The title poem of this entrancing collection compares love to salt for its ability both to dissolve and to crystallize “into a presence.” At once philosophical and fiercely corporeal, this work presents emotion as a sensory experience. Written with Sarton’s characteristic concision, these deeply felt poems will delight readers.
|Publisher:||Open Road Media|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
An accomplished memoirist, Sarton came out as a lesbian in her 1965 book Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing. Her memoir Journal of a Solitude (1973) was an account of her experiences as a female artist. Sarton spent her later years in York, Maine, living and writing by the sea. In her memoir Endgame: A Journal of the Seventy-Ninth Year (1992), she shares her own personal thoughts on getting older. Her final poetry collection, Coming into Eighty, was published in 1994. Sarton died on July 16, 1995, in York, Maine.
May Sarton (1912–1995) was born on May 3 in Wondelgem, Belgium, and grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her first volume of poetry, Encounters in April, was published in 1937 and her first novel, The Single Hound, in 1938. Her novels A Shower of Summer Days, The Birth of a Grandfather, and Faithful Are the Wounds, as well as her poetry collection In Time Like Air, all received nominations for the National Book Award.
An accomplished memoirist, Sarton came out as a lesbian in her 1965 book Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing. Her memoir Journal of a Solitude (1973) was an account of her experiences as a female artist. Sarton spent her later years in York, Maine, living and writing by the sea. In her last memoir, Endgame: A Journal of the Seventy-Ninth Year (1992), she shares her own personal thoughts on getting older. Her final poetry collection, Coming into Eighty, was published in 1994. Sarton died on July 16, 1995, in York, Maine.
Read an Excerpt
In Time Like Air
By May Sarton
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1958 May Sarton
All rights reserved.
ISLANDS AND WELLS
In the private hour of night,
There are islands of light:
There is one, there is one
Ill in a great bed alone
Who without moving, moves
Like a delicate wind of caring
Over the earth, showering her loves
As a tree the leaves it has shed,
As a ship, world-faring,
Though anchored fast in her island-bed.
In the dry hour of the heart,
There are still wells in the desert:
There is one, there is one
To whom I once came down
From terrible Los Alamos of the bomb.
She opened wide the door.
She made me loving welcome,
And as we watched the setting sun, she spoke
Of suffering Europe, Asia. The world was near.
O human eyes! O deep imploring look!
In the dark night of the sense
When God is only felt as absence,
Prevenient grace is there
To tell us to endure
Since islands of pure light,
Since desert wells exist.
However dark our private night,
However far from Him and how unsure,
There still is human love, moments of trust
That make us suddenly rich, however poor.
The teacher of logic said, "Reason."
The poet said, "Passion."
"Without logic, we muddle
And fail," said the teacher
The poet said, "Fiddle!
What about Nature?"
"Has Nature no plan,
You poor fuddled creature?
You're a rational man,
Not an ape or an angel."
The poet said, "Nonsense!
I'm an angel, an ape,
And a creature of sense,
Not a brain in a box
That a mere jackanapes
With logic unlocks.
I'm total. I'm human.
It's you who are not."
"You sound like a woman."
The poet said, "Rot!
You're just a machine.
You can't write a poem.
You can't make a dream."
But the logical man
Said, "I'll stick to my reason."
(He said it with passion).
One is large and lazy;
One is old and crazy;
One is young and witty;
One is a great beauty,
But all feed you the wind,
And each of them is blind.
How then to recognize
The hard unseeing eyes,
Or woman tell from ghost?
Human each is, almost—
That wild and glittering light—
Almost, and yet not quite.
Never look straight at one
For then your self is gone.
The empty eyes give back
Your own most bitter lack,
And what they have to tell
Is your most secret Hell:
The old, the sad pursuit
Of the corrupting fruit,
The slightly tainted dish
Of the subconscious wish,
Fame, love, or merely pride
Wrap you in glamour cold,
Warm you with fairy gold,
Till you grow fond and lazy,
Witty, perverse, and crazy,
And drink their health in wind,
And call the Furies kind.
THE ACTION OF THE BEAUTIFUL
I move through my world like a stranger
Where multiple images collide and fall,
Fragments of lakes, eyes—or a mirror.
How to include, make peace with them all?
Only your face (is this too illusion?)
So poised between silence and speech
Suggests that at the center of confusion
An inward music is just within reach.
Can so much be spoken by an eyelid,
Or the bent forehead so much light distill?
Here all is secret and yet nothing hid,
That tenderness, those deep reserves of will.
There is no future, past, only pure presence.
The moment of a glance is brimmed so full
It fuses consciousness to a new balance—
This is the action of the beautiful.
Lakes, mirrors, every broken radiance
Shine whole again in your reflective face,
And I, the stranger, centered in your presence,
Come home and walk into the heart of peace.
ON BEING GIVEN TIME
Sometimes it seems to be the inmost land
All children still inhabit when alone.
They play the game of morning without end,
And only lunch can bring them, startled, home
Bearing in triumph a small speckled stone.
Yet even for them, too much dispersal scatters;
What complex form the simplest game may hold!
And all we know of time that really matters
We've learned from moving clouds and waters
Where we see form and motion lightly meld.
Not the fixed rigid object, clock or mind,
But the long ripple that opens out beyond
The duck as he swims down the tranquil pond,
Or when a wandering, falling leaf may find
And follow the formal downpath of the wind.
It is, perhaps, our most complex creation,
A lovely skill we spend a lifetime learning,
Something between the world of pure sensation
And the world of pure thought, a new relation,
As if we held in balance the globe turning.
