Monthly Archives: January 2013

An half-century of poetic passion

Sartoncan still leave one receptive to old gems undiscovered or revisited. Reading the Selected Poems of May Sarton over the weekend, I was deeply moved by this poem and felt obliged to share it.




Der Abschied

Now frost has broken summer like a glass,
This house and I resume our conversations;
The floors whisper a message as I pass,
I wander up and down these empty rooms
That have become my intimate relations,
Brimmed with your presence where your absence blooms––
And did you come at last, come home, to tell
How all fulfillment tastes of a farewell?

Here is the room where you lay down full length
That whole first day, to read, and hardly stirred,
As if arrival had taken all your strength;
Here is the table where you bent to write
The morning through, and silence spoke its word;
And here beside the fire we talked, as night
Came slowly from the wood across the meadow
To frame half of our brilliant world in shadow.

The rich fulfillment came; we held it all;
Four years of struggle brought us to his season,
Then in one week our summer turned to fall;
The air chilled and we sensed the chill in us,
The passionate journey ending in sweet reason.
The autumn light was there, frost on grass.
And did you come at last, come home, to tell
How all fulfillment tastes of a farewell?

Departure is the constant at this stage;
And all we know is that we cannot stop,
However much the childish heart may rage.
We are still outward-bound to obligations
And, radiant centers, life must drink us up
Devour our strength in multiple relations.
Yet I still question in these empty rooms
Brimmed with your presence where your absence blooms,

What stays that can outlast these deprivations?
Now, peopled by the dead, and ourselves dying,
The house and I resume old conversations:
What stays? Perhaps some autumn tenderness,
A different strength that forbids youthful sighing.
Though frost has broken summer like a glass,
Know, as we hear the thudding apples fall,
Not ripeness but the suffering change is all.


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Arts – An Investment in Your Personal Health

arts-healthAre you convinced that your personal engagement in the arts is contributing positively to your health? If so, you are probably right. Some compelling associations among enjoyment of artistically creative activities and length of life, perceptions of physical, mental and social health, and even risk of some diseases have been revealed by research conducted in Scandinavia and the United States. 

This article is the first in a series that will summarize notable investigations into the connections between the arts and individual health and well-being. This series begins with the work of researchers at the University of Umea in Sweden in the 1980’s and 1990’s, as this work seems to have formed the foundation for many other interesting studies in the years since. 

Second article in the series:

Arts: Avoiding Depression & Anxiety & Increasing Satisfaction With Life

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Sylvia Plath: 50 years later and the same bitter arguments rage on


Sylvia Plath

Half a century after her death, the debate over the poet burns with ever-greater fervour, but it need not follow that if one is pro-Plath one is anti-Hughes.

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Shakespeare and Wordsworth boost the brain

brainThe works of Shakespeare and Wordsworth are “rocket-boosters” to the brain and better therapy than self-help books, researchers will say this week.

Scientists, psychologists and English academics at Liverpool University have found that reading the works of the Bard and other classical writers has a beneficial effect on the mind, catches the reader’s attention and triggers moments of self-reflection.

Using scanners, they monitored the brain activity of volunteers as they read works by William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth, T.S Eliot and others.

They then “translated” the texts into more “straightforward”, modern language and again monitored the readers’ brains as they read the words.

Scans showed that the more “challenging” prose and poetry set off far more electrical activity in the brain than the more pedestrian versions.

Scientists were able to study the brain activity as it responded to each word and record how it “lit up” as the readers encountered unusual words, surprising phrases or difficult sentence structure.

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After a Winter’s Silence

snowdropsYesterday in Victoria, I saw my first snowdrops of the year, which made me recall this beautiful poem by May Sarton:

After a Winter’s Silence

Along the terrace wall

Snowdrops have pushed through

hard ice, making a pool.

Delicate stems now show

White bells as though

The force, the thrust to flower

Were nothing at all.

Who gives them the power?

After a winter’s silence

I feel the shock of spring.

My breath warms like the sun,

Melts ice, bursts into song,

So when that inner one

Gives life back the power

To rise up and push through,

There’s nothing to it.

We simply have to do it,

As snowdrops know

When snowdrops flower.

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Margaret Atwood on Social Media

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood

Video: Margaret Atwood on Social Media

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