I first came across the American poet, Sara Teasdale while browsing poemhunter.com. The first poem of Teasdale’s which I read, “I Am Not Yours” struck me as both beautiful and poignant and since coming across her poetry Teasdale has maintained a firm place in my pantheon of favourite poets.
The below poems are all about love with the exception of the first, “I Shall Not Care” in which the poet writes about her own death. Some have seen “I Shall Not Care” as the poet’s suicide note, however Teasdale committed suicide in January 1933 and the poem was penned in 1915, consequently this can not be the case.
“I Shall Not Care”
WHEN I am dead and over me bright April
Shakes out her rain-drenched hair,
Tho’ you should lean above me broken-hearted,
I shall not care.
I shall have peace, as leafy trees are peaceful
When rain bends down the bough,
And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted
Than you are now.
The park is filled with night and fog,
The veils are drawn about the world,
The drowsy lights along the paths
Are dim and pearled.
Gold and gleaming the empty streets,
Gold and gleaming the misty lake,
The mirrored lights like sunken swords,
Glimmer and shake.
Oh, is it not enough to be
Here with this beauty over me?
My throat should ache with praise, and I
Should kneel in joy beneath the sky.
Oh, beauty are you not enough?
Why am I crying after love
With youth, a singing voice and eyes
To take earth’s wonder with surprise?
Why have I put off my pride,
Why am I unsatisfied,
I for whom the pensive night
Binds her cloudy hair with light,
I for whom all beauty burns
Like incense in a million urns?
Oh, beauty, are you not enough?
Why am I crying after love?
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 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.
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.
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.