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´╗┐Title: Flame and Shadow
Author: Teasdale, Sara, 1884-1933
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Flame and Shadow" ***

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Flame and Shadow


Sara Teasdale

[Note on text:  Italicized stanzas are indented 5 spaces.
Italicized words or phrases are marked by tildes (~).
Lines longer than 78 characters are broken according to metre,
and the continuation is indented two spaces.  Also, some obvious errors
may have been corrected.]

Flame and Shadow


Sara Teasdale

Author of "Rivers to the Sea", "Love Songs", etc.

  To E.

  "Recois la flamme ou l'ombre
     De tous mes jours."



  Blue Squills
  "What Do I Care?"
  "I Have Loved Hours at Sea"
  August Moonrise



  Old Tunes
  "Only in Sleep"
  Sunset:  St. Louis
  The Coin
  The Voice


  Day and Night
  I Remembered
  "Oh You Are Coming"
  The Return
  Gray Eyes
  The Net
  The Mystery

  In a Hospital


  Open Windows
  The New Moon
  Eight O'Clock
  Lost Things
  The Broken Field
  The Unseen
  A Prayer


  Spring Torrents
  "I Know the Stars"
  "It Is Not a Word"
  "My Heart Is Heavy"
  The Nights Remember
  "Let It Be Forgotten"

  The Dark Cup


  May Day
  "Since There Is No Escape"
  "The Dreams of My Heart"
  "A Little While"
  The Garden
  The Wine
  In a Cuban Garden
  "If I Must Go"


  In Spring, Santa Barbara
  White Fog
  Morning Song
  Gray Fog
  Lovely Chance


  "There Will Come Soft Rains"
  In a Garden
  Winter Stars
  A Boy
  Winter Dusk

  By the Sea


  The Unchanging
  June Night
  "Like Barley Bending"
  "Oh Day of Fire and Sun"
  "I Thought of You"
  On the Dunes
  If Death Is Kind


  Evening:  New York
  The Silent Battle
  The Sanctuary
  At Sea
  The Long Hill


  Summer Storm
  In the End
  "It Will Not Change"
  Water Lilies
  "Did You Never Know?"
  The Treasure
  The Storm

  Songs For Myself


  The Tree
  At Midnight
  Song Making
  Red Maples
  The Wind in the Hemlock

  Flame and Shadow


  Blue Squills

  How many million Aprils came
   Before I ever knew
  How white a cherry bough could be,
   A bed of squills, how blue!

  And many a dancing April
   When life is done with me,
  Will lift the blue flame of the flower
   And the white flame of the tree.

  Oh burn me with your beauty, then,
   Oh hurt me, tree and flower,
  Lest in the end death try to take
   Even this glistening hour.

  O shaken flowers, O shimmering trees,
   O sunlit white and blue,
  Wound me, that I, through endless sleep,
   May bear the scar of you.


  Alone in the night
   On a dark hill
  With pines around me
   Spicy and still,

  And a heaven full of stars
   Over my head,
  White and topaz
   And misty red;

  Myriads with beating
   Hearts of fire
  That aeons
   Cannot vex or tire;

  Up the dome of heaven
   Like a great hill,
  I watch them marching
   Stately and still,

  And I know that I
   Am honored to be
   Of so much majesty.

  "What Do I Care?"

  What do I care, in the dreams and the languor of spring,
   That my songs do not show me at all?
  For they are a fragrance, and I am a flint and a fire,
   I am an answer, they are only a call.

  But what do I care, for love will be over so soon,
   Let my heart have its say and my mind stand idly by,
  For my mind is proud and strong enough to be silent,
   It is my heart that makes my songs, not I.


  In the silver light after a storm,
   Under dripping boughs of bright new green,
  I take the low path to hear the meadowlarks
   Alone and high-hearted as if I were a queen.

  What have I to fear in life or death
   Who have known three things:  the kiss in the night,
  The white flying joy when a song is born,
   And meadowlarks whistling in silver light.


  My forefathers gave me
   My spirit's shaken flame,
  The shape of hands, the beat of heart,
   The letters of my name.

  But it was my lovers,
   And not my sleeping sires,
  Who gave the flame its changeful
   And iridescent fires;

  As the driftwood burning
   Learned its jewelled blaze
  From the sea's blue splendor
   Of colored nights and days.

  "I Have Loved Hours at Sea"

  I have loved hours at sea, gray cities,
   The fragile secret of a flower,
  Music, the making of a poem
   That gave me heaven for an hour;

  First stars above a snowy hill,
   Voices of people kindly and wise,
  And the great look of love, long hidden,
   Found at last in meeting eyes.

  I have loved much and been loved deeply--
   Oh when my spirit's fire burns low,
  Leave me the darkness and the stillness,
   I shall be tired and glad to go.

  August Moonrise

  The sun was gone, and the moon was coming
  Over the blue Connecticut hills;
  The west was rosy, the east was flushed,
  And over my head the swallows rushed
  This way and that, with changeful wills.
  I heard them twitter and watched them dart
  Now together and now apart
  Like dark petals blown from a tree;
  The maples stamped against the west
  Were black and stately and full of rest,
  And the hazy orange moon grew up
  And slowly changed to yellow gold
  While the hills were darkened, fold on fold
  To a deeper blue than a flower could hold.
  Down the hill I went, and then
  I forgot the ways of men,
  For night-scents, heady, and damp and cool
  Wakened ecstasy in me
  On the brink of a shining pool.

