My Heart is Heavy by Sara Teasdale

My heart is heavy with many a song
Like ripe fruit bearing down the tree,
But I can never give you one –
My songs do not belong to me.

Yet in the evening, in the dusk
When moths go to and fro,
In the gray hour if the fruit has fallen,
Take it, no one will know.

 

Albeit very short, ‘My Heart is Heavy’ is an extremely powerful little poem that gives us a lot to think about and relate to. Perhaps this is my more melancholy side coming to the surface but when I first finished reading this poem, I imagined that the reason for it’s abrupt and seemingly premature end was due to the heartache felt while writing it. To me, it depicts a time in life where we have given so much love to one person that we cannot possibly give anymore; when the right person comes along but we are helpless to give them our love like we have done with others before.

The first line; ‘my heart is heavy with many a song’ is puzzling. The normal connotations of song are ones of joy and lightheartedness, but here, song makes the writer’s heart heavy with despair. It’s almost as if too much happiness results in sadness and bleakness, these metaphorical songs are ‘ripe fruit’ and filled with the potential as affection and love can be, but the persona has already given too much away in the past and now – as they say – ‘my songs do not belong to me.’ Their love has already been exhausted by others and metaphorical walls have been erected as protection to the pain that love can inflict.

Despite this, the speaker wants to open up to this new-found potential lover and encourages them to try to steal their love away through Teasdale’s continuation of her ‘double metaphor’ of song and fruit. The persona ends by encouraging the potential lover to look out for the ‘gray hour’, when their guard is down and ‘the fruit has fallen.’ When the ‘fruit’ is available for the taking, the persona wants their potential lover to steal it away, claiming that ‘no one will know.’

The poem, if read in this way, is ultimately tragic and deals with the irony of having given too much love away to the wrong people and have them break hearts and trust, to only be unable to give the right person this love when they come along.

Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)

Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)

 

 

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