Love in The Old Maid by Sara Teasdale

Love in The Old Maid by Sara Teasdale

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The poem “The Old Maid”, by Sara Teasdale, takes place on a sidewalk on Broadway. The speaker in the poem is a woman walking with who you can infer to be her fiancée and she is describing a brief encounter she had with another woman in the car driving by her. The speaker describes the woman as “The woman I might grow to be,” She then notices how her hair color “…was as mine” and how “Her eyes were strangely like my eyes”. However, despite all these similarities the woman’s hair compared to the speaker’s was “…dull and drew no light”. Her eyes also did not shine like the speaker’s. The speaker assumed that the reason for the woman’s frail appearance was because she had never had the opportunity to know what it was like to be in love. In the last stanza, the speaker no longer looks upon the old maid but to her lover and knows that even though they may look similar she will never be like her.
In order to completely grasp exactly how the old maid appears to the woman on the sidewalk and the love she feels for the man walking with her, Sara Teasdale uses personification to describe the characters in the poem. One would be, “Her soul was frozen in the dark/ Unwarmed forever by love’s flame.” Obviously, a person’s soul cannot be frozen, but the meaning is that the old maid had never felt a heated intensity between herself and someone special to her which could give her a cold outlook on life. Another time the poet uses personification is when the speaker states, “His eyes were magic to defy”. Eyes cannot be magic. By saying that his eyes were magic the reader can get the notion that when the speaker looks into the eyes of her lover she feels awed, happy, or even entranced. Sara Teasdale also uses a metaphor in her work, “Her body was a thing growing thin,” In that line the speaker is comparing the old maid’s draining body to something that can get thinner. The poet uses a rhyme scheme of rhyming the second with the fourth line and there are four lines in every stanza. Finally, in this narrative poem there are eight syllables per line of the poem.

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In conclusion, “The Old Maid”, by Sara Teasdale reminds us how important and lucky it is to know what it is like to have loved at least once in our lives. Teasdale also uses clever imagery to stress its importance by describing an intolerable consequence if we don’t find love. By doing so Teasdale is telling the reader that life is short and that you should make the most of your life by finding happiness in another or otherwise live with and emptiness inside for the rest of your life.
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