"Poetry and hums aren't things which you get, they're things which get you. All you can do is go where they can find you" – A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Sara Teasdale was born on August 8th 1884 in St. Louis, Missouri. With poor health for most of her life she only began school aged 14. Her first poem was published in Reedy’s Mirror, the local newspaper in 1907. In 1933 she comitted suicide from an overdose of sleeping pills. The urban legend surrounding her poem “I Shall Not Care”, which was written 18 years earlier has been read by many as a premature suicide note to a former lover. The poem goes as follows;
“I Shall Not Care”
WHEN I am dead and over me bright April
Shakes out her rain-drenched hair,
Tho’ you should lean above me broken-hearted,
I shall not care.
I shall have peace, as leafy trees are peaceful
When rain bends down the bough,
And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted
Than you are now.
Her poetic style is simple and laden with metaphor and imigary. As an accsessable and enterntaiing lyric poet, her sombre tone is lifted by the alternating rhyme scheme which defines her writing. She cleverly jests with mood as if placing a light musical note above a dramatic film scene to blur the line of emotion. I first discovered her poetry when it was sent by a friend on another blog of mine and her poem “The Look” remins a firm favourite;
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.
What I most love about her work is that there is no need to be cryptic. She is willing you to understand her in a Sylvia Plath-like directness, without the constant morbidity. She is a true new-age romantic, at the same time she writing on subjects that we can all understand but not necessarily articulate. She is a writer who points out the obvious traits of the human condition in its most minute sense, eloquently and beautifully, so that after reading her poems we understand ourselves a little better. Moreover, her poetry is mostly short and sweet. There is no need for lashings of verse when instead she makes memorable and pithy two or three stanza poems.
“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.
Her poem “I am Not Yours” reminds me of Diana Hendry “they say I should not wait about your street”, presenting a more simple take on the traditional love poetry that we are used to. Wether it is beacuse it is a more engaging way of writing for women, or because it simply fits my taste – I think that her poems speak much louder than if she were to complicate her writing with vagueness. I love her poems because they are warming yet remain cooly distracted with a sensetive sadness that only someone who writes for and about oneself can achieve.
Find more of her poems here; http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/sara-teasdale#poet