
Upon himself or others, till a craze
Shone in his eyes thus to anticipate
The hand that took each dancer soon or late.
Some analyzed themselves, some only glanced,
Some stared and paled and then more madly danced.
One dancer only never looked at all.
He seemed soul captured by the carnival.
There were so many dancers there he loved,
He was so greatly by the music moved,
He had no time to study his own face
There in the mirrors as from place to place
He quickly danced.

Until I saw at last
This dancer by the whirling dancers cast
Face full against a mirrored panel where
Before he could look at himself or stare
He plunged through to the other side -- and quick,
As water closes when you lift the stick,
The mirrored panel swung in place and left
No trace of him, as 'twere a magic trick.
But all his partners thus so soon bereft
Went dancing to the music as before.
But I saw faces in that mirrored door
Anatomizing their forced smiles and watching
Their faces over shoulders, even matching
Their terror with each other's to repress
A growing fear in seeing it was less
Than some one else's, or to ease despair
By looking in a face who did not care,
While watching for the hand that through some door
Caught a poor dancer from the dancing floor
With every time-beat of the orchestra.
What is this room of mirrors? Who can say?





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