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On the South Downs

On the South Downs

A POEM BY SARA TEASDALE

About a year ago I came across this poem by American poet Sara Teasdale. A little bit of internet research revealed that Sara had only ever visited England once in her life - in 1905. I was astonished at how well she captured the feel of the downs despite her short stay.

ON THE SOUTH DOWNS

  Over the downs there were birds flying,
Far off glittered the sea,
  And toward the north the weald of Sussex,
       Lay like a kingdom under me.

     I was happier than the larks
               That nest on the downs and sing to the sky -
  Over the downs the birds flying,
               Were not so happy as I.

     It was not you, though you were near,
               Though you were good to hear and see,
   It was not earth, it was not heaven,
               It was myself that sang in me.

BY SARA TEASDALE

skylark

SKYLARKS ON THE DOWNS

The poem spoke to me, not just because it is beautiful but because earlier that day I had seen a skylark rising high into the sky from its nest on the ground. I don't believe I have ever consciously seen one before but I knew from it's movement and it's song what it was. 

IT WAS MYSELF THAT SANG IN ME

I particularly like the last line of the poem. To me, it sums up how I feel when I am out walking on the downs. My heart sings inside me and I feel completely content. Almost any countryside walk will make me feel this way but as the Western Weald is right on my doorstep, it is the place that most often makes me so happy that I feel I could sing to the sky - just like the larks.

READ MORE SARA TEASDALE

Sara Teasdale published several collections of poetry during her life and these are still widely available. Five of her books were brought together in "The Collected Poems of Sara Teasdale" (2012). BUY HERE

The South Downs
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