The Guy in the Glass: Poem Analysis
Dale Wimbrow uses simple words and structure in his poem The Guy in the Glass but it conveys a profound message about integrity and truthfulness to oneself. The wording is direct but there are subtle metaphors such as in the title itself. The glass in the poem is evidently a mirror, where the “self” looks back at the person looking at it. This short but compelling piece talks about the importance of knowing oneself and how one’s perception of himself bears more significance than that of others.
Despite its briefness, the poem explores a few interrelated themes including self-esteem, introspection, and desires all throughout. The most important concept addressed in the poem is knowing knowing how to be in touch with oneself. Wimbrow opens the poem in the first verse with the idea that a person who has achieved much in his life must find time to look at himself in the mirror or the “glass” and see what he really thinks about himself. The word “pelf” which means wealth and is often incorrectly written as self, represents much of the worldly pursuits of people. His wording “struggle for pelf” is an apparent expression of his feelings toward the great lengths that people go to achieve perhaps, honor and accumulate possessions. See what that guy has to say, he said. Wimbrow is urging his reader to look inside and see if he is truly happy with the things he has done and owned.
The second verse talks about the effects of people’s opinion on how one perceives himself. He said that not even your mother or father’s perception of you should dictate what you think of yourself. The only opinion that should matter is your own. It is striking how this verse touches many aspects of the struggles that the youth is facing today. Though the author did not specify any age group in his wording or any particular group of people, this could be something that young people could easily relate to. They are bombarded with so many images of how they should look and act, and even think sometimes that it is understandable if they end up not having a strong sense of self. A lot of industries are investing on telling people to feel bad about themselves in order to sell their products. But according to Wimbrow, one must never lose sight of what truly matters, of the person whose verdict counts the most which is the self.
He also says, in a way, that you are your own best friend when he used the words “he’s with you clean to the end”. No matter how many friends you have or the amount of support you receive, in the end, it is only you who can pull yourself through whatever difficult circumstances you are in. He uses the word “friend” which could be interpreted as being kind to oneself. He said that one can surpass difficult tests if you have you have yourself as your own friend. This indeed could be very encouraging especially when one is plagued with self-doubts as it sometimes happens.
On another note, the author also tells his readers to not be too reliant on other people’s praises. He said that other people may think you are a wonderful person but only you will know if that’s true. If at the end of the day, you do not feel the same way about yourself, other people’s high regard for you do not really matter. He said to look yourself straight in the eye. This simple line encompasses so many things. It’s about being true to yourself. “Look yourself in the eye” denotes facing even the ugly truths about you and addressing them head on. It’s about not hiding behind mere fame or pretend glory. One does not have to be extremely famous to fall victim to this. It could be ordinary achievements that causes you to lose sight of who you really are and what you truly want to do. You may be successful in a certain field but there may be something else that you really want to pursue. In the end, no matter how much you gain from it, if it is not what you truly desire, it will not ultimately make you happy. He said that the final reward are heartaches if you did not stay true to the guy in the glass. It is obviously referring to the consequences of living a life for the sake of other people’s opinions.
Robert Wimbrow’s poem uses a simple metaphor of looking at yourself in the mirror. But it could also be literally taken. There are certain realizations one can experience if he looks at himself in the mirror long enough. But above all, the poem reminds people of the significance of introspection and integrity to oneself.