Saturday, January 07, 2006

Sara Teasdale (1884 - 1933)

American poet born in St. Louis. She wrote several volumes of delicate and highly personal poetry, including Helen of Troy, and Rivers to the Sea. An extraordinarily sensitive, reclusive woman, throughout her life, Sara suffered poor health and it was not until she was nine that she began school – a private school for children just one block away from her home. In 1898 she attended Mary Institute, and the following year she enrolled in Hosmer Hall, from which she graduated in 1903. Her influences included the actress Duse, whom she never saw perform, the British poet Christina Rossetti, and numerous trips to Europe, beginning in 1905.

In 1913, Sara was courted by two admirers. The poet Vachel Lindsay fell in love with her and at one point was sending her long, fantastic love letters on a daily basis. He asked her to marry him, but though she had deep feelings for Vachel, she instead married Ernst Filsinger, a businessman, in 1914. The following year they moved to New York City, which became her home for the rest of her life. Sara and Vachel remained fond but platonic friends throughout their lives, and Lindsay said that she was his life's "most inspiring, most satisfying friend." She was the inspiration for what Lindsay believed to be his greatest poem, The Chinese Nightingale.

Sara was very much a product of her Victorian upbringing, and she was never able to experience in life the passion that she expressed in her poetry. She was not happy in her marriage, and she divorced Ernst in 1929, against his wishes. Sara's health further declined. On the morning of January 29, 1933, in her New York City apartment, Sara took an overdose of sleeping pills, lay down in a warm bath, fell asleep, and never woke up again.


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