Sara Teasdale: Three Poems
Okay, I kept it down to 5 not 3.
Born August 8, 1884, Sara Trevor Teasdale in St. Louis, Missouri, she was the youngest child and always frail and sickly even as an adult. In Chicago she drifted into the circle around Poetry magazine. Her first collection was published in 1907, her second, Helen of Troy and Other Poems, in 1911; with Rivers to the Sea published in 1915.
Married in 1914, moving to New York in 1916. They divorced in 1929 and she committed suicide in 1933 after suffering a debilitating bout of pneumonia.
During her lifetime she won two major National awards. Other titles were published in 1920, 26 and 30, one posthumous collection, Strange Victory, in 1933. (seven books in total)
Her poetry is frequently of love and romance but some have a quality of description that opens to wider horizons. Much of her poetry has classical connections and still reads well but the poems ‘of the moment’ still have a simplicity, and albeit now nostalgic images that are clearly drawn and honest. Maybe pointing towards Edward Hopper images at times. (at least from my old-European viewpoint). I hasten to say I have only read by dipping into the collections and not as a study. She certainly merits attention and as opinions move on would sit well in an anthology.
I am Not Yours
I am not yours, not lost in you,
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.
You love me, and I find you still
A spirit beautiful and bright,
Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.
Oh plunge me deep in love–put out
My senses, leave me deaf and blind,
Swept by the tempest of your love,
A taper in a rushing wind.
IN A RESTAURANT
The darkened street was muffled with the snow,
The falling flakes had made your shoulders white,
And when we found a shelter from the night
Its glamor fell upon us like a blow.
The clash of dishes and the viol and bow
Mingled beneath the fever of the light.
The heat was full of savors, and the bright
Laughter of women lured the wine to flow.
A little child ate nothing while she sat
Watching a woman at a table there
Lean to a kiss beneath a drooping hat.
The hour went by, we rose and turned to go,
The somber street received us from the glare,
And once more on your shoulders fell the snow.
I am free of love as a bird flying south in the autumn,
Swift and intent, asking no joy from another,
Glad to forget all of the passion of April
Ere it was love-free.
I am free of love, and I listen to music lightly,
But if he returned, if he should look at me deeply,
I should awake, I should awake and remember
I am my lover’s.
IN A SUBWAY STATION
After a year I came again to the place;
The tireless lights and the reverberation,
The angry thunder of trains that burrow the ground,
The hunted, hurrying people were still the same—
But oh, another man beside me and not you!
Another voice and other eyes in mine!
And suddenly I turned and saw again
The gleaming curve of tracks, the bridge above—
They were burned deep into my heart before,
The night I watched them to avoid your eyes,
When you were saying, “Oh, look up at me!”
When you were saying, “Will you never love me?”
And when I answered with a lie. Oh then
You dropped your eyes. I felt your utter pain.
I would have died to say the truth to you.
After a year I came again to the place—
The hunted hurrying people were still the same….
Beneath my chamber window
Pierrot was singing, singing;
I heard his lute the whole night thru
Until the east was red.
Alas, alas, Pierrot,
I had no rose for flinging
Save one that drank my tears for dew
Before its leaves were dead.
I found it in the darkness,
I kissed it once and threw it,
The petals scattered over him,
His song was turned to joy;
And he will never know—
Alas, the one who knew it!—
The rose was plucked when dusk was dim
Beside a laughing boy.