Dead Poetesses


Sara Teasdale - Poetry
Sara Teasdale


The Look

Strephon kissed me in the spring,
   Robin in the fall,
But Colin only looked at me
   And never kissed at all.

Strephon's kiss was lost in jest,
   Robin's lost in play,
But the kiss in Colin's eyes
   Haunts me night and day.


Pierrot stands in the garden
   Beneath a waning moon,
And on his lute he fashions
   A fragile silver tune.

Pierrot plays in the garden,
   He thinks he plays for me,
But I am quite forgotten
   Under the cherry tree.

Pierrot plays in the garden,
   And all the roses know
That Pierrot loves his music, --
   But I love Pierrot.

Four Winds

"Four winds blowing through the sky,
You have seen poor maidens die,
Tell me then what I shall do
That my lover may be true."
Said the wind from out the south,
"Lay no kiss upon his mouth,"
And the wind from out the west,
"Wound the heart within his breast,"
And the wind from out the east,
"Send him empty from the feast,"
And the wind from out the north,
"In the tempest thrust him forth;
When thou art more cruel than he,
Then will Love be kind to thee.

The Fountain

All through the deep blue night
   The fountain sang alone;
It sang to the drowsy heart
   Of the satyr carved in stone.

The fountain sang and sang,
   But the satyr never stirred --
Only the great white moon
   In the empty heaven heard.

The fountain sang and sang
   While on the marble rim
The milk-white peacocks slept,
   And their dreams were strange and dim.

Bright dew was on the grass,
   And on the ilex, dew,
The dreamy milk-white birds
   Were all a-glisten, too.

The fountain sang and sang
   The things one cannot tell;
The dreaming peacocks stirred
   And the gleaming dew-drops fell.

After Parting

Oh, I have sown my love so wide
   That he will find it everywhere;
It will awake him in the night,
   It will enfold him in the air.

I set my shadow in his sight
   And I have winged it with desire,
That it may be a cloud by day,
   And in the night a shaft of fire.

Spring Night

The park is filled with night and fog,   
  The veils are drawn about the world,   
The drowsy lights along the paths   
  Are dim and pearled.   
Gold and gleaming the empty streets,           
  Gold and gleaming the misty lake,   
The mirrored lights like sunken swords,   
  Glimmer and shake.   
Oh, is it not enough to be   
Here with this beauty over me?   
My throat should ache with praise, and I   
Should kneel in joy beneath the sky.   
O beauty, are you not enough?   
Why am I crying after love,   
With youth, a singing voice, and eyes    
To take earth's wonder with surprise?   
Why have I put off my pride,   
Why am I unsatisfied,—   
I, for whom the pensive night   
Binds her cloudy hair with light,—   
I, for whom all beauty burns   
Like incense in a million urns?   
O beauty, are you not enough?   
Why am I crying after love?

Love Songs

         To E.
I have remembered beauty in the night,
Against black silences I waked to see
A shower of sunlight over Italy
And green Ravello dreaming on her height;
I have remembered music in the dark,
The clean swift brightness of a fugue of Bach's,
And running water singing on the rocks
When once in English woods I heard a lark.

But all remembered beauty is no more
Than a vague prelude to the thought of you --
You are the rarest soul I ever knew,
Lover of beauty, knightliest and best;
My thoughts seek you as waves that seek the shore,
And when I think of you, I am at rest.

New Love and Old

In my heart the old love
   Struggled with the new;
It was ghostly waking
   All night through.

Dear things, kind things,
   That my old love said,
Ranged themselves reproachfully
   Round my bed.

But I could not heed them,
   For I seemed to see
The eyes of my new love
   Fixed on me.

Old love, old love,
   How can I be true?
Shall I be faithless to myself
   Or to you?

The Kiss *

I hoped that he would love me,
   And he has kissed my mouth,
But I am like a stricken bird
   That cannot reach the south.

For though I know he loves me,
   To-night my heart is sad;
His kiss was not so wonderful
   As all the dreams I had.