  O Beauty, out of many a cup
  You have made me drunk and wild
  Ever since I was a child,
  But when have I been sure as now
  That no bitterness can bend
  And no sorrow wholly bow
  One who loves you to the end?
  And though I must give my breath
  And my laughter all to death,
  And my eyes through which joy came,
  And my heart, a wavering flame;
  If all must leave me and go back
  Along a blind and fearful track
  So that you can make anew,
  Fusing with intenser fire,
  Something nearer your desire;
  If my soul must go alone
  Through a cold infinity,
  Or even if it vanish, too,
  Beauty, I have worshipped you.

  Let this single hour atone
  For the theft of all of me.



  Places I love come back to me like music,
   Hush me and heal me when I am very tired;
  I see the oak woods at Saxton's flaming
   In a flare of crimson by the frost newly fired;
  And I am thirsty for the spring in the valley
   As for a kiss ungiven and long desired.

  I know a bright world of snowy hills at Boonton,
   A blue and white dazzling light on everything one sees,
  The ice-covered branches of the hemlocks sparkle
   Bending low and tinkling in the sharp thin breeze,
  And iridescent crystals fall and crackle on the snow-crust
   With the winter sun drawing cold blue shadows from the trees.

  Violet now, in veil on veil of evening
   The hills across from Cromwell grow dreamy and far;
  A wood-thrush is singing soft as a viol
   In the heart of the hollow where the dark pools are;
  The primrose has opened her pale yellow flowers
   And heaven is lighting star after star.

  Places I love come back to me like music--
   Mid-ocean, midnight, the waves buzz drowsily;
  In the ship's deep churning the eerie phosphorescence
   Is like the souls of people who were drowned at sea,
  And I can hear a man's voice, speaking, hushed, insistent,
   At midnight, in mid-ocean, hour on hour to me.

  Old Tunes

  As the waves of perfume, heliotrope, rose,
  Float in the garden when no wind blows,
  Come to us, go from us, whence no one knows;

  So the old tunes float in my mind,
  And go from me leaving no trace behind,
  Like fragrance borne on the hush of the wind.

  But in the instant the airs remain
  I know the laughter and the pain
  Of times that will not come again.

  I try to catch at many a tune
  Like petals of light fallen from the moon,
  Broken and bright on a dark lagoon,

  But they float away--for who can hold
  Youth, or perfume or the moon's gold?

  "Only in Sleep"

  Only in sleep I see their faces,
   Children I played with when I was a child,
  Louise comes back with her brown hair braided,
   Annie with ringlets warm and wild.

  Only in sleep Time is forgotten--
   What may have come to them, who can know?
   Yet we played last night as long ago,
  And the doll-house stood at the turn of the stair.

  The years had not sharpened their smooth round faces,
   I met their eyes and found them mild--
  Do they, too, dream of me, I wonder,
   And for them am I too a child?


  Redbirds, redbirds,
   Long and long ago,
  What a honey-call you had
   In hills I used to know;

  Redbud, buckberry,
   Wild plum-tree
  And proud river sweeping
   Southward to the sea,

  Brown and gold in the sun
   Sparkling far below,
  Trailing stately round her bluffs
   Where the poplars grow--

  Redbirds, redbirds,
   Are you singing still
  As you sang one May day
   On Saxton's Hill?

  Sunset:  St. Louis

  Hushed in the smoky haze of summer sunset,
  When I came home again from far-off places,
  How many times I saw my western city
   Dream by her river.

  Then for an hour the water wore a mantle
  Of tawny gold and mauve and misted turquoise
  Under the tall and darkened arches bearing
   Gray, high-flung bridges.

  Against the sunset, water-towers and steeples
  Flickered with fire up the slope to westward,
  And old warehouses poured their purple shadows
   Across the levee.

  High over them the black train swept with thunder,
  Cleaving the city, leaving far beneath it
  Wharf-boats moored beside the old side-wheelers
   Resting in twilight.

  The Coin

  Into my heart's treasury
   I slipped a coin
  That time cannot take
   Nor a thief purloin,--
  Oh better than the minting
   Of a gold-crowned king
  Is the safe-kept memory
   Of a lovely thing.

  The Voice

  Atoms as old as stars,
  Mutation on mutation,
  Millions and millions of cells
  Dividing yet still the same,
  From air and changing earth,
  From ancient Eastern rivers,
  From turquoise tropic seas,
  Unto myself I came.

  My spirit like my flesh
  Sprang from a thousand sources,
  From cave-man, hunter and shepherd,
  From Karnak, Cyprus, Rome;
  The living thoughts in me
  Spring from dead men and women,
  Forgotten time out of mind
  And many as bubbles of foam.

  Here for a moment's space
  Into the light out of darkness,
  I come and they come with me
  Finding words with my breath;
  From the wisdom of many life-times
  I hear them cry:  "Forever
  Seek for Beauty, she only
  Fights with man against Death!"


