Sara Teasdale

(8 August 1884 – 29 January 1933 / Missouri)

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"The Old Maid"


I saw her in a Broadway car,
The woman I might grow to be;
I felt my lover look at her
And then turn suddenly to me.
Her hair was dull and drew no light,
And yet its color was as mine;
Her eyes were strangely like my eyes,
Tho' love had never made them shine.

Her body was a thing grown thin,
Hungry for love that never came;
Her soul was frozen in the dark,
Unwarmed forever by love's flame.

I felt my lover look at her
And then turn suddenly to me –
His eyes were magic to defy
The woman I shall never be.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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Comments about this poem ("The Old Maid" by Sara Teasdale )

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  • Kay Staley (10/5/2014 1:07:00 PM)

    I enjoyed this poem...It is interesting to think of what I might become if I didnt have the relationships that I have now with the people in my life. (Report) Reply

  • Nidhi Angurala (10/5/2014 5:51:00 AM)

    Please tell me I'm wrong but is she saying she'll never be the other old or haggard woman plausibly unloved and unwanted because she has the love of a man?
    Seems to me like a warning to young women about turning into old maids if they don't marry. Read Pope's Epistle 2. To a Lady of the characters of women. (Report) Reply

  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (10/5/2014 12:25:00 AM)

    I think that the other woman is only an imagination and actually this is a self analyzing love poem which her lover said to be looking the other one and then turns to her. A beautiful poem with such great imaginations and likes it. (Report) Reply

  • Stevie Taite (10/5/2012 3:16:00 PM)

    More simply, we promise ourself we will not end up sad and lonely, because we are in that moment in time so happy and thankful for the love we share and feel. To me, she projects her lovers thoughts to suit her own requirements. She is experiencing the sight of the woman as a way of magnifying the feeling of deep euphoric love she has for the man. She counts herself lucky! (Report) Reply

  • Lynne Fincherspringarden (10/5/2012 2:12:00 PM)

    This is a beautiful poem - written in old fashioned style as Emma commented. It expresses the sentiments of a young girl of that era. So blissfully in love and feeling empathy for another sister who has not been blessed as she. Knowing the era that this moment in time portrays, I think the Broadway car is a street car in which the three characters are riding. Blessings to Sarah may you never see a day without love wherever you are.... (Report) Reply

  • Neela Nath (10/5/2012 8:47:00 AM)

    the other woman perhaps the altar ego of the poetess, who was looking sick and dull as the poetess's soul was sick for her lover's life. (Report) Reply

  • Pranab K Chakraborty (10/5/2012 7:41:00 AM)

    Her body was a thing grown thin,
    Hungry for love that never came; ...

    Astonishing experience in poetry reading. Its the common feature of women in third world. Great..................Pranab k c (Report) Reply

  • A B (10/5/2012 5:39:00 AM)

    gud 1...shows the thinking of women in general (Report) Reply

  • Thumbelina Mumbelina (8/25/2012 12:22:00 PM)

    Amazing how so many would-be critics judge this poem so literally, when in fact it is an interpretation of someone's feelings put to verse.. This is one of my favorites, and not because I believe that if I do not have the same love my entire life that I will shrivel into an old maid. I love it because when I feel loved, there is a light inside of me that feels as if it shines (for those of you taking this poem literally, my eyes do not glow -rolls eyes) - embodying a youth and vitality of the spirit. When my partner looks at me, I feel loved. It might not last forever, but this song is something Sarah must have felt in a moment's pause. It is beautiful. And if you truly believe her that naive, then you clearly have not read all of her poetry. (Report) Reply

  • Juan Olivarez (10/5/2011 9:06:00 AM)

    The so very obvious that Kevin Straw missed two years ago is that she was not an old maid. She had a lover by her side, so she obviously was getting it on. So no matter what the future might hold, she was no old maid, she got some. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (10/5/2011 3:24:00 AM)

    Comparison of good and bad does not come in the way of love between lovers! I think the lover has done the right thing and the lady need not compare and think otherwise; but perhaps the poet is saying about the nature of woman here! (Report) Reply

  • Guybrush Threepwood (10/5/2009 7:09:00 PM)

    Eh, she's being a little ignorant, maybe a little vain, but I think you have to admire the youthful exuberance of the forever love she believes herself in possession of first before you see the negatives. (Report) Reply

  • Robart Frocheart (10/5/2009 5:50:00 PM)

    Can a lover ever see what you would be without them....and that it would be bad? what a narcissistic thought he is thinking....she'd be better to wind up the old maid than to marry this creep. A real lover only sees YOU...not what bad thing they are rescuing you from becoming......this is more like pity....so he's gonna rescue you out of a duty to his image of you? ....wow...my hero... RUN Sarah...............RUN... a picture of no love at all. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (10/5/2009 5:46:00 AM)

    Teasdale is inferring a great deal about a woman she sees passing in a car! I think that if she deduces from her lover's eyes that she will never be the woman she imagines that woman to be, she could well be in for a terrible shock. Hubris I think the word is. (Report) Reply

  • Tia Maria (10/5/2008 2:46:00 PM)

    Never say Never
    (did I say that)
    Well never ever ever
    will I become that (Report) Reply

  • Polar Bear (10/5/2007 6:19:00 PM)

    i like this poem alot. especially the last bit
    ' his eyes were magic to defy....' :) (Report) Reply

Read all 22 comments »

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