Coming into 80

Overview

In this collection, May Sarton takes on the subject of herself in old age.Here are Sarton's observations and reflections, many of which came to her as if by magic during the small hours of the morning. Along with the daily events of writing a letter, appreciating her flowers, taking care of her car Pierrot, these poems wrestle with the larger questions of life and death, the difficulties and rewards of living alone.
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Overview

In this collection, May Sarton takes on the subject of herself in old age.Here are Sarton's observations and reflections, many of which came to her as if by magic during the small hours of the morning. Along with the daily events of writing a letter, appreciating her flowers, taking care of her car Pierrot, these poems wrestle with the larger questions of life and death, the difficulties and rewards of living alone.
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Editorial Reviews

Marge Piercy
“May Sarton is still teaching us how to think about the events of our lives, and how to sing about them, too.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In these sparely fashioned poems Sarton (The Silence Now) contemplates life from the perspective of 80 years. The book is dedicated to the poet's cat, her muse. This may seem whimsical, and some of the poems are essentially notations (``A Thought''). Others, however, like sudden revelations that occur in the small hours, are distilled and crystalline: ``these poems are minimal because my life is reduced to essences.'' Their tone is often dark, as the poet remembers friends and family now gone. Sarton's poetic voice ranges from such painful severity to rhythmic, rhyming celebrations of life which owe much to Yeats, whom she acknowledges as an inspiration. But for her, old age represents less an aesthetic stance than an everyday reality, sometimes painfully personal and revealing: ``When I am dressed/ At last/ It is a small triumph.'' In form the poems are very restrained, but not in emotion. They provide a vehicle for simply transmitting the ebb and flow of memory into presence. (Nov.)
Library Journal
As she enters her ninth decade, Sarton writes in the preface to her 17th collection, "these poems are minimal because my life is reduced to essences." In spite of age and illness, Sarton's voice is still disarmingly fresh and buoyant, whether she is rejoicing in the appearance of a scarlet tanager or describing the challenge of getting dressed in the morning. Spare, delicately focused, and frequently rhymed, her poems are inspired by the small blessings of daily life: the companionship of a beloved cat, a bedside bouquet of fresh flowers, and the changing seasons as viewed from a favorite window. The only missteps are a handful of poems on weighty themes (war and destructiveness in general) that blunder awkwardly into the poet's intimate world of house, garden, and memory. Perhaps what Sarton hopes to leave with her readers is the gift of her own example of awareness and resilience: "I am still whole and merry/ And when all's said and done/Rejoice in my strange story,/Ardent and alone." For libraries with a following for her journals and novels.-Christine Stenstrom, Brooklyn P.L.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393316230
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/28/1997
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 72
  • Sales rank: 381,937
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.17 (d)

Meet the Author

May Sarton (1912-1995) was an acclaimed poet, novelist, and memoirist.
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Table of Contents

Preface 11
Coming into Eighty 15
Renascence 19
I Wanted Poems to Come 21
The O's of November 22
December Moon 23
As Fresh, As Always New 24
Small Joys 25
A Thought 27
Friendship and Illness 28
Best Friend 29
The Teacher 31
Rinsing the Eye 32
Palm 34
After the Long Enduring 38
Elegy 39
The Artist 40
All South, 1991 42
The Absence of God 44
The Use of Force 46
The Scream 48
Guilt 49
Melancholy 51
For My Mother 52
Getting Dressed 54
Friend or Enemy 55
Wanting to Die 56
The Tides 57
Lunch in the Garden 58
Obit 59
A Fortune 60
To Have What I Have 62
Bliss 64
Luxury 65
The Ender, The Beginner 66
A Handful of Thyme 67
Birthday Present 69
About the Author 71
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