Sara Teasdale’s Moonlight is a short lyric making a piece of delightful reading. One of the representative poems of Sara Teasdale, it is an intensely personal lyric. It is an expression of a feeling of resignation in the face of grievous feelings caused by betrayal in friendship and love etc. This stoic endurance or resignation comes with the knowledge that the “heart asks more than life can give” and that “beauty itself is fugitive.”
The painful experiences in life will not hurt the poet when she is old. With the old age comes understanding and wisdom. It brings maturity of the mind. Emotion makes way for introspection. Introspection enables one to see life and its ways in true colours. This keeps one away from breaking down with grief or being carried away by joy or happiness.
A running tide with the moonlight on its looks like a snake, it looks poisonous. But it will not sting like a silver snake. The years will make the poet sad and cold. She will then have a cold, indifferent, hard heart. This will endow her with a stoic endurance. This is how it will not hurt her when she is old. It is only the happy heart that breaks when it faces sad experiences.
A sad heart does not break. The heart asks more than what life can give. When life fails to fulfill all the demands of the heart, the heart despairs and breaks. This, affirms the poet, is basic knowledge. When this is learned, all is learned. The moonlight waves break fold an jewelled fold. This is a splendid sight but he sight, one knows, will not stay or endure. It will disappear with the disappearance of the moon. Even beauty itself is fugitive. With such thoughts the poet resigns herself, though stoically to the feelings of sorrow and disappointment.
The poem is a short one with a poignant appeal. The similes and metaphors used in the poem are very effective.