Margaret Conklin (March 16, 1903 - March 1, 1984) was Sara Teasdale's literary executor and heir. Teasdale may have found peace and companionship late in life with Margaret Conklin, one of her students. They met in 1926 and Conklin soon became Teasdale's closest companion. They traveled together to England in 1927. Conklin and John Hall Wheelock edited The Collected Poems of Sara Teasdale (1937), which was reissued in 1945 and in 1966.

Conklin was assistant director of publicity. After leaving the Macmillan Company, she moved to New Haven , where she was Administrative Assistant with The Connecticut Association for Mental Health.

When she died at 81, the Teasdale estate reverted to Wellesley College, where an annual poetry prize will be established according to the terms of the poet's will.

Margaret Conklin's long, devoted service to her friend reminds us that many creative women have needed other women to sustain them more than they have needed the support of men, which has tended to be patronizing. There are battles to be won by women artists that men are largely unaware of, and nowhere is this revealed more clearly than in the Teasdale-Conklin friendship. Margaret was a 23- year-old junior at Connecticut College for Women when she wrote to Teasdale in the summer of 1926, requesting a photograph to give her former high school English teacher. Sara Teasdale, at 42, was famous and almost pathologically reclusive. She usually threw her fan mail away unanswered. But something about Margaret's note touched her, and after an exchange of letters she invited the young woman to her apartment on Central Park West in October 1926.

Margaret unwittingly walked into a life beginning to sink with the weight of its tragedy. Twelve years earlier, in 1914, an unsuccessful marriage had roused Teasdale with a violent shock from the dream-life of feminine myth that had conditioned her to be dependent, worshipful of men and of ideal love. Her upbringing had taught her to renounce the thrust of her own sexual energy and creative will. Suddenly she discovered that the fantasies of romance out of which her early poems had been written were false, inimical to her growth as a poet, and that a marriage mistakenly founded on such fanta William Drake is the author of ''Sara Teasdale: Woman and Poet'' and the editor of the recent ''Mirror of the Heart: Poems of Sara Teasdale.'' Pride in honoring her marital commitment, however, and the dictates of convention kept her from breaking free. Rather than try to reconcile her aspirations as a writer with mother- hood, she had an abortion in 1917. By 1926, her relationship with her husband had cooled and she had retreated into a self-protective prison of chronic illness and isolation. Her poems turned from a preoccupa- tion with love to a recording of the entrapment and suffering that are the reverse side of the myth of romance. Margaret's arrival at Teasdale's door offered an unusual avenue of escape from her isolation.

In Margaret, she saw a duplicate of her youthful self before the failure of her life had paralyzed her, and it suggested the possibility of starting over. She wrote this poem:

THE SELF (FOR MARGARET) You had only To open the door To bring me the self I was before. I thought I should never See her again; I thought she was hidden From women and men. Her eyes had been bright As the sun on water, She sang as blithe As an elf-king's daughter. I had hoped, and then I had stopped hoping - The years ran downward Still and sloping; But on that autumn night I knew The self I was Came in with you.

As if symbolizing her rebirth, or perhaps compensating for the child she had refused to bear, Teasdale clutched Margaret to herself as a daughter. Margaret, it happened, had rejected her own mother and as a proverbial ''bad daughter'' was haunted by a need to prove herself as a loving child. It was a perfect symbiosis. They read ''Winnie the Pooh'' and ''Alice in Wonderland'' together; Teasdale took Margaret on an idyllic tour of England in 1927; wrote poems to accompany gifts for ''my proud young love''; kept a photograph of Margaret at age 6 on her mantel, and got her a job with Harold Latham, the celebrated editor at Macmillan's, where Margaret later helped rewrite ''Gone With the Wind'' and where she met and formed a lifelong friendship with Marianne Moore.

Margaret led a sharply divided life, visiting Teasdale in her rarefied atmosphere almost daily, trying to live up to her exquisite sensibility, then returning to her bohemian Lower East Side tenement; to her eccentric roommate whom everyone called by her last name, Barnacle; to her French artist boyfriend and a continual flow of assorted strangers. But the ebullient energy of Margaret's more liberated way of life was exactly what Teasdale needed. Teasdale, whose analysis of woman's fate always assumed the inevitability of suffering, realized now that women were beginning to reject that premise; and so would she. Buoyed by Margaret's modernity and independence, Teasdale divorced her husband in 1929 and, for the first time in her life, asserted herself as a free woman. She had been reading Virginia Woolf and knew she wanted a room of her own.

The effort came too late. Her creativity, having flourished for so long on negation, dried up and did not return until, overwhelmed by loneliness and anxiety, she surrendered and became the lyrical voice of suffering again. She died from an overdose of sleeping pills on Jan. 29, 1933, glad to finish a battle she had no confidence she could win.

The last poem Sara Teasdale wrote, ''To M.,'' speculates, ''if you too should fail me'' - but Margaret Conklin never did.

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