Gustav Klimt - The kiss (detail)
Oil on canvas, 180 x 180 cm (1907-8)
Österreichische Galerie im Belvedere, Wien

The Kiss **

Before you kissed me only winds of heaven
Had kissed me, and the tenderness of rain -
Now you have come, how can I care for kisses
Like theirs again?

I sought the sea, she sent her winds to meet me,
They surged about me singing of the south - 
I turned my head away to keep still holy
Your kiss upon my mouth.

And swift sweet rains of shining April weather
Found not my lips where living kisses are;
I bowed my head lest they put out my glory
As rain puts out a star.

I am my love's and he is mine forever,
Sealed with a seal and safe forevermore - 
Think you that I could let a beggar enter
Where a king stood before?

Like Barley Bending

Like barley bending
In low fields by the sea,
Singing in hard wind

Like barley bending
And rising again,
So would I, unbroken,
Rise from pain;

So would I softly,
Day long, night long,
Change my sorrow
Into song.

The River

I came from the sunny valleys
   And sought for the open sea,
For I thought in its gray expanses
   My peace would come to me.

I came at last to the ocean
   And found it wild and black,
And I cried to the windless valleys,
   "Be kind and take me back!"

But the thirsty tide ran inland,
   And the salt waves drank of me,
And I who was fresh as the rainfall
   Am bitter as the sea.

Spring Rain

I thought I had forgotten,
   But it all came back again
To-night with the first spring thunder
   In a rush of rain.

I remembered a darkened doorway
   Where we stood while the storm swept by,
Thunder gripping the earth
   And lightning scrawled on the sky.

The passing motor busses swayed,
   For the street was a river of rain,
Lashed into little golden waves
   In the lamp light's stain.

With the wild spring rain and thunder
   My heart was wild and gay;
Your eyes said more to me that night
   Than your lips would ever say...

I thought I had forgotten,
   But it all came back again
To-night with the first spring thunder
   In a rush of rain.


If I should see your eyes again,
   I know how far their look would go --
Back to a morning in the park
   With sapphire shadows on the snow.

Or back to oak trees in the spring
   When you unloosed my hair and kissed
The head that lay against your knees
   In the leaf shadow's amethyst.

And still another shining place
   We would remember -- how the dun
Wild mountain held us on its crest
   One diamond morning white with sun.

But I will turn my eyes from you
   As women turn to put away
The jewels they have worn at night
   And cannot wear in sober day.


Remember me as I was then; 
Turn from me now, but always see 
The laughing shadowy girl who stood 
At midnight by the flowering tree, 
With eyes that love had made as bright 
As the trembling stars of the summer night. 

Turn from me now, but always hear 
The muted laughter in the dew 
Of that one year of youth we had, 
The only youth we ever knew -- 
Turn from me now, or you will see 
What other years have done to me. 


Life has loveliness to sell, 
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children's faces looking up
Holding wonder like a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit's still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.

Central Park at Dusk

Buildings above the leafless trees 
Loom high as castles in a dream, 
While one by one the lamps come out 
To thread the twilight with a gleam.

There is no sign of leaf or bud, 
A hush is over everything-- 
Silent as women wait for love, 
The world is waiting for the spring.


This is the quiet hour; the theaters 
Have gathered in their crowds, and steadily 
The million lights blaze on for few to see, 
Robbing the sky of stars that should be hers. 
A woman waits with bag and shabby furs, 
A somber man drifts by, and only we 
Pass up the street unwearied, warm and free, 
For over us the olden magic stirs.

Beneath the liquid splendor of the lights 
We live a little ere the charm is spent; 
This night is ours, of all the golden nights, 
The pavement an enchanted palace floor, 
And Youth the player on the viol, who sent 
A strain of music through an open door.

The Old Maid

I saw her in a Broadway car, 
The woman I might grow to be; 
I felt my lover look at her 
And then turn suddenly to me. 