Even a year's not long, yet moments are.
This moment, yours and mine, and always given,
When the leaf falls, the ripple opens far,
And we go where all animals and children are,
The world is open. Love can breathe again.
THE METAPHYSICAL GARDEN
It was late in September when you took me
To that amazing garden, hidden in the city,
Tranquil and complicated as an open hand,
There among green pleasances and descant of fountains,
Through walled paths and dappled loggias
Opening to distant trees,
We went conversing, smoking, often silent,
Our feet cool in sandals, nonchalant as the air.
It was at the end of September, warm for the season.
Nothing had fallen yet to bruise the grass.
Ripeness was all suspended,
The air aromatic and fresh over sun-drenched box.
Critical as Chinese philosophers,
We performed the garden by easy stages:
Should we move toward shade or toward sunlight,
The closed dark pool or the panoplied fountain?
Clearly each path had a metaphysical meaning,
Those rustic steps, that marble balustrade.
It was late in September when time,
Time that is not ours,
Hid itself away.
Our first arrival was a square room,
Brilliant parquet of clover
Designed as a stage for the trees
And their subtle conversations,
Diapason of faintly stirring leaves;
The fountains, heard not seen,
Made silence crepitant and watery.
And here it seemed we were part of a discourse
On the ancient themes,
Perspective and enclosure,
Desire raised and fulfilled
To this complex alive composure.
It was there that your voice,
Harsh and aloof,
Mixed with the cry of a bird
As a cardinal flashed through the willow
And suddenly screamed.
We climbed lightly
Through a small steep orchard
To a bastion of branches.
Must we penetrate, force passage
At the top of the hill?
No airy place, no view?
What we found was a grave high room,
Lonely, enclosed in acacias,
Its center a double pool
Where ivy crept and crowded
And water lilies slept, going to seed.
We had not after all expected
A place so perfectly round.
We sat on a stone bench like statues.
Nothing moved for a long season.
From high in the sunlight then
A single leaf fell slowly,
And we watched it fall.
So passionate was the place, so still,
This light leaf falling from air to grass
Was monumental. It held
The exact weight of a tremendous word.
How gentle and relieving
Then to emerge, climb down
From that intense enclosure
High on the hill
To the large view we had imagined
Through all the devious paths,
The orchards, loggias,
The long boxed-in perspectives.
Now it was here,
The weight of the trees flung back,
The undulating ample slopes,
The whole shape of the land
Made clear in the golden light.
In the foreground tawny dogwood
Thick with vermilion berries, showed
We could read each leaf.
We had to climb down
To get to contemplation
On this scale, large, airy, remote.
We sat on a homely wooden bench
And watched a solitary gardener pass
With his pruning hook.
Indeed it was coming home
To an unbroken sunlit peace of knowing.
LADY WITH A FALCON
Flemish tapestry, 15th century
Gentleness and starvation tame
The falcon to this lady's wrist,
Natural flight hooded from blame
By what ironic fate or twist?
For now the hunched bird's contained flight
Pounces upon her inward air,
To plunder that mysterious night
Of poems blooded as the hare.
Heavy becomes the lady's hand,
And heavy bends the gentle head
Over her hunched and brooding bird
Until it is she who seems hooded.
Lady, your falcon is a peril,
Is starved, is mastered, but not kind.
The bird who sits your hand so gentle,
The captured hunter hunts your mind.
Better to starve the senseless wind
Than wrist a falcon's stop and start:
The bolt of flight you thought to bend
Plummets into your inmost heart.
WHERE DREAM BEGINS
Strip off kindness,
Strip off shelter,
Stripped down, friendless,
Nor pride, nor warm shoes,
Nor any covering
A cold man might use
When there is no sun,
When heart is gone.
Without coat or cape,
Shoestring or doorlatch,
Or one cosy hope,
Stripped of odds and ends,
Even at last of love,
Where the world ends,
Go rich in poverty,
Go rich in poetry.
Where the wild hare runs,
Wind in the torn seams,
Where rise buried suns,
Where darkness begins.
Here dream begins.
LAMENT FOR TOBY, A FRENCH POODLE
The great Toby is dead,
Courteous and discreet,
He of the noble head,
Remote and tragic air,
He of the trim black feet—
He's gone. He is nowhere.
Yet famous in New Hampshire
As one who fought and killed—
Dog-bane and dog-despair
That prey that all resign,
The terrible and quilled,
He will become a legend,
Black coat and royal nature,
So wounded he was blind,
As on a painted shield
Some lost heroic creature
Who fought and would not yield.
If we were brave as he,
Who'd ask to be wise?
We shall remember Toby:
When human courage fails,
Be dogged in just cause
As he before the quills.
Excerpted from In Time Like Air by May Sarton. Copyright © 1958 May Sarton. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Islands and Wells,
The Action of the Beautiful,
On Being Given Time,
The Metaphysical Garden,
Lady with a Falcon,
Where Dream Begins,
Lament for Toby,
The Olive Grove,
To the North,
After Four Years,
The Frog, That Naked Creature,
In Time Like Air,
Binding the Dragon,
The Other Place,
A Pair of Hands,
My Father's Death,
The Light Years,
Reflections in a Double Mirror,
Death and the Lovers,
Translations from the French,
Allusion to Poets - Odilon-Jean Périer,
Gifts - Francis Jammes,
This Peasant's Son - Francis Jammes,
Sonnet - Jean Cassou,
Life That Passes - Pierre Seghers,
The Voyages - Robert Sabatier,
About the Author,