‘Sick Equation’ by Brian Patten and ‘Mirror’ by Sylvia Plath both explore the poet’s experience of love. ‘Sick Equation’ is about a man whose parents seemed to be divorced or did not love each other. In this poem he rejects the concept of love and implies that it is better it be free, without the burden of love.
‘Mirror’ is about how a woman is looking for her identity after betrayal from her lover. In this poem she uses extended metaphors to portray herself as an image or reflection. Throughout the poem she ponders about how she has wasted her life; “In me has drowned a young girl”.
Brian Patten strongly dislikes the concept of love and so he insults it, “I crushed all its messengers”. In that line he is referring to Cupid, the love messenger. Jealousy seemed to have caused this hate for love.
However in the last verse he changes his opinion of love; “I was wrong of course”. He realises that his parents were a bad example of love and that love can be happy and successful. Although in order to accept love he must give it first.
Similarly Sylvia Plath has a very poor opinion of love. This is because she had experienced cruelty and has been betrayed by her lover; “I see her back, and reflect it faithfully”. There is emphasis on the word ‘faithfully’ as it shows that her past lover was untrustworthy and she is annoyed at it.
Unlike Brian Patten she does not realise that love is hopeful and can be a good thing. Despite this she ends the poem on an odd and slightly humorous tone; “day after day, like a terrible fish”. The simile if the fish is very welcome as the rest of the poem is quite depressing. Even though this simile is funny, there is still an element of fright because of the striking word ‘terrible’.
The initial meaning of ‘Sick Equation’ is that to not trust love or else you will come of worse. This is displayed by his parents; they believed in love and ended up distraught because of their decision. Contrary to his initial opinion, in the latter stages of the poem, the writer changes his view about love; he realises that love is worth trying despite the chance of disappointment.
In complete contrast the meaning of ‘Mirror’ is that a woman got betrayed in love, and she therefore has lost her identity. She uses extended metaphors of a lake and a mirror, to show that she is detached and she is only an image of what other people see. This shows how unstable and depressed she is.
‘Sick Equation’ is written in 5 verses all with different amount of lines in each verse. There is also some rhyming couplets dispersed in some single lines. This shows how unstable the poet is as he cannot control the structure of the poem.
In complete contrast ‘Mirror’ is written in 2 stanzas with 9 lines in each stanza and has no rhyming scheme. This shows how Plath is in control of her poem, but cannot find it in herself to include a rhyming pattern.
In ‘Sick Equation’ Brain Patten explores his only experience of love which is his witnessing his parents’ love, or lack of it. This gave him a bad impression of love which he managed to overcome.
The impact of ‘Sick Equation’ is that it teaches the reader that love is worth attempting even though there is a chance of disappointment. It shows us that there is a chance that love will be good, and to achieve that you must be able to give love, so you can receive it.
The impact of ‘Mirror’ leaves the reader feeling sorry for the poet. It also emphasizes that when looking in a mirror you see an image, not reality. This would make the reader think about who they are, and if they are just what others see in them.