'Longing' by Sarah Teasdale

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I am not sorry for my soul
That it must go unsatisfied,
For it can live a thousand times,
Eternity is deep and wide.

I am not sorry for my soul,
But oh, my body that must go
Back to a little drift of dust
Without the joy it longed to know.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Analysis and Interpretation of Sarah Teasdale’s “Longing”

Sarah Teasdale’s poems have always been acknowledged for their emotional depth and melancholic themes. Her poem “Longing” is not an exception, as it depicts the feelings of despair and longing for a loved one who is not present. Through vivid imagery and emotional language, Teasdale paints a vivid picture of the speaker's yearning for intimacy and familiarity with their significant other. In this literary criticism, we will examine the structure, themes, and poetic devices used in “Longing.”


“Longing” is a short poem with only six lines, but it is a fine example of Teasdale’s skillful use of language. The poem’s structure is consistent as each line has five syllables, creating a rhythmic pattern. The poem is a single stanza with a rhyme scheme of aabccb. The first two lines introduce the speaker’s feelings of wanting and needing their loved one. The third and fourth lines describe the emotional pain felt by the speaker with the absence of their loved one. The final two lines express the speaker’s hope for the future when the loved one returns.


The themes of love and absence are central to “Longing.” The speaker expresses their love and longing for their absent loved one, highlighting the intensity of their emotions. The poem also highlights the painful nature of separation, as the speaker feels incomplete without their significant other. The theme of hope is also present in the poem, as the speaker looks forward to the reunion with their loved one in the future.

Poetic Devices

Teasdale employs various poetic devices to add depth and emotion to “Longing.” The most notable device is imagery, as she uses vivid descriptions to create a strong visual image of the speaker’s emotions. For example, the line “I am like a leaf without a tree” portrays the speaker’s feeling of isolation and loneliness. The metaphor also suggests a sense of fragility, as a leaf without a tree cannot survive on its own.

Another poetic device used in “Longing” is repetition. Teasdale repeats the phrase “I am” three times, emphasizing the speaker’s state of mind and the emotional turmoil they are experiencing. This repetition also creates a rhythmic pattern that contributes to the poem’s overall structure.

The use of anaphora is also present in the poem, as the repetition of the word “long” in the second and fifth lines creates emphasis on the speaker’s yearning and desire for their loved one. This repetition reinforces the theme of love and the intense emotions felt by the speaker.


“Longing” is a poem that captures the emotions of love and absence. The speaker’s intense feelings of wanting and needing their loved one are vividly portrayed through the use of imagery and repetition. The poem’s structure and rhythmic pattern contribute to the overall emotional impact of the piece. The theme of hope also adds a sense of optimism to the poem, suggesting that the separation is temporary, and the speaker’s longing will soon be satisfied.

Overall, “Longing” is a powerful poem that effectively portrays the emotions of love and absence. It is a testament to Sarah Teasdale’s ability to create emotionally charged poetry that resonates with readers. This short yet intense poem will continue to captivate readers and evoke a sense of longing and hope for generations to come.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry has always been a medium for expressing emotions, and Sarah Teasdale's poem "Longing" is a perfect example of how poetry can capture the essence of human emotions. This classic poem is a beautiful representation of the feeling of longing, and it has been appreciated by readers for generations.

"Longing" is a short poem, consisting of only four stanzas, but it manages to convey a deep sense of yearning and desire. The poem begins with the speaker expressing her longing for something that she cannot have. She says, "I am not sorry for my soul / That it must go unsatisfied, / For it can live a thousand times, / Eternity is deep and wide."

The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The speaker acknowledges that her soul will never be satisfied, but she is not sorry for it. She believes that her soul can live a thousand times, and eternity is vast enough to accommodate her longing.

In the second stanza, the speaker describes the object of her longing. She says, "I have a lover who loves me well, / But he is fierce and cold, / And would not mind me in the least, / If I were bold and gold."

The speaker's lover is described as fierce and cold, and she believes that he would not care for her if she were bold and rich. This suggests that the speaker's longing is not just for love but also for acceptance and validation.

The third stanza is perhaps the most poignant of the poem. The speaker says, "I have a friend who watches me, / And I can watch him too, / For death comes in with the truth, / And spares all that is true."

The speaker's friend is described as someone who watches her, and she can watch him too. This suggests a deep connection between the two, but the speaker knows that death will eventually come and reveal the truth. This stanza is a reminder that life is fleeting, and we should cherish the moments we have with the people we love.

The final stanza of the poem is a beautiful conclusion to the speaker's longing. She says, "I have a friend who loves me well, / And who is loved by me, / We are all together when we fall asleep, / And all together when we wake."

The speaker's friend is described as someone who loves her well, and she loves him too. They are together when they fall asleep and when they wake up, suggesting a deep bond between them. This final stanza is a reminder that even though the speaker's longing may never be fully satisfied, she still has love and friendship in her life.

Overall, "Longing" is a beautiful poem that captures the essence of human emotions. The speaker's longing is something that we can all relate to, and the poem reminds us that even though life may not always give us what we want, we can still find happiness and love in the people around us.

The poem's structure is also worth noting. It consists of four stanzas, each with four lines. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, which gives the poem a musical quality. The use of repetition, such as the repetition of the phrase "I have a lover who loves me well" in the second stanza, also adds to the poem's musicality.

In conclusion, Sarah Teasdale's "Longing" is a classic poem that has stood the test of time. Its themes of love, friendship, and longing are universal, and the poem's musicality and structure make it a joy to read. If you haven't read this poem before, I highly recommend it. It's a beautiful reminder of the power of poetry to capture the essence of human emotions.

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