Her hair was dull and drew no light, 
And yet its color was as mine; 
Her eyes were strangely like my eyes, 
Tho' love had never made them shine. 

Her body was a thing grown thin, 
Hungry for love that never came; 
Her soul was frozen in the dark, 
Unwarmed forever by love's flame. 

I felt my lover look at her 
And then turn suddenly to me -- 
His eyes were magic to defy 
The woman I shall never be.


Oh, because you never tried
To bow my will or break my pride,
And nothing of the cave-man made
You want to keep me half afraid,
Nor ever with a conquering air
You thought to draw me unaware --
Take me, for I love you more
Than I ever loved before.

And since the body's maidenhood
Alone were neither rare nor good
Unless with it I gave to you
A spirit still untrammeled, too,
Take my dreams and take my mind
That were masterless as wind;
And "Master!" I shall say to you
Since you never asked me to.

II. Interlude - Songs out of Sorrow

Wood Song

I heard a wood thrush in the dusk
   Twirl three notes and make a star --
My heart that walked with bitterness
   Came back from very far.

Three shining notes were all he had,
   And yet they made a starry call --
I caught life back against my breast
   And kissed it, scars and all.

Ebb Tide

When the long day goes by
   And I do not see your face,
The old wild, restless sorrow
   Steals from its hiding place.

My day is barren and broken,
   Bereft of light and song,
A sea beach bleak and windy
   That moans the whole day long.

To the empty beach at ebb tide,
   Bare with its rocks and scars,
Come back like the sea with singing,
   And light of a million stars.


I am wild, I will sing to the trees,
   I will sing to the stars in the sky,
I love, I am loved, he is mine,
   Now at last I can die!

I am sandaled with wind and with flame,
   I have heart-fire and singing to give,
I can tread on the grass or the stars,
   Now at last I can live!

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.

The Wind

A wind is blowing over my soul,
   I hear it cry the whole night through --
Is there no peace for me on earth
   Except with you?

Alas, the wind has made me wise,
   Over my naked soul it blew, --
There is no peace for me on earth
   Even with you.

Other Men

When I talk with other men
   I always think of you --
Your words are keener than their words,
   And they are gentler, too.

When I look at other men,
   I wish your face were there,
With its gray eyes and dark skin
   And tossed black hair.

When I think of other men,
   Dreaming alone by day,
The thought of you like a strong wind
   Blows the dreams away.


I said, "My youth is gone
   Like a fire beaten out by the rain,
That will never sway and sing
   Or play with the wind again."

I said, "It is no great sorrow
   That quenched my youth in me,
But only little sorrows
   Beating ceaselessly."

I thought my youth was gone,
   But you returned --
Like a flame at the call of the wind
   It leaped and burned;

Threw off its ashen cloak,
   And gowned anew
Gave itself like a bride
   Once more to you.


I heard a cry in the night,
   A thousand miles it came,
Sharp as a flash of light,
   My name, my name!

It was your voice I heard,
   You waked and loved me so --
I send you back this word,
   I know, I know!


I am the still rain falling,
 Too tired for singing mirth --
Oh, be the green fields calling,
 Oh, be for me the earth! 

I am the brown bird pining
 To leave the nest and fly --
Oh, be the fresh cloud shining,
 Oh, be for me the sky!

Night Song at Amalfi

I asked the heaven of stars
 What I should give my love --
It answered me with silence,
 Silence above.

I asked the darkened sea
 Down where the fishers go --
It answered me with silence,
 Silence below. 

Oh, I could give him weeping,
 Or I could give him song --
But how can I give silence
 My whole life long?


Let it be forgotten as a flower is forgotten,
 Forgotten as a fire that once was singing gold,
Let it be forgotten forever and ever,
 Time is a kind friend, he will make us old. 

If any one asks, say it was forgotten
 Long and long ago,
As a flower, as a fire, as a hushed footfall
 In a long forgotten snow.

