Paris Review – May Sarton, The Art of Poetry No. 32

This is my vision for myself

The author of a remarkably varied body of work, May Sarton lives by herself in York, Maine, in a former “summer cottage,” quite isolated, at the end of a long dirt road. The road curves through a well-kept wood ending at “The House by the Sea” (the title of one of her journals). The house, formal in design, is of pale yellow clapboard fronted by a flagstone terrace. It faces, across a rolling meadow, the deep blue of the ocean marked here and there by a line of white foam. It is a late November afternoon and growing cold. The flower beds around the house, running along the fence and at the edge of the terraces, are all banked for winter. Her little Sheltie, Tamas, alerts her to the arrival of a guest, and she comes to greet me at the gate.Possessed of that profound attentiveness characteristic of true charm, May Sarton has, at the same time, an exuberant nature. Her voice, full of inflection and humor, expresses the range of her personality. It has been called a “burnished” voice and it makes for spellbinding poetry readings, which she gives frequently—at places from small New England churches to the Library of Congress, and at colleges everywhere.

Source: Paris Review – May Sarton, The Art of Poetry No. 32


The Hestia archetype is introverted. She looks inward to intuitively sense the essence of a situation or the character of a person. She has a natural detachment and seeks tranquility, which is most easily found in solitude.


Steven Guy: That’s gorgeous
Lynne  : Saf’s first visit to our place after Iz was gone. She just sat – and waited.
Its also where she threw my walking sticks after the coma and told me I didn’t need them anymore.
 Deep love is an exquisite thing isn’t Steve ?

I stayed home today and didn’t do much. They did black us out last night – all night. I had been kicking up a stink but in the end it barely worried me at all. I still think they are dickheads – but it wasn’t a problem.

This is the month in which Dad and Izzy both passed away and Dad’s birthday is tomorrow. That is my Dad on his morning walk through town and along the beach.

This is why individuals who prefer solitude are described, even by sympathetic media, as lonely and in need of friendship and socialization, if not rehabilitation. The popular route for recovery is simply to imitate how others carry on a social life, engage in social activities, consume the products of society in order to feel part of society, in order not to feel alienated. Other approaches, more serious psychological approaches to rehabilitating lonely people, may attempt to mainstream lonely people or sufferers of mental illness by using pharmaceuticals to suppress their depression. Usually no authority will recommend a transition to what may be called “voluntary” solitude because such a state does not or should not, in their estimation, exist. Loneliness is conflated with solitude in order to stigmatize historical solitaries and their modern versions. Those who fail to rehabilitate themselves from loneliness are returned by society, in one way or another, to involuntary institutionalization, a built-in social recidivism.


and this is my IZZY



Aging people should know that their lives are not mounting and expanding, but that an inexorable inner process enforces the contraction of life. … For the aging person it is a duty and necessity to devote serious attention to himself. After having lavished its light upon the world, the sun withdraws its rays in order to illuminate itself. Instead of doing likewise, many older people prefer to be hypochondriacs, misers, pedants, applauders of the past or else eternal adolescents — all lamentable substitutes for the illumination of the self, but inevitable consequences of the delusion that the second half must be governed by the principles of the first. … Money-making, social achievement, family and posterity are nothing but plain nature, not culture. Culture lies outside the purpose of nature. Could by any chance culture be the meaning and purpose of the second half of life?

I know that I am walking in places where I am not always encouraged to walk. I think these places were once better trodden. I am looking for more reading material which fills the empty spot in my understanding of this stage of my life.

And I shrink my life to a size that brings me peace.

I retreat into private spaces.

I am looking at a place to rent which is very small and tucked away. I have not normally liked being tucked away. I have liked a view of the Passing Parade but that is not what has come up for me. So – I shall trust for now, that this will work.

The practical reasons for moving are

  1. uncertainty about what is happening with my rent
  2. intrusion into my personal life
  3. the presence of active addiction all around me
  4. uncertainty about electricity and internet


The spiritual reasons for moving are more subtle and more profound.  I would like a wee cabin of my own but I shall go for this small flat that I am looking at – for spiritual reasons unworded.

I want to write. I want my affairs in order as I usually have them. I want my little bits and pieces around me. I want privacy for my own thoughts and way of life. I want dignity and decency and a freedom from madness. I want birds to come to my door and I want to see the sun and the moon again. I want to take photographs.


I have been asked to take my Granddaughter to school tomorrow. That is a first since I became ill. Yes ! Yes!

How wonderful.