Sarah Teasdale (she dropped the 'h' when she first published her poetry) was born in St. Louis, Missouri on August 8, 1884, the youngest child of John Warren Teasdale and Mary Elizabeth Willard Teasdale. Her parents were already into middle age by the time of her birth, and very socially prominent in St. Louis society. Sarah was educated at home until she was nine years of age. After that she received her education at girl's schools graduating from Hosmer Hall in 1903. Although she learned to hide her feelings Sara was very analytical about her emotions and responses which later would surface in her poetry. Her parents pampered and sheltered her, making her rest whenever a stressful situation, concerning her, arose at home. Until her late twenties Sara lived at home, with brief travels within the U.S. and to Europe.
As her writing style improved, her poetry grew from child-like verses to the adult exploration of emotional life. Sara's poetry came from her emotions. Sara's first published poem appeared in the St. Louis weekly "Reedy's Mirror" in May 1907. Like other female poets of the nineteenth century (Dickinson, Rossetti, etc.) she used reclusiveness as a means of healing whenever her many illnesses and marriage demanded too much of her.
Love was the central theme of Sara's poetry although she had little or no experience with love affairs. Romance was an important part of her life as Sara first entertained thoughts of suicide in 1913 when a relationship she had counted on failed to succeed. This is probably due to the fact that she judged herself as a reflection of her father, and whenever a man rejecter her, her confidence would take a nose-dive.
Sara eventually married Ernst Filsinger in order to free herself from her family's oppressiveness, and, in 1918, she won the Columbia University Poetry Society Prize (forerunner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry). However, it was not a happy marriage as Sara had an abortion after deciding that she would be unable to have a career at the same time as motherhood. In 1929, the marriage ended in divorce. Sara's later life was spent as a semi-invalid due to her suffering a deep depression and a chronic illness as a response to stress. She committed suicide in 1933.
List of Works
1907 - Sonnets to Duse and Other Poems
1911 - Helen of Troy and Other Poems
1915 - Rivers to the Sea
1917 - Love Songs and The Answering Voice; One Hundred Love Lyrics by Women
1920 - Flame and Shadow
1922 - Rainbow Gold; Poems Old and New Selected for Girls and Boys by Sara Teasdale
1926 - Dark of the Moon
1930 - Stars To-Night, Verses Old and New for Boys and Girls
1932 - A Country House
1933 - Strange Victory
1937 - The Collected Poems of Sara Teasdale
Sara Teasdale's Poetry
The roofs are shining from the rain,
The sparrows twitter as they fly
And with a windy April grace
The little clouds go by
Yet the back-yards are bare and brown
With only one unchanging tree-
I could not be so sure of Spring
Save that it sings in me.
Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children's faces looking up
Holding wonder like a cup.
Life had loveliness to sell.
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold
And for your spirit's still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.
Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.