Helen of Troy and Other Poems
Sara Teasdale

Poets' Corner Scripting
© 2000, 2020 S.L. Spanoudis and
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Transcribed for Poets' Corner
July 2000 by S.L.Spanoudis

[This 1920 work is believed to be in the public domain in the US. Please check local restrictions in other geographies.]

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Sara Teasdale


Author of "Sonnets to Duse, and Other Poems"

To Marion Cummings Stanley


    Part II: Love Songs


      YOU bound strong sandals on my feet,
      You gave me bread and wine,
      And bade me out, 'neath sun and stars,
      For all the world was mine.

      Oh take the sandals off my feet,
      You know not what you do;
      For all my world is in your arms,
      My sun and stars are you.

    The Rose and the Bee

      IF I were a bee and you were a rose,
      Would you let me in when the gray wind blows?
      Would you hold your petals wide apart,
      Would you let me in to find your heart,
      If you were a rose?

      "If I were a rose and you were a bee,
      You should never go when you came to me,
      I should hold my love on my heart at last,
      I should close my leaves and keep you fast,
      If you were a bee."

    The Song Maker

      I MADE a hundred little songs
      That told the joy and pain of love,
      And sang them blithely, tho' I knew
      No whit thereof.

      I was a weaver deaf and blind;
      A miracle was wrought for me,
      But I have lost my skill to weave
      Since I can see.

      For while I sang -- ah swift and strange!
      Love passed and touched me on the brow,
      And I who made so many songs
      Am silent now.

    Wild Asters

      IN the spring I asked the daisies
      If his words were true,
      And the clever little daisies
      Always knew.

      Now the fields are brown and barren,
      Bitter autumn blows,
      And of all the stupid asters
      Not one knows.

    When Love Goes


      O MOTHER, I am sick of love,
      I cannot laugh nor lift my head,
      My bitter dreams have broken me,
      I would my love were dead.

      "Drink of the draught I brew for thee,
      Thou shalt have quiet in its stead."


      Where is the silver in the rain,
      Where is the music in the sea,
      Where is the bird that sang all day
      To break my heart with melody?

      "The night thou badst Love fly away,
      He hid them all from thee."

    The Wayfarer

      LOVE entered in my heart one day,
      A sad, unwelcome guest;
      But when he begged that he might stay,
      I let him wait and rest.,p>
      He broke my sleep with sorrowing,
      And shook my dreams with tears,
      And when my heart was fain to sing,
      He stilled its joy with fears.

      But now that he has gone his way,
      I miss the old sweet pain,
      And sometimes in the night I pray
      That he may come again.

    The Princess in the Tower


      The Princess sings:

      I AM the princess up in the tower
      And I dream the whole day thro'
      Of a knight who shall come with a silver spear
      And a waving plume of blue.

      I am the princess up in the tower,
      And I dream my dreams by day,
      But sometimes I wake, and my eyes are wet,
      When the dusk is deep and gray.

      For the peasant lovers go by beneath,
      I hear them laugh and kiss,
      And I forget my day-dream knight,
      And long for a love like this.


      The Minstrel sings:

      I lie beside the princess' tower,
      So close she cannot see my face,
      And watch her dreaming all day long,
      And bending with a lily's grace.

      Her cheeks are paler than the moon
      That sails along a sunny sky,
      And yet her silent mouth is red
      Where tender words and kisses lie.

      I am a minstrel with a harp,
      For love of her my songs are sweet,
      And yet I dare not lift the voice
      That lies so far beneath her feet.


      The Knight sings:

      O princess cease your dreams awhile
      And look adown your tower's gray side --
      The princess gazes far away,
      Nor hears nor heeds the words I cried.

      Perchance my heart was overbold,
      God made her dreams too pure to break,
      She sees the angels in the air
      Fly to and fro for Mary's sake.

      Farewell, I mount and go my way,
      -- But oh her hair the sun sifts thro' --
      The tilts and tourneys wait my spear,
      I am the Knight of the Plume of Blue.

    When Love was Born

      WHEN Love was born I think he lay
      Right warm on Venus' breast,
      And whiles he smiled and whiles would play
      And whiles would take his rest.

