A November Night by Sara Teasdale
Sara Teasdales’s dreamy, amorous walk, visually reimagined. This fully illustrated book brings Teasdale's exquisite words to life, following the unbroken "line of lights" that lead the narrator through an evening where everything is made magical by her romantic mood.
Although Teasdale is less well known today, her 1917 collection Love Songs (which includes A November Night) won the first Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1922.
During the course of the poem, both the narrator and the reader are cast under an enchanting spell that leads the couple from a dark, intimate evening walk into a brilliant white, foggy snow. In order to punctuate the stark black/white contrast, we divided the book visually. We utilized a flat black and rich black ink to create a sense of intimacy in the dark, punctuated by the bright lamp lights, fountains, and other visual details. Towards the end of the book, we employed a bright white and muted gold for a soft, ethereal white out effect mimicking a quiet, foggy snow.
And being the kind of folks who geek out over verse and poetic techniques, we can't help but love her use of enjambement - when a line of verse spills over into the next line. It happens so regularly in the poem that it lends an urgency to the flow of imagery and thoughts. And of course, it perfectly suits the breathless exuberance of first love that the poem captures.
A chain of stars down either side the street—
Why can't you lift the chain and give it to me,
A necklace for my throat? I'd twist it round
And you could play with it. You smile at me
As though I were a little dreamy child
Behind whose eyes the fairies live. . . . And see,
The people on the street look up at us
All envious. We are a king and queen,
Our royal carriage is a motor bus,
We watch our subjects with a haughty joy. . . .
How still you are! Have you been hard at work
And are you tired to-night? It is so long
Since I have seen you—four whole days, I think.
My heart is crowded full of foolish thoughts
Like early flowers in an April meadow,
And I must give them to you, all of them,
Before they fade. The people I have met,
The play I saw, the trivial, shifting things
That loom too big or shrink too little, shadows
That hurry, gesturing along a wall,
Haunting or gay—and yet they all grow real
And take their proper size here in my heart
When you have seen them. . . . There's the Plaza now,
A lake of light! To-night it almost seems
That all the lights are gathered in your eyes,
Drawn somehow toward you. See the open park
Lying below us with a million lamps
Scattered in wise disorder like the stars.
We look down on them as God must look down
On constellations floating under Him
Tangled in clouds. . . . Come, then, and let us walk
Since we have reached the park. It is our garden,
All black and blossomless this winter night,
But we bring April with us, you and I;
We set the whole world on the trail of spring.
I think that every path we ever took
Has marked our footprints in mysterious fire,
Delicate gold that only fairies see.
When they wake up at dawn in hollow tree-trunks
And come out on the drowsy park, they look
Along the empty paths and say, "Oh, here
They went, and here, and here, and here! Come, see,
Here is their bench, take hands and let us dance
About it in a windy ring and make
A circle round it only they can cross
When they come back again!" . . . Look at the lake—
Do you remember how we watched the swans
That night in late October while they slept?
Swans must have stately dreams, I think. But now
The lake bears only thin reflected lights
That shake a little. How I long to take
One from the cold black water—new-made gold
To give you in your hand! And see, and see,
There is a star, deep in the lake, a star!
Oh, dimmer than a pearl—if you stoop down
Your hand could almost reach it up to me. . . .
I wish you could have had it for a cup
With stars like dew to fill it to the brim. . . .
They have put shawls of fog around them, see!
What if the air should grow so dimly white
That we would lose our way along the paths
Made new by walls of moving mist receding
The more we follow. . . . What a silver night!
That was our bench the time you said to me
The long new poem—but how different now,
How eerie with the curtain of the fog
Making it strange to all the friendly trees!
There is no wind, and yet great curving scrolls
Carve themselves, ever changing, in the mist.
Walk on a little, let me stand here watching
To see you, too, grown strange to me and far. . . .
I used to wonder how the park would be
If one night we could have it all alone—
No lovers with close arm-encircled waists
To whisper and break in upon our dreams.
And now we have it! Every wish comes true!
We are alone now in a fleecy world;
Even the stars have gone. We two alone!