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Let a Poem Capture You: Review of The Collected Poems by Sara Teasdale

by Lisa Koosis

It's one of those books that just looks literary, with its unjacketed cranberry-colored cover imprinted in silver. There is no cover art, no jacket copy, no bold proclamations of the book's greatness. It simply reads: "The Collected Poems" and then Sara Teasdale. It's a book for book lovers.

I've loved Sara Teasdale -- or at least her poetry -- since I was in junior high school. I was in the seventh grade, and my English class was studying poetry. Being an aspiring writer even then, I, of course, liked poetry, but I had never really gotten the poetry bug. At least not until I was introduced to Sara Teasdale.

Sara TeasdaleThe poem we read, which is included in this marvelous collection, was "There Will Come Soft Rains." In a verse, in the span of a heartbeat, of a poem's beat, I was captured. Though I was never much for rhyming couplets, I was captured. The art of poetry had ensnared me.

"There Will Come Soft Rains" has been my favorite poem ever since, and like any good piece of literature, its meaning has changed for me many times as my life has changed, as I have grown into adulthood.

In popularity, Sara Teasdale is no Emily Dickinson. She is no Sylvia Plath, no Maya Angelou, no William Shakespeare. Many people have never even heard of her, but she is a wonderful poet nonetheless.

Perhaps best known for her poem, "The Kiss," Sara Teasdale never really achieved the prominence that her poetry merited, but perhaps, just perhaps, a book like this one makes up for it.

This collection of poems is as varied as it is beautiful. From poems of love and loss to poems based in history, Sara Teasdale is a remarkably multi-faceted poet. They say that most writers repeat one theme over and over for most of their lives. Sara Teasdale does not.

She does, however, have a particular penchant for the ocean, and perhaps this is why I am so drawn to her poetry. Some of her most beautiful work is a love song to the seashore, to the boundless ocean. She captures the essence of the coast, in its many moods, as no one else can. Few poets capture the essence of the world around us as well, or with as much style, as Sara Teasdale.

Stylistically, Sara Teasdale is equally as flexible. From rhyming couplets to Shakespearean sonnets, from lyrics to free verse, "The Collected Poems," allows you a thorough perusal of Teasdale's ever-changing style.

My copy of Sara Teasdale's collected poems is well-loved and well-read. Though I am always careful not to crack the spine, not to dog-ear the pages, not to spill a drop onto my pristine copy, it is well-read. Easily half a dozen bookmarks stick out at odd angles from the top, marking my favorites -- the poems that I am compelled to read again and again. The poems that I could recite from heart, but that I still want to lay my eyes on every now and again.

"There Will Come Soft Rains" is one of the pages bookmarked, of course.

"The Collected Poems," over 200 pages in length, is a solid collection of Teasdale's life work. Conveniently, it is indexed both by title and first line, which is a must for real poetry fans. It is laid out beautifully, divided chronologically rather than by subject matter, which lends a little more insight into the periods of her life, as well as a way to watch the progression of her art.

I hemmed and hawed a lot before I purchased my copy. At over thirty dollars, it was more than I normally could rationalize spending for a book of poetry. Much more. But this is one of those books that will have a cherished place on a bookshelf -- or, like me, in your night table drawer -- for a long, long time. This is one of those books that, with a handwritten note on the inside cover, would make a beautiful gift for a poetry aficionado. This is one of those books that you could share with your children or grandchildren on a chilly winter afternoon.

Most importantly, this is a book you will fall in love with, and isn't that what timeless poetry should really be about?

Lisa is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Poetry.

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