American ask for love in the lights of Union

American poet, Sara Teasdale, over the the course of her
career, faced many demonstrable, fascinating changes viewable through her
poetry. In her early life Teasdale was often sick, and so she could not attend school
until the age of nine, when she was deemed well enough to participate. Her
early illness, combined with her very Victorian upbringing, left Sara Teasdale to
take the place of the conceptualizer and the dreamer who imagines what could be
in life. While this worked to initiate her poems as idealistic hopes for the future,
it later transformed into painful realizations of a world within reach but
untouched. Sara Teasdale’s poems were, by her state of separation in personal and
political senses, heavily influenced to carry a theme of imagination and
otherness.

Sara Teasdale had a Victorian
upbringing affected her writings greatly, because children raised in wealthy
families during this period led protective, suffocating lives. They were discouraged
from showing significant emotion to people in their lives, and they were
expected to always act prim and proper (“Raising Children in the Victorian Times.” SchoolWorkHelper
). This, combined with Teasdale’s childhood illnesses, contributed to her lack
of communication with peers. This filled her with longing and forced Teasdale
to entertain herself with imaginative stories. A manifestation of both can be
seen in “Union Square”- a poem written, because Teasdale felt that she couldn’t
receive love from another person. In the verses “With the man I love who loves
me not,” “I leaned to catch the words…. “The words my heart was
calling,” she imagines confessing to her love in a way that reality
prohibited. Then Teasdale depicts her jealousy of girls who would act so
carefree when she writes, “But oh, the girls who can ask for love in the lights
of Union Square”. The poem was extremely bold for politics of the time, because
of what it states about her hopes for women and those who felt locked out of
certain societal functions.

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Teasdale’s politics were, in fact,
vastly different from the time she found herself in. “Sons” provides comments
on WWI and is one of many to expound upon her views of countries and
patriotism. She saw the nationalistic fervor—the “hurrahing”— sweeping America
to be terrifying (Letters, 14 March 1918). She observed, “Flags are flying
everywhere and ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ is played at all times. Everybody is
expected to stand up when this is done and of course all this inflames public
opinion” (Letters, 1 March 1917). In the poem “Sons” Teasdale expresses fear of
increasing hegemony from a modern military “machine” that seemed to oppose
American democracy. When she writes, “Men in brown with marching feet, Like a
great machine moved down the street, And the shrieking of a fife Led the river
of that young life, Soldiers bearing kits and guns, Mothers’ sons—mothers’
sons.” she highlights the terrifying fact that military power was used to
transform democratic subject- from “mothers’ sons” into a mass of “feet,”
“kits,” and “guns.” “Sons” was one of a litany of works that separated her, politically
and socially, from the world she was in as opposed to the pacifist, kind world
she desired.

Sara Teasdale found herself dissatisfied with women’s
standing in society, and appalled by jingoistic displays she witnessed
throughout her life. She filled her works with corresponding expressions that
longed for a change in the world she saw. As is best exemplified in her work
“Sons” and “Union Square”, Teasdale’s insightful and daring poems were heavily influenced
to carry a theme of imagination and otherness in their commentary,