Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Look by Sara Teasdale

Yesterday's "official" poem selection was Rondeau by James Henry Leigh Hunt, sometimes called by its first (and last) three words, "Jenny kissed me." Today's poem picks up on the kissing from a woman's point of view:

The Look
by Sara Teasdale

Strephon kissed me in the spring,
  Robin in the fall,
But Colin only looked at me
  And never kissed at all.
Strephon's kiss was lost in jest,
  Robin's lost in play,
But the kiss in Colin's eyes
  Haunts me night and day.

I know she didn't mean Colin Firth, since she died before he was born. And possibly before his father was born. But still.

Like Leigh Hunt's "Rondeau", this poem uses trochaic metre (DUMta DUMta DUMta DUM(ta)), alternating lines with four feet and lines with three (and favoring strong or "masculine" endings, as opposed to Leigh Hunt, who alternated feminine and masculine endings). The second line of the poem rhymes with the fourth, and the sixth with the eighth: XAXAXBXB (where X doesn't rhyme).

Sara Teasdale was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1884. In 1913, she fell in love with the poet Vachel Lindsay, who wrote her daily love letters. However, the following year she married someone else, with whom she had an unhappy marriage. In 1929, she got a divorce. In 1931, Lindsay, with whom she had remained friends, died. Two years later, in 1933, she killed herself with an overdose. Not a happy tale (and on top of it, she was in poor health for pretty much her entire life).

In 1918, her poetry collection called Love Songs, in which "The Look" appeared, won awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (then called the Columbia Poetry Prize). Teasdale was very popular with critics and the public during her lifetime, but she has not been counted a "great poet".


Jen Robinson said...

Thanks for the poem, and the picture. I am mid-way through (re)watching Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth right now.

Kelly Fineman said...

Isn't he beautiful?