Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Poetic Interlude with Sara Teasdale

So, it's been rather a while since my last post.  I've been busy with work, as well as some other writing--a novel, in fact--so that it has once again become difficult for me to keep up the practice of regular blog entries.  However, in the course of researching the aforementioned novel I've spent a great deal of time combing the internet for 19th century texts pertaining to various aspects of my story.  Quite often I'll turn up something of tangential interest, intriguing but of little actual use for my book.  The thought then occurred that it couldn't hurt to occasionally through a few of those bits and bobs up here, for the enjoyment of others.  And so here we are!

All that being said, at the moment I'm here to discuss another topic entirely.  Today I woke up around 4am and started poking about various archival sites for works by some of my favorite early 20th century poets, like you do (I assume everyone does do this, yes?).  In particular I was looking for books by Sara Teasdale.  I was captured by her poetic voice long ago, when in a middle school English class we were assigned to read the Ray Bradbury short story inspired by her piece 'There Will Come Soft Rains'.  Ever since I have kept an eye out for more of her writing.  Teasdale was a prolific author, the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for poetry and quite popular in her day, but unfortunately over the years interest in her work has dwindled considerably.  Aside from the odd appearance in an old, battered poetry anthology turned up at a thrift store, she has remained frustratingly elusive.

Of course, all that was long before the glorious age of digitized texts in which we now find ourselves.  Project Gutenberg has provided me with several of Sara's books, and her very first volume of poetry, Sonnets to Duse and Other Poems, may be had from Amazon for a mere pittance.  After happily pouring over this bounty while enjoying my morning tea, I have settled upon the following set of verses to share.  I find it to be an especially striking declaration of aesthetic intent, and artistic purpose.

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!"

~Sara Teasdale

1 comment:

  1. Lovely poem. I haven't read much of her work, but I've heard of her. I look forward to more snippets.