April 7, 2013

In the Matrix with May Sarton

May Sarton is the pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton (May 3, 1912 - July 16, 1995), an American poet, novelist, and memoirist.

Her father was a science historian and her mother was an artist and she seems to have acquired interest in both of those worlds in her own life's work.

For some reason, the first writing of hers that I encountered had to do with nature and I assumed she was a "nature poet."

Actually, reviews of her poetry, fiction, and autobiographical writings are more likely to be described as "inspirational, touching, honest, and thought-provoking" and concerned with themes like "love, friendship, relationships, and the search for self-knowledge, personal fulfillment, inner peace, and social and political concerns" such as feminism and sexuality.

One of the poems of hers that caught my eye was "A Country Incident" that open with the lines "Absorbed in planting bulbs, that work of hope, / I was startled by a loud human voice." I loved that idea of bulb planting as the work of hope. A lifelong gardener, I always feel hopeful putting bulbs and plants into the ground hoping for some future harvest of food or flower.

In searching for that poem online, I found a lovely piece by Katie Eberhart that says, "Naturally, the poet is gardener, nurturer of words and ideas, and the gardener who chooses from many plants—whether for duration of blooms, size, or color—is poet and artist working on page or canvas of fenced yard, or creating a meadow out of a plowed field."


And though I know now that nature was not her main focus, I recently came across her journal, Journal of a Solitude, that chronicles her garden, the seasons, and her daily life in New Hampshire.


This book begins "I am here alone for the first time in weeks to take up my 'real' life again at last. That is what is strange—that friends, even passionate love,are not my real life, unless there is time alone in which to explore what is happening or what has happened."

Long before I heard anyone use the term "the matrix" in the way many of us think about it today, she wrote in this journal, "I hope to break through into the rough, rocky depths,to the matrix itself. There is violence there and anger never resolved. My need 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 there."

2 comments:

  1. Thanks, Ken. Thanks for the Mary Sarton thoughts. I have been feeling a lot like her recently. I've come to a point where I can honestly say that I do not know who I am. And, through my zen practice lense and Merton (my Catholic lense) I see that we are truly alone--me and the Matrix, me and Big Mind (zen), me and God (Catholicism). We have our children, our lovers, our friends, our chores but all are fleeting and none of them answer, "Who am I?" We can only begin that journey in the solitude of our gardens. There, maybe, we find the "real" me, which I think is no Me at all.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Ken. Thanks for the Mary Sarton thoughts. I have been feeling a lot like her recently. I've come to a point where I can honestly say that I do not know who I am. And, through my zen practice lense and Merton (my Catholic lense) I see that we are truly alone--me and the Matrix, me and Big Mind (zen), me and God (Catholicism). We have our children, our lovers, our friends, our chores but all are fleeting and none of them answer, "Who am I?" We can only begin that journey in the solitude of our gardens. There, maybe, we find the "real" me, which I think is no Me at all.

    ReplyDelete