Sara Teasdale (8 August 1884 – 29 January 1933 / Missouri)
Biography of Sara Teasdale
Sara Teasdale was an American lyrical poet. She was born Sara Trevor Teasdale in St. Louis, Missouri, and after her marriage in 1914 she went by the name Sara Teasdale Filsinger.
Sara Teasdale was born on August 8, 1884. She had poor health for most of her life, and it was only at age 14 that she was well enough to begin school. In 1898 she began attending Mary Institute, but switched rapidly to Hosmer Hall in 1899, where she finished in 1903.
Teasdale's first poem was published in Reedy's Mirror, a local newspaper, in 1907. Her first collection of poems, Sonnets to Duse and Other Poems, was published that same year.
Teasdale's second collection of poems, Helen of Troy and Other Poems, was published in 1911. It was well received by critics, who praised its lyrical mastery and romantic subject matter.
In the years 1911 to 1914, Teasdale was courted by several men, including poet Vachel Lindsay, who was absolutely in love with her but did not feel that he could provide enough money or stability to keep her satisfied. She chose instead to marry Ernst Filsinger, who had been an admirer of her poetry for a number of years, on December 19, 1914.
Teasdale's third poetry collection, Rivers to the Sea, was published in 1915 and was a best seller, being reprinted several times. A year later, in 1916 she moved to New York City with Filsinger, where they resided in an Upper West Side apartment on Central Park West.
In 1918, her poetry collection Love Songs (released 1917) won three awards: the Columbia University Poetry Society prize, the 1918 Pulitzer Prize for poetry and the annual prize of the Poetry Society of America.
Filsinger was away a lot on business which caused a lot of loneliness for Teasdale. In 1929, she moved interstate for three months, thereby satisfying the criteria to gain a divorce. She did not wish to inform Filsinger, and only did so at the insistence of her lawyers as the divorce was going through—Filsinger was shocked and surprised.
Post-divorce, Teasdale remained in New York City, living only two blocks away from her old home on Central Park West. She rekindled her friendship with Vachel Lindsay, who was by this time married with children.
In 1933, she committed suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills. Her friend Vachel Lindsay had committed suicide two years earlier. She is interred in the Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis.
Teasdale's suicide and "I Shall Not Care"
A common urban legend surrounds Teasdale's suicide. The legend claims that her poem "I Shall Not Care" (which features themes of abandonment, bitterness, and contemplation of death) was penned as a suicide note to a former lover. However, the poem was actually first published in her 1915 collection Rivers to the Sea, a full 18 years before her suicide:
"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.
Legacy and influence
The poem "There Will Come Soft Rains" from her 1920 collection Flame and Shadow inspired and is featured in a famous short story of the same name by Ray Bradbury.
In 1967 Tom Rapp and the group Pearls Before Swine recorded a musical rendition of "I Shall Not Care" on their first album One Nation Underground.
In 1994, she was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
In 2010, Teasdale's works were for the first time published in Italy, translated by Silvio Raffo.
- "Did You Never Know?"
- "I Am Not Yours"
- "I Have Loved Hours at Sea"
- "It Is Not a Word"
- "It Will Not Change"
- "Like Barley Bending"
- "My Heart Is Heavy"
- "Oh Day of Fire and Sun"
- "Oh You Are Coming"
- "Only in Sleep"
- "The Dreams of My Heart"
- "The Old Maid"
- "What Do I Care?"
- A Cry
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Willow, in your April gown
Delicate and gleaming,
Do you mind in years gone by
All my dreaming?
Spring was like a call to me
That I could not answer,
I was chained to loneliness,
I, the dancer.
Willow, twinkling in the sun,
Still your leaves and hear me,
I can answer spring at last,
Love is near me!