  Day and Night

  In Warsaw in Poland
   Half the world away,
  The one I love best of all
   Thought of me to-day;

  I know, for I went
   Winged as a bird,
  In the wide flowing wind
   His own voice I heard;

  His arms were round me
   In a ferny place,
  I looked in the pool
   And there was his face--

  But now it is night
   And the cold stars say:
  "Warsaw in Poland
   Is half the world away."


  I should be glad of loneliness
   And hours that go on broken wings,
  A thirsty body, a tired heart
   And the unchanging ache of things,
  If I could make a single song
   As lovely and as full of light,
  As hushed and brief as a falling star
   On a winter night.

  I Remembered

  There never was a mood of mine,
   Gay or heart-broken, luminous or dull,
  But you could ease me of its fever
   And give it back to me more beautiful.

  In many another soul I broke the bread,
   And drank the wine and played the happy guest,
  But I was lonely, I remembered you;
   The heart belongs to him who knew it best.

  "Oh You Are Coming"

  Oh you are coming, coming, coming,
   How will hungry Time put by the hours till then?--
  But why does it anger my heart to long so
   For one man out of the world of men?

  Oh I would live in myself only
   And build my life lightly and still as a dream--
  Are not my thoughts clearer than your thoughts
   And colored like stones in a running stream?

  Now the slow moon brightens in heaven,
   The stars are ready, the night is here--
  Oh why must I lose myself to love you,
   My dear?

  The Return

  He has come, he is here,
  My love has come home,
  The minutes are lighter
  Than flying foam,
  The hours are like dancers
  On gold-slippered feet,
  The days are young runners
  Naked and fleet--
  For my love has returned,
  He is home, he is here,
  In the whole world no other
  Is dear as my dear!

  Gray Eyes

  It was April when you came
   The first time to me,
  And my first look in your eyes
   Was like my first look at the sea.

  We have been together
   Four Aprils now
  Watching for the green
   On the swaying willow bough;

  Yet whenever I turn
   To your gray eyes over me,
  It is as though I looked
   For the first time at the sea.

  The Net

  I made you many and many a song,
   Yet never one told all you are--
  It was as though a net of words
   Were flung to catch a star;

  It was as though I curved my hand
   And dipped sea-water eagerly,
  Only to find it lost the blue
   Dark splendor of the sea.

  The Mystery

  Your eyes drink of me,
   Love makes them shine,
  Your eyes that lean
   So close to mine.

  We have long been lovers,
   We know the range
  Of each other's moods
   And how they change;

  But when we look
   At each other so
  Then we feel
   How little we know;

  The spirit eludes us,
   Timid and free--
  Can I ever know you
   Or you know me?

  In a Hospital

  Open Windows

  Out of the window a sea of green trees
   Lift their soft boughs like the arms of a dancer,
  They beckon and call me, "Come out in the sun!"
   But I cannot answer.

  I am alone with Weakness and Pain,
   Sick abed and June is going,
  I cannot keep her, she hurries by
   With the silver-green of her garments blowing.

  Men and women pass in the street
   Glad of the shining sapphire weather,
  But we know more of it than they,
   Pain and I together.

  They are the runners in the sun,
   Breathless and blinded by the race,
  But we are watchers in the shade
   Who speak with Wonder face to face.

  The New Moon

  Day, you have bruised and beaten me,
  As rain beats down the bright, proud sea,
  Beaten my body, bruised my soul,
  Left me nothing lovely or whole--
  Yet I have wrested a gift from you,
  Day that dies in dusky blue:

  For suddenly over the factories
  I saw a moon in the cloudy seas--
  A wisp of beauty all alone
  In a world as hard and gray as stone--
  Oh who could be bitter and want to die
  When a maiden moon wakes up in the sky?

  Eight O'Clock

  Supper comes at five o'clock,
   At six, the evening star,
  My lover comes at eight o'clock--
   But eight o'clock is far.

  How could I bear my pain all day
   Unless I watched to see
  The clock-hands laboring to bring
   Eight o'clock to me.

  Lost Things

  Oh, I could let the world go by,
   Its loud new wonders and its wars,
  But how will I give up the sky
   When winter dusk is set with stars?

  And I could let the cities go,
   Their changing customs and their creeds,--
  But oh, the summer rains that blow
   In silver on the jewel-weeds!


  Waves are the sea's white daughters,
   And raindrops the children of rain,
  But why for my shimmering body
   Have I a mother like Pain?

  Night is the mother of stars,
   And wind the mother of foam--
  The world is brimming with beauty,
   But I must stay at home.

  The Broken Field

  My soul is a dark ploughed field
   In the cold rain;
  My soul is a broken field
   Ploughed by pain.

  Where grass and bending flowers
   Were growing,
  The field lies broken now
   For another sowing.

  Great Sower when you tread
   My field again,
  Scatter the furrows there
   With better grain.

  The Unseen

  Death went up the hall
   Unseen by every one,
  Trailing twilight robes
   Past the nurse and the nun.

  He paused at every door
   And listened to the breath
  Of those who did not know
   How near they were to Death.

  Death went up the hall
   Unseen by nurse and nun;
  He passed by many a door--
   But he entered one.

