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On this date in literary history… January 29…

Two American poets – Sara Teasdale and Robert Frost – passed from this life exactly 30 years apart; Teasdale by suicide on January 29, 1933, and Frost from complications arising from surgery on January 29, 1963.

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Sara Teasdale

Sara Teasdale - 1919

Sara Teasdale (August 8, 1884 – January 29, 1933), was an American lyrical poet. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and is interred in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis.

Teasdale’s third poetry collection, Rivers to the Sea (1915), was a best seller, with several reprints.  Her poetry collection Love Songs (1917) won three awards: the Columbia University Poetry Society prize, the 1918 Pulitzer Prize for poetry and the annual prize of the Poetry Society of America.

A common urban legend surrounds Teasdale’s suicide in 1933, from a deliberate overdose of sleeping pills.  The legend claims that her poem I Shall Not Care (which features themes of abandonment, bitterness, and contemplation of death) was written as a suicide note to a former lover.   However, this poem was first published in her 1915 collection Rivers to the Sea, almost two decades before her suicide.

‘I Shall Not Care’

When I am dead and over me bright April
Shakes out her rain-drenched hair,
Tho’ you should lean above me broken-hearted,
I shall not care.
I shall have peace, as leafy trees are peaceful
When rain bends down the bough,
And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted
Than you are now.
 

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Robert Frost

Robert Frost - 1941

Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American poet, highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquialism.  His works were often set from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, and employed complex social and philosophical themes.

Robert Frost was honored frequently during his lifetime, receiving four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry.

One of my personal favorites is Mr. Frost’s A Question, a poem which has been the subject of many different interpretations; quite an achievement, when you consider the very short length of the poem.

A Question

A voice said, Look me in the stars
And tell me truly, men of earth,
If all the soul-and-body scars
Were not too much to pay for birth.

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(The poems reprinted above, from their Wikipedia pages, are the property of their copyright owners.  The photographs on this post are in the public domain.  vmls)
For additional information on Sara Teasdale and Robert Frost, visit their Wikipedia pages at – 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sara_Teasdale
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Frost

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