The poem is filled with wonderful examples of figurative language. For example, the poet uses similes, metaphors, and instances of personification in almost every stanza. This creates a lyrical and beautiful experience for the reader. One should walk away from ‘The Kiss’ feeling aware of the speaker’s deep love and devotion.
The Kiss Sara Teasdale Before you kissed me only winds of heaven Had kissed me, and the tenderness of rain— Now you have come, how can I care for kisses Like theirs again? I sought the sea, she sent her winds to meet me, They surged about me singing of the south— I turned my head away to keep still holy Your kiss upon my mouth. And swift sweet rains of shining April weather Found not my lips where living kisses are; I bowed my head lest they put out my glory As rain puts out a star. I am my love's and he is mine forever, Sealed with a seal and safe forevermore— Think you that I could let a beggar enter Where a king stood before?
Explore The Kiss
‘The Kiss’ by Sara Teasdale is a direct and passionate poem about a speaker’s connection to and care for her partner.
The speaker begins the poem by noting that once she kissed her lover that there was no way she was ever going to want to be kissed by the winds of heaven again. Nothing can compare, she’s saying. She also describes how she turns away from the sea winds in an effort to keep from losing his kiss on her mouth. The same perspective continues into the next lines. The speaker adds that she is her lover’s forever. There is no way she’d ever want anyone else as they would pale in comparison to the person she’s with now.
Structure and Form
‘The Kiss’ by Sara Teasdale is a four-stanza poem that is separated into sets of four lines, known as quatrains. The lines follow a simple rhyme scheme of ABCB, changing end sounds from stanza to stanza. The poem uses lines of similar lengths, with the first three of each stanza containing around ten syllables and the final line of each stanza contain six (in the final three stanzas) and four in the first.
Throughout ‘The Kiss,’ the poet makes use of several literary devices. These include but are not limited to:
- Alliteration: occurs when the poet repeats the same consonant sound at the beginning of words. For example, “heaven / Had” and “can” and “care” in the first stanza.
- Enjambment can be seen when the poet cuts off a line before its natural stopping point. For example, the transition between lines one and two and three and four of the first stanza.
- Caesura: occurs when the poet inserts a pause in the middle of a line. For example, “Now you have come, how can I care for kisses” and “I sought the sea, she sent her winds to meet me.” This can be done through the use of punctuation or through a natural pause in the meter.
- Personification: can be seen when the poet imbues a non-human character, object, or force with a human characteristic. For example, in the second season, the speaker personifies the wind.
Before you kissed me only winds of heaven
Had kissed me, and the tenderness of rain—
Now you have come, how can I care for kisses
Like theirs again?
In the first stanza of ‘The Kiss,’ the speaker begins by comparing her lover’s kisses to that of the “winds of heaven” and the “tenderness of rain.” The latter two descriptions are presented as wonderful things. But, the speaker notes that after kissing her lover, she didn’t care for “theirs again.” She knew what real pleasure and bliss were when she kisses the man she loves. All other experiences paled in comparison.
I sought the sea, she sent her winds to meet me,
They surged about me singing of the south—
I turned my head away to keep still holy
Your kiss upon my mouth.
The second stanza also emphasizes how powerful her lover’s kiss is. She’d rather keep it on her lips and then feeling the winds that the sea sent to meet her, “singing of the south.” Despite this romantic image, one that symbolizes a very powerful, spiritual experience, the speaker still prefers her lover. In this case, she chooses even his memory over a real, present feeling. This line contains a great example of personification. It also features instances of sibilance with “sought,” “sea, she sent,” “surged,” “singing,” and “south” in the first two lines.
And swift sweet rains of shining April weather
Found not my lips where living kisses are;
I bowed my head lest they put out my glory
As rain puts out a star.
The third stanza picks up with the word “And,” tossing the reader right back into another comparison between some otherworldly, natural experience and the speaker’s appreciation for her lover.
This time, she notes that when it rains, she bows her head so that the rains don’t find her lips where “living kisses are.” She uses a simile to say that if she didn’t do this, her light would be put out like the rain clouds the sky and puts out a star. The use of the word “as” in the final line signals that Teasdale is using a simile.
I am my love’s and he is mine forever,
Sealed with a seal and safe forevermore—
Think you that I could let a beggar enter
Where a king stood before?
In the final stanza, the speaker directly talks about her love and her connection to her lover. They belong to one another “forever.” Their love is “Sealed with a seal and safe forevermore.” The use of repetition in this line is quite effective and makes it feel all the more certain that their love is permanent. There is no way, she’s suggesting, that she’d let someone else take this man’s place. A king stands there now, and there’s no way she’d accept a beggar later. This is an interesting example of a metaphor that shows just how devoted she is to her lover.
The tone is dedicated and passionate. The speaker is obvious in everything she has to say. There is no hesitation in her voice, nor does there appear to be any regret. She loves the person she’s talking about and is entirely dedicated to them.
The purpose is to express how dedicated and in love the speaker is. She cares about her partner as much as it seems possible. There are no experiences she’d rather choose over this person, nor is there anything that could take her away from him.
The meaning is that when you have the kind of love that the speaker does, there is nothing, not even beautiful spiritual moments in nature, that can take you away from your lover. You won’t even want to lose the memory of their kisses.
The themes of this poem are love and loyalty. The speaker is incredibly loyal to her partner. To the point where she doesn’t even want to experience any other pleasures for fear, they’ll dampen the pleasure she shared with her lover.
Readers who enjoyed ‘The Kiss’ should also consider reading other Sara Teasdale poems. For example:
- ‘Alone’ – expresses the poet’s own loneliness and belief that peace will only come for her after death.
- ‘Buried Love’ – expresses a contrast of emotion within the narrator as she grieves a “Love” that was “bittersweet.”
- ‘A Winter Blue Jay’ – tells of a perfect day in which the speaker and her companion find the pinnacle of their love, and then surpass it.