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 1st 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 1st published poem was in Reedy's Mirror, a local newspaper, in 1907. Her 1st collection of poems, Sonnets to Duse, and other poems, was published the same year.

Teasdale's 2nd 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 3rd 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 loneliness for Teasdale.[3] In 1929, she moved out of sate for 3 months, thereby satisfying the criteria for 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 2 blocks away from her old home on Central Park West. She rekindled her friendship with Lindsay, who was by this time married with children.

In 1933, she committed suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills.[4] Vachel Lindsay had committed suicide 2 years earlier.[5]

Teasdale is interred in the Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis.[6]

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.[7]


Teasdale was awarded the first Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1918 for Love Songs.[8] Love Songs won 2 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.[9]

In popular cultureEdit

  • Teasdale is the favorite poet of Arlington LeGrande, the main character of Jacquelyn Mitchard's novel The Most Wanted.
  • In 2008, "There Will Come Soft Rains" was included in Fallout 3 alongside Ray Bradbury's short story of the same name. The poem is recited by a robot who has survived the nuclear apocalypse.[10]
  • In 2010, Teasdale's works were for the first time published in Italy, translated by Silvio Raffo.

In musicEdit

  • In 1928 and 1931, respectively, Teasdale's poems "May Night" and "Dusk in June" were set to music by composer Marion Rogers Hickman.[11]
  • Teasdale's poem "Stars" was set as a choral piece by Ēriks Ešenvalds, a Latvian composer, for Musica Baltica. It has become widely known for its use of crystal glasses for a soothing sound of the 'stars'.[12]
  • In 1967 Tom Rapp and the group Pearls Before Swine recorded a musical rendition of "I Shall Not Care" on their 1st album One Nation Underground.
  • In 2011, composer Joseph Phibbs chose poems by Teasdale for his song-cycle From Shore to Shore,[13] and the song Pierrot,[14] and in 2013-14 he returned to her texts for his six Moon Songs.[15] He has also acknowledged her influence in his orchestral work Rivers to the Sea.[16]
  • In 2015, 11 poems of Teasdale's Flame and Shadow collection were put to music by the band Scarecrow.
  • In 2015, Daniel Elder arranged a piece titled Fresh and Fearless, based on Teasdale's poem May Night. It was commissioned for, and premiered by, The University of Akron Concert Choir.[17]
  • In 2016, an SATB choral setting of Teasdale's poem Alchemy composed by Robert Anthony LaRose was premiered by the Choir of the College of William and Mary.[18]
  • In 2017, 4 poems of Teasdale's, "I have sown my Love so Wide", "Winter Night", "A Minuet of Mozart's", "Life has Lovliness to Sell" were set to music as piano songs by Barbara Arens in her "All Beautiful & Splendid Things" (Teasdale quote) published by Editions Musica Ferrum



  • 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.[19]

3 Poems by Sara Teasdale

3 Poems by Sara Teasdale

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. Vachel Lindsay, Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. Web, June 13, 2009.
  6. "Sara Teasdale,, Web, June 5, 2011.
  7. Teasdale, Sara (1915-2007). Rivers to the Sea. Montana: Kessinger Pub. Ltd.. ISBN 978-1417917457. 
  8. "Pulitzer Prizes: Poetry,", Web, June 28, 2011.
  9. St. Louis Walk of Fame. "St. Louis Walk of Fame Inductees". Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  10. "Fallout 3: Mister Handy Recites A Poem". Bethesda Software. Retrieved 27 November 2017. 
  13. James Boyd, guitar with Michael Chance, counter-tenor, in recording "Joseph Phibbs – The Canticle of the Rose", NMC Debut Discs D191. Notes include composer's commentary. Published by Ricordi.
  14. Premiere: Lesley-Jane Rogers, John Turner, Janet Simpson in 'Antony Hopkins: A Portrait', Divine Art DDA21217. Published by Ricordi.
  15. Performed by Lesley-Jane Rogers, soprano, Carole Nash Room, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, 26 October 2014, (Lesley Jane Rogers), and with members of the Dr K. Sextet, 'Pierrot Kabarett' Concert, Club Inegales, Gower Street, London, 22 January 2015 (Dr K. Sextet).
  16. Premiere: The Anvil, Basingstoke, 22 June 2012. London Premiere: Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Esa-Pekka Salonen, Royal Festival Hall, 28 June 2012. Interview: 'Joseph Phibbs: Rivers to the Sea (New Commission)', Philharmonia Orchestra video, 2012, Vimeo. Listing/Review: Douglas Cooksey, 'Philharmonia Orchestra/Esa-Pekka Salonen at Royal Festival Hall – Phibbs’s Rivers to the Sea & Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony', Classical Source. Published by Ricordi.
  17. "Daniel Elder - Welcome" (in en-us). 
  19. "Sara Teasale," Poetry Foundation, Web, June 29, 2011.

External links Edit

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