Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)
Sara Trevor Teasdale est née à St. Louis, au Missouri, le 8 août 1884, dans une famille établie et dévote. Elle fut éduquée à la maison jusqu'à l'âge de 9 ans puis dans une école privée, Hosmer Hall. Elle se rendit souvent à Chicago, où elle devint une habituée du magazine Poetry et du cercle de Harriet Monroe. En 1905, elle voyagea en Europe. Elle publia son premier poème en mai 1907, dans l'hebdomadaire de St. Louis, le Reedy's Mirror, et son premier recueil, Sonnets to Duse, and Other Poems la même année. Elle maria l'homme d'affaires Ernst B. Filsinger le 19 décembre 1914 ; elle avait auparavant rejeté les avances de plusieurs prétendants, y compris le poète Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931). Elle suivit son époux à New York en 1916. En 1918, elle reçut le prix annuel de la Poetry Society of America pour son volume Love Songs, et le prix de la Columbia University Poetry Society, précurseur du prix Pulitzer pour la poésie. Dans la décennie qui suivit, elle publia plusieurs recueils de poésie. Son mariage se termina par un divorce en 1929. Elle vécut ensuite en semi-invalide. Affaiblie par la pneumonie, elle se suicida à New York le 29 janvier 1933, avec une surdose de barbituriques, à l'âge de 48 ans.
Les poèmes de Teasdale sont souvent courts, d'une simplicité classique et d'une intensité tranquille chargée d'un lyrisme personnel. Les poèmes qui suivirent son divorce montrent une grande force de caractère et reflètent la souffrance de l'abandon et de la solitude. Ses dernières oeuvres affichent une finesse croissante et une grande subtilité poétiques.
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.
Arcturus in Autumn
When, in the gold October dusk, I saw you near to setting,
Arcturus, bringer of spring,
Lord of the summer nights, leaving us now in autumn,
Having no pity on our withering ;
Oh, then I knew at last that my own autumn was upon me,
I felt it in my blood,
Restless as dwindling streams that still remember
The music of their flood.
There in the thickening dark a wind-bent tree above me
Loosed its last leaves in flight --
I saw you sink and vanish, pitiless Arcturus,
You will not stay to share our lengthening night.
Sara Teasdale, 1926
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.
The Crystal Gazer
I shall gather myself into myself again,
I shall take my scattered selves and make them one,
I shall fuse them into a polished crystal ball
Where I can see the moon and the flashing sun.
I shall sit like a sibyl, hour after hour intent,
Watching the future come and the present go --
And the little shifting pictures of people rushing
In tiny self-importance to and fro.
The Falling Star
I saw a star slide down the sky.
Blinding the north as it went by.
Too burning and too quick to hold.
Too lovely to be bought or sold.
Good only to make wishes on.
And then forever to be gone.
I stood beside a hill
Smooth with new-laid snow,
A single star looked out
From the cold evening glow.
There was no other creature
That saw what I could see --
I stood and watched the evening star
As long as it watched me.
"I Know the Stars"
I know the stars by their names,
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.
In the Train
Fields beneath a quilt of snow
From which the rocks and stubble sleep,
And in the west a shy white star
That shivers as it wakes from deep.
The restless rumble of the train,
The drowsy people in the car,
Steel blue twilight in the world,
And in my heart a timid star.
Sara Teasdale, 1915
I am wild, I will sing to the trees,
I will sing to the stars in the sky,
I love, I am loved, he is mine,
Now at last I can die !
I am sandaled with wind and with flame,
I have heart-fire and singing to give,
I can tread on the grass or the stars,
Now at last I can live !
Sara Teasdale, 1915
One by one, like leaves from a tree,
All my faiths have forsaken me ;
But the stars above my head
Burn in white and delicate red,
And beneath my feet the earth
Brings the sturdy grass to birth.
I who was content to be
But a silken-singing tree,
But a rustle of delight
In the wistful heart of night --
I have lost the leaves that knew
Touch of rain and weight of dew.
Blinded by a leafy crown
I looked neither up nor down --
But the little leaves that die
Have left me room to see the sky ;
Now for the first time I know
Stars above and earth below.
Moon, worn thin to the width of a quill,
Into the dawn clouds flying,
How good to go, light into light, and still
Giving light, dying.
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.
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.
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 ?
Night in Arizona
The moon is a charring ember
Dying into the dark ;
Off in the crouching mountains
The stars are heavy in heaven,
Too great for the sky to hold --
What if they fell and shattered
The earth with gold ?
No lights are over the mesa,
The wind is hard and wild,
I stand at the darkened window
And cry like a child.
Sara Teasdale, 1915
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.
A November Night
There ! See the line of lights,
A chain of stars down either side the street --
Why can't you lift the chain and give it to me,
A necklace for my throat ? I'd twist it round
And you could play with it. You smile at me
As though I were a little dreamy child
Behind whose eyes the fairies live. . . . And see,
The people on the street look up at us
All envious. We are a king and queen,
Our royal carriage is a motor bus,
We watch our subjects with a haughty joy. . . .
How still you are ! Have you been hard at work
And are you tired to-night ? It is so long
Since I have seen you -- four whole days, I think.
My heart is crowded full of foolish thoughts
Like early flowers in an April meadow,
And I must give them to you, all of them,
Before they fade. The people I have met,
The play I saw, the trivial, shifting things
That loom too big or shrink too little, shadows
That hurry, gesturing along a wall,
Haunting or gay -- and yet they all grow real
And take their proper size here in my heart
When you have seen them. . . . There's the Plaza now,
A lake of light ! To-night it almost seems
That all the lights are gathered in your eyes,
Drawn somehow toward you. See the open park
Lying below us with a million lamps
Scattered in wise disorder like the stars.
