First published in her twenties, Sara Trevor Teasdale would, in a little over ten years’ time, receive the Pulitzer Prize for her 1917 poetry collection, Love Songs. A life of loneliness, a divorce, and ultimately suicide contrast sharply with expectations of happiness that such tremendous talent and early success would suggest was her due.
In 1933, Teasdale was found dead in her apartment in a bathtub of warm water at the age of 48. There was no visible evidence of suicide; however, she had been depressed and had discussed it with a friend recently. .It is often suggested that the latter of the poems below, “I Shall Not Care,” was written as a suicide note; however, it was published almost two decades before her death. Despite her relatively short life, Teasdale wrote over 600 poems and published seven collections of poetry.
The Silent Battle
In Memory of J. W. T. Jr.
HE was a soldier in that fight
Where there is neither flag nor drum,
And without sound of musketry
The stealthy foemen come.
Year in, year out, by day and night
They forced him to a slow retreat,
And for his gallant fight alone
No fife was blown, and no drum beat.
In winter fog, in gathering mist
The gray grim battle had its end—
And at the very last we knew
His enemy had turned his friend.
I Shall Not Care
When I am dead and over me bright April
Shakes out her rain-drenched hair,
Tho’ you should lean above me broken-hearted,
I shall not care.
I shall have peace, as leafy trees are peaceful
When rain bends down the bough,
And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted
Than you are now