      But always, folded out of sight,
      The wings were growing strong
      That were to bear him off in flight
      Erelong, erelong.

    The Shrine

      THERE is no lord within my heart,
      Left silent as an empty shrine
      Where rose and myrtle intertwine,
      Within a place apart.

      No god is there of carven stone
      To watch with still approving eyes
      My thoughts like steady incense rise;
      I dream and weep alone.

      But if I keep my altar fair,
      Some morning I shall lift my head
      From roses deftly garlanded
      To find the god is there.

    The Blind

      THE birds are all a-building,
      They say the world's a-flower,
      And still I linger lonely
      Within a barren bower.

      I weave a web of fancies
      Of tears and darkness spun.
      How shall I sing of sunlight
      Who never saw the sun?

      I hear the pipes a-blowing,
      But yet I may not dance,
      I know that Love is passing,
      I cannot catch his glance.

      And if his voice should call me
      And I with groping dim
      Should reach his place of calling
      And stretch my arms to him,

      The wind would blow between my hands
      For Joy that I shall miss,
      The rain would fall upon my mouth
      That his will never kiss.

    Love Me

      BROWN-THRUSH singing all day long
      In the leaves above me,
      Take my love this little song,
      "Love me, love me, love me!"

      When he harkens what you say,
      Bid him, lest he miss me,
      Leave his work or leave his play,
      And kiss me, kiss me, kiss me!

    The Song for Colin

      I SANG a song at dusking time
      Beneath the evening star,
      And Terence left his latest rhyme
      To answer from afar.

      Pierrot laid down his lute to weep,
      And sighed, "She sings for me,"
      But Colin slept a careless sleep
      Beneath an apple tree.

    Four Winds

      "FOUR winds blowing thro' the sky,
      You have seen poor maidens die,
      Tell me then what I shall do
      That my lover may be true."
      Said the wind from out the south,
      "Lay no kiss upon his mouth,"
      And the wind from out the west,
      "Wound the heart within his breast,"
      And the wind from out the east,
      "Send him empty from the feast,"
      And the wind from out the north,
      "In the tempest thrust him forth,
      When thou art more cruel than he,
      Then will Love be kind to thee."


      IF he could know my songs are all for him,
      At silver dawn or in the evening glow,
      Would he not smile and think it but a whim,
      If he could know?

      Or would his heart rejoice and overflow,
      As happy brooks that break their icy rim
      When April's horns along the hillsides blow?

      I may not speak till Eros' torch is dim,
      The god is bitter and will have it so;
      And yet to-night our fate would seem less grim
      If he could know.


      I DREAM that he is mine,
      I dream that he is true,
      And all his words I keep
      As rose-leaves hold the dew.

      O little thirsty rose,
      O little heart beware,
      Lest you should hope to hold
      A hundred roses' share.

    A Maiden

      OH if I were the velvet rose
      Upon the red rose vine,
      I'd climb to touch his window
      And make his casement fine.

      And if I were the little bird
      That twitters on the tree,
      All day I'd sing my love for him
      Till he should harken me.

      But since I am a maiden
      I go with downcast eyes,
      And he will never hear the songs
      That he has turned to sighs.

      And since I am a maiden
      My love will never know
      That I could kiss him with a mouth
      More red than roses blow.

    "I Love You"

      WHEN April bends above me
      And finds me fast asleep
      Dust need not keep the secret
      A live heart died to keep.

      When April tells the thrushes,
      The meadow-larks will know,
      And pipe the three words lightly
      To all the winds that blow.

      Above his roof the swallows,
      In notes like far-blown rain,
      Will tell the little sparrow
      Beside his window-pane.

      O sparrow, little sparrow,
      When I am fast asleep,
      Then tell my love the secret
      That I have died to keep.

    But Not to me

      THE April night is still and sweet
      With flowers on every tree;
      Peace comes to them on quiet feet,
         But not to me.

      My peace is hidden in his breast
      Where I shall never be,
      Love comes to-night to all the rest,
         But not to me.

    Hidden Love

      I HID the love within my heart,
      And lit the laughter in my eyes,
      That when we meet he may not know
      My love that never dies.

