THE BLACK PRINCESS - Sara Teasdale Poems


Poems » sara teasdale » the black princess


I knew a Princess: she was old,
    Crisp-haired, flat-featured, with a look
Such as no dainty pen of gold
    Would write of in a fairy book.

So bent she almost crouched, her face
    Was like the Sphinx’s face, to me,
Touched with vast patience, desert grace,
    And lonesome, brooding mystery.

What wonder that a face so strong
    As hers, so sorrowful, so still,
Should watch in bitter sands so long,
    Obedient to a burning will!

This Princess was a slave – like one
    I read of in a painted tale;
Yet free enough to see the sun,
    And all the flowers without a vail.

Not of the lamp, not of the ring,
    The helpless, powerful slave was she;
But of a subtler, fiercer thing –
    She was the slave of Slavery.

Court lace nor jewels had she seen:
    She wore a precious smile, so rare
That at her side the whitest queen
    Were dark – her darkness was so fair.

Nothing of loveliest loveliness
    This strange, sad Princess seemed to lack;
Majestic with her calm distress
    She was, and beautiful, though black.

Black, but enchanted black, and shut
    In some vague giant’s tower of air,
Built higher than her hope was. But
    The true knight came and found her there.

The Knight of the Pale Horse, he laid
    His shadowy lance against the spell
That hid her self: as if afraid,
    The cruel blackness shrank and fell.

Then, lifting slow her pleasant sleep,
    He took her self: as if afraid,
And swam a river cold and deep,
    And vanished up an awful hight.

And in her Father’s house beyond,
    They gave her beauty, robe, and crown:
On me, I think, far, faint, and fond,
    Her eyes to-day look, yearning, down.