Because by Sara Teasdale is a two stanza poem with an AABBCC rhyme scheme written in the first person. This poem is an explanation or a confession of a lover as to where she stands in her relationship. It highlights how mutual respect in a relationship can truly strengthen and even grow the love that the couple has for one another. This poem displays how genuine care and affection for each other can result in a strong committed relationship that causes both individuals to happily coexist as individuals and as a devoted couple. You can find the full poem here.
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.
The first stanza of Teasdale’s Because is a detailed account of how the character in the poem was treated by her beloved and consequently how it made her feel. This poem is written in the first person to give the words of the character authentic energy and account for the reader. Lines one and two are key examples of the intimate details of any relationship. The character confesses or rather professes that her lover has never tried to “bow” her will or “break” her pride, two things that were very common in any relationship in the past centuries, especially the 1800s and early 1900’s.
Throughout history, women have been constantly struggling and fighting to be treated as equals not only in their cultures and societies but also in their romantic relationships. Women were generally treated like commodities that the men perused to solidify their status as matured and respectable members of society. Women who were demanding their right to be equal in their relationships were often seen as spirited, wild, or mannerless beings that needed to be tamed. Even in the twenty-first century, it is not very difficult to experience a relationship in which the man will want dominance or be controlling. Unfortunately, despite the immense progress of social standards throughout the centuries, women can easily still be found struggling to find a partner that will allow them to be themselves within their relationship.
In this poem, the character is appreciative of her partner for not wanting to change her or tame her. She senses and expresses a sentiment of relief as she expresses that he does not wish to quiet down her strong personality or attack her pride. This shows his immense respect for her identity and personality, it depicts that he loves her for all that she is and respects her enough that her pride or will is never compromised in his interaction with her; which is commendable even today. Lines three and four continue to express how understanding her partner was towards her. She mentions that he did not have the “cave-man” quality of wanting to keep her “half afraid” in their relationship. In many romantic relationships in the past, it was a common trait for the man to have a barbaric authority over his partner, and often he had the option of threatening her or misusing her without any social consequences as women were always held responsible for any and all problems in a marriage. Teasdale rightfully expresses how regressive this attitude is and that there is no room for fear and oppression in a healthy loving relationship.
Lines five and six further expose the good character and compassion of her partner as she discloses that he has never even made her feel belittled or put her down if he found that she was not familiar with something that he himself was. These lines portray the sensitivity and kindness that her partner possesses that are exemplary for any and everybody. By not flaunting a personal triumph at having more understanding of something than one’s partner is a quality that assists in growing mutual respect for each other and as a result creating a stronger bond between the couple. The last two lines of this stanza have a heavy romantic air as she professes her love for her partner and exclaims that because of the way he has honored and respected her, her love for him has grown to a point that it never had reached before. The conclusion of this stanza strengthens Teasdales’s message of equality in a relationship producing a stronger and deeper romance.
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.
The second stanza of this poem displays the results of nature and temperament the character’s partner has had in their relationship. In this stanza, the character gives her entire self willingly to her partner because he gave her the choice to.
Lines nine through twelve express the character’s strong desire to offer her partner something valuable in return for his gracious and tender disposition towards her. She openly states in the first two lines of this stanza that she knows a woman’s youth and beauty or her womanhood is not enough in return for his love and care because that is something he can find with any woman if he chose to. This proclamation displays her deep desire to give her lover something that he cannot find elsewhere, she wants him to be as happy and grateful as she is to have him. The concept that physical attraction is not enough to make a relationship wholesome is genuine truth.
If a relationship is formed on the sole factor of physical chemistry, it cannot survive as an experience of commitment because a committed love and relationship are only completed through the presence of authentic care and respect for one another. Superficiality in a romance only leads to a shallow interaction between the individuals.
In lines eleven and twelve she comes to the conclusion that she must give him her free spirit too, investing herself, body, mind, and soul into the love and affection he has shown her. Lines thirteen and fourteen display the intense union of the two people as the character expresses that her partner can have her dreams and her mind. These lines emphasize the power of unadulterated love, if one is in a relationship that allows both partners to be their own individuals while sharing and celebrating the deepest and intimate part of themselves with each other without compromising on self-respect, personal ambitions, and personal growth, it is easy to see how the relationship would easily survive every tribulation. When two individuals decide that they will not contaminate their union with selfishness and will put each other first, they are both able to grow separately and together as a couple. Here, the character is declaring that she will put him and his love above her dreams and ambitions; which will be repaid in more mutual respect as her partner has proven himself worthy of pure and unconditional love.
In line fourteen the character acknowledges that her strong will and mind were uncontrollable and untamable by even herself before his deep and true love took hold of her and now in the presence of his love and respect for her she gives him what she could not give herself: a stronghold of her heart. The last two lines of the poem may sound regressive as she calls her partner her master but they highlight an important part of any successful relationship: freedom. It is ironic how calling someone master is an expression of freedom but it is evident through the character’s own words that by not forcing her to be a person that met all his ideals and bowed at his every whim he captured her heart in a way that she would happily do anything to satisfy him. Giving your partner the freedom to love you wholeheartedly while you continue to cherish their complete personality simultaneously, allows for true ownership of the heart for both individuals.