Riter is a noble endeavor a means of creating the soul afresh Each day and the living of it has to be a conscious creation My library copy is bristling with red Post it flags I found lines that grabbed me on nearly every third page There are almost too many brilliant uotes for me to copy out I ve bought my own secondhand paperback instead As Italo Calvino opined during unenforced readingyou will come across the book which will become your book Your classic is a book to which you cannot remain indifferent and which helps you define yourself in relation or even in opposition to it If that s the case Journal of a Solitude is on the top shelf in my personal library of classics Next up will be her Collected Poems then perhaps Mrs Stevens I have now spent 3 months reading Sarton s ournal of a year of her life in Nelson New Hampshire a ournal which reflects her love of the old colonial home and the vast gardens she had cultivated there her nightly skirmishes with local wildlife who wanted home access raccoon feral cats the neighbors who tended to her land and road her flowers and pets her many friends acuaintances and above all perhaps her writing Sarton also exposes her core her occasional bouts of depression her ecstasy upon creating a poem or seeing the perfect sky or perfect flower in ust the right beam of light We learn of her belief in feminism her homosexuality and something of her relationships her uasi religious beliefs as she does not fit herself into any belief system past acuaintance with Virginia Woolf and othersWhat a life she led And the year of this ournal was in fact a transition year for her as she contemplated and ultimately accepted her status as a solitude She provides what for me is an essential description of this meaning for her From August 27th entry There is no doubt that solitude is a challenge and to maintain balance within it a precarious business But I must not forget that for me being with people or even with one beloved person for any length of time without solitude is even worse I lose my center I feel dispersed scattered in pieces I must have time alone in which to mull over any encounter and to extract its uice its essence to understand what has really happened to me as a conseuence of it loc 2045And she writes in her final entry of this ournal on September 30 I begin to have intimations now of a return to some deep self that has been too absorbed and too battered to function for a long time That self tells me that I was meant to live alone meant to write the poems for others poems that seldom in my life have reached the one person for whom they were intended loc 2188Here she does not wallow she sees the reality of her life and experience and accepts the future and what she will do with it go forth and writeThere are moments also of humor moments of beauty moments of reflection about friends who are living life well or with difficulty and always there is nature and the garden From May 23 It is a catastrophe to have five baby woodchucks under the barn though they are adorable like small toy bears Of course they have eaten down the holly hocks But I take these disasters philosophically than I used to I am learning not to take it too personally I guess and not to mind failure The garden is growth and change and that means loss as well as constant new treasures to make up for
a few disasters The blue pansies are wonderful this year Blue is the most exciting colorfew disasters The blue pansies are wonderful this year Blue is the most exciting color the garden I think And these blues are everywhere now Virginia bluebells grape hyacinths blue primroses and wood anemones Soon there will be bluebells in the little wood and wild phlox here and there loc 1621This one brief paragraph takes her from potential despair to a lesson learned from nature to an observation of beauty to anticipation of beauty to come Is it any wonder that I have savored this readingThere is Really So Much Here so much here there is insight into the life of a poet dealing with her own loves losses and life There is also discussion of some of the important influences on her life and work both the people and her emotional and philosophical underpinningsVery highly recommendedA copy of this book was received from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review 45 starsThoreau found it in Massachusetts Dillard found it in Virginia May Sarton found it in New Hampshire Solitude Whatever peace I know rests in the natural world in feeling myself a part of it Her prose is the embodiment of solitude slow paced thought provokingHow can what seems like nonsensical talk be so transformative Clever contemplation helps This is prose you savor otherwise you miss something within the sentences
