The sun was gone, and the moon was coming
Over the blue Connecticut hills;
The west was rosy, the east was flushed,
And over my head the swallows rushed
This way and that, with changeful wills.
I heard them twitter and watched them dart
Now together and now apart
Like dark petals blown from a tree;
The maples stamped against the west
Were black and stately and full of rest,
And the hazy orange moon grew up
And slowly changed to yellow gold
While the hills were darkened, fold on fold
To a deeper blue than a flower could hold.
Down the hill I went, and then
I forgot the ways of men,
For night-scents, heady, and damp and cool
Wakened ecstasy in me
On the brink of a shining pool.
O Beauty, out of many a cup
You have made me drunk and wild
Ever since I was a child,
But when have I been sure as now
That no bitterness can bend
And no sorrow wholly bow
One who loves you to the end?
And though I must give my breath
And my laughter all to death,
And my eyes through which joy came,
And my heart, a wavering flame;
If all must leave me and go back
Along a blind and fearful track
So that you can make anew,
Fusing with intenser fire,
Something nearer your desire;
If my soul must go alone
Through a cold infinity,
Or even if it vanish, too,
Beauty, I have worshipped you.
Let this single hour atone
For the theft of all of me.
When I have ceased to break my wings
Against the faultiness of things,
And learned that compromises wait
Behind each hardly opened gate,
When I can look Life in the eyes,
Grown calm and very coldly wise,
Life will have given me the Truth,
And taken in exchange — my youth.
In a Burying Ground
This is the spot where I will lie
When life has had enough of me,
These are the grasses that will blow
Above me like a living sea.
These gay old lilies will not shrink
To draw their life from death of mine,
And I will give my body’s fire
To make blue flowers on this vine.
“O Soul,” I said, “have you no tears?
Was not the body dear to you?”
I heard my soul say carelessly,
“The myrtle flowers will grow more blue.”
I heard a wood thrush in the dusk
Twirl three notes and make a star —
My heart that walked with bitterness
Came back from very far.
Three shining notes were all he had,
And yet they made a starry call —
I caught life back against my breast
And kissed it, scars and all.
From my spirit’s gray defeat,
From my pulse’s flagging beat,
From my hopes that turned to sand
Sifting through my close-clenched hand,
From my own fault’s slavery,
If I can sing, I still am free.
For with my singing I can make
A refuge for my spirit’s sake,
A house of shining words, to be
My fragile immortality.
Let it be forgotten, as a flower is forgotten,
Forgotten as a fire that once was singing gold.
Let it be forgotten forever and ever—
Time is a kind friend, he will make us old.
If anyone asks, say it was forgotten
Long and long ago—
As a flower, as a fire, as a hushed footfall
In a long forgotten snow.
My Heart is Heavy
My heart is heavy with many a song
Like ripe fruit bearing down the tree,
But I can never give you one –
My songs do not belong to me.
Yet in the evening, in the dusk
When moths go to and fro,
In the gray hour if the fruit has fallen,
Take it, no one will know.
Nights Without Sleep
Nights without sleep and days
That burn like smoldering fire,
Nerves with the ceaseless cry
Of wind in a tight-drawn wire —
Years of this leaving me nothing
But a handful of songs like these,
That people think were happily written
In an hour of ease.
What Do I Care?
What do I care, in the dreams and the languor of spring,
That my songs do not show me at all?
For they are a fragrance, and I am a flint and a fire,
I am an answer, they are only a call.
But what do I care, for love will be over so soon,
Let my heart have its say and my mind stand idly by,
For my mind is proud and strong enough to be silent,
It is my heart that makes my songs, not I.
Alone in the night
On a dark hill
With pines around me
Spicy and still,
And a heaven full of stars
Over my head,
White and topaz
And misty red;
Myriads with beating
Hearts of fire
Cannot vex or tire;
Up the dome of heaven
Like a great hill,
I watch them marching
Stately and still,
And I know that I
Am honored to be
Of so much majesty.
As the waves of perfume, heliotrope, rose,
Float in the garden when no wind blows,
Come to us, go from us, whence no one knows;
So the old tunes float in my mind,
And go from me leaving no trace behind,
Like fragrance borne on the hush of the wind.
But in the instant the airs remain
I know the laughter and the pain
Of times that will not come again.
I try to catch at many a tune
Like petals of light fallen from the moon,
Broken and bright on a dark lagoon,
But they float away — for who can hold
Youth, or perfume or the moon’s gold?
I should be glad of loneliness
And hours that go on broken wings,
A thirsty body, a tired heart
And the unchanging ache of things,
If I could make a single song
As lovely and as full of light,
As hushed and brief as a falling star
On a winter night.
The New Moon
Day, you have bruised and beaten me,
As rain beats down the bright, proud sea,
Beaten my body, bruised my soul,
Left me nothing lovely or whole —
Yet I have wrested a gift from you,
Day that dies in dusky blue:
For suddenly over the factories
I saw a moon in the cloudy seas —
A wisp of beauty all alone
In a world as hard and gray as stone —
Oh who could be bitter and want to die
When a maiden moon wakes up in the sky?
Oh, I could let the world go by,
Its loud new wonders and its wars,
But how will I give up the sky
When winter dusk is set with stars?
And I could let the cities go,
Their changing customs and their creeds, —
But oh, the summer rains that blow
In silver on the jewel-weeds!
The Broken Field
My soul is a dark ploughed field
In the cold rain;
My soul is a broken field
Ploughed by pain.
Where grass and bending flowers
The field lies broken now
For another sowing.
Great Sower when you tread
My field again,
Scatter the furrows there
With better grain.
When I am dying, let me know
That I loved the blowing snow
Although it stung like whips;
That I loved all lovely things
And I tried to take their stings
With gay unembittered lips;
That I loved with all my strength,
To my soul’s full depth and length,
Careless if my heart must break,
That I sang as children sing
Fitting tunes to everything,
Loving life for its own sake.
Sara Teasdale was born on this day in 1884 in St. Louis, Missouri.