Sara Teasdale

S ara Teasdale is known as a lyric poet whose work was mainly concerned with a beauty, love and death. She was known to incorporate her own experiences into her poetry, from those of youth to those of depression. Much of her work preceded modern feminist poetry and the confessional poems of poets like Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath

Sara Teasdale


Life Facts

  • Sara Teasdale was born in 1884 in St.Louis, Missouri. 
  • Teasdale’s first poem was published in ‘Reedy’s Mirror’ in 1907.
  • She got married in 1914 and moved to New York. 
  • Teasdale won the first Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1918.
  • Sara Teasdale committed suicide by overdosing sleeping pills.

Interesting Facts

  • She was homeschooled until she was nine years old. 
  • Teasdale was a member of The Potters, a group of female artists. 
  • Her poems are remembered for their focus on beauty, love, and death.
  • Teasdale was awarded the Poetry Society of America Prize for ‘Love Songs.’
  • She was buried in the Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis. 


Famous Poems by Sara Teasdale

The Ghost describes a speaker’s uncomfortable experiences after she reunites with two ex-lovers. The speaker describes clearly the events that led up to this encounter. She was traveling back to a city she used to live in. The first man she ran into gave her no issues. Their love is buried in the past. The second man was more trouble though. Their love was never fully expressed and so still haunts them. 

 

I am Not Yours is one of Teasdale’s best poems. In it, she expresses the emotions of a speaker who is seeking out a love that does not seek to confine her. She wants a relationship that allows her to get lost in love. She wants a partner who will let her be a “candlelit noon” and will sweep her away “like a taper in a rushing wind”. 

 

September Midnightis an emotional poem in which the speaker expresses affection for the final days of summer. She creates beautiful images that help the reader immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of summertime. Unfortunately, winter is coming soon. There are only a few nights between the warmth of summer and the chilled nights of winter. 

 

To Sappho I is a sonnet written in dedication to the ancient Greek poet, Sappho. The speaker spends the text considering Sappho’s world and what Greece must have been like for a woman. She believes nature was pristine back then, with “no doubt” in everyday life. Unfortunately, the modern world is no like this. It is filled with unwanted doubts. People have lost the desire to experience new things and explore the world. 

 

Winter Starsis a poem that focuses on time and the changes that every individual goes through in their lifetime. The speaker is overcome with sorrow. She is looking back on her life, specifically to a time at which she walked on the beach at night and loved the stars. This is no longer what her life is like. Everything has changed except those stars she used to admire. 


Early Life

Sara Teasdale was born in 1884 in St.Louis, Missouri. As a child, she was frequently in poor health and had to be home school until she was nine years old. She grew up in a staunchly religious household and was privately educated, starting at the Mary Institute, and then Hosmer Hall from where she graduated in 1903. In the early years of her career, she was a member of The Potters, a group of female artists; together they published The Potter’s Wheel.


Literary Career

Teasdale’s first poem was published in Reedy’s Mirror in 1907 and in that same year she published her first book, Sonnets to Duse, and Other Poems. Her second collection, Helen of Troy and Other Poems was published in 1911 and was received very well by readers and critics. 

 

Teasdale was married in 1914 and moved with her husband to New York in 1916. She worked throughout this period on her own poetry as well as editing two anthologies, The Answering Voice: One Hundred Love Lyrics by Women, and Rainbow Gold for Children. Her third collection, Rivers to the Sea was published in 1915. Her poems are noted for their emotional subject matter and lyrical language. She gained fame during her lifetime and won the first Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1918. Teasdale was also awarded the Poetry Society of America Prize for Love Songs. 


Later Life and Death

Throughout the 20s Filsinger traveled frequently for business. The separation was too hard on Teasdale and in 1929 she moved away in an effort to gain a divorce. Filsinger was unaware of her intentions and was very surprised when he found out. The following years saw Teasdale suffer from bouts of pneumonia. She was in a very weakened state when in the early 1930s she committed suicide by overdosing sleeping pills. She died in 1933. Teasdale was buried in the Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis. 


Influence from other Poets

Sara Teasdale was notably influenced by writers such as Christina Rossetti and Sappho. Another peripheral influence may have been Vachel Lindsay who fell in love with Teasdale in 1913.


Poems by Sara Teasdale

Explore poetry by Sara Teasdale below, analyzed by the team at Poem Analysis.

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