  A Prayer

  When I am dying, let me know
  That I loved the blowing snow
   Although it stung like whips;
  That I loved all lovely things
  And I tried to take their stings
   With gay unembittered lips;
  That I loved with all my strength,
  To my soul's full depth and length,
   Careless if my heart must break,
  That I sang as children sing
  Fitting tunes to everything,
   Loving life for its own sake.


  Spring Torrents

  Will it always be like this until I am dead,
   Every spring must I bear it all again
  With the first red haze of the budding maple boughs,
   And the first sweet-smelling rain?

  Oh I am like a rock in the rising river
   Where the flooded water breaks with a low call--
  Like a rock that knows the cry of the waters
   And cannot answer at all.

  "I Know the Stars"

  I know the stars by their names,
   Aldebaran, Altair,
  And I know the path they take
   Up heaven's broad blue stair.

  I know the secrets of men
   By the look of their eyes,
  Their gray thoughts, their strange thoughts
   Have made me sad and wise.

  But your eyes are dark to me
   Though they seem to call and call--
  I cannot tell if you love me
   Or do not love me at all.

  I know many things,
   But the years come and go,
  I shall die not knowing
   The thing I long to know.


  I understood the rest too well,
   And all their thoughts have come to be
  Clear as grey sea-weed in the swell
   Of a sunny shallow sea.

  But you I never understood,
   Your spirit's secret hides like gold
  Sunk in a Spanish galleon
   Ages ago in waters cold.


  We will never walk again
   As we used to walk at night,
  Watching our shadows lengthen
   Under the gold street-light
   When the snow was new and white.

  We will never walk again
   Slowly, we two,
  In spring when the park is sweet
   With midnight and with dew,
   And the passers-by are few.

  I sit and think of it all,
   And the blue June twilight dies,--
  Down in the clanging square
   A street-piano cries
   And stars come out in the skies.

  "It Is Not a Word"

  It is not a word spoken,
   Few words are said;
  Nor even a look of the eyes
   Nor a bend of the head,
  But only a hush of the heart
   That has too much to keep,
  Only memories waking
   That sleep so light a sleep.

  "My Heart Is Heavy"

  My heart is heavy with many a song
   Like ripe fruit bearing down the tree,
  But I can never give you one--
   My songs do not belong to me.

  Yet in the evening, in the dusk
   When moths go to and fro,
  In the gray hour if the fruit has fallen,
   Take it, no one will know.

  The Nights Remember

  The days remember and the nights remember
   The kingly hours that once you made so great,
  Deep in my heart they lie, hidden in their splendor,
   Buried like sovereigns in their robes of state.

  Let them not wake again, better to lie there,
   Wrapped in memories, jewelled and arrayed--
  Many a ghostly king has waked from death-sleep
   And found his crown stolen and his throne decayed.

  "Let It Be Forgotten"

  Let it be forgotten, as a flower is forgotten,
   Forgotten as a fire that once was singing gold,
  Let it be forgotten for ever and ever,
   Time is a kind friend, he will make us old.

  If anyone asks, say it was forgotten
   Long and long ago,
  As a flower, as a fire, as a hushed footfall
   In a long forgotten snow.

  The Dark Cup

  May Day

  A delicate fabric of bird song
   Floats in the air,
  The smell of wet wild earth
   Is everywhere.

  Red small leaves of the maple
   Are clenched like a hand,
  Like girls at their first communion
   The pear trees stand.

  Oh I must pass nothing by
   Without loving it much,
  The raindrop try with my lips,
   The grass with my touch;

  For how can I be sure
   I shall see again
  The world on the first of May
   Shining after the rain?

  "Since There Is No Escape"

  Since there is no escape, since at the end
   My body will be utterly destroyed,
  This hand I love as I have loved a friend,
   This body I tended, wept with and enjoyed;
  Since there is no escape even for me
   Who love life with a love too sharp to bear:
  The scent of orchards in the rain, the sea
   And hours alone too still and sure for prayer--
  Since darkness waits for me, then all the more
  Let me go down as waves sweep to the shore
   In pride; and let me sing with my last breath;
  In these few hours of light I lift my head;
  Life is my lover--I shall leave the dead
   If there is any way to baffle death.

  "The Dreams of My Heart"

  The dreams of my heart and my mind pass,
   Nothing stays with me long,
  But I have had from a child
   The deep solace of song;

  If that should ever leave me,
   Let me find death and stay
  With things whose tunes are played out and forgotten
   Like the rain of yesterday.

  "A Little While"

  A little while when I am gone
   My life will live in music after me,
  As spun foam lifted and borne on
   After the wave is lost in the full sea.

  A while these nights and days will burn
   In song with the bright frailty of foam,
  Living in light before they turn
   Back to the nothingness that is their home.

  The Garden

  My heart is a garden tired with autumn,
   Heaped with bending asters and dahlias heavy and dark,
  In the hazy sunshine, the garden remembers April,
   The drench of rains and a snow-drop quick and clear as a spark;

  Daffodils blowing in the cold wind of morning,
   And golden tulips, goblets holding the rain--
  The garden will be hushed with snow, forgotten soon, forgotten--
   After the stillness, will spring come again?