At times it is like reading poetry see the words digest them allow them to infect youtimes it is like reading poetry see the words digest them allow them to infect you their poison Read this book while you re alone and you feel the aloneness you smell the flowers sense the pain Read it around noise and the book not the noise is irritating For the book is silent slow moving The author s fixation on flowers and fluffy critters coupled with her intense depressive streak results in a ournal that often reads like Mary Engelbreit having a bad day A really bad day Never having been much for nature poetry nature s pretty nature s nice I ve ust never felt the urge to rhapsodize it and I can t get behind poets who do I found it difficult to relate This was disappointing as I do identify with much of what she talks about here the lovehate relationship with solitude For a long time now every meeting with another human being has been a collision I feel too much sense too much am exhausted by the reverberations after even the simplest conversation But the deep collision is and has been with my unregenerate tormenting and tormented self she writes and man do I hear her on that her struggles with rage and her need to uestion and examine her experiences Overall though it hit something of a flat note for me again possibly because the setting and motifs she chooses for her thematic preoccupations aren t really my bag But the woman gets mad props for being in her late fifties at the time she wrote this and announcing that she still doesn t have it figured out still finds peace and calm elusive With the main goal of adult life seeming to be that of being okay or at least preserving this appearance at all costs I have a lot of respect for her refusal to do this Sarton writes brave honest prose laced with beautiful tender moments with people and animals including sheeps While I didn t have the deep soul connection with this book that I wanted and expected to have it s an inspiring study in one intensely sensitive person s efforts to brave worlds outer and inner and chronicle her experience. To be alone is balanced against my fear of what will happen when suddenly I enter the huge empty silence if I cannot find support thereIn this book we are closer to the marrow than ever before in May Sarton's writin.
characters Journal of a Solitude45 stars rounded upThis is the ournal of a year in May Sarton s life 1972 3 when she was 58 Sarton is known as a poet and novelist but also as a writer of Xenophon And His World (Historia Einzelschriften) journals periodically and this is one of those Theseournals are very honest accounts of her life and cover relationships lesbianism her periods of depression and melancholy solitariness hence the title emotions of all types and most especially nature My prior knowledge of May Sarton was limited and picked up on her via Aubrey and the 500 great books by women many thanks AubreyOne of the things I really enjoyed about the Geography of the Gaze: Urban and Rural Vision in Early Modern Europe journal were her descriptions of the natural world most especially of her garden and the flowers and creatures in it Flowers and their scent were clearly very important to Sarton The garden is growth and change and that means loss as well as constant new treasures to make up for a few disasters A gray day but strangely enough a gray day makes the bunches of daffodils in the house have a particular radiance a kind of white light From my bed this morning I could look through at a bunch in the big room in that old Dutch blue and white drugar and they glowed I went out before seven in my pajamas because it looked like rain and picked a sampler of twenty five different varieties It was worth getting up early because the first thing I saw was a scarlet tanager a few feet away on a lilac bush stupendous sight There is no scarlet so vivid no black so black When I am alone the flowers are really seen I can pay attention to them They are felt as presences Without them I would die Why do I say that Partly because they change before my eyes They live and die in a few days they keep me closely in touch with process with growth and also with dying I am floated on their moments She also writes with great compassion about the wild creatures who inhabit her world and the stories about the feral cat who makes a home nearby are heart rendingSarton writes her prose as only a poet can and with great honesty and vulnerability and pulls no punches about her own faults and frailties her worries about her work and its reception and her love affairs She also periodically makes comments about current affairs like the death of De Gaulle and will then drop in a sentence or two about meeting Virginia WoolfIt reads very easily despite feeling fragmented at times Sarton is engaging and thoughtful It was a real pleasure to read Sarton s writing amazes me It s not everyone who can say Hey I m going to shut myself in a house for a really long time and write about watering my plants and my depression and it s going to be really beautiful and interesting But Sarton makes it happen The elouence and introspection that makes up this book is absolutely fascinating 199 Kindle SpecialMay Sarton was born in Belgium her family moved to Boston Massachusetts as WWI approached She began writing poetry at age twelve she also wrote novels and later in life a children s book When she started this ournal which was written over the period of a year she was battling depression and examing different relationships in her life This book won t be for everyone although I savored every word If you enjoy solitude nature flowers and deep insight I encourage you to read it I will definitely read it again because it is cathartic On a personal note I began ournaling in 2001 because I needed an outlet for all I was feeling after
