Sunday, March 24, 2013

Analysis of "My Heart is Heavy" by Sara Teasdale

Original poem reprinted online here: Analysis of "My Heart is Heavy" by Sara Teasdale
Originally read: January 5, 2013
More information about the Poet: Sara Teasdale

I'm going to do something different this time.  I've been searching for other blogs like mine.  Some are close -- putting up the poem with no analysis or putting up analysis and it's a "I like" fest.  I'm not saying my analysis is any good, but I try.  So I'm going to link to this person's blog that does some interesting analysis of poems.


A Poem for Every Day

And the blogger writes some interesting notes about the background of the poem or at least the blogger's interpretation:

"It seems likely that this poem was written for Vachel Lindsay, who courted Teasdale when they were      young and wrote her many love letters, yet who did not have enough money to marry her. Sara Teasdale married a wealthy business man called Filsinger instead, but the marriage was very unhappy and ended in divorce. Teasdale never dropped her friendship with Vachel Lindsay, though he also married and had children with another woman, and they both committed suicide within two years of each other.
When I read this poem I feel like it is full of regret and full secret love for Vachel Lindsay. The way she says 'My songs do not belong to me' evokes the idea that her heart, her body, even her soul no longer belong to her, but to her husband. She cannot write a poem for Lindsay, or a love letter, or see him because she is married. Yet I love the way she asks her loved one to take the fallen fruit — to take her song — in the evening when 'no one will know.' It is irresistibly secretive and sad."


So without me even knowing the past of this poem.  I write how the last two lines of the stanza work for me.  In stanza 1 "But I can never give you one -- / my songs do not belong to me."  I wrote, "who does it belong to then?  These songs...I get the feeling they are either love or lament or both."  However, there's also the idea of how art when written out for the public, doesn't belong to the writer, and is up for (mis)interpretation by the audience.

However, there is a turn at the end of the last two lines of the second stanza, "In the gray hour if the fruit has fallen, / Take it, no one will know."  I write, "The wry style at the end of the poem interests me.  I don't know if I should read this as somber or flirtatious."  The situation akin to the "forbidden fruit" (not so much in the biblical sense, but in the forbidden romance type of situation."

Although "evening" and "dusk" can be taken as "death imagery."  I feel the tone is such a hard shift which overrides preconceived connotations.  I write this at the end:

The push of the poem happens at the last two lines of each stanza.  This give and take with the reader [note:the first two lines add to the last two lines, not really shift anything -- the stanzas shift].  Emotionally speaking, I don't know where to go with this one.  I probably should go towards the lament side even though I want to read this poem as wry."

So I ask myself, can I read this as both.  Lament and wry?  That given the right opportunity, a little "taking of fruit" could occur, but can't.  The emotional complexity of lost love? 

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