  The Wine

  I cannot die, who drank delight
   From the cup of the crescent moon,
  And hungrily as men eat bread,
   Loved the scented nights of June.

  The rest may die--but is there not
   Some shining strange escape for me
  Who sought in Beauty the bright wine
   Of immortality?

  In a Cuban Garden

  Hibiscus flowers are cups of fire,
   (Love me, my lover, life will not stay)
  The bright poinsettia shakes in the wind,
   A scarlet leaf is blowing away.

  A lizard lifts his head and listens--
   Kiss me before the noon goes by,
  Here in the shade of the ceiba hide me
   From the great black vulture circling the sky.

  "If I Must Go"

  If I must go to heaven's end
   Climbing the ages like a stair,
  Be near me and forever bend
   With the same eyes above me there;
  Time will fly past us like leaves flying,
   We shall not heed, for we shall be
  Beyond living, beyond dying,
   Knowing and known unchangeably.


  In Spring, Santa Barbara

  I have been happy two weeks together,
   My love is coming home to me,
  Gold and silver is the weather
   And smooth as lapis is the sea.

  The earth has turned its brown to green
   After three nights of humming rain,
  And in the valleys peck and preen
   Linnets with a scarlet stain.

  High in the mountains all alone
   The wild swans whistle on the lakes,
  But I have been as still as stone,
   My heart sings only when it breaks.

  White Fog

  Heaven-invading hills are drowned
   In wide moving waves of mist,
  Phlox before my door are wound
   In dripping wreaths of amethyst.

  Ten feet away the solid earth
   Changes into melting cloud,
  There is a hush of pain and mirth,
   No bird has heart to speak aloud.

  Here in a world without a sky,
   Without the ground, without the sea,
  The one unchanging thing is I,
   Myself remains to comfort me.


  Arcturus brings the spring back
   As surely now as when
  He rose on eastern islands
   For Grecian girls and men;

  The twilight is as clear a blue,
   The star as shaken and as bright,
  And the same thought he gave to them
   He gives to me to-night.


  It will not hurt me when I am old,
     A running tide where moonlight burned
      Will not sting me like silver snakes;
  The years will make me sad and cold,
      It is the happy heart that breaks.

  The heart asks more than life can give,
     When that is learned, then all is learned;
      The waves break fold on jewelled fold,
  But beauty itself is fugitive,
      It will not hurt me when I am old.

  Morning Song

  A diamond of a morning
   Waked me an hour too soon;
  Dawn had taken in the stars
   And left the faint white moon.

  O white moon, you are lonely,
   It is the same with me,
  But we have the world to roam over,
   Only the lonely are free.

  Gray Fog

  A fog drifts in, the heavy laden
   Cold white ghost of the sea--
  One by one the hills go out,
   The road and the pepper-tree.

  I watch the fog float in at the window
   With the whole world gone blind,
  Everything, even my longing, drowses,
   Even the thoughts in my mind.

  I put my head on my hands before me,
   There is nothing left to be done or said,
  There is nothing to hope for, I am tired,
   And heavy as the dead.


  At six o'clock of an autumn dusk
   With the sky in the west a rusty red,
  The bells of the mission down in the valley
   Cry out that the day is dead.

  The first star pricks as sharp as steel--
   Why am I suddenly so cold?
  Three bells, each with a separate sound
   Clang in the valley, wearily tolled.

  Bells in Venice, bells at sea,
   Bells in the valley heavy and slow--
  There is no place over the crowded world
   Where I can forget that the days go.

  Lovely Chance

  O lovely chance, what can I do
  To give my gratefulness to you?
  You rise between myself and me
  With a wise persistency;
  I would have broken body and soul,
  But by your grace, still I am whole.
  Many a thing you did to save me,
  Many a holy gift you gave me,
  Music and friends and happy love
  More than my dearest dreaming of;
  And now in this wide twilight hour
  With earth and heaven a dark, blue flower,
  In a humble mood I bless
  Your wisdom--and your waywardness.
  You brought me even here, where I
  Live on a hill against the sky
  And look on mountains and the sea
  And a thin white moon in the pepper tree.


  "There Will Come Soft Rains"

  (War Time)

  There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
  And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

  And frogs in the pools singing at night,
  And wild plum-trees in tremulous white;

  Robins will wear their feathery fire
  Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

  And not one will know of the war, not one
  Will care at last when it is done.

  Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
  If mankind perished utterly;

  And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
  Would scarcely know that we were gone.

  In a Garden

  The world is resting without sound or motion,
   Behind the apple tree the sun goes down
  Painting with fire the spires and the windows
   In the elm-shaded town.

  Beyond the calm Connecticut the hills lie
   Silvered with haze as fruits still fresh with bloom,
  The swallows weave in flight across the zenith
   On an aerial loom.

  Into the garden peace comes back with twilight,
   Peace that since noon had left the purple phlox,
  The heavy-headed asters, the late roses
   And swaying hollyhocks.

  For at high-noon I heard from this same garden
   The far-off murmur as when many come;
  Up from the village surged the blind and beating
   Red music of a drum;

  And the hysterical sharp fife that shattered
   The brittle autumn air,
  While they came, the young men marching
   Past the village square. . . .

