“A parlor game for a wet afternoon — imagining the mirrors of one's friends. A has a huge pier glass, gilded and baroque, B a discreet little pocket mirror in a pigskin case with his initials stamped on the back; whenever on looks at C, he is in the act of throwing his mirror away but, if one looks in his pocket or up his sleeve, one always finds another, like an extra ace.
“Most, perhaps all, our mirrors are inaccurate and uncomplimentary, though to varying degrees and in various ways. Some magnify, some diminish, others, whatever their owner does, will only return lugubrious, comic, derisive, or terrifying images.
“But the properties of our own particular mirror are not so important as we sometimes like to think. We shall be judged, not by the kind of mirror found on us, but by the use we have made of it, by our riposte to our reflection.”
Note: In “Lecture Notes,” in Commonweal, 6 November 1942, Auden begins this sequence of reflections with the sentence: “Every child, as he wakes into life, finds a mirror underneath his pillow.” -- DL