I make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes.Sara Teasdale
by Sara Teasdale
The roofs are shining from the rain.
The sparrows tritter as they fly,
And with a windy April grace
The little clouds go by.
Yet the back-yards are bare and brown
With only one unchanging tree–
I could not be so sure of Spring
Save that it sings in me.
Sara Teasdale was born in St. Louis into a wealthy family. As a young woman she spent time in Chicago’s literary circles, including a friendship with Harriet Monroe through whom she met and dated the poet Vachel Lindsay. Teasdale rejected Lindsay’s marriage proposals, an itinerant poet whom may have lacked the income to be a suitable partner in her eyes, but may have been a better match intellectually. Instead she married Ernst Filsinger in 1914 and moved to New York City. Teasdale published several collections of classical poetry and edited several other anthologies. Though her work is often overlooked today, she was popular with both critics and readers in her day. Following her divorce in 1929, her health declined rapidly. Teasdale became an invalid and died following a bout with pneumonia by an overdose of barbiturates.
There is a sadness that runs through much of Teasdale’s poetry, as if life just didn’t quite measure up to her hopes and dreams. Its hard to know if it was maniac depression or something darker that had blotted out her joy, but Teasdale seemed to run out of steam as the economic depression of the 1930’s took hold and the life of privilege and wealth that she had enjoyed started to feel out of reach. In her bob hair cut, and beautiful smile, it would be interesting to know the back story to the last two lines of the sonnet below, but from my perspective the beauty in her words will never be dull.
by Sara Teasdale
I saw a ship sail forth at evening time;
Her prow was gilded by the western fire,
And all her rigging one vast golden lyre,
For winds to play on to the ocean’s rhyme
Of wave on wave forever singing low.
She floated on a web of burnished gold,
And in such light as praying men behold
Cling round a vision, were her sails aglow.
I saw her come again when dawn was grey,
Her wonder faded and her splendor dead — ‘
She whom I loved once had upon her way
A light most like the sunset. Now ’tis sped.
And this is saddest — what seemed wondrous fair
Are now but straight pale lips, and dull gold hair.