  Across the calm Connecticut the hills change
   To violet, the veils of dusk are deep--
  Earth takes her children's many sorrows calmly
   And stills herself to sleep.


  Bowed as an elm under the weight of its beauty,
  So earth is bowed, under her weight of splendor,
  Molten sea, richness of leaves and the burnished
   Bronze of sea-grasses.

  Clefts in the cliff shelter the purple sand-peas
  And chicory flowers bluer than the ocean
  Flinging its foam high, white fire in sunshine,
   Jewels of water.

  Joyous thunder of blown waves on the ledges,
  Make me forget war and the dark war-sorrow--
  Against the sky a sentry paces the sea-cliff
   Slim in his khaki.

  Winter Stars

  I went out at night alone;
   The young blood flowing beyond the sea
  Seemed to have drenched my spirit's wings--
   I bore my sorrow heavily.

  But when I lifted up my head
   From shadows shaken on the snow,
  I saw Orion in the east
   Burn steadily as long ago.

  From windows in my father's house,
   Dreaming my dreams on winter nights,
  I watched Orion as a girl
   Above another city's lights.

  Years go, dreams go, and youth goes too,
   The world's heart breaks beneath its wars,
  All things are changed, save in the east
   The faithful beauty of the stars.

  A Boy

  Out of the noise of tired people working,
   Harried with thoughts of war and lists of dead,
  His beauty met me like a fresh wind blowing,
   Clean boyish beauty and high-held head.

  Eyes that told secrets, lips that would not tell them,
   Fearless and shy the young unwearied eyes--
  Men die by millions now, because God blunders,
   Yet to have made this boy he must be wise.

  Winter Dusk

  I watch the great clear twilight
   Veiling the ice-bowed trees;
  Their branches tinkle faintly
   With crystal melodies.

  The larches bend their silver
   Over the hush of snow;
  One star is lighted in the west,
   Two in the zenith glow.

  For a moment I have forgotten
   Wars and women who mourn--
  I think of the mother who bore me
   And thank her that I was born.

  By the Sea

  The Unchanging

  Sun-swept beaches with a light wind blowing
   From the immense blue circle of the sea,
  And the soft thunder where long waves whiten--
   These were the same for Sappho as for me.

  Two thousand years--much has gone by forever,
   Change takes the gods and ships and speech of men--
  But here on the beaches that time passes over
   The heart aches now as then.

  June Night

  Oh Earth, you are too dear to-night,
   How can I sleep while all around
  Floats rainy fragrance and the far
   Deep voice of the ocean that talks to the ground?

  Oh Earth, you gave me all I have,
   I love you, I love you,--oh what have I
  That I can give you in return--
   Except my body after I die?

  "Like Barley Bending"

  Like barley bending
   In low fields by the sea,
  Singing in hard wind

  Like barley bending
   And rising again,
  So would I, unbroken,
   Rise from pain;

  So would I softly,
   Day long, night long,
  Change my sorrow
   Into song.

  "Oh Day of Fire and Sun"

  Oh day of fire and sun,
   Pure as a naked flame,
  Blue sea, blue sky and dun
   Sands where he spoke my name;

  Laughter and hearts so high
   That the spirit flew off free,
  Lifting into the sky
   Diving into the sea;

  Oh day of fire and sun
   Like a crystal burning,
  Slow days go one by one,
   But you have no returning.

  "I Thought of You"

  I thought of you and how you love this beauty,
   And walking up the long beach all alone
  I heard the waves breaking in measured thunder
   As you and I once heard their monotone.

  Around me were the echoing dunes, beyond me
   The cold and sparkling silver of the sea--
  We two will pass through death and ages lengthen
   Before you hear that sound again with me.

  On the Dunes

  If there is any life when death is over,
   These tawny beaches will know much of me,
  I shall come back, as constant and as changeful
   As the unchanging, many-colored sea.

  If life was small, if it has made me scornful,
   Forgive me; I shall straighten like a flame
  In the great calm of death, and if you want me
   Stand on the sea-ward dunes and call my name.


  I knew you thought of me all night,
   I knew, though you were far away;
    I felt your love blow over me
    As if a dark wind-riven sea
   Drenched me with quivering spray.

  There are so many ways to love
   And each way has its own delight--
    Then be content to come to me
    Only as spray the beating sea
   Drives inland through the night.

  If Death Is Kind

  Perhaps if Death is kind, and there can be returning,
   We will come back to earth some fragrant night,
  And take these lanes to find the sea, and bending
   Breathe the same honeysuckle, low and white.

  We will come down at night to these resounding beaches
   And the long gentle thunder of the sea,
  Here for a single hour in the wide starlight
   We shall be happy, for the dead are free.



  When I am all alone
   Envy me most,
  Then my thoughts flutter round me
   In a glimmering host;

  Some dressed in silver,
   Some dressed in white,
  Each like a taper
   Blossoming light;

  Most of them merry,
   Some of them grave,
  Each of them lithe
   As willows that wave;

  Some bearing violets,
   Some bearing bay,
  One with a burning rose
   Hidden away--

  When I am all alone
   Envy me then,
  For I have better friends
   Than women and men.


  People that I meet and pass
   In the city's broken roar,
  Faces that I lose so soon
   And have never found before,

  Do you know how much you tell
   In the meeting of our eyes,
  How ashamed I am, and sad
   To have pierced your poor disguise?

