Reading: After Love by Sara Teasdale

Today I discover a short gem written by Sara Teasdale (1884-1933), who wrote a lot of love poetry and committed suicide at the age of 48. I came across this timeless poem about passion:

After Love
There is no magic any more,
We meet as other people do,
You work no miracle for me
Nor I for you.

You were the wind and I the sea —
There is no splendor any more,
I have grown listless as the pool
Beside the shore.

But though the pool is safe from storm
And from the tide has found surcease,
It grows more bitter than the sea,
For all its peace.

A very simple first stanza says what most of us feel who have experienced the end of a love affair. Magic and miracles gone, but are the former lovers still together, for example in marriage? Perhaps, she employs that wonderful metaphor of the pool beside the seashore. The elements don’t play with each other any more, danger has been banned ‘from storm’ (the ‘you’ in the poem is the wind, does the storm mean he was getting abusive?)

The pool has found ‘surcease’ (a beautiful word) but that makes it only more bitter than the sea. I don’t really see the bitterness of the sea, but do see how that pool turns into a reeking rotting puddle of listlessness. Standing water that, the longer it stands, the less inviting it gets to take a splash and revive the old magical wind-and-sea passion.

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