Can anyone explain the meaning of "Alone" by Sara Teasdale?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As the title indicates, there is a level of detachment and alienation the speaker experiences in Teasdale's poem.  It is interesting to note that in the first stanza, the speaker concedes that there is companionship present in consciousness.  Yet, there are the inescapable feelings of isolation and loneliness being experienced.  The last line in the first stanza indicates a life devoid of joy or happiness.  This melancholy note is accentuated in the second stanza, when the imagery describes a frontier- less existence where individual contentment is impossible in the face of a world where there is little else but emptiness and nothingness.  The use of the color "gray" and the pictures of "swirling snow" and "endless space unfurled" help to accentuate this.  The closing stanza concludes that those who are not lonely are dead, confirming that the speaker feels devoid of emotional attachment to their setting, confirming their feelings of being alone.  Some link the poem's meaning to the loss that Teasdale experienced and the various moments of emptiness in her own life.

coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the poem 'Alone' by Sara Teasdale, the poet despairs of her ability to feel joy. She even wonders if it is because of her own failings (pride) and whether it is her fault as she cannot blame lack of company or affection or love from others as a cause. The spiritual nature of the poem makes us wonder if she is including or speaking to 'a higher being ' in this and including Him as well. The reference to 'earth hidden' (hell is traditionally depicted as being 'below' us) and 'heaven hidden' (heaven is traditionally depicted as being 'above' us) cement this feeling and encourage another - that she is trapped between the paradise that others have already escaped to and the reality of her own transgressions holding her down and hiding Heaven from her (pride and lack of love for others, no matter how hard she tries to give.) She feels alone and longs for the company of those who were able through their conquering of themselves, to enter heaven.

Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sara Teasdale's "Alone" is a dark poem in which the speaker demonstrates one aspect of the human condition.  One human being cannot meld with other human beings.  Technically, we are always alone.  No matter what love she experiences, no matter what she gives and receives, the speaker is still alone.  Even with another's "tenderness" the speaker is still alone.  She feels as if she is on a mountain top, alone.  With earth and heaven hidden, she has only her "spirit's pride." 

The speaker longs for the peace the dead feel.  Sometimes she is not "glad to live."  Again, it is a dark poem, a poem of depression and hopelessness.