Introspective Quotes by May Sarton

May Sarton

May Sarton was a highly respected American poet, novelist, and memoirist. Her literature encompasses themes of aging, solitude, and family and romantic relationships. Self-identified as a lesbian and regarded as a feminist, she preferred that her work found a place in a broad humanitarian connection rather than within the identities she embodied. Her memoir, Journal of a Solitude (1973) was her most popular work, and her poem, “Now I Become Myself“, is one of her most beloved. Here are introspective quotes by May Sarton, a most thoughtful writer.

“Now I become myself. It’s taken time, many years and places.”

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

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

“Without darkness, nothing comes to birth, as without light, nothing flowers.”

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

“Learning is such a very painful business. It requires humility from people at an age where the natural habitat is arrogance.” (Small Room, 1961)

“The most valuable thing we can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of room, not try to be or do anything whatever.”

“The more our bodies fail us, the more naked and more demanding is the spirit, the more open and loving we can become if we are not afraid of what we are and of what we feel. I am not a phoenix yet, but here among the ashes, it may be that the pain is chiefly that of new wings trying to push through.” (Recovering: A Journal, 1980)

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

“True feeling justifies whatever it may cost.”

“I feel more alive when I’m writing than I do at any other time — except maybe when I’m making love.”

“Anyone who is going to be a writer knows enough at fifteen to write several novels.”

“Public education was not founded to give society what it wants. Quite the opposite.”

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

Author and poet May Sarton

See also: Journal of a Solitude (1973) by May Sarton, a Review

“Does anything in nature despair except man? An animal with a foot caught in a trap does not seem to despair. It is too busy trying to survive. It is all closed in, to a kind of still, intense waiting. Is this a key? Keep busy with survival. Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pain, psychic pain. Sit it out. Let it all pass. Let it go.” (Journal of a Solitude, 1975)

“The fear of homosexuality is so great that it took courage to write Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing,; to write a novel about a woman homosexual who is not a sex maniac, a drunkard, a drug-taker, or in any way repulsive, to portray a homosexual who is neither pitiable nor disgusting, without sentimentality …”

“Words are more powerful than perhaps anyone suspects, and once deeply engraved in a child’s mind, they are not easily eradicated.”

“At some point I believe one has to stop holding back for fear of alienating some imaginary reader or real relative or friend, and come out with personal truth.”

“There is no doubt that solitude is a challenge and to maintain balance within it a precarious business. But I must not forget that, for me, being with people or even with one beloved person for any length of time without solitude is even worse. I lose my center. I feel dispersed, scattered, in pieces. I must have time alone in which to mull over my encounter, and to extract its juice, its essence, to understand what has really happened to me as a consequence of it.” (Journal of a Solitude, 1975)

“Love opens the doors into everything, as far as I can see, including and perhaps most of all, the door into one’s own secret, and often terrible and frightening, real self.” (Mr. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing, 1965)

“In the middle of the night, things well up from the past that are not always cause for rejoicing–the unsolved, the painful encounters, the mistakes, the reasons for shame or woe. But all, good or bad, give me food for thought, food to grow on.” (At Seventy: A Journal, 1984)

“Routine is not a prison, but the way to freedom from time.”


May Sarton as a young woman

You might also like: Now I Become Myself

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