THE TERROIST ATTACKS I ALSO WRITEterroist attacks I also write which began in 1998 after my Dad died unexpectedly Writing for me is great therapy I enjoy times of solitude to get centered Does anything in nature despair except man September 15th I feel inadeuate I have made an open place a place for meditation What if I cannot find myself inside itFor a long time now every meeting with another human being has been a collision I feel too much sense too much am exhausted by the reverberations after even the simplest conversation But the deep collision is and has been with my unregenerate tormenting and tormented self I have written every poem every novel for the same purpose to find out what I think to know where I stand I am unable to become what I seeSeptember 16thI make the uestionsI also give the answersNaturallySeptember 17th It was a strange relationship for he knew next to nothing about my life really yet below all the talk we recognized each other as the same kind He enjoyed my anger as much as I enjoyed his Perhaps that was part of it Deep down there was understanding not of the facts of our lives so much as of
Our Essential NaturesSeptember 20th Thereessential naturesSeptember 20th There something demoralizing about watching two people get and crazy about each other especially when you are the only extra person in the room It s like watching Paris from an express caboose heading in the opposite direction every second the city gets smaller and smaller only you feel it s really you getting smaller and smaller and lonelier and lonelier rushing away from all those lights and excitement at about a million miles an hour PSeptember 22ndI am losing the ability to hold a conversation with people My voice drowns My mind wanders I am holding on to those written words clinging to them like they were the last piece of wood of a fragile boat that the sea swallowed before I am holding on to that last trace of whatever it is that makes me humanbut what are we looking at A puppy starving for a glance that fearfully walks away after it gets it overwhelmed confused Connections and detachment fight for a place inside conflicted minds echoing the struggles of those lonesome beasts of the steppesSeptember 23rdIt is raining I sit by the window and start to look at the world I know where the One Wild Weekend jasmines and some white lilies briefly live Nothing compares to the scent of theasmines I think As I repeat that particular thought inside my head the rest of them start to ramble Trapped in the inner world as they contemplate what s outside They blend with reverie and solitude and begin to restlessly create memories Brand new memories of things that I have never experienced A sense of nostalgia towards things that were never real A feeling of loss at what I have never had Possibilities are endless and I cannot control anythingExcept the presence of those simple asmines And how their fragrance make me feel For I do not want a mere surface of bright colors or unusual forms I want everything Or nothing at allSeptember 25thThis room is a place in the world Here I breathe I dream I read I write Do I live I do feel that universal sense of discontent with life that I wish I could shake off at once Happiness must exist somewhere A moment a day a year A book a place a song a person And then I think that inevitable activity that haunts us everyd. I am here alone for the first time in weeks May Sarton begins this book to take up my 'real' life again at last That is what is strange that friends even passionate loveare not my real life unless there is time alon. Ay And then And then I am not sure if I want to find that happiness and belong to the flock Even though I believe that I am already a part of oneBut mirrors await Poetry emerges from every nook Time unforgiving time Time is everything Give me a day and I will give you a year of thoughts With time I will accept I will regret Fortunately or against my wishes I will also start to forget I was never able to forget completely But things become uiet memories It all starts to lose its brightness Its warmth I thought about someone today Those faintly aloof eyesI smiled A colder memory nowSeptember 28th I am an ornery character often hard to get along with The things I cannot stand that make me flare up like a cat making a fat tail are pretentiousness smugness the coarse grain that often shows itself in a turn of phrase I hate vulgarity coarseness of soul I hate small talk with a passionate hatred it is a waste of time to see people who have only a social surface to show I will make every effort to find out the real person but if I can t then I am upset and cross Time wasted is poisonSeptember 29th How does one grow up I asked a friend the other day There was a slight pause then she answered By thinking The thing I want to control the mostSo intimate so special so familiar These ournals reminded me of a book I absolutely adore A brushstroke of sweet melancholic poetry on every page The deafening sounds of a silent introspection I have found words to describe the inexplicable since my own are never enough I am accused of disloyalty because I talk about things that many people would keep to themselvesI am not at all discreet about anything that concerns feeling My business is the analysis of feeling May Sarton merged nature