Stephen Burt, pictured above in The New York Times Magazine, writes in VQR about gender identity, using a poem from the August 1974 issue of Poetry to demonstrate some of his ideas:
Is it even possible to be who you really are, to show your inward self? John Ashbery’s great long poem “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror” considers our desire to look at a face or a body and see the soul “inside”; its trigger, or subject, is the distorted self-portrait that the painter Parmigianino created by looking at his own face in a mirrored ball, where
The soul establishes itself. But how far can it swim out through the eyes And still return safely to its nest? The surface Of the mirror being convex, the distance increases Significantly; that is, enough to make the point That the soul is a captive, treated humanely, kept In suspension, unable to advance much farther Than your look.

Stephen Burt, pictured above in The New York Times Magazine, writes in VQR about gender identity, using a poem from the August 1974 issue of Poetry to demonstrate some of his ideas:

Is it even possible to be who you really are, to show your inward self? John Ashbery’s great long poem “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror” considers our desire to look at a face or a body and see the soul “inside”; its trigger, or subject, is the distorted self-portrait that the painter Parmigianino created by looking at his own face in a mirrored ball, where

The soul establishes itself.
But how far can it swim out through the eyes
And still return safely to its nest? The surface
Of the mirror being convex, the distance increases
Significantly; that is, enough to make the point
That the soul is a captive, treated humanely, kept
In suspension, unable to advance much farther
Than your look.

1 year ago

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