I Am Not Yours, Sara Teasdale, Analysis & Summary

This study guide provides a detailed analysis of the poem "I Am Not Yours" by Sara Teasdale. The guide explores the poem's structure, themes, literary devices, and the poet's background. Through a comprehensive breakdown of each stanza and critical analysis, readers will gain a deeper understanding of the poem's meaning and significance.

Poem Text

I am not yours, not lost in you,
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.

You love me, and I find you still
A spirit beautiful and bright,
Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.

Oh plunge me deep in love—put out
My senses, leave me deaf and blind,
Swept by the tempest of your love,
A taper in a rushing wind.


Stanza 1:
The speaker declares that she does not belong to the person addressed in the poem. She expresses a desire to be lost in the person's love, comparing this longing to a candle lit at noon or a snowflake in the sea. The stanza explores the tension between the speaker's yearning for love and her assertion of individuality.

Stanza 2:
The speaker acknowledges that the person loves her, describing them as a beautiful and bright spirit. However, she emphasizes her own identity and the longing to be lost in a way that parallels how light is lost within light. This stanza further explores the speaker's inner conflict between personal identity and the allure of love.

Stanza 3:
In this stanza, the speaker passionately asks to be fully immersed in love, desiring to be overwhelmed by it. She wants her senses to be extinguished, rendering her deaf and blind. The comparison of herself to a taper in a rushing wind evokes a sense of vulnerability and surrender to the overpowering force of love.

Major Themes in Detail

Identity and Individuality:
The poem delves into the tension between the speaker's desire for love and her assertion of individuality. She resists being lost in the other person, emphasizing her own existence and longing to maintain a sense of self amidst the pull of romantic attraction.

Yearning for Love:
The poem explores the speaker's intense longing for love and the desire to be completely immersed in it. She expresses a willingness to surrender herself to love, even if it means losing her senses and identity in the process.

Sara Teasdale

  1. Full Name: Sara Teasdale
  2. Birthdate: August 8, 1884
  3. Nationality: American
  4. Significant Works: "Love Songs," "Rivers to the Sea," "Flame and Shadow"
  5. Writing Style: Teasdale's poetry often focused on themes of love, beauty, and nature. Her writing style is known for its musicality and lyrical expression.
  6. Awards and Recognition: Sara Teasdale won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1918, becoming one of the first women to receive this prestigious honor.

Critical Analysis

"I Am Not Yours" explores the speaker's struggle between a longing for love and the desire to maintain her individuality. The poem highlights the tension between surrendering oneself to love and preserving personal identity. Through vivid imagery and metaphors, Teasdale captures the complexities of human emotions and the yearning for both connection and selfhood.

In "I Am Not Yours," Sara Teasdale presents a poignant exploration of love and identity. The speaker's declaration of not belonging to the person addressed reflects a deep sense of self-awareness and the desire to maintain individuality. The contrast between the speaker's longing to be lost in love and her assertion of self creates a tension that pervades the entire poem. The vivid imagery, such as candles lit at noon and snowflakes in the sea, evokes a sense of longing and the vastness of emotions experienced in love. Teasdale's skillful use of language and metaphors allows readers to delve into the speaker's inner conflict and the complexities of human emotions.


  • Candle lit at noon: Symbolizes the speaker's longing to be lost in love, even in a situation where it seems impossible or inappropriate.
  • Snowflake in the sea: Represents the desire to be immersed and consumed by love, despite the vastness and potential overwhelming nature of it.
  • Light lost in light: Reflects the speaker's longing to be completely absorbed and merged with the person's love, losing her sense of self in the process.
  • Taper in a rushing wind: Symbolizes the speaker's willingness to be swept away by the tempest of love, surrendering her senses and becoming vulnerable.


  • Imagery: The poem employs vivid imagery to evoke emotions and convey the speaker's yearning for love. Examples include the candle lit at noon and the snowflake in the sea.
  • Metaphor: The comparison of the speaker's desire to be lost in love to a light lost in light emphasizes the intensity of her longing and the desire for complete immersion.


  • Stanzas: The poem consists of three stanzas, each containing four lines. The consistent structure provides a sense of balance and reflects the measured contemplation of the speaker's thoughts and emotions.

Sound devices

  • Alliteration: The repetition of the "l" sound in "lost as a light is lost" creates a melodic effect, adding to the musicality of the poem.
  • Assonance: The repetition of the long "o" sound in "lost as a snowflake in the sea" adds a gentle and flowing quality to the lines.

Other Literary Devices

  • Repetition: The repetition of the word "lost" emphasizes the speaker's desire to be consumed by love, highlighting the central theme of the poem.


  • Longing: The poem conveys a strong sense of yearning for love and a desire to be completely immersed in it.
  • Identity: The speaker asserts her individuality and resists the idea of being lost in the person addressed, reflecting a strong sense of self and independence.
  • Vulnerability: The speaker's willingness to be plunged deep in love and swept away by the tempest of emotions indicates a certain vulnerability and surrender to the power of love.

Similar Poems

  • "Love After Love" by Derek Walcott: Both poems explore themes of self-discovery, individuality, and the importance of finding one's own identity outside of romantic relationships.
  • "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot: Both poems delve into the complexities of love, longing, and the struggle between selfhood and surrendering to romantic desires.
  • "The Broken Heart" by John Donne: Like "I Am Not Yours," this poem examines the tension between love and personal identity, exploring the speaker's emotional turmoil and longing for connection.
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