SUMMER NIGHT, RIVERSIDE
By Sara Teasdale
In the wild soft summer darkness
How many and many a night we two together
Sat in the park and watched the Hudson
Wearing her lights like golden spangles
Glinting on black satin.
The rail along the curving pathway
Was low in a happy place to let us cross,
And down the hill a tree that dripped with bloom
While your kisses and the flowers,
Tangled in my hair….
The frail white stars moved slowly over the sky.
And now, far off
In the fragrant darkness
The tree is tremulous again with bloom
For June comes back.
To-night what girl
Dreamily before her mirror shakes from her hair
This year’s blossoms, clinging to its coils?
Today poem is in the public domain, belongs to the masses, and appears 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: In classic Sara Teasdale style, a poem about summer is really a poem about love. I am reminded of Yehuda Amichai and Mahmoud Darwish, and of the ways in which poetry reverberates off of human experience, spanning time, space, and language.
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)