In Front of the Mirror
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
Me, me, me. What a preposterous word!
Can that man there really be me?
Did Mama really love this face,
dull yellow with greying edges
like an ancient know-it-all snake?
Can the boy who danced in summer
at the Ostбnkino country-house balls
be myself, whose every response
to freshly-hatched poets inspires
their loathing, malice and fear?
Can that youthful energy thrown into
arguing full pelt well after midnight
have been my own, now that I've learnt
when conversation turns to tragedy
better say nothing - or make a joke?
But that's how it always is at the mid point
of the way through your fate on earth:
from one worthless cause to another,
and look, you've wandered away from the path
and can't even trace your own tracks.
Well, there was no leaping panther
chasing me up to my Paris garret,
and there's no Virgil at my shoulder -
there's only my singular self in the frame
of the talking, truthtelling looking-glass.