Poet's Pick April 25
Sara Teasdale: "Barter"
Selected by Stephen Kuusisto
National Poetry Month 2014

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Stephen Kuusisto 's Poetry Month Pick, April 25, 2014

by Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)

My pick may surprise readers but I’ve chosen Sara Teasdale’s poem “Barter” from her 1917 collection “Love Songs” (for which she won the Columbia University Poetry Prize in 1918. The Columbia Prize later became the Pulitzer Prize).

Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And childrens's faces looking up
Holding wonder in a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit's still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstacy
Give all you have been, or could be.

I love the ardor and intelligence of Teasdale’s closing stanza which reflects on the costs and rewards of living for poetry.

About Stephen Kuusisto:
Stephen Kuusisto is the author of two poetry collections, both from Copper Canyon Press:  Letter to Borges and Only Bread, Only Light. He has also published two memoirs, Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening and Planet of the Blind, a New York Times "Notable Book of the Year." As director of the Renee Crown University Honors Program and a University Professor at Syracuse University, Kuusisto speaks widely on diversity, disability, education, and public policy. To find out more, visit www.stephenkuusisto.com.

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