William Drake: On "The Unchanging"

[Sara Teasdale] responded in March 1923 to a request from a Professor Lewis for comments on her poetry. She preserved her answers to his questions, although the questions themselves are lacking. In a paragraph titled “The Pattern of a Poem,” she wrote:

The planning of the pattern of a poem is largely subconscious with me. Naturally the idea needs more or less space according to whether it is simply a statement of an emotion, or whether added to the statement, a deduction is made. The patterns of most of my lyrics are a matter of balance and speed rather than a matter of design which can be perceived by the eye. The pattern of “The Unchanging” in “Flame and Shadow” is necessarily very simple for the poem is only 8 lines long. It consists of the balancing of a picture of the sea shore against the mood of the maker of the poem. The poem rises swiftly for the first three lines and subsides on the slower fourth line. It rises again for two lines and subsides finally on the slow last two lines. The short and very slow last line is an emotional echo of the 4th line.


“The better the lyric is the less I consciously plan it,” she added. She had moved away from the regular metrics of her early work, she said. “The best modern poets can not be pinned down to regular and exact metres for very long.” And on the matter of intention, she said, “Often I am seeking not so much communication with my reader as a better understanding of myself.”


Drake, William. Sara Teasdale: Woman and Poet. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1979. 214.


Title William Drake: On "The Unchanging" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author William Drake Criticism Target Sara Teasdale
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 29 Jul 2014
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication No Data
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