By Sara Teasdale:
The wind is tossing the lilacs,
The new leaves laugh in the sun,
And the petals fall on the orchard wall,
But for me the spring is done.
Beneath the apple blossoms
I go a wintry way,
For love that smiled in April
Is false to me in May.
The spring is fresh and fearless
And every leaf is new,
The world is brimmed with moonlight,
The lilac brimmed with dew.
Here in the moving shadows
I catch my breath and sing,
My heart is fresh and fearless
And over-brimmed with spring.
I said, “I have shut my heart
As one shuts an open door,
That Love may starve therein
And trouble me no more.”
But over the roofs there came
The wet new wind of May,
And a tune blew up from the curb
Where the street-pianos play.
My room was white with the sun
And Love cried out in me,
“I am strong, I will break your heart
Unless you set me free.”
Today’s poems are in the public domain, belong to the masses, and appear here accordingly.
Sara Teasdale (1884–1933) received public admiration for her well-crafted lyrical poetry which centered on a woman’s changing perspectives on beauty, love, and death. Many of Teasdale’s poems chart developments in her own life, from her experiences as a sheltered young woman in St. Louis, to those as a successful yet increasingly uneasy writer in New York City, to a depressed and disillusioned person who would commit suicide in 1933. Although many later critics would not consider Teasdale a major poet, she was popular in her lifetime with both the public and critics. She won the first Columbia Poetry Prize in 1918, a prize that would later be renamed the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. (Annotated biography courtesy of The Poetry Foundation.)
Editor’s Note: I don’t know of anyone who has written as many poems about the month of May as Sara Teasdale, and so, in honor of May Day yesterday, she seemed the perfect choice for today’s feature. And yet, these poems are not about May so much as they are about love, the changing seasons a metaphor for the heart. When love is kind, the poet’s “heart is fresh and fearless / And over-brimmed with spring.” But when love is fickle, the poet goes “a wintry way, / For love that smiled in April / Is false to [her] in May.”
Want to read more by and about Sara Teasdale?
Academy of American Poets
The Poetry Foundation
Love Songs (winner of the Columbia Prize for Poetry)