Open Windows

Out of the window a sea of green trees
 Lift their soft boughs like the arms of a dancer;
They beckon and call me, "Come out in the sun!"
 But I cannot answer. 

I am alone with Weakness and Pain,
 Sick abed and June is going,
I cannot keep her, she hurries by
 With the silver-green of her garments blowing. 

Men and women pass in the street
 Glad of the shining sapphire weather,
But we know more of it than they,
 Pain and I together. 

They are the runners in the sun,
 Breathless and blinded by the race,
But we are watchers in the shade
 Who speak with Wonder face to face. 

Wild Asters

In the spring I asked the daisies
If his words were true,
And the clever little daisies
Always knew.

Now the fields are brown and barren,
Bitter autumn blows,
And of all the stupid asters
Not one knows.

There will come Soft Rain

There will come soft rain and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound; 

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum-trees in tremulous white; 

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire. 

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done. 

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly. 

And Spring herself when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

Love and Death

Shall we, too, rise forgetful from our sleep, 
And shall my soul that lies within your hand 
Remember nothing, as the blowing sand 
Forgets the palm where long blue shadows creep 
When winds along the darkened desert sweep? 
Or would it still remember, tho' it spanned 
A thousand heavens, while the planets fanned 
The vacant ether with their voices deep? 
Soul of my soul, no word shall be forgot, 
Nor yet alone, beloved, shall we see 
The desolation of extinguished suns, 
Nor fear the void wherethro' our planet runs, 
For still together shall we go and not 
Fare forth alone to front eternity.

The lyrical poetess Sara Trevor Teasdale (1884 - 1933) was born 
in St. Louis, Missouri. Her major themes were romantic love, beauty, 
nature and death. After completing her college education at Hosmer 
Hall in St. Louis, she and several other young women formed a literary 
association called 'The Potters'. They published a magazine, 'The Potter's 
Wheel', in which Sara's early poems appeared. With the publication 
of 'Rivers to the Sea' (1915), she was acknowledged as a significant 
poet. In 1918 she won the Columbia University Poetry Society prize 
and the annual prize of the Poetry Society of America for her collection 
of "Love Songs". Her influences included the Italian actress 
Eleanora Duse and the poetesses Mary Robinson and Christina Rossetti. 
She also made numerous trips to Europe.
As reflected in her poetry, she had emotional relationships with women 
and men. In 1908 she formed an intimate friendship with Marion Cummings 
Stanley. When she settled in New York, she started a friendship with 
Jessie Rittenhouse one of the founders of 'The Poetry Society'.   
In 1913, Sara was courted by two admirers. She fell in love with the poet 
Vachel Lindsay, but he was too eccentric for her and instead she married 
Ernst Filsinger (a rich businessman), in 1914. Unfortunately she was not 
happy in her marriage and she divorced Filsinger in 1929. 
One of the reasons of the divorce was her seven-year relationship 
with Margaret Conklin, a young poetess who came into her life in 1926. 
At the end Teasdale's emotional balance became more and more unstable, 
and she fell into deep depressions. 
After a bout of pneumonia and the tragic dead of Vachel Lindsay she 
weighed down by despair. On the night of January 29, 1933 she took 
a fatal overdose of barbiturates. 
Her last collection of verse, 'Strange Victory', including a poem to Margaret 
Conklin, was published posthumously.

Her major works:

-Sonnets to Duse and Other Poems (1907)
-Helen of Troy and Other Poems (1911)
-Rivers to the Sea (1915)
-Love Songs (1917)
-Flame and Shadow (1920)
-Dark of the Moon (1926)
-Stars To-night (1930)
-Strange Victory (1933)
-Collected Poems (1937)


Sara Teasdale - I shall not care

Sara Teasdale - Four winds

Sara Teasdale - Blue squills

Sara Teasdale - Sappho

Dead Poetesses Society

Sara Teasdale  (in het Nederlands)

Sara Teasdale - Het zal mij niet raken


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