poem index

About this poet

On August 8, 1884, Sara Trevor Teasdale was born in St. Louis, Missouri, into an old, established, and devout family. She was home-schooled until she was nine and traveled frequently to Chicago, where she became part of the circle surrounding Poetry magazine and Harriet Monroe. Teasdale published Sonnets to Duse, and Other Poems, her first volume of verse, in 1907. Her second collection, Helen of Troy, and Other Poems, followed in 1911, and her third, Rivers to the Sea, in 1915.

In 1914 Teasdale married Ernst Filsinger; she had previously rejected a number of other suitors, including Vachel Lindsay. She moved with her new husband to New York City in 1916. In 1918, she won the Columbia University Poetry Society Prize (which became the Pulitzer Prize for poetry) and the Poetry Society of America Prize for Love Songs, which had appeared in 1917. She published three more volumes of poetry during her lifetime: Flame and Shadow (1920), Dark of the Moon (1926), and Stars To-night (1930). Teasdale's work had always been characterized by its simplicity and clarity, her use of classical forms, and her passionate and romantic subject matter. These later books trace her growing finesse and poetic subtlety. She divorced in 1929 and lived the rest of her life as a semi-invalid. Weakened after a difficult bout with pneumonia, Teasdale committed suicide on January 29, 1933, with an overdose of barbiturates. Her final collection, Strange Victory appeared posthumously that same year.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Sonnets to Duse and Other Poems (1907)
Helen of Troy and Other Poems (1911)
Love Songs (1917)
Flame and Shadow (1920)
Dark of the Moon (1926)
Stars To-night (1930)
Strange Victory (1933)

The Gift

Sara Teasdale, 1884 - 1933
What can I give you, my lord, my lover,
You who have given the world to me,
Showed me the light and the joy that cover
The wild sweet earth and restless sea?

All that I have are gifts of your giving—
If I gave them again, you would find them old,
And your soul would weary of always living
Before the mirror my life would hold.

What shall I give you, my lord, my lover?
The gift that breaks the heart in me:
I bid you awake at dawn and discover
I have gone my way and left you free.

This poem is in the public domain.

Sara Teasdale

Sara Teasdale

Born in 1884, Sara Trevor Teasdale's work was characterized by its simplicity and clarity and her use of classical forms

by this poet

poem

When I go back to earth
And all my joyous body
Puts off the red and white
That once had been so proud,

If men should pass

poem
In the wild soft summer darkness 
How many and many a night we two together 
Sat in the park and watched the Hudson 
Wearing her lights like golden spangles 
Glinting on black satin. 
The rail along the curving pathway 
Was low in a happy place to let us cross, 
And down the hill a tree that dripped with bloom
poem

Look back with longing eyes and know that I will follow,
Lift me up in your love as a light wind lifts a swallow,
Let our flight be far in sun or blowing rain—
But what if I heard my first love calling me again?

Hold me on your heart as the brave sea holds the foam,
Take me far