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A November Night

Sara Teasdale 1884 (St. Louis) – 1933 (New York City)



There! See the line of lights,
  A chain of stars down either side the street --
  Why can't you lift the chain and give it to me,
  A necklace for my throat? I'd twist it round
  And you could play with it. You smile at me
  As though I were a little dreamy child
  Behind whose eyes the fairies live. . . . And see,
  The people on the street look up at us
  All envious. We are a king and queen,
  Our royal carriage is a motor bus,
  We watch our subjects with a haughty joy. . . .
  How still you are! Have you been hard at work
  And are you tired to-night? It is so long
  Since I have seen you -- four whole days, I think.
  My heart is crowded full of foolish thoughts
  Like early flowers in an April meadow,
  And I must give them to you, all of them,
  Before they fade. The people I have met,
  The play I saw, the trivial, shifting things
  That loom too big or shrink too little, shadows
  That hurry, gesturing along a wall,
  Haunting or gay -- and yet they all grow real
  And take their proper size here in my heart
  When you have seen them. . . . There's the Plaza now,
  A lake of light! To-night it almost seems
  That all the lights are gathered in your eyes,
  Drawn somehow toward you. See the open park
  Lying below us with a million lamps
  Scattered in wise disorder like the stars.
  We look down on them as God must look down
  On constellations floating under Him
  Tangled in clouds. . . . Come, then, and let us walk
  Since we have reached the park. It is our garden,
  All black and blossomless this winter night,
  But we bring April with us, you and I;
  We set the whole world on the trail of spring.
  I think that every path we ever took
  Has marked our footprints in mysterious fire,
  Delicate gold that only fairies see.
  When they wake up at dawn in hollow tree-trunks
  And come out on the drowsy park, they look
  Along the empty paths and say, "Oh, here
  They went, and here, and here, and here! Come, see,
  Here is their bench, take hands and let us dance
  About it in a windy ring and make
  A circle round it only they can cross
  When they come back again!" . . . Look at the lake --
  Do you remember how we watched the swans
  That night in late October while they slept?
  Swans must have stately dreams, I think. But now
  The lake bears only thin reflected lights
  That shake a little. How I long to take
  One from the cold black water -- new-made gold
  To give you in your hand! And see, and see,
  There is a star, deep in the lake, a star!
  Oh, dimmer than a pearl -- if you stoop down
  Your hand could almost reach it up to me. . . .

  There was a new frail yellow moon to-night --
  I wish you could have had it for a cup
  With stars like dew to fill it to the brim. . . .

  How cold it is! Even the lights are cold;
  They have put shawls of fog around them, see!
  What if the air should grow so dimly white
  That we would lose our way along the paths
  Made new by walls of moving mist receding
  The more we follow. . . . What a silver night!
  That was our bench the time you said to me
  The long new poem -- but how different now,
  How eerie with the curtain of the fog
  Making it strange to all the friendly trees!
  There is no wind, and yet great curving scrolls
  Carve themselves, ever changing, in the mist.
  Walk on a little, let me stand here watching
  To see you, too, grown strange to me and far. . . .
  I used to wonder how the park would be
  If one night we could have it all alone --
  No lovers with close arm-encircled waists
  To whisper and break in upon our dreams.
  And now we have it! Every wish comes true!
  We are alone now in a fleecy world;
  Even the stars have gone. We two alone!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Sara Teasdale

Sara Trevor Teasdale was an American lyrical poet. She was born on august 8, 1884, in St. Louis, Missouri, and after her marriage in 1914 she went by the name Sara Teasdale Filsinger. 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 that same year. Teasdale's second collection of poems, 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. In the years 1911 to 1914, Teasdale was courted by several 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 an admirer of her poetry for a number of years, on December 19, 1914. 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. In 1918, her poetry collection Love Songs (released 1917) won three awards: the Columbia University Poetry Society prize, the 1918 Pulitzer Prize for poetry and the annual prize of the Poetry Society of America. Filsinger was away a lot on business which caused a lot of loneliness for Teasdale. 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. Her friend Vachel Lindsay had committed suicide two years earlier. She is interred in the Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis. more…

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    "A November Night" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 18 Oct. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/34472/a-november-night>.

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