Tag Archives: Halfway to Silence

Book Moments Four, May Sarton

Book Moments Four, May Sarton, May 3, 2022

Anniversary of May’s birth date, May 3, 1912

My morning tea with May Sarton, filled with sunlight. This moment reflecting May’s thought “to live in eternity’s light, not in time.”

 

 

I am at the end of At Seventy, A Journal.  I have over 35 volumes of May Sarton’s books on my bookshelf, with several still to read.

May writes that she listens to Mozart Piano Concerto E-Flat Major, No. 9 (as I am listening to this music too). She conveys her feelings about nature, her garden, flowers,  birds, rhythms of the seasons, and light. These themes, her companions really, are in all her journals and poetry.

“I look out at the rain, the narrow winding path through the golden grasses to the gray ocean, and rest in it. I am as close to heaven as I am to hell all these days as summer turns to autumn.”

I especially love her description of flowers:

“My eyes rested on a blue jar containing crimson cosmos and lavender Michaelmas daisies, color as brilliant and starling as a clash of cymbals against the white walls.”

 

On page 305, May tells us about her muse. “Poetry does not happen for me without a muse.”

During the November entries in this journal, she mentions that a muse means intense preoccupation …

“I am fully aware that the presence of a muse literally opens  the inner space, just as November light opens the outer space …

“With this muse, to make every effort to live in eternity’s light, not in time.”

She has often claimed that her muse is a woman who “focuses the world for me.” For some artists, the muse is metaphorical or can even be an actual person. For May, her muse seems to be both.

It has been well documented in May’s writings that she considered Juliette Huxley to be her living muse.

 

I think May had many muses and at different levels. She mentions the influence of  Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, Julian Huxley, S.S. Kolteliansky, Florida Scott-Maxwell, Anne Thorp, Susan Sherman, and especially Jean Dominique and Louise Bogan. I think perhaps even her dog Tamas and cat Bramble have had their play as muses in her life.

In one of her poems, she discovers her misunderstanding Of The Muse.

Of The Muse (excerpt)

When I was young, I misunderstood The Muse.

Now I am older and wiser, I can be glad of her

As one is glad of the light.

We do not thank the light,

But rejoice in what we see

Because of it.

What I see today

Is the snow falling:

All things are made new.

 

Let us leave it here, finishing off these Book Moments as if savoring one of May’s delicate dinners: Belgian endive salad, a loaf of French bread, and a glass of Beaujolais. She has fed us all so well!

 

 

 

You might like to read her interview at the Paris Review:

“The thing about poetry—one of the things about poetry—is that in general one does not follow growth and change through a poem. The poem is an essence. It captures perhaps a moment of violent change but it captures a moment, whereas the novel concerns itself with growth and change. As for the journals, you actually see the writer living out a life, which you don’t in any of the other forms, not even the memoirs.”

https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/3040/the-art-of-poetry-no-32-may-sarton

May died at the age of 83 in 1995. She is buried in Nelson Cemetery,

Nelson, New Hampshire.

 

Book Moments, May Sarton, April 4, 2022

Book Moments Two, May Sarton, April 7, 2022

Book Moments Three, May Sarton, April 19, 2022

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Book Moments Three, May Sarton

Book Moments Three, May Sarton, April 19

My morning tea with May Sarton

 

The topic today is silence. On page 75 of  At Seventy,  May says that she is …

“beginning to feel like a camel in sore need of an oasis. The oasis is silence. I woke up in the night starving for silence, for time alone here.”

May often addresses the inner chaos vs. the inner order and the struggle it presents from day to day. She is well known by her readers to work in her garden of flowers with plants to clear the senses and compose the mind.

“There is a special August silence in the heavy air. The birds do not sing. The ocean sighs in the distance. The whole tempo slows down.”

The kind of silence she seeks requires solitude. A good deal of May’s poems are about variations of silence that she treats as sacred to her well being and to her creative work. If you know some of her poems, you might be familiar with After Silence, The Silence Now, After a Winter’s Silence, The Land of Silence, and her most popular …

Halfway to Silence

I was halfway to Silence

Halfway to land’s end

When I heard your voice.

Shall I take you with me?

Shall we go together

All the way to silence,

All the way to land’s end?

Is there a choice?

May Sarton’s house by the sea in Maine.

Flowers are “silent presences” in her house in every room—as she writes in so many of her journals.

 

 

Visit May’s Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/May-Sarton/e/B000AQ48TS

 

What thoughts do you have about the sound of silence? If you found a portal to a deep silence, would  you enter or shy away?

 

Book Moments Four, May Sarton, May 3, 2022

 

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