Friday, April 4, 2014

May Sarton: Poet

Photo by
Dead Poet's Society of America.
Poets tackles the big, complex themes such as truth, beauty, love and death.  After decades of exploring such themes, poets in late life continue to explore these topics.  The poets work is never done.

April is National Poetry month in the United States.  This gives me an invitation to consider poetry of mature poets.  If you have not had the chance to read poems by May Sarton, I invite you to do so.

Sarton was born in Belgium in 1912, but with war raging in Europe, her family moved to Boston in 1915.  She initially was interested in being an actress but soon turned her talents to writing.

She published fiction and autobiographical nonfiction. However, it's her poetry that is her greatest legacy.  She also taught creative writing at several universities and was a life-long Unitarian.

Here is a sermon by Rev. Peg Boyle Morgan that celebrates Sarton's work and quotes from a number of her poems.

As a gerontologist, I am most interested in the poetry Sarton wrote in late life, particularly her collection Coming into Eighty, published in 1994 when she was 82, just two years before her death from breast cancer.

Here are a few lines from the poem "Coming into Eighty" that shares its title with the collection, which she wrote after recovering from a stroke:
Coming into eighty
I slow my ship down
For a safe landing.
It has been battered,
One sail torn, the rudder
Sometimes wobbly. 
Here are a couple lines from another poem, "When A Woman Feels Alone," which describes the internal wise woman buried in her psyche:
Old Woman I meet you deep inside myself.
There in the rootbed of fertility. 
If you are interested in reading more of Sarton's poetry, you can find a handful here and here.

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