William Shakespeare

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Tell Me Truth For Once - Sonnet III

Tell the face what? Hey buddy, this self-looking everyday has to stop.

III / CLIV

  1. Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest
    Now is the time that face should form another;

  2. Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,
    Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother,

  3. For where is she so fair whose unear'd womb
    Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?

  4. Or who is he so fond will be the tomb
    Of his self-love, to stop posterity?

  5. Thou art thy mother's glass, and she in thee
    Calls back the lovely April of her prime:

  6. So thou through windows of thine age shall see
    Despite of wrinkles this thy golden time.

  7. But if thou live, remember'd not to be,
    Die single, and thine image dies with thee.



Narcissus, admiring and loving himself

It is possible that our Narcissus fellow is still staring at his beautiful reflection in the pool, or in our modern language, the mirror. How many hours we spend in front of that lying object, phewwww!

Or maybe Shakespeare is telling Narcissus to go anew to look in the mirror. Tell the face thou viewest,  as in: when you go to look, tell the reflection that you shall see there that... . Or again as in: as it is your constant custom to face the mirror, tell for once (confront) that face you are always staring at that ... .

1. Tell the face what? Hey buddy, this self-looking everyday has to stop - "we" are aging and we'll soon die and this beauty that we both (you - my reflection - and I) admire will go down the drain, unpreserved. So now is the time  for that face to reproduce another.

2. Now that you are young and still fresh and beautiful, is it not wise to make at least one more new copy, through the legitimate means of proper marriage? Well, if you don't, once again you eat up the world's due, and you rob that woman, that gracious woman destined to be your spouse. The soil is said to be blessed when it can bear fruit, so likewise is the womb of a woman when it can reproduce (we know that there are a myriad of complications in this regard!)

3/4. Don't tell me that there is no woman out there who will receive you. You yourself know this is an untruth. By my reckoning I think it is you only who is selfish - not wanting to endure the self-leaving sacrifice of marriage.

Or is there another man like yourself, so fond of himself and silly? For who else will enthrone himself on so vast a chair of selfishness and not see that self-love is the greatest self-hate? It murders the loner and prevents a new society, a new generation from emerging.

5. You won't listen to me eh? I will call on someone whom you respect, your dear mother! Since you have no child (referring strictly to Mr. Narcissus here) the only image you've got is that blasted object, the glass, which resembles you perfectly - shiny, dumb and witless!

Your mother was kind, both to herself (and you) and to the world: she preserved her beauty for us by reproducing you. But alas! you are no more an image of her than your vain mirror is of you. You are become but her mere glass - shiny, dumb and witless!

Still, how fair thou art! So fair that, when we see you we see your mother in her best prime, in her month of blooming April!

6. Learn my good sir! that as we see her best in you now, one day we (and you too) might see your prime in your own offspring. In your old wrinkled age, you will still be able to see this your present golden youth - through your child of course.

7. But sad sir! if you disregard my two cents of advice, and persevere in thine ignorant self-loving me-monstered vanity, when you die, for die you must, you and your image will be but one, truly dead! Therefore, I say, get thee a wife and preserve beauty's rose!

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