If you have forgotten water lilies floating
On a dark lake among mountains in the afternoon shade,
If you have forgotten their wet, sleepy fragrance,
Then you can return and not be afraid.

But if you remember, then turn away forever
To the plains and the prairies where pools are far apart,
There you will not come at dusk on closing water lilies,
And the shadow of mountains will not fall on your heart.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Sara Teasdale's poem Water Lilies


  1. Aboo swaleh Mosafeer says:

    To have experienced
    And later recollect
    Is the jewel of Memory.
    However,to remain in the Bliss of Ignorance
    Is ok too.
    See it and grasp IT
    is fine.
    Having seen IT and Grasped It and Remembeted IT in the fairy land of Memory is superb.

  2. susan says:

    This poem makes me think its about friendship after love. If you have forgotten how sweet it felt, you may be around them, perhaps find friendship. If however you remember it too well, you cannot be near it.


      To me, it is one of the sexiest poems I have the great fortune of reading. Sara used to be in love with Vachel Lindsay another poet who I believe was quite unstable for a lasting .relationship. Needles to say, they both enjoyed love-making and Sara would at times fantasize what transpired between them…yet her feminine pride prevents her from completely taking him back so she discourages him to remember their erstwhile joys and admonishes him to turn again to the more mundane and boring things. There he will not experience the quietness that follows love’s end and the almost threatening emptiness or darkness that follows will not “fall on his heart.”

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