Dusk in Autumn

I risked taking the charm and playfulness out of Emily Dickinson’s ghost poem last time by trying to puzzle out exactly what she saw. I won’t risk that today. This next poem in our Halloween series was written by a poet, Sara Teasdale, who wrote some complex adult love poems — but with this one she portrayed a child’s wonder. Well, a child with a little taste for tea parties with witches, but still.

Sara Teasdale Smiles

Sara Teasdale. Want to come to my tea party?


Teasdale was roughly a contemporary in her childhood in St. Louis with T. S. Eliot, but Eliot decamped for Harvard and then Europe — so as far as I’ve been able to find out, the two poets never met. I think Teasdale’s poem requires no further explanation, so I’ll just urge you to listen to it below. And here’s a link to the text of the poem if you’d like to read that.

Another simple musical accompaniment here, this time just some acoustic guitar. You can hear Sara Teasdale’s “Dusk in Autumn”  with a graphic audio player that many will see below. However, there are ways to read this blog that won’t show the player, and I also provide this highlighted link to click, which will allow those who don’t see the player to access the musical performance.


2 thoughts on “Dusk in Autumn

  1. I’ll take the question unironically, though this poem made me smile.

    I may have overemphasized Teasdale’s compressed ending by not writing or playing much of a coda for the accompaniment. Currant cake seemed a specific choice that I thought might have meaning, but I found none in a short search. Most currant cake recipes show the kind of rustic cake that in my small-town Midwest was called “coffee cake,” but I’d guess it’d work for a tea party too. And the Parlando Project Synchronicity Desk notes that fellow St. Louisian Eliot had his Eugenides the merchant carry a pocketful of currants.

    I think Teasdale’s child is fantasizing some outside adventure and even risk of fantastic mayhem. The moon that starts the poem off is an exotic weapon after all. And what she’d learn or do after tea with the witches, well it’s probably better than being cooped up indoors.

    As I recall, Teasdale had one of those ambiguous illnesses that caused her family to restrict her activities before she left home, so there may be biography here.


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