Thursday, August 20, 2009

sara and georgia

Whenever I see Georgia O'Keeffe's 1927 painting The Radiator Building at Night (pictured here), I think of poet Sara Teasdale's "From the Woolworth Tower," because even though the works focus on different structures, they still give a sense of the glamour and scope of skyscrapers in the early 20th century. Teasdale isn't as well-known as the iconic O'Keeffe, but she was born in St. Louis in 1884, wrote a kind of penetratingly bittersweet poetry, and seems to be often overshadowed by her slightly younger contemporary Edna St. Vincent Millay. (And ironically, according to Wikipedia, novelist Thomas Hardy once noted that America's two major attributes were the skyscraper and the poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay.)

Teasdale had a significant relationship with Vachel Lindsday, another poet with strong Midwestern ties, but she did not marry Lindsay and instead opted to make businessman Ernst Filsinger her husband instead. She divorced Filsinger in 1929; Lindsay committed suicide in 1931 and Teasdale herself took a fatal overdose of sleeping pills in 1933. All quite sad, but the eternal moments behind Teasdale's "From the Woolworth Tower" fortunately live on. Here's an excerpt, and click here to read the full text.

Over the edge of eternity we look
On all the lights,
A thousand times more numerous than the stars...

The strident noises of the city
Floating up to us
Are hallowed into whispers.
Ferries cross thru the darkness
Weaving a golden thread into the night....