May Sarton

MAY SARTON

Proteus by May Sarton

They were intense people, given to migraine,
Outbursts of arrogance, self-pity, or wild joy,
Affected by the weather like a weather vane,
Hungry for glory, exhausted by each day,
Humble at night and filled with self-distrust.
Time burned their heels. They ran because they must—

Sparkled, spilled over in the stress of living.
Oh, they were fickle, fluid, sometimes cruel,
Who still imagined they were always giving;
And the mind burned experience like fuel,
So they were sovereign losers, clumsy winners,
And read the saints, and knew themselves as sinners.

Wild blood subdued, it was pure form they blest.
Their sunlit landscapes were painted across pain.
They dreamed of peaceful gardens and of rest—
And now their joys, their joys alone remain.
Transparent, smiling, like calm gods to us,
Their names are Mozart, Rilke—Proteus.