June 18th, 2004


The Mirror of Love, Alan Moore and Jose Villarrubia.

Top Shelf republished Alan Moore's excellent novel, Voice of the Fire (which is a fine and excellent novel that you should all go out and read) and they have now released Moore's historical poem, The Mirror of Love, which is accompanied by a beautiful series of images from Jose Villarrubia. (Villarrubia also gave images to Voice of the Fire, but his contribution here is much more substantial.)

The Mirror of Love recounts the history of homosexuality, written in 1988 in response to the creation of an anti-homosexual law, in England, called Clause 28. There's always the potential for such a poem to have less resonance now than what it had back then, and perhaps, by itself, this would be the case, if ever so slightly. But there's Jose Villarrubia's illustrated narrative to accompany the poem in the book, and if there was a sense that it was tied to the late eighties, then it is gone now. The images are violent, delicate, dark, bright, beautiful, and ugly, and they're laid out perfectly next to Moore's poem.

The point of the poem is to show how long homosexuality (indeed, loving freely to any gender) has been around since the dawn of time. It's scope, therefor, is not limited to England, but instead weaves through history, picking famous figures like Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare to show that contributions to society was not done by pure, Christian folk, but by men and women of all sexualities. The Mirror of Love is a political poem, not stopping to tell you to that there is nothing wrong with homo or bi-sexuality, because it knows there is nothing wrong with it.

This is, I think, my favourite section of the poem:

By 1933, we were already
targets of the Reich,
but still did not suspect
how far we had to fall.

In slaughterhouses,
labeled with pink triangles,
our thousands died.

The showers, they say,
held bodies piled
as if the strong and desperate
had climbed on lovers' backs
to flee the gas,
betraying at the last
our love,
the thing we thought
they couldn't take.

Can you imagine?

Can you?

The Villarrubia images that accompany this section are some of the most powerful. You want this. Yes, you do.
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