Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I Am Not Yours by Sara Teasdale

I've posted poems by Sara Teasdale before ("Night" and "The Look"), and each time I come across one of her poems, I find I love her work. I must, therefore, try to remember to read more of it still. In my (almost nonexistent due to current writing frenzy) spare time.

Today's choice is "I am not yours", which was the poem of the day from The Academy of American Poets a few days back. It's so nice of them to email me a poem each day. Well, not just them. The Writer's Almanac does that, too. So I read at least two poems each day, even if I don't have time to read more. But I digress.

I particularly commend today's poem to those of you who are writing romance, whether it be an entire story or just part of your work, and most especially to those of you who are writing romance for teens, who all, I think, want to be "lost" in the way Teasdale describes.

I Am Not Yours
by Sara Teasdale

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.


Form: The poem is written in rhymed iambic tetrameter, in which the odd lines do not rhyme, but the even ones do. Tetrameter means there are four (tetra) poetic feet per line, and the iambic part tells you they are iambs (a two-syllable foot composed of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one: taDUM). Iambic tetrameter = taDUM taDUM taDUM taDUM.

Discussion: By the time Teasdale wrote this poem, I seriously doubt that "blind" and "wind" rhymed, since she was referring to a great gusty blowing sort of wind, and not to being wound up in something. But we shall allow her poetic license, and I will certainly not complain about it, given the romantic, aching, swoony quality of this poem, which means, as close as I can figure: You love me, and I like you alright, but I want to be completely swept away by love.

I especially love her lines about wanting to be lost:

. . . I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.


and

Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.


Man, haven't we all been there at one point in time, so wrapped up in the emotion that we are lost? (Or didn't we at least want to be?)

For reasons that I will explain in a moment, this poem has my brainradio playing "Widmung", a lied by Robert Schumann, which was originally a poem entitled Liebesfrühling ("Love's Dawning") by Friedrich Rückert, which (as you will see if you click that link), I've translated into English and talked about before. See, in that poem (and, more to the point, in the lied setting of it), there's this gorgeous line where the poet says "Du hebst mich liebend über mich" ("You have me loving beyond myself") that keeps playing in my head when I think about this Teasdale poem.

Of course, the poem has also summoned up the song Let's Get Lost by Beck & Bat for Lashes from the soundtrack to Eclipse. I know I'm repeating myself, but man, do I love that soundtrack. And no, you needn't love the movie to love the soundtrack, although I do, in fact, like that movie quite a bit. (Because, mmmmmmmm, candyyyyyy!)

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