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The Poetry of Sara Teasdale

The Poetry of Sara Teasdale: Flame and Shadow

Sara Teasdale never stopped dreaming of a greater poetry, beyond anything she had ever done.

I should be glad of loneliness
And hours that go on broken wings,
A thirsty body, a tired heart
And the unchanging ache of things,
If I could make a single song
As lovely and as full of light,
As hushed and brief as a falling star
On a winter night.

And she knew the price to be paid for it:

When I am dying, let me know
That I loved the blowing snow
Although it stung like whips;
That I loved all lovely things
And I tried to take their stings
With gay unembittered lips;
That I loved with all my strength,
To my soul's full depth and length,
Careless if my heart must break,
That I sang as children sing
Fitting tunes to everything,
Loving life for its own sake.

That commitment to her art is the ultimate source both of her  life and her poetry.

The Poetry of Sara Teasdale: Love Songs

Sara Teasdale - the winner of one of the earliest Pulitzer Prizes for poetry, winner of the Poetry Society of America prize, and other honors - believed passionately in the power and beauty of love. Yet in her own life, love was not enough; she died by her own hand after a long illness. The man she may have loved more than any other, the poet Vachel Lindsay, had killed himself two years earlier. Teasdale's poetry ranges from utter joy to deep loneliness. She expresses herself with utter simplicity:

Slowly over the earth
The wings of night are falling
My heart like the bird in the tree
Is calling... calling... calling....

She can be wonderfully playful, telling a thrush to go call her lover:

When he harkens what you say
Bid him, lest he miss me
Leave his work or leave his play
And kiss me, kiss me, kiss me!

Her soul valued beauty and love above all else:

Oh, let me love with all my strength
Careless if I am loved again.

Like many of America's women poets, she is rather on the back shelf these days, but she deserves better. Enjoy this reading of her poetry!

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