At Seventy: A Journal

At Seventy: A Journal

May Sarton

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 0393310302

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"Prolific poet and novelist, author of six nonfiction books and heaped with academic honors, Sarton has fashioned her journals, ‘sonatas’ as she calls them, into a distinctive literary form: relaxed yet shapely, a silky weave of reflection, sensuous observation and record of her daily round, with the reader made companion to her inmost thoughts. . . . It’s a book rich in warmth, perceptiveness and reassurance.” ―Publishers Weekly

May Sarton―poet, novelist, and chronicler―occupies a special place in American letters. This new journal chronicles the year that began on May 3, 1982, her seventieth birthday. At her home in Maine, she savors “the experience of being alive in this beautiful place,” reflecting on nature, friends, and work. “Why is it good to be old?” she was asked at one of her lectures. “Because,” she said, “I am more myself than I have ever been.”

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but by then I was in the saddle and eager to take off. The poems did ring out, and I could feel the silence and the attention lifting me up. The best moment was after reading “Dialogue,” when a great wave of laughter from two thousand people really raised the roof, I had deliberately put it in the middle of the reading to break the tension, and it was good to see how well it worked. I haven’t read that poem, much anthologized, for years. The president introduced me as “our poet,” which was a

dead in the middle of the call. I ran over to Mary-Leigh’s and got through to them, but it was agitating. Luckily the phone got fixed just after five—how literally “cut off” I am without it! A charming photographer, Sarah Putnam, came on Saturday morning to take pictures. She worked outdoors with the terrace border as background, or the field, but the sun dazzled me and made me feel weak. And when she left I felt as empty as a flat balloon. Meanwhile, there were the lobsters to cook and prepare

clear that she would never have found the material she had in hand, so whatever the tragedy (and it included the death of her lover, Finch-Hatton), her final triumph had its roots in the African farm. There she was literally a legend, “Lioness” her people on the farm called her because she shot the lions that marauded and preyed on their animals. There she could exercise her genius for understanding primitive people and her courage and sense of honor. As one of her Danish admirers said, “She

there are no furies at the window—that I do know for sure. It made me happy that Deborah Pease (who is now the publisher of the Paris Review and was my student at Wellesley) really loved the “Letters from Maine,” and it is possible that they will be published when the interview with me comes out. That gave me a lift. It also made me realize freshly how far from writing poems I am now, and ever since late December when the door was closed in my face and the poems stopped. No lines run through my

entered our own destinies. But Anne and her influence had made us into poets, had given us the charge at the very start. We did not talk only of the past, Jean and I. Last winter Sali, her husband, died after weeks of excruciating illness in the hospital. We talked about what this sudden widowhood has meant, of my hope that Jean will be able to write poems—she is a very good poet who retired only a few years ago from a demanding editing job, so there had not been time until now. What a

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