  Secrets rushing without sound
   Crying from your hiding places--
  Let me go, I cannot bear
   The sorrow of the passing faces.

  --People in the restless street,
   Can it be, oh can it be
  In the meeting of our eyes
   That you know as much of me?

  Evening:  New York

  Blue dust of evening over my city,
   Over the ocean of roofs and the tall towers
  Where the window-lights, myriads and myriads,
   Bloom from the walls like climbing flowers.


  "She can't be unhappy," you said,
   "The smiles are like stars in her eyes,
  And her laugh is thistledown
   Around her low replies."
  "Is she unhappy?" you said--
   But who has ever known
  Another's heartbreak--
   All he can know is his own;
  And she seems hushed to me,
   As hushed as though
  Her heart were a hunter's fire
   Smothered in snow.

  The Silent Battle

  (In Memory of J. W. T. Jr.)

  He was a soldier in that fight
   Where there is neither flag nor drum,
  And without sound of musketry
   The stealthy foemen come.

  Year in, year out, by day and night
   They forced him to a slow retreat,
  And for his gallant fight alone
   No fife was blown, and no drum beat.

  In winter fog, in gathering mist
   The gray grim battle had its end--
  And at the very last we knew
   His enemy had turned his friend.

  The Sanctuary

  If I could keep my innermost Me
  Fearless, aloof and free
  Of the least breath of love or hate,
  And not disconsolate
  At the sick load of sorrow laid on men;
  If I could keep a sanctuary there
  Free even of prayer,
  If I could do this, then,
  With quiet candor as I grew more wise
  I could look even at God with grave forgiving eyes.

  At Sea

  In the pull of the wind I stand, lonely,
   On the deck of a ship, rising, falling,
  Wild night around me, wild water under me,
   Whipped by the storm, screaming and calling.

  Earth is hostile and the sea hostile,
   Why do I look for a place to rest?
  I must fight always and die fighting
   With fear an unhealing wound in my breast.


  When I went to look at what had long been hidden,
   A jewel laid long ago in a secret place,
  I trembled, for I thought to see its dark deep fire--
   But only a pinch of dust blew up in my face.

  I almost gave my life long ago for a thing
   That has gone to dust now, stinging my eyes--
  It is strange how often a heart must be broken
   Before the years can make it wise.

  The Long Hill

  I must have passed the crest a while ago
   And now I am going down--
  Strange to have crossed the crest and not to know,
   But the brambles were always catching the hem of my gown.

  All the morning I thought how proud I should be
   To stand there straight as a queen,
  Wrapped in the wind and the sun with the world under me--
   But the air was dull, there was little I could have seen.

  It was nearly level along the beaten track
   And the brambles caught in my gown--
  But it's no use now to think of turning back,
   The rest of the way will be only going down.


  Summer Storm

  The panther wind
   Leaps out of the night,
  The snake of lightning
   Is twisting and white,
  The lion of thunder
   Roars--and we
  Sit still and content
   Under a tree--
  We have met fate together
   And love and pain,
  Why should we fear
   The wrath of the rain!

  In the End

  All that could never be said,
   All that could never be done,
  Wait for us at last
   Somewhere back of the sun;

  All the heart broke to forego
   Shall be ours without pain,
  We shall take them as lightly as girls
   Pluck flowers after rain.

  And when they are ours in the end
   Perhaps after all
  The skies will not open for us
   Nor heaven be there at our call.

  "It Will Not Change"

  It will not change now
   After so many years;
  Life has not broken it
   With parting or tears;
  Death will not alter it,
   It will live on
  In all my songs for you
   When I am gone.


  Remember me as I was then;
   Turn from me now, but always see
  The laughing shadowy girl who stood
   At midnight by the flowering tree,
  With eyes that love had made as bright
  As the trembling stars of the summer night.

  Turn from me now, but always hear
   The muted laughter in the dew
  Of that one year of youth we had,
   The only youth we ever knew--
  Turn from me now, or you will see
  What other years have done to me.

  Water Lilies

  If you have forgotten water lilies floating
   On a dark lake among mountains in the afternoon shade,
  If you have forgotten their wet, sleepy fragrance,
   Then you can return and not be afraid.

  But if you remember, then turn away forever
   To the plains and the prairies where pools are far apart,
  There you will not come at dusk on closing water lilies,
   And the shadow of mountains will not fall on your heart.

  "Did You Never Know?"

  Did you never know, long ago, how much you loved me--
   That your love would never lessen and never go?
  You were young then, proud and fresh-hearted,
   You were too young to know.

  Fate is a wind, and red leaves fly before it
   Far apart, far away in the gusty time of year--
  Seldom we meet now, but when I hear you speaking,
   I know your secret, my dear, my dear.

  The Treasure

  When they see my songs
   They will sigh and say,
  "Poor soul, wistful soul,
   Lonely night and day."

  They will never know
   All your love for me
  Surer than the spring,
   Stronger than the sea;

  Hidden out of sight
   Like a miser's gold
  In forsaken fields
   Where the wind is cold.