with solitude and as a result this beautifully crafted book came into existence Journals filled with her impressions on the natural world relationships of all sorts the creative process and the isolation that it inevitably reuires the ebb and flow of her depression the moments of peace in betweenA walk through the depths of her complex soul has been portrayed with a most exuisite and honest writingJan 05 16 Also on my blog May Sarton 1912 1995 was a lesbian writer Born in Belgium her family escaped to England when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914 the incident that triggered the First World War One year later her family moved again this time to Boston In 1945 she met her partner for 13 years Judy Matlack She wrote many poetry novels and non fiction books but she was most known for her memoirs This book Journal of a Solitude is said to be her bestThis memoir includes almost daily entries of her life for the span of one year 1972 1973 The title is about her preference to be alone when she writes poetry the literature form she likes best I am still to see a poetry book by her but I have a feeling that most of her poems are sad because this book is also sad Don t get me wrong though she is not a hermit living alone in a cabin in the middle of the woods In the book she mentioned about her visitors too like my favorite Virginia Woolf also a lesbian and other writers whose names Naturally Naughty Wicked Willing just don t ring a bell In fact I did not know anything about May Sarton until this book Thanks to the 501 Must Read Books for recommending this to meSarton was 60 when she wrote this book It wasust two years after her partner for 13 years died So naturally she was still grieving However she did not mention her grief in the book denial trying to forget Rather she made herself busy doing the household chores tend to her garden teaching at the university and meeting with her friends Superficially everything seems to be ordinary except that when you read her F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby journals you know that she is still deeply hurt inside Then since she was a good poet based on what I read in herournals her words were lyrical and heartfelt if not magical I think those are what make this book really loved by women who are feminists andor lovers of good literature Think of Anne Frank at 60 who knows how to write good poetry and instead of hiding inside the library her emotions are the ones hidden inside her heart and poured out only via the choicest and the most beautiful rhythmic versesMy favorite part is about Perley Cole his
GARDENER WIDOWED BY HIS WIFE DUEWidowed by his wife due her long illness he had to continue working tending Sarton s garden He died in the ambulance and he had no service and was cremated Sarton writes It is the loneliest dying and the loneliest death I ever heard of How many times he has said to me in these last months I never thought it would end like this How is one to accept such a death What have we come to when people are shoveled away as if that whole life of hard work dignity self respect could be discarded at the end like an old beer canI liked this book I read this book over a couple of weeks as ournal entries need to be read a few at a time for me in order to maintain freshness May Sarton lived alone for a year in her house in New Hampshire but it was not exactly in solitude
She Maintained A Pretty Fullmaintained a pretty full of speaking engagements vacations and visits with friends not to mention all of the visitors she entertained and the neighbors she enjoyed Her ournal entries over the year were very honest and full of insights I ll be reading beginning with Plant Dreaming Deep which concerns the time before 1973 when this one was written I savored this one over the span of five months it s so rich in insight that it s best read ust a few pages at a time A poet and novelist Belgian by origin but a New Englander by choice Sarton 1912 1995 is now remembered primarily for her overtly lesbian works eg Mrs Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing Journal of a Solitude is a one year account of her writing life in New Hampshire mostly covering the frigid winter of 1970 1 when Sarton was also struggling with depression The book dwells on the seasonal patterns of the natural world shovelling snow gardening caring for animals but also the rhythms of the soul rising in hope but also falling into occasional inevitable despair Am I too old to acuire the knack for happiness she wondersI ve been a full time freelance writer for nearly a year now and prone to melancholy for much
Longer So I Canso I can relate to Sarton s descriptions of both the loneliness and the exhilarating freedom of the writer s life People who have regular obs can have no idea of ust this problem of ordering a day that has no pattern imposed on it from without She wisely notes the necessity of both isolation and community for any creative spirit a balance between the need to become oneself and to give of oneself I took inspiration from her assertion that being a E in which to explore what is happening or what has happened In this ournal she says I hope to break through into the rough rocky depthsto the matrix itself There is violence there and anger never resolved My need.