Sara Teasdale’s work occupies a unique place in the history of American poetry and the changing fortunes of women in modern life. Out of the large band of women publishing poetry before World War I, she was the first to rise to a level of professional competence and national popularity comparable to that of men. And she did so not by couching her themes in male terms, or under the cover of religion, but by consciously writing as a woman of feminine experience. Her experience was that of a sensitive and often hesitant woman struggling to free herself from entrapment by the potent psychological forces that denied women fulfillment in terms other than wife, mother, or lover; a will to power confronting its own powerlessness. Her work was both her means of escape and her profound personal record, beginning as a conventional girl anxious to be loved, ending as a victim of her own attempted rebellion.
“And above all else remember your own fineness and be proud of it,” she once advised her young sister-in-law. Near the end of her life she wrote in “Truce,”
Pride, the lone pennon, raveled by the storm-wind
Stands in the sunset fires.
Feminine pride was her great discovery, the sustaining factor for a woman in any position of life or death. In this she had touched the deepest need of women in her time.
Drake, William. “Introduction.” Mirror of the Heart: Poems of Sara Teasdale. Ed. William Drake. New York: Macmillan, 1984. xliii-xlv.