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A Durable Fire: Poems

A Durable Fire: Poems

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A Durable Fire: Poems

104 pages
41 minutes
Mar 25, 2014


Poetic meditations on solitude by acclaimed author May Sarton
This collection borrows its title from Sir Walter Raleigh, who wrote, “Love is a durable fire / In the mind ever burning.” It is a fitting sentiment for a collection on solitude, wherein the author finds herself full of emotion even in seclusion. The first poem, “Gestalt at Sixty,” finds the author reflecting on the joy and loneliness of being solitary. A Durable Fire is a transformative work by a masterful poet.
Mar 25, 2014

Despre autor

May Sarton (1912–1995) was born on May 3 in Wondelgem, Belgium, and grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her first volume of poetry, Encounters in April, was published in 1937 and her first novel, The Single Hound, in 1938. Her novels A Shower of Summer Days, The Birth of a Grandfather, and Faithful Are the Wounds, as well as her poetry collection In Time Like Air, all received nominations for the National Book Award. An accomplished memoirist, Sarton came out as a lesbian in her 1965 book Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing. Her memoir Journal of a Solitude (1973) was an account of her experiences as a female artist. Sarton spent her later years in York, Maine, living and writing by the sea. In her last memoir, Endgame: A Journal of the Seventy-Ninth Year (1992), she shares her own personal thoughts on getting older. Her final poetry collection, Coming into Eighty, was published in 1994. Sarton died on July 16, 1995, in York, Maine.

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A Durable Fire - May Sarton

A Durable Fire


May Sarton

Some of these poems have appeared in the following journals:

Contempora, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Lyric, Poetry,

Red Clay Reader, Pennsylvania Review, The Small Pond, Yankee.


Marynia F. Farnham


Publisher’s Note

Gestalt at Sixty

Part One

Myself to Me

Dear Solid Earth

The Return of Aphrodite

Inner Space

Things Seen

Mozart Again

May Walk

The Tree Peony

A Chinese Landscape

The Gifted

Reeds and Water

Moth in the Schoolroom

The Snow Light



All Day I Was with Trees

A Storm of Angels

The Angels and the Furies

The Country of Silence

After an Island


Part Two: The Autumn Sonnets

Under the leaves an infant love lies dead

If I can let you go as trees let go

I wake to gentle mist over the meadow

I never thought that it could be, not once

After a night of rain the brilliant screen

As if the house were dying or already dead

Twice I have set my heart upon a sharing

I ponder it again and know for sure

This was our testing year after the first

We watched the waterfalls, rich and baroque

For steadfast flame wood must be seasoned

Part Three

February Days

Note to a Photographer

March in New England

The Garden of Childhood


Autumn Again

Winter Carol

Part Four


Of Grief

Prisoner at a Desk

Birthday Present

Elegy for Louise Bogan

Part Five: Letters to a Psychiatrist

Christmas Letter, 1970

The Fear of Angels

The Action of Therapy

I Speak of Change

Easter, 1971

The Contemplation of Wisdom

A Biography of May Sarton

Publisher’s Note

Long before they were ever written down, poems were organized in lines. Since the invention of the printing press, readers have become increasingly conscious of looking at poems, rather than hearing them, but the function of the poetic line remains primarily sonic. Whether a poem is written in meter or in free verse, the lines introduce some kind of pattern into the ongoing syntax of the poem’s sentences; the lines make us experience those sentences differently. Reading a prose poem, we feel the strategic absence of line.

But precisely because we’ve become so used to looking at poems, the function of line can be hard to describe. As James Longenbach writes in The Art of the Poetic Line, Line has no identity except in relation to other elements in the poem, especially the syntax of the poem’s sentences. It is not an abstract concept, and its qualities cannot be described generally or schematically. It cannot be associated reliably with the way we speak or breathe. Nor can its function be understood merely from its visual appearance on the page. Printed books altered our relationship to poetry by allowing us to see the lines more readily. What new challenges do electronic reading devices pose?

In a printed book, the width

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