Author Picture
8 August 1884 - 29 January 1933

Sara Teasdale (Mrs. Filsinger) was born at St. Louis (pronounced Lewis), on the eighth of August, 1884. Her first book appeared when she was twenty-three, and made an impression. In 1911 she published Helen of Troy, and Other Poems; in 1915 a volume of original lyrics called Rivers to the Sea; some of these were reprinted, together with new material, in Love Poems (1917), which also contained Songs out of Sorrow—verses that won the prize offered by the Poetry Society of America for the best unpublished work read at the meetings in 1916; and in 1918 she received the Columbia University Poetry Prize of five hundred dollars, for the best book produced by an American in 1917.

In spite of her youth and the slender amount of her production, Sara Teasdale has won her way to the front rank of living American poets. She is among the happy few who not only know what they wish to accomplish, but who succeed in the attempt. How many manuscripts she burns, I know not; but the comparatively small number of pages that reach the world are nearly fleckless. Her career is beginning, but her work shows a combination of strength and grace that many a master might envy. It would be an insult to call her poems "promising," for most of them exhibit a consummate control of the art of lyrical expression. Give her more years, more experience, wider range, richer content, her architecture may become as massive as it is fine. She thoroughly understands the manipulation of the material of poetry.

Although she gives us many beautiful pictures of nature, she is primarily a poet of love. White-hot passion without a trace of anything common or unclean; absolute surrender; whole-hearted devotion expressed in pure singing. Nothing is finer than this—to realize that the primal impulse is as strong as in the breast of a cave-woman, yet illumined by clear, high intelligence, and pouring out its feeling in a voice of gracious charm.


A Biography by William Lyon Phelps,
The Advance of English Poetry in the Twentieth Century, 1918