We look down on them as God must look down
On constellations floating under Him
Tangled in clouds. . . . Come, then, and let us walk
Since we have reached the park. It is our garden,
All black and blossomless this winter night,
But we bring April with us, you and I ;
We set the whole world on the trail of spring.
I think that every path we ever took
Has marked our footprints in mysterious fire,
Delicate gold that only fairies see.
When they wake up at dawn in hollow tree-trunks
And come out on the drowsy park, they look
Along the empty paths and say, "Oh, here
They went, and here, and here, and here ! Come, see,
Here is their bench, take hands and let us dance
About it in a windy ring and make
A circle round it only they can cross
When they come back again !" . . . Look at the lake --
Do you remember how we watched the swans
That night in late October while they slept ?
Swans must have stately dreams, I think. But now
The lake bears only thin reflected lights
That shake a little. How I long to take
One from the cold black water -- new-made gold
To give you in your hand! And see, and see,
There is a star, deep in the lake, a star !
Oh, dimmer than a pearl -- if you stoop down
Your hand could almost reach it up to me. . . .
There was a new frail yellow moon to-night --
I wish you could have had it for a cup
With stars like dew to fill it to the brim. . . .
How cold it is ! Even the lights are cold ;
They have put shawls of fog around them, see !
What if the air should grow so dimly white
That we would lose our way along the paths
Made new by walls of moving mist receding
The more we follow. . . . What a silver night !
That was our bench the time you said to me
The long new poem -- but how different now,
How eerie with the curtain of the fog
Making it strange to all the friendly trees !
There is no wind, and yet great curving scrolls
Carve themselves, ever changing, in the mist.
Walk on a little, let me stand here watching
To see you, too, grown strange to me and far. . . .
I used to wonder how the park would be
If one night we could have it all alone --
No lovers with close arm-encircled waists
To whisper and break in upon our dreams.
And now we have it ! Every wish comes true !
We are alone now in a fleecy world ;
Even the stars have gone. We two alone !
Peace flows into me
As the tide to the pool by the shore ;
It is mine forevermore,
It ebbs not back like the sea.
I am the pool of blue
That worships the vivid sky ;
My hopes were heaven-high,
They are all fulfilled in you.
I am the pool of gold
When sunset burns and dies, --
You are my deepening skies,
Give me your stars to hold.
Sara Teasdale, 1915
My heart has grown rich with the passing of years,
I have less need now than when I was young
To share myself with every comer
Or shape my thoughts into words with my tongue.
It is one to me that they come or go
If I have myself and the drive of my will,
And strength to climb on a summer night
And watch the stars swarm over the hill.
Let them think I love them more than I do,
Let them think I care, though I go alone ;
If it lifts their pride, what is it to me
Who am self-complete as a flower or a stone.
Sara Teasdale, 1933
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 are 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.
O 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 ?
O beauty, are you not enough ?
Why am I crying after love ?
Sara Teasdale, 1915
A white star born in the evening glow
Looked to the round green world below,
And saw a pool in a wooded place
That held like a jewel her mirrored face.
She said to the pool: "Oh, wondrous deep,
I love you, I give you my light to keep.
Oh, more profound than the moving sea
That never has shown myself to me !
Oh, fathomless as the sky is far,
Hold forever your tremulous star !"
But out of the woods as night grew cool
A brown pig came to the little pool ;
It grunted and splashed and waded in
And the deepest place but reached its chin.
The water gurgled with tender glee
And the mud churned up in it turbidly.
The star grew pale and hid her face
In a bit of floating cloud like lace.
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
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.
The moon is a curving flower of gold,
The sky is still and blue ;
The moon was made for the sky to hold,
And I for you.
The moon is a flower without a stem,
The sky is luminous ;
Eternity was made for them,
To-night for us.
The stately tragedy of dusk
Drew to its perfect close,
The virginal white evening star
Sank, and the red moon rose.
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.
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.
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.
- Project Gutenberg - Teasdale, Sara : http://www.inform.umd.edu/EdRes/ReadingRoom/Poetry/Teasdale/
- Academy of American Poets - Sara Teasdale : http://www.poets.org/poets/poets.cfm?prmID=713
- Tribute To Sara Teasdale : http://home.att.net/~Teasdale/sara.html
- Sara Teasdale Page : http://www.bonniehamre.com/Personal/Sara.htm
- The Flames and Shadows of Sara Teasdale : http://www.hearts-ease.org/cgi-bin/library_index.cgi?ID=7
- William Drake, Sara Teasdale: Woman and Poet (1979)
- Margaret Haley Carpenter, Sara Teasdale : A Biography (1960, reprinted 1977)
- Carol Schoen, Sara Teasdale (1986)
Oeuvres poétiques :
- Sonnets to Duse and Other Poems (1907)
- Helen of Troy and Other Poems (1911, revised 1922)
- Rivers to the Sea (1915)
- Love Songs (1917)
- Flame and Shadow (1920, revised 1924)
- Dark of the Moon (1926)
- Stars To-night (1930)
- Strange Victory (1933), published posthumously (1981)
- The Collected Poems (1937)
- Mirror of the Heart : Poems of Sara Teasdale, edited and introduced by William Drake (1984)
- The Collected Poems of Sara Teasdale (1996)
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