      But sometimes when he dreams at night
      Of fragrant forests green and dim,
      It may be that my love crept out
      And brought the dream to him.

      And sometimes when his heart is sick
      And suddenly grows well again,
      It may be that my love was there
      To free his life of pain.

    Snow Song

      FAIRY snow, fairy snow,
      Blowing, blowing everywhere,
      Would that I
      Too, could fly
      Lightly, lightly through the air.

      Like a wee, crystal star
      I should drift, I should blow
      Near, more near,
      To my dear
      Where he comes through the snow.

      I should fly to my love
      Like a flake in the storm,
      I should die,
      I should die,
      On his lips that are warm.

    Youth and the Pilgrim

      GRAY pilgrim, you have journeyed far,
      I pray you tell to me
      Is there a land where Love is not,
      By shore of any sea?

      For I am weary of the god,
      And I would flee from him
      Tho' I must take a ship and go
      Beyond the ocean's rim.

      "I know a port where Love is not,
      The ship is in your hand,
      Then plunge your sword within your breast
      And you will reach the land."

    The Wanderer

      I SAW the sunset-colored sands,
      The Nile like flowing fire between,
      Where Rameses stares forth serene,
      And Ammon's heavy temple stands.

      I saw the rocks where long ago,
      Above the sea that cries and breaks,
      Bright Perseus with Medusa's snakes
      Set free the maiden white like snow.

      And many skies have covered me,
      And many winds have blown me forth,
      And I have loved the green bright north,
      And I have loved the cold sweet sea.

      But what to me are north and south,
      And what the lure of many lands,
      Since you have leaned to catch my hands
      And lay a kiss upon my mouth.

    I Would Live in Your Love

      I WOULD live in your love as the sea-grasses live in the sea,
      Borne up by each wave as it passes, drawn down by each wave that recedes;
      I would empty my soul of the dreams that have gathered in me,
      I would beat with your heart as it beats, I would follow your soul as it leads.


      THE wind is tossing the lilacs,
      The new leaves laugh in the sun,
      And the petals fall on the orchard wall,
      But for me the spring is done.

      Beneath the apple blossoms
      I go a wintry way,
      For love that smiled in April
      Is false to me in May.


      WAS that his step that sounded on the stair?
      Was that his knock I heard upon the door?
      I grow so tired I almost cease to care,
      And yet I would that he might come once more.

      It was the wind I heard, that mocks at me,
      The bitter wind that is more cruel than he;
      It was the wind that knocked upon the door,
      But he will never knock nor enter more.

    Less than the cloud to the wind

      LESS than the cloud to the wind,
      Less than the foam to the sea,
      Less than the rose to the storm
         Am I to thee.

      More than the star to the night,
      More than the rain to the lea,
      More than heaven to earth
         Art thou to me.

    Buried Love

      I SHALL bury my weary Love
      Beneath a tree,
      In the forest tall and black
      Where none can see.

      I shall put no flowers at his head,
      Nor stone at his feet,
      For the mouth I loved so much
      Was bittersweet.

      I shall go no more to his grave,
      For the woods are cold.
      I shall gather as much of joy
      As my hands can hold.

      I shall stay all day in the sun
      Where the wide winds blow,
      But oh, I shall weep at night
      When none will know.


      O WOE is me, my heart is sad,
      For I should never know
      If Love came by like any lad,
      Without his silver bow.

      Or if he left his arrows sharp
      And came a minstrel weary,
      I'd never tell him by his harp
      Nor know him for my dearie.

      "O go your ways and have no fear,
      For tho' Love passes by,
      He'll come a hundred times, my dear,
      Before your turn to die."


      PIERROT stands in the garden
      Beneath a waning moon,
      And on his lute he fashions
      A little silver tune.

      Pierrot plays in the garden,
      He thinks he plays for me,
      But I am quite forgotten
      Under the cherry tree.

      Pierrot plays in the garden,
      And all the roses know
      That Pierrot loves his music,
      But I love Pierrot.

    At Night

      LOVE said, "Wake still and think of me,"
      Sleep, "Close your eyes till break of day,"
      But Dreams came by and smilingly
      Gave both to Love and Sleep their way.


