From an earlier post, I mention my roommate from college, David G., and how I came to know who the members of his recent (last?) troika are. I am still mulling whether I should follow through with his wishes and actually do what he has asked of me, but that is a blog entry for another day.
While doing research on one member of his troika, American poet Sara Teasdale, I learned that today, January 29, marks the seventy-seventh anniversary of her death.
To learn more about this poet, and perhaps to understand David better, I bought a collection of Teasdale’s poetry, entitled (oddly enough), The Complete Poems, published by Buccaneer Books.
Turning to a random page, I come across this poem on page 126 from Part III of her 1920 work Flame and Shadow:
I made you many and many a song,
Yet never one told all you are —
It was as though a net of words
Were flung to catch a star;
It was as though I curved my hand
And dipped sea-water eagerly,
Only to find it lost the blue
Dark splendor of the sea.
As a wannabe writer, I find a connection with this poem. No matter how good I feel about my choice of words and no matter how apt I feel my metaphors are, I never feel that I portray my subject perfectly. Even now, as I write this, I wonder if you the reader are receiving everything that I am trying to transmit. I sense the answer is no, but I keep trying.
However, as I tie this poem to the person who brought it to my attention, David, I come across a new interpretation. As a writer, no matter how good I feel about my choice of words and no matter how apt I feel my metaphors are, can I ever understand the essence of what I am writing about? As Teasdale feels her words are like cupping water in a hand only to lose it, does every writer have the feeling that there is always something hidden from their view? Can a writer’s subject, by its nature of being outside the writer, ever be fully known by the writer?
If a writer’s subject is, by its nature, partially hidden, does it follow that if Teasdale writes about herself, will there always be something about her hidden from her? Conversely, could a writer, by being the subject, know too much about the subject and all becomes visible and does it become too much?
As a possible answer to my own question, I mention that Teasdale committed suicide on this day in 1933.
When David wrote about himself, and I have the output, did he find “the blue / Dark splendor of the sea” within or was it all a “net of words” that failed in its purpose?