Sara Teasdale (1884-1933) in 1919. Photo by Arnold Genthe (1869-1942). Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Sara Trevor Teasdale (August 8, 1884 - January 29, 1933), was an American poet who won the first Pulitzer Prize awarded for poetry.


Teasdale was born in St. Louis, Missouri. She had poor health for most of her life, and it was only at age 14 that she was well enough to begin school. In 1898 she began attending Mary Institute, but switched in 1899 to Hosmer Hall, where she finished in 1903.

Teasdale's first poem was published in Reedy's Mirror, a local newspaper, in 1907. Her first collection of poems, Sonnets to Duse, and other poems, was published the same year.

Teasdale's second collection, Helen of Troy, and other poems, was published in 1911. It was well received by critics, who praised its lyrical mastery and romantic subject matter.[1]

In the years 1911 to 1914, Teasdale courted a few men, including poet Vachel Lindsay, who was absolutely in love with her but did not feel that he could provide enough money or stability to keep her satisfied. She chose instead to marry Ernst Filsinger, who had been a fan of her poetry for a number of years, on December 19, 1914. (After her marriage she went by the name "'Sara Teasdale Filsinger'").[2]

Teasdale's third poetry collection, Rivers to the Sea, was published in 1915 and was a best seller, being reprinted several times. A year later, in 1916 she moved to New York City with Filsinger, where they resided in an Upper West Side apartment on Central Park West. Her collection Love Songs was released in 1917, and Flame and Shadow in 1920.

Filsinger was away a lot on business which caused a lot of loneliness for Teasdale.[3]In 1929, she moved interstate for three months, thereby satisfying the criteria to gain a divorce. She did not wish to inform Filsinger, and only did so at the insistence of her lawyers as the divorce was going through - Filsinger was shocked and surprised. Post-divorce, Teasdale remained in New York City, living only two blocks away from her old home on Central Park West. She rekindled her friendship with Vachel Lindsay, who was by this time married with children. In 1933, she committed suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills.[4] Her friend Vachel Lindsay had committed suicide two years earlier.

She is interred in the Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis.[5]

Urban legendEdit

A common false belief surrounding Teasdale's suicide is that her poem "I Shall Not Care" (which features a speaker who imagines her own death) was penned as a suicide note to a former lover. However, the poem was published in her 1915 collection Rivers to the Sea, 18 years previously.[6]


Teasdale was awarded the first Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1918 for Love Songs.[7] Love Songs won two other prestigious awards: the Columbia University Poetry Society prize, and the annual prize of the Poetry Society of America.

Her poem "There Will Come Soft Rains" from her 1920 collection Flame and Shadow inspired and featured in a famous short story of the same name by Ray Bradbury.

In 1994, she was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.



  • Sonnets to Duse, and other poems. Boston: Poet Lore, 1907.
  • Helen of Troy, and other poems. New York: Putnam's, 1911.
  • Rivers to the Sea. New York: Macmillan, 1915.
  • Love Songs. New York: Macmillan, 1917
    • new edition (with photographs by Eric Bauer). New York: Macmillan, 1975.
  • Vignettes of Italy: A Cycle of nine songs for high voice. Boston: O.D. Ditson, 1919.
  • Flame and Shadow. New York: Macmillan, 1920;
    • revised edition. London: Cape, 1924.
  • Dark of the Moon. New York: Macmillan, 1926.
  • A Country House (drawings by Herbert F. Roese). New York: Knopf, 1932.
  • Strange Victory. New York: Macmillan, 1933.
  • Collected Poems. New York: Macmillan, 1937.
  • Mirror of the Heart: Poems (edited by William Drake). Macmillan, 1984.


  • Stars To-Night: Verses new and old for boys and girls. New York: Macmillan, 1930.
  • Christmas Carol (illustrated by Dale Gottlieb). New York: Holt, 1993.


  • The Answering Voice: One hundred love lyrics by women. Boston: Houghton, 1917;
    • enlarged edition. New York: Macmillan, 1928.
    • The Answering Voice: Love lyrics by women (new edition with additional poems). Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1971.
  • Rainbow Gold: Poems old and new for boys and girls (illustrated by Dugald Stewart Walker). New York: Macmillan, 1922.

.Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy the Poetry Foundation.[8]

Poems by Sara TeasdaleEdit

  1. The Ghost
  2. Song (Let it be forgotten)
  3. There Will Come Soft Rains

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. "Biography of Sara Teasdale - Lulu Poetry". 
  2. Collection of Teasdale's letters that are contained in The Berg Collection at the New York Public Library
  3. Letters from Sara Teasdale to Mr Braithwaite express this, which can be accessed at the Berg Collection at the NYPL
  4. "Sara Teasdale (1884 - 1933)". Retrieved 22 April 2009. 
  5. "Sara Teasdale,, Web, June 5, 2011.
  6. Teasdale, Sara (1915-2007). Rivers to the Sea. Montana: Kessinger Pub. Ltd.. ISBN 978-1417917457. 
  7. "Pulitzer Prizes: Poetry,", Web, June 28, 2011.
  8. "Sara Teasale," Poetry Foundation, Web, June 29, 2011.

External links Edit

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