  The Storm

  I thought of you when I was wakened
   By a wind that made me glad and afraid
  Of the rushing, pouring sound of the sea
   That the great trees made.

  One thought in my mind went over and over
   While the darkness shook and the leaves were thinned--
  I thought it was you who had come to find me,
   You were the wind.

  Songs For Myself

  The Tree

  Oh to be free of myself,
   With nothing left to remember,
  To have my heart as bare
   As a tree in December;

  Resting, as a tree rests
   After its leaves are gone,
  Waiting no more for a rain at night
   Nor for the red at dawn;

  But still, oh so still
   While the winds come and go,
  With no more fear of the hard frost
   Or the bright burden of snow;

  And heedless, heedless
   If anyone pass and see
  On the white page of the sky
   Its thin black tracery.

  At Midnight

  Now at last I have come to see what life is,
   Nothing is ever ended, everything only begun,
  And the brave victories that seem so splendid
   Are never really won.

  Even love that I built my spirit's house for,
   Comes like a brooding and a baffled guest,
  And music and men's praise and even laughter
   Are not so good as rest.

  Song Making

  My heart cried like a beaten child
   Ceaselessly all night long;
  I had to take my own cries
   And thread them into a song.

  One was a cry at black midnight
   And one when the first cock crew--
  My heart was like a beaten child,
   But no one ever knew.

  Life, you have put me in your debt
   And I must serve you long--
  But oh, the debt is terrible
   That must be paid in song.


  I am alone, in spite of love,
   In spite of all I take and give--
  In spite of all your tenderness,
   Sometimes I am not glad to live.

  I am alone, as though I stood
   On the highest peak of the tired gray world,
  About me only swirling snow,
   Above me, endless space unfurled;

  With earth hidden and heaven hidden,
   And only my own spirit's pride
  To keep me from the peace of those
   Who are not lonely, having died.

  Red Maples

  In the last year I have learned
  How few men are worth my trust;
  I have seen the friend I loved
  Struck by death into the dust,
  And fears I never knew before
  Have knocked and knocked upon my door--
  "I shall hope little and ask for less,"
  I said, "There is no happiness."

  I have grown wise at last--but how
  Can I hide the gleam on the willow-bough,
  Or keep the fragrance out of the rain
  Now that April is here again?
  When maples stand in a haze of fire
  What can I say to the old desire,
  What shall I do with the joy in me
  That is born out of agony?


  So long as my spirit still
   Is glad of breath
  And lifts its plumes of pride
   In the dark face of death;
  While I am curious still
   Of love and fame,
  Keeping my heart too high
   For the years to tame,
  How can I quarrel with fate
   Since I can see
  I am a debtor to life,
   Not life to me?

  The Wind in the Hemlock

  Steely stars and moon of brass,
  How mockingly you watch me pass!
  You know as well as I how soon
  I shall be blind to stars and moon,
  Deaf to the wind in the hemlock tree,
  Dumb when the brown earth weighs on me.

  With envious dark rage I bear,
  Stars, your cold complacent stare;
  Heart-broken in my hate look up,
  Moon, at your clear immortal cup,
  Changing to gold from dusky red--
  Age after age when I am dead
  To be filled up with light, and then
  Emptied, to be refilled again.

  What has man done that only he
  Is slave to death--so brutally
  Beaten back into the earth
  Impatient for him since his birth?

  Oh let me shut my eyes, close out
  The sight of stars and earth and be
  Sheltered a minute by this tree.
  Hemlock, through your fragrant boughs
  There moves no anger and no doubt,
  No envy of immortal things.
  The night-wind murmurs of the sea
  With veiled music ceaselessly,
  That to my shaken spirit sings.
  From their frail nest the robins rouse,
  In your pungent darkness stirred,
  Twittering a low drowsy word--
  And me you shelter, even me.
  In your quietness you house
  The wind, the woman and the bird.
  You speak to me and I have heard:

       If I am peaceful, I shall see
       Beauty's face continually;
       Feeding on her wine and bread
       I shall be wholly comforted,
       For she can make one day for me
       Rich as my lost eternity.

  [End of original text.]

Biographical Note:

Sara Teasdale (1884-1933):

Teasdale was born in St. Louis, Missouri, where she attended a school
that was founded by the grandfather of another great poet from St. Louis--
T. S. Eliot.  She later associated herself more with New York City.
Her first book of poems was "Sonnets to Duse" (1907),
but "Helen of Troy" (1911) was the true launch of her career,
followed by "Rivers to the Sea" (1915), "Love Songs" (1917),
"Flame and Shadow" (1920) and more.  Her final volume, "Strange Victory",
is considered by many to be predictive of her suicide in 1933.


From an anthology of verse by Jessie B. Rittenhouse (1913, 1917):

"Teasdale, Sara (Mrs. Ernst B. Filsinger).  Born in St. Louis, Missouri,
August 10, 1884.  Educated at private schools.  She is the author
of "Sonnets to Duse", 1907; "Helen of Troy, and Other Poems", 1911;
"Rivers to the Sea", 1915; "Love Songs", 1917.  Editor of
"The Answering Voice:  A Hundred Love Lyrics by Women", 1917.
Miss Teasdale is a lyric poet of an unusually pure and spontaneous gift."

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