      WHEN Love comes singing to his heart
      That would not wake for me,
      I think that I shall know his joy
      By my own ecstasy.

      And tho' the sea were all between,
      The time their hands shall meet,
      My heart will know his happiness,
      So wildly it will beat.

      And when he bends above her mouth,
      Rejoicing for his sake,
      My soul will sing a little song,
      But oh, my heart will break.

    Love in Autumn

      I SOUGHT among the drifting leaves,
      The golden leaves that once were green,
      To see if Love were hiding there
      And peeping out between.

      For thro' the silver showers of May
      And thro' the summer's heavy heat,
      In vain I sought his golden head
      And light, fast-flying feet.

      Perhaps when all the world is bare
      And cruel winter holds the land,
      The Love that finds no place to hide
      Will run and catch my hand.

      I shall not care to have him then,
      I shall be bitter and a-cold --
      It grows too late for frolicking
      When all the world is old.

      Then little hiding Love, come forth,
      Come forth before the autumn goes,
      And let us seek thro' ruined paths
      The garden's last red rose.

    The Kiss

      I HOPED that he would love me,
      And he has kissed my mouth,
      But I am like a stricken bird
      That cannot reach the south.

      For tho' I know he loves me,
      To-night my heart is sad;
      His kiss was not so wonderful
      As all the dreams I had.


      THE world is tired, the year is old,
      The little leaves are glad to die,
      The wind goes shivering with cold
      Among the rushes dry.

      Our love is dying like the grass,
      And we who kissed grow coldly kind,
      Half glad to see our poor love pass
      Like leaves along the wind.

    A Song of the Princess

      THE princess has her lovers,
      A score of knights has she,
      And each can sing a madrigal,
      And praise her gracefully.

      But Love that is so bitter
      Hath put within her heart
      A longing for the scornful knight
      Who silent stands apart.

      And tho' the others praise and plead,
      She maketh no reply,
      Yet for a single word from him,
      I ween that she would die.

    The Wind

      A WIND is blowing over my soul,
      I hear it cry the whole night thro' --
      Is there no peace for me on earth
      Except with you?

      Alas, the wind has made me wise,
      Over my naked soul it blew, --
      There is no peace for me on earth
      Even with you.

    A Winter Night

      MY window-pane is starred with frost,
      The world is bitter cold to-night,
      The moon is cruel, and the wind
      Is like a two-edged sword to smite.

      God pity all the homeless ones,
      The beggars pacing to and fro.
      God pity all the poor to-night
      Who walk the lamp-lit streets of snow.

      My room is like a bit of June,
      Warm and close-curtained fold on fold,
      But somewhere, like a homeless child,
      My heart is crying in the cold.

    The Metropolian Tower

      WE walked together in the dusk
      To watch the tower grow dimly white,
      And saw it lift against the sky
      Its flower of amber light.

      You talked of half a hundred things,
      I kept each little word you said;
      And when at last the hour was full,
      I saw the light turn red.

      You did not know the time had come,
      You did not see the sudden flower,
      Nor know that in my heart Love's birth
      Was reckoned from that hour.

    Gramercy Park

      For W. P.

      THE little park was filled with peace,
      The walks were carpeted with snow,
      But every iron gate was locked.
      Lest if we entered, peace would go.

      We circled it a dozen times,
      The wind was blowing from the sea,
      I only felt your restless eyes
      Whose love was like a cloak for me.

      Oh heavy gates that fate has locked
      To bar the joy we may not win,
      Peace would go out forevermore
      If we should dare to enter in.

    In the Metropolitan Museum

      WITHIN the tiny Pantheon
      We stood together silently,
      Leaving the restless crowd awhile
      As ships find shelter from the sea.

      The ancient centuries came back
      To cover us a moment's space,
      And thro' the dome the light was glad
      Because it shone upon your face.

      Ah, not from Rome but farther still,
      Beyond sun-smitten Salamis,
      The moment took us, till you stooped
      To find the present with a kiss.

    Coney Island

      WHY did you bring me here?
      The sand is white with sno,
      Over the wooden domes
      The winter sea-winds blow --
      There is no shelter near,
      Come, let us go.

