September 1, 2018

A Poem to Help Your Public Speaking: September Midnight

Public Speaking , Poems to Read Aloud , Just For Fun , The Buckley Experience , Resources

The Buckley School's founder believed that all public speakers should hone their presentation skills by reading poetry out loud. We keep that worthwhile practice alive by including a poem in our magazine each month for you to read aloud. Above, a young Sara Teasdale.

"Without the enormous critical and popular success of Teasdale in her own time, there would have been fewer opportunities for other women."

– Modern American Poetry

A best-selling poet who also enjoyed critical acclaim during her lifetime, Sara Teasdale’s lyrical poetry earned her the first Pulitzer Prize for Poetry ever awarded in 1918.

Teasdale was born in St. Louis on August 8, 1884. Suffering with poor health for much of her life, she was home schooled until age 9. As a young woman, she joined a group of female artists in their teens and early twenties—The Potters—and helped publish The Potter’s Wheel, a monthly magazine.

She published multiple volumes of poetry. One of her poems, “There Will Come Soft Rains,” inspired the Ray Bradbury short story by the same name, published in 1950.

Poet Vachel Lindsay pursued a romantic relationship with Teasdale, but she elected to marry a businessman instead. In 1929, after she divorced her husband, she renewed her friendship with Lindsay.

Weakened by pneumonia in 1933, the always-frail Teasdale committed suicide with an overdose of pills. She was 48.

We give you her poem "September Midnight" to read aloud—with lines that challenge a lazy mouth to achieve excellent enunciation and promote thoughtful phrasing.


September Midnight

By Sara Teasdale

Lyric night of the lingering Indian Summer, 
Shadowy fields that are scentless but full of singing, 
Never a bird, but the passionless chant of insects, 
Ceaseless, insistent. 

The grasshopper’s horn, and far-off, high in the maples, 
The wheel of a locust leisurely grinding the silence 
Under a moon waning and worn, broken, 
Tired with summer. 

Let me remember you, voices of little insects, 
Weeds in the moonlight, fields that are tangled with asters, 
Let me remember, soon will the winter be on us, 
Snow-hushed and heavy. 

Over my soul murmur your mute benediction, 
While I gaze, O fields that rest after harvest, 
As those who part look long in the eyes they lean to, 
Lest they forget them. 

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