So in reading this lovely little bio of Sara we find a little girl, born into privilege, a child with servants and a huge bank account to go with them. She grows up, educated, private schools, etc. and slightly ill most of her sheltered life, but always the poet. Finally, as she matures she finds her gift recognized by teachers, and her parents are elated. With encouragement of her teachers and the first real friends this shy girl has made Sara dives into writing, which centers most of the rest of her life. Now, here’s this homely grown-up girl (she is called un-pretty, but she has a certain quality of beauty I think), and she has published some volumes of poetry, most to immense reviews. Her first volume is published in 1907. By 1913, she is well-established in the artist’s field and a friend wants Sara to meet a man, one who admires her through her work, and is already smitten. Of all people Sara is introduced to Vachel Lindsay. He calls upon her at her parents house, “he is well on his way to falling in love with her. He is a strong, vital man, with a delightful sense of humor, and an energetic enthusiasm . He rushes into Sara’s life like a passionate tempest, courting her with long, ardent letters, bewildering, and, for a time, almost bemusing her.”
Well, their love affair goes on. And after a time, Vachel, a totally free dude, tells Sara of his deep love for her, excited he is by the torrent of his pursuit, and he wants to marry her.
Sara considers this for a time.
But we must understand Vachel. He’s a guy totally opposite, except for being a poet, than our fair Sara. He has broken ties with his family, travels a lot finding inspiration for his poems. He does odd jobs to get by. Obligation is a hinge to his freedom, and marriage is an obligation to the first degree. Sara realizes this. But he seems not to, still insists that they should marry. (Getting into her virginal pants must have been quite an engaging prospect, or perhaps they shared a poetic bond beyond the stars, for let’s face it, Vachel must not have had a problem with the ladies…) In any case, her parents disapproved. He was certainly not rich enough, certainly not capable of providing the life she was used to. Sara, too, knew the bond would be disastrous for both of them. She had no longing to travel, and this would bind Vachel’s wings, and possibly his inspiration, his artistic life completely.
Sara declines his proposal, and instead agrees to marry the very settled businessman named Ernst Filsinger. (His name even sounds settled to me!) Ernst for his part, shares Sara’s love for poetry and the arts, is devoted to her and her work, and supports her completely. But things fizzle quicker than expected for Sara. Eventually, their differences add up, and Sara does a brave thing for the time and goes to Reno and gets a divorce.
I just have to think that maybe she missed the boat with Vachel. Perhaps she would have found a soul-seeking passion that would have broken the confines she set on herself being a home-body, working diligently on her own, staying away from the social life, and the traveling writer’s life. She sort-of became a recluse to herself, an enigma that made others wonder about and admire. So much of what she wrote is lovely, nice, precise, perfectly rhymed and timed, elegant. She seems to shine with pleasure and happiness even with her expression of heartbreak. I just wonder if she ever got pissed off!!?? Thus, the reason for this post, which has become longer than I thought. So, I’ve taken the liberty of including one of my favorites of Sara Teasdale’s poems with substantial eloquent adjectives added. The following is my version of “What Do I Care?”
What do I fucking care, in the dreams and the languor of sucking spring,
That my damned songs do not friggin’ show me at all?
For they are a bull-shit fragrance, and I am a bloody flint and a fucking fire!
I am the hell bent answer, they are only the lousy call.
But what do I fucking care, for sap-sucking love will be over all too soon,
Let my stilted heart have its say, damn-it! and my freakin’ mind stand idly by,
For my mind is fucking proud and fucking strong enough to be silent,
It is my love-stained broken heart that makes my fucked-up songs, not I.
Poem image: Headlight Black Demon III by Monika Stojak