      With foam of icy lace
      The sea creeps up the sand,
      The wind is like a hand
      That strikes us in the face.
      Doors that June set a-swing
      Are bolted long ago;
      We try them uselessly --
      Alas, there cannot be
      For us a second spring;
      Come, let us go.

    Union Square

      WITH the man I love who loves me not,
      I walked in the street-lamps' flare;
      We watched the world go home that night
      In a flood through Union Square.

      I leaned to catch the words he said
      That were light as a snowflake falling;
      Ah well that he never leaned to hear
      The words my heart was calling.

      And on we walked and on we walked
      Past the fiery lights of the picture shows --
      Where the girls with thirsty eyes go by
      On the errand each man knows.

      And on we walked and on we walked,
      At the door at last we said good-bye;
      I knew by his smile he had not heard
      My heart's unuttered cry.

      With the man I love who loves me not
      I walked in the street-lamps' flare --
      But oh, the girls who can ask for love
      In the lights of Union Square.

    Central Park at Dusk

      BUILDINGS above the leafless trees
      Loom high as castles in a dream,
      While one by one the lamps come out
      To thread the twilight with a gleam.

      There is no sign of leaf or bud,
      A hush is over everything --
      Silent as women wait for love,
      The world is waiting for the spring.

    Young Love


      I CANNOT heed the words they say,
      The lights grow far away and dim,
      Amid the laughing men and maids
      My eyes unbidden seek for him.

      I hope that when he smiles at me
      He does not guess my joy and pain,
      For if he did, he is too kind
      To ever look my way again.


      I have a secret in my heart
      No ears have ever heard,
      And still it sings there day by day
      Most like a caged bird.

      And when it beats against the bars,
      I do not set it free,
      For I am happier to know
      It only sings for me.


      I wrote his name along the beach,
      I love the letters so.
      Far up it seemed and out of reach,
      For still the tide was low.

      But oh, the sea came creeping up,
      And washed the name away,
      And on the sand where it had been
      A bit of sea-grass lay.

      A bit of sea-grass on the sand,
      Dropped from a mermaid's hair --
      Ah, had she come to kiss his name
      And leave a token there?


      What am I that he should love me,
      He who stands so far above me,
      What am I?
      I am like a cowslip turning
      Toward the sky,
      Where a planet's golden burning
      Breaks the cowslip's heart with yearning,
      What am I that he should love me,
      What am I?


      O dreams that flock about my sleep,
      I pray you bring my love to me,
      And let me think I hear his voice
      Again ring free.

      And if you care to please me well,
      And live to-morrow in my mind,
      Let him who was so cold before,
      To-night seem kind.


      I plucked a daisy in the fields,
      And there beneath the sun
      I let its silver petals fall
      One after one.

      I said, "He loves me, loves me not,"
      And oh, my heart beat fast,
      The flower was kind, it let me say
      "He loves me," last.

      I kissed the little leafless stem,
      But oh, my poor heart knew
      The words the flower had said to me,
      They were not true.


      I sent my love a letter,
      And if he loves me not,
      He shall not find my love for him
      In any line or dot.

      But if he loves me truly,
      He'll find it hidden deep,
      As dawn gleams red thro' chilly clouds
      To eyes awaked from sleep.


      The world is cold and gray and wet,
      And I am heavy-hearted, yet
      When I am home and look to see
      The place my letters wait for me,
      If I should find one letter there,
      I think I should not greatly care
      If it were rainy or were fair,
      For all the world would suddenly
      Seem like a festival to me.


      I hid three words within my heart,
      That longed to fly to him,
      At dawn they woke me with a start,
      They sang till day was dim.

      And now at last I let them fly,
      As little birds should do,
      And he will know the first is "I",
      The others "Love" and "You".


      Across the twilight's violet
      His curtained window glimmers gold;
      Oh happy light that round my love
      Can fold.

      Oh happy book within his hand,
      Oh happy page he glorifies,
      Oh happy little word beneath
      His eyes.

      But oh, thrice happy, happy I
      Who love him more than songs can tell,
      For in the heaven of his heart
      I dwell.

    On to the next poem.

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