In her poem “I am not yours” Sara Teasdale dives into love. Her poem speaks about what she is not, but one can’t help to think: was this really what she wanted?
About “I am not yours”
It’s as if Teasdale isn’t searching for anything, but wants to have that what she’s not searching for. To become lost in love. It’s not that she has no one who showed her emotions. It’s as if she’s telling that she isn’t good enough.
In a way, Teasdale describes what is true love for her. What the ideal relationship should be like. At the end of the poem, she expresses what she wants: to be plunged into a deep love. A remedy for a light that is lost in light.
I am not yours
I am not yours, not lost in you,
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.
You love me, and I find you still
A spirit beautiful and bright,
Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.
Oh plunge me deep in love – put out
My senses, leave me deaf and blind,
Swept by the tempest of your love,
A taper in a rushing wind.
— Sara Teasdale
Sara Teasdale in 1907.
Image source: Wikipedia.
Who was Sara Teasdale?
She may not be on your shortlist of poets you read or have read a lot. Yet her work is still widely read every day. This American lyric poet has left us a legacy of beautiful poetry.
Teasdale was born and raised in St. Louis (Missouri, US). She was mostly homeschooled. At the age of ten, she went to the Mary Institute and later switched to Hosmer Hall (1899). She graduated in 1903.
Her first poem was published in 1907 in a local newspaper (William Marion Reedy’s Mirror). This was in the same year of her first publication: “Sonnets to Duse and Other Poems.” A year after “Rivers to the Sea” was published, she moved to New York (together with her husband).
She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1918 for her poetry collection “Love Songs” (1917). It took a long time before the financial issues were resolved. That’s why she was inaugurated in 1922.
The life of Teasdale resembles the poem “I am not yours.” She ended her life in 1933 (29 January) by taking an overdose sleeping pills. You must be very careful when it comes to her death. The urban legend that the poem “I Shall Not Care” is written as an announcement is not true. This poem was published in 1915, 18 years before she passed away. The poem was part of her poetry collection “Rivers to the Sea.”
The reason for Teasdale to end her life had very much to do with the love she wanted but didn’t have. She married Ernst Filsinger – who was an admirer of her work – in 1914. Because of his many business trips, she spent time alone. In 1929 she moved out of their house in Central Park West and a few months later, this was the basis to file for a divorce.
The one who she described in her poem could have been Vachel Linsday. They were close to getting married, but he believed he had no means to provide a stable financial situation. After her divorce, she lived just a few blocks away from Lindsay. They became friends again. Nothing more than that, because he was married and had three children. Lindsay ended his life in December 1931.
Well, it could have been about Linsday. Or not. This poem was also published in the same poetry collection as “I Shall Not Care.” Perhaps it’s about the other men who courted her between 1911 and 1914.
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