menu Language Is A Virus

May Sarton Quotes

The poet must be free to love or hate as the spirit moves him, free to change, free to be a chameleon, free to be an enfant terrible. He must above all never worry about his effect on other people. Power requires that one do just that all the time. Power requires that the inner person never be unmasked. No, we poets have to go naked. And since this is so, it is better that we stay private people; a naked public person would be rather ridiculous, what?

Did someone say that there would be an end,
An end, Oh, an end, to love and mourning?
What has once been so interwoven cannot be raveled,
nor the gift ungiven.
Now the dead move through all of us still glowing....
We who find shelter in the warmth within,
Listen, and feel new-cherished, new-forgiven,
As the lost human voices speak through us
and blend our complex love,
Our mourning without end.

The secret breathed within
And never spoken, woken
By music; the garlands in
Her hands no one has seen.
She wreathes the air with green
and weaves the stillness in.

from "The Clavichord," lines 13-18, (1948)

We saw the strong trees struggle and their plumes do down, The poplar bend and whip back till it split to fall, The elm tear up at the root and topple like a crown, The pine crack at the base - we had to watch them all. The ash, the lovely cedar. We had to watch them fall. They went so softly under the loud flails of air, Before that fury they went down like feathers, With all the hundred springs that flowered in their hair, and all the years, endured in all the weathers - To fall as if they were nothing, as if they were feathers.
from We Have Seen the Wind, 1938

In the garden the door is always open into the holy - growth, birth, death. Every flower holds the whole mystery in its short cycle, and in the garden we are never far away from death, the fertilizing, good, creative death.

When one's not writing poems, you wonder how you ever did it. It's like another country you can't reach.

The woman who needs to create works of art is born with a kind of psychic tension in her which drives her unmercifully to find a way to balance, to make herself whole. Every human being has this need: in the artist it is mandatory. Unable to fulfill it, he goes mad. But when the artist is a woman she fulfills it at the expense of herself as a woman.

A man with a talent does what is expected of him, makes his way, constructs, is an engineer, a composer, a builder of bridges. It's the natural order of things that he construct objects outside himself and his family. The woman who does so is aberrant. We have to expiate for this cursed talent someone handed out to us, by mistake, in the black mystery of genetics.

Innocence is not pure so much as pleased, Always expectant, bright-eyed, self-enclosed.

The hardest thing we are asked to do in this world is to remain aware of suffering, suffering about which we can do nothing.

One thing is certain, and I have always known it--the joys of my life have nothing to do with age.

I write poems about relationships, love relationships, and I'm not able to do that all the time. I could go two years without writing poems, and then write a dozen. Having a novel to work on, with the intricate puzzle of character and plot to work out, is satisfying for the time there is no poetry.

I have never written a book that was not born out of a question I needed to answer for myself.

How slowly one comes to understand anything!

It was completely fruitless to quarrel with the world, whereas the quarrel with oneself was occasionally fruitful and always, she had to admit, interesting.

It always comes to the same necessity: go deep enough and there is a bedrock of truth, however hard.

A holiday gives one a chance to look backward and forward, to reset oneself by an inner compass.

In the country of pain we are each alone.

A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself...

Words are more powerful than perhaps anyone suspects, and once deeply ingrained in a child's mind, they are not easily eradicated.

Women's work is always toward wholeness.

Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.

I would like to believe when I die that I have given myself away like a tree that sows seed every spring and never counts the loss, because it is not loss, it is adding to future life. It is the tree's way of being. Strongly rooted perhaps, but spilling out its treasure on the wind.

Though friendship is not quick to burn, It is explosive stuff.

The more articulate one is, the more dangerous words become.

Women are at last becoming persons first and wives second, and that is as it should be.

We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.

True feeling justifies whatever it may cost.

There is only one real deprivation... and that is not to be able to give one's gifts to those one loves most.

The more articulate one is, the more dangerous words become.

The garden is growth and change and that means loss as well as constant new treasures to make up for a few disasters.

The creative person, the person who moves from an irrational source of power, has to face the fact that this power antagonizes. Under all the superficial praise of the "creative" is the desire to kill. It is the old war between the mystic and the nonmystic, a war to the death.

Self-respect is nothing to hide behind. When you need it most it isn't there.

One must think like a hero to behave like a merely decent human being.

No partner in a love relationship...should feel that he has to give up an essential part of himself to make it viable.

We cannot afford not to fight for growth and understanding, even when it is painful, as it is bound to be.

Anyone who is going to be a writer knows enough at 15 to write several novels.

Women have moved and shaken me, but I have been nourished by men.

I don't like writers. I don't like seeing writers... I'm very competitive, and that side comes out.. I love painters and sculptors.

Women's work is always toward wholeness.

Gardening gives one back a sense of proportion about everything - except itself.

Most people have to talk so they won't hear.

A house that does not have one warm, comfy chair in it is soulless.

May we agree that private life is irrelevant? Multiple, mixed, ambiguous at best - out of it we try to fashion the crystal clear, the singular, the absolute, and that is what is relevant; that is what matters.

It is the privilege of those who fear love to murder those who do not fear it!

In a total work, the failures have their not unimportant place.

Help us to be ever faithful gardeners of the spirit, who know that without darkness nothing comes to birth, and without light nothing flowers.

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.

Each day, and the living of it, has to be a conscious creation in which discipline and order are relieved with some play and pure foolishness.

The minute one utters a certainty, the opposite comes to mind.
Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing, 1965

Sometimes one has simply to endure a period of depression for what it may hold of illumination if one can live through it, attentive to what it exposes or demands.

I can cast out the wrong idea of fidelity and understand that in the end one cannot be faithful in the true life-giving sense if it means being unfaithful to oneself.

All poems are love poems. The motor power, the electric current is love of one kind or another. The subject may be something quite impersonal...

Because passionate love breaks down walls and at first does it in such a sovereign way, we are rarely willing to admit how little that initial barrier breaking is going to count when it comes to slow, difficult, accepting of two isolated human beings who want to be joined in a lasting relationship.

We are able to laugh when we achieve detachment, if only for a moment.

She became for me an island of light, fun, wisdom where I could run with my discoveries and torments and hopes at any time of day and find welcome.

There is only one real deprivation, I decided this morning, and that is not to be able to give one's gifts to those one loves most.

No partner in a love relationship...should feel that he has to give up an essential part of himself to make it viable.