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Reading Group: From May Sarton's Well

Some questions for your group to think about.

As a collection of many of the beautiful and thought-provoking nuggets of wisdom from May Sarton's poetry and prose, From May Sarton's Well: Writings of May Sarton is an excellent introduction to the author's writing. The selection of prose quotations and poems is drawn from many of Sarton's memoirs, journals, novels and poetry books. In the appendix is a listing of the references, so that the reader may obtain a sense of the content of those books, and seek the original source.

From May Sarton's Well: Writings of May Sarton is also a stimulating book for discussion . The following are some topics that reading groups could consider as they delve into this volume.

1. In the list of references at the end of the book, readers will notice that most of the prose quotations come from May Sarton's journals. What relationship do you see between Sarton's poems and what she writes in her journals? What function does journal writing seem to play in her life?

2. The symbolism of the phoenix (see p. 17), a mythological creature, was very important to May Sarton. Why?

3. Sarton was deeply affected by light, whether dazzling rays of sunlight or the "white light of a winter storm". What does she mean by the metaphor of light?

4. How can one prevent life-enhancing solitude from becoming loneliness? What kind of inner resources does it take to live in rich solitude?

5. May Sarton did not want to be known as a "nature poet", yet she wrote a great deal about the natural world. Why is Nature important to her and to each of us? What lessons does Sarton learn by observing the natural world?

6. What role does May Sarton believe that honesty must play in a love relationship? Do you agree?

7. Did Sarton find her concept of time changed as she grew older? In what way? What comments by Sarton about time relate to your life?

8. Why is it more difficult for a woman to devote herself to her art than it is for a man? Do you agree with May Sarton that a woman artist fulfills the need to create at the expense of her own womanhood? What parallel does Sarton find between being a poet and living life poetically as Perley Cole does in the poem "A Recognition"? (p. 134)

9. What roles do the photographs play in this book? Do they fulfill the photographer's intention that they are an accompaniment to the writing, rather than illustrations? (See preface.)