Thursday, February 23, 2006

Poetry Thursday - Sarton

Photography Credit: "Man-Made Mist" by Terry Beebe

Now I Become Myself

Now I become myself. It's taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people's faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
"Hurry, you will be dead before--"
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted so by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!

~May Sarton~

Portrait of May Sarton, 1936, Polly Thayer Starr, Oil on Canvas,
Courtesy of Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University

May Sarton, 1912-1995, was a prolific writer of poetry, novels, memoirs, and journals, publishing over 50 books during her lifetime. Journal of a Solitude was her most popular journal, but I received the most pleasure and personal comfort from reading The House By the Sea. Sarton lived the last 20 years of her life in York, Maine, in a house overlooking the sea. She and I corresponded from the summer of 1986 until shortly before her death
on July 16, 1995.

Her books and her personal notes to me remain immensely fulfilling,
especially during times of struggle and challenge.
May is buried in Nelson, New Hampshire.


liz elayne said...

i am so deeply touched by this poem and by the knowledge that you had the gift of corresponding with this amazing woman. i have admired her words for many years and have recently discovered her poetry. this is beautiful.
(and can i also just admit here that i am a little jealous of your bravery to connect with someone who you admire.)

beansprout said...

Absolutely beautiful! And how you must cherish her words all the more now that she's no longer here to create anymore. Much gratitude.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

How wonderful it is to find a poem by May Sarton here. She was such a lovely poet. I love that you had a correspondence with her.

You have a fine blog here. Thank you for stopping by and reading ours-- The Dharma Bums. We are practically neighbors up here in the pacific northwest.

MB said...

All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.

Oh, that's beautiful. Thank you, Sky, for sharing this. I should be so fortunate to feel everything fuse like this!

Wenda said...

How lovely that you and May Sarton corresponded and for such a long period. I imagine she would have treasured your letters as much as you treasure hers. I seem to recall how she often mentioned her correspondence in her journals. I didn't become acquainted with her work until 1998, but have been enjoying her poetry and her journals ever since. I'd love to hear more about your correspondence.

Diana said...

Just wanted to thank you for your comment on my blog, and say that I am excited to have found yours. I will definitely be coming back; great place you've got here. :)

Cate said...

When I first started reading this poem, I thought that you had written it and I was overwhelmed by your talent! It is a beautiful poem and I am so glad that you were generous enough to share/bring my attention to it. I'd heard of May Sarton but must admit that until now, I'd never read any of her work. Thank you for the introduction!

P.S. I've read several of your other posts and am still overwhelmed by your talent!

Jennifer said...

Wow, what an incredible poem. I would love to learn more about the author...

GoGo said...


Maddy said...

worn other people's faces...

Beautiful post - and your
blog and template feel like
a gorgeous little world to
slip into. Like we are having
tea together.
Poets of the world unite!

Maddy said...

Great photo as well!

Lorna said...

We have all worn other people's faces, but who could have expressed it so well. Lovely.

Frankie said...

What an AMAZING poem!! Thanks SO much for sharing it!!

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

This is a very powerful and touching poem. It says so much.

Thank you for all your kind comments on my blog.

I am happy to have discovered yours!

Be well.

Tammy said...

Awsome poem! How lucky you were to correspond with her. I will read some of her other work. Thanks for the gift :)

farmgirl said...

What a glorious poem. What a gift to have known a person who could create something so special. : )

gkgirl said...

very touching poem
and thank you for the kind words
on my blog...


JourneyThroughLIfe said...

My blog keeps showing yours as being updated, so I come on over and see what you have written next, only to see the same beautiful poem. I almost feel like its saying "Pay attention"!!
Its the first few lines that grab me and say "Now its your time! Absorb it all in and settle into yourself, be who you are and be accepting and loving of your unique self!" Thanks for posting it!

Gillian Young said...

Thanks for reminding me of May. A quote of hers moved me more than once, and I've got to dig it up. This poem stirs something inside of me and lets me know that someday I might know myself.

Mary said...

I have read, and loved, both Journal of a Solitude and The House by the Sea, but am not really familiar with May Sarton's poetry. And yes,how wonderful that you knew her! Thank you for this introduction to her poetry. I will be back to read it again and also to get to know your blog.

And your kind words at mine are really appreciated ...

Sky said...

Thanks everyone for your comments and for your appreciation of May's work. I will post more of her work on Poetry Thursdays. If you are interested in her work, you might be want to read her later journals and her *Collected Poems*. The journals she wrote from York, Maine detail her life in older age and offer much information about the challenges she faced during aging and health problems.

Stephanie said...

I love this poem!

salvagepoint said...

Thats a beautiful poem!I was just reading through all the comments you've got here and found that almost all of them were made by women...
I think the poet captured the essence of a very feminine emotion in her work - conflict that is both binding and liberating

Kathryn said...

At a particularly hard time in my life a couple years ago, a friend of mine made me an altered book and included this poem. I cried as I read it. Sarton's words went through me. She is one of my favorite writers. I've read all her novels, a few of her journals, a bit of her poetry. The biography written about her added a dimenion that only made her richer to me. I had often thought of writing to her, but I didn't have the sense of worth to do it. Ah, well.

Thank you for posting this.

krista said...

I was moved by this poem. I thought and thought... trying to come up with something esoteric to write- but really I am left speechless.