‘I Am Not Yours’ by Sara Teasdale is a three stanza poem which is separated into sets of four lines, or quatrains. Teasdale has chosen to structure the poem through a loosely consistent pattern of rhyme. The poem follows a rhyme scheme of abcb debe fghi. The stanzas of this piece are also similar in that each is made out of one extended sentence. The only end marks come after the last word of the quatrain.
Additionally, the poet has constructed each stanza so that the lines are all close to the same length. This allows the text to maintain a sense of visual and auditory unity.
Summary of I Am Not Yours
The poem begins with the speaker stating that she is seeking out a relationship which allows her to become lost in love. This does not seem to be the situation she is currently in as she states that she is “not yours.” The speaker does not belong to the relationship she is currently in, nor to the person who is her partner.
In the next lines she describes her ideal relationship as being one which allows her to become like a “candle lit at noon.” She will be burning amongst a great plethora of light. The next section of lines are used to remind the listener that she does still care about them. It is not exactly this person’s fault she is unhappy—they are still “beautiful and bright.”
The poem concludes with the speaker stating that she is ready to give herself to a “deep…love” which takes over her sense and sweeps her away like a “taper in a rushing wind.”
Analysis of 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.
In the first stanza of this piece the speaker begins by utilizing the line which would become the title of the poem, “I am not yours…” This strong and unwavering statement comes across less like an opinion than a fact which the speaker will not be changing her mind on.
From this line a reader will be able to interpret a few elements of the relationship which will be further outlined in the following lines.. The speaker is striving to change the dynamic of the relationship or perhaps even end and find a situation which suits her better.
The next two phrases emphasize an additional element which the speaker is hoping to make clear to her intended listener. She wants this person to know that she is “not lost in” in them. The speaker has not lost her own sense of self within the relationship she is a part of. She repeats this fact twice to emphasis. It is extremely important to her as “losing” herself is something she desires.
The next statement comes as somewhat as a surprise after the first two definitive statements. She says that she is not lost, but she “long[s] to be.” Her longing is two-sided. She at once wants to be lost within her emotions, but not lost within a particular relationship dynamic.
In the next two lines the speaker defines what it is she really means when she says she wants to be “lost.” In her mind, the state of being she is looking for would resemble a “candle lit at noon.” This image has been chosen as the light from the candle would be accomplishing nothing. The sun is up at noon and a lit candle would be superfluous, but still burning on, unsure of its place.
The next image describes her as wanting to be “Lost as a snowflake in the sea.” Just like in the previous image, a snowflake would not have a purpose in the sea. It would join in with the water, melting and quickly losing its way.
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.
In the next set of four lines the speaker redirects her words to her intended listener. She wants to make sure this person understands what she has to say. The speaker begins by making sure her listener knows that she understands their feelings. This person loves her, but that fact doesn’t make her emotions irrelevant. She needs more than love.
Although she is having trouble with this person, she does want them to know she still sees them as “A spirit beautiful and bright.” Nothing has changed in her general view of them as a person. They are still the person she entered into a relationship with. It is her side of the partnership she needs to redefine.
This is something she clearly states in the next two lines. She says that she is who she is. There is no changing how she feels or the relationship she is looking for. At this point in her life she is looking for a situation which would allow her to be “Lost as light is lost in light.”
The final image of this section has been added in as one final simile to help to define the speaker’s desires. She needs to be part of something which consumes her, but also allows her to feel free.
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.
In the final quatrain of the poem the speaker asks that her lover, “plunge [her] deep in love.” This line supports the previous supposition that she desires a love which both consumes her but also makes her feel as if she is finally free of the confines of her life.
The speaker asks that her lover consume her so completely that her senses are “put out.” She will become “deaf and blind” by this person’s hand. The speaker will be carried away by this person’s love. They will sweep her away like “A taper in a rushing wind.” There will be no way for her to control her own path or progress.
These lines relate back to the title of the poem as this way of living is the speaker’s choice. She is not being told to become someone she is not, or made to adhere to a set of values she does not believe in. Her life is her own to do with as she pleases and she has chosen to give hers up to a “deep…love” which she is unsure her listener can provide.