Our English teacher at school had once made us memorise this poem for an inter school poetry recitation competition. The poet we were told was unknown and it stayed in my scrapbook like that for many years. It surfaced again some years back when one of my husband’s colleague quoted it as part of his farewell speech on his superannuation. This time i googled to read some more about it and discovered a host of new information…the name of the poet, how different versions have proliferated over the years, what the original version was when it was first published way back in 1934, the extra stanza which my copy didn’t have, and how even the name i had it under ‘The Man in the Mirror’ is actually “The Guy in the Glass”. Beyond all these discussions lies the fact that these words by Dale Wimbrow, still touch a chord somewhere and continue to inspire…
When you get what you want in your struggle for pelf,
And the world makes you king for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that guy has to say.
For it isn’t your Father, or Mother, or Wife,
Whose judgement upon you must pass.
The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the guy staring back from the glass.
He’s the feller to please, never mind all the rest,
For he’s with you clear up to the end,
And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the guy in the glass is your friend.
You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you’ve cheated the guy in the glass.