Tag Archives: House by the Sea

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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Book Moments Two, May Sarton

Book Moments Two! Thursday, April 7

My morning tea with May Sarton

My morning reads with May continue to enlighten my days. On pages 49-51 of At Seventy, A Journal, May considers her age in the act of writing a journal, her search to express honesty, and the recurring springtime. She mentions sculptor Anne Truitt’s Daybook: The Journal of an Artist and French Romantic painter  Eugene Delacroix’s Journals as examples of artists who illuminate through writing a daily journal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mays says …

“I envy the painter who does not have to use elusive, sometimes damaged, often ambivalent words. I find that keeping a journal again validates and clarifies. For the hour I manage in the morning at this task, I am happy, at ease with myself and the world, even when I am complaining of pressure.”

“I sometimes feel old these days when I am suddenly made aware of the little time ahead. It came to me with a sharp pang when I found myself saying, as I have done every spring for years, Housman’s poem …

And since to look at things in bloom

fifty springs are little room

About the woodland I will go

To see the cherry hung with snow.

 

“I have at most ten or fifteen springs! Is that possible? Almost a lifetime gone. On the other side though, what I do have is seventy springs in my head, and they flow back with all their riches now.”

 

 

May’s words open a new perspective here for me. To look at age in terms of how many springs we have left to enjoy the blooming of flowers and bursting of green trees. For those of us who are nearing the age of seventy or living within the decade of seventy years, this is especially poignant.

How many springs are inside your head? How many autumns or summers? How many seasons do you expect to enjoy in the coming years?

 

 

Here is May’s poem about spring.

Metamorphosis
Always it happens when we are not there–
The tree leaps up alive into the air,
Small open parasols of Chinese green
Wave on each twig. But who has ever seen
The latch sprung, the bud as it burst?
Spring always manages to get there first.
Lovers of wind, who will have been aware
Of a faint stirring in the empty air,
Look up one day through a dissolving screen
To find no star, but this multiplied green,
Shadow on shadow, singing sweet and clear.
Listen, lovers of wind, the leaves are here!

 

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

 

Visit Book Moments Three, April 19

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Book Moments with May Sarton.

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Book Moments, May Sarton

BOOK MOMENTS!  Monday, April 4, 2022

My morning tea with May Sarton.

For all my literary followers, readers, and writers, my reading theme for April is author May Sarton. I will be posting Book Moments from her writings.

I have read most of her journals, poems, and novels. Today I begin again, rereading her journal “At Seventy” (published 1984).

 

 

She opens this journal at her 70 birthday, May 3. The scene is her awakening by the song of a cardinal, her breakfast table set with blue and white china and a vase of  yellow daffodils. There is a pheasant on the lawn adding to the peace of the day.

 

May’s Quote

“This is the best time of my life. I love being old …There is less conflict. I am happier, more balanced, and I am better able to use my powers … less doubt to conquer.”

May Sarton,  May 3, 1912 – July 16, 1995

May Sarton, originally named Eleanor Marie Sarton, was born Wondelgem, Belgium. During the early part of her career, Sarton enjoyed a good deal of critical acclaim for her journals and poetry. Her audience continued to grow steadily, often by word of mouth, and Sarton continued to produce prolifically, writing journals, poetry, and novels. Sarton lived in Nelson, New Hampshire and later relocated to York, Maine, where she spent the last twenty years of her life. May Sarton taught at several colleges and universities, including Harvard University and Wellesley College.

Visit her Amazon.com page:

https://www.amazon.com/May-Sarton/e/B000AQ48TS

Please feel free to comment or LIKE. Are you a May Sarton fan? Do you know her poetry? Do you read her journals?

More here on my blog about May Sarton:

Author of the Week, May Sarton, May 17

Image of May Sarton’s Garden

 

Visit Book Moments Two, April 7!

 

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Author of the Week, May Sarton, May 17

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   May 17

May Sarton

(Novelist, Memoirist, Poet)

“I always forget how important the empty days are, how important it may be sometimes not to expect to produce anything, even a few lines in a journal. A day when one has not pushed oneself to the limit seems a damaged damaging day, a sinful day. Not so! The most valuable thing one can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of a room.”

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”

“Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is richness of self.”

“I suppose I have written novels to find out what I thought about something and poems to find out what I felt about something.”

“I feel happy to be keeping a journal again. I’ve missed it, missed naming things as they appear, missed the half hour when I push all duties aside and savour the experience of being alive in this beautiful place.”

 

May Sarton (1912—1995)  is the pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton.  Her first volume of poetry, Encounters in April, was published in 1937 and her first novel, The Single Hound, in 1938.

Her memoir, best-selling Journal of a Solitude, 1973, was an account of her experiences as a female artist, and is still read today, praised as “rich in the love of nature and the love of solitude … a beautiful book, wise and warm within its solitude,” by Eugenia Thornton. Sarton became acquainted with many literary figures, including Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Bowen. She taught at both Harvard and Wellesley; her books are a part of  college courses throughout the country. 

May Sarton died of breast cancer  in 1995, at the age of 83. She said of her work: “It is my hope that all the novels, the poems, and the autobiographical books may come to be seen as a whole, the communication of a vision of life.” She has an extensive and impressive legacy’ with over 50 published works.

[Note: I have a long-lasting love of May Sarton’s journals and fiction. I probably own 30+ of her 50 works, and often reread her journals, especially House by the Sea, my favorite. She falls deeply in love with nature, flowers, gardens, land, sea and sky, and her writing. She writes her best in this book, just luminous! A book to keep by your bed and savor before turning out the light, taking May’s wise thinking into your subconscious. If you read only one book by May, House by the Sea will capture your heart, imagination, and soul. Sarton is an inspiration.]

 

Interview (30-minute film) with May Sarton hosted by Karen Saum. Sarton speaks about poetry and her writing. This vimeo is followed by another of Sarton’s events “May Sarton: Writing in the Upward Years” (1988).


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/15202922″>May Sarton She knew a Phoenix</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user3645923″>Belfast Community Media</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

Sarton’s Novels:

 

May Sarton’s Amazon page:

https://www.amazon.com/May-Sarton/e/B000AQ48TS/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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