Now I become myself by May Sarton


Hooray, it's National Poetry Month! Well every month is poetry month in my home. 

You may not care about poetry as much as I do and that’s okay. I’m not here to change your mind. 

Well, maybe I might change your mind a little bit. Especially when there are such magical poems and brilliant poets in the world, new and old.

I thought I would share a beautiful poem by May Sarton with you today and a few different ways that I might use this particular poem as a prompt for art and writing.

Now I become myself

By May Sarton

Now I become myself. It’s taken

Time, many years and places;

I have been dissolved and shaken,

Worn other people’s faces,

Run madly, as if Time were there,

Terribly old, crying a warning,

“Hurry, you will be dead before—”

(What? Before you reach the morning?

Or the end of the poem is clear?

Or love safe in the walled city?)

Now to stand still, to be here,

Feel my own weight and density!

The black shadow on the paper

Is my hand; the shadow of a word

As thought shapes the shaper

Falls heavy on the page, is heard.

All fuses now, falls into place

From wish to action, word to silence,

My work, my love, my time, my face

Gathered into one intense

Gesture of growing like a plant.

As slowly as the ripening fruit

Fertile, detached, and always spent,

Falls but does not exhaust the root,

So all the poem is, can give,

Grows in me to become the song,

Made so and rooted by love.

Now there is time and Time is young.

O, in this single hour I live

All of myself and do not move.

I, the pursued, who madly ran,

Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!

5 Ways to Use a Poem as Prompt

When you feel like creating something on your own and you don’t know where to start, start with a poem!

It might inspire colors, symbols, images or words that can help you face the blank page.

To begin, read the poem aloud to yourself and underline words or phrases that speak to you. 

  1. Use a line from the poem as the first line of your own poem. 
  2. Pick one line from the poem and use it as the first sentence in your journal and start writing whatever comes to you. I love using my own handwriting as the first layer of a visual journal page.
  3. Intuitively pick colors or shapes that are inspired by the poem and add them to a blank page as a first layer.
  4. Illustrate the poem as you see/feel it - use drawing, painting, collage. Below is a page I did in response to a Mary Oliver poem that I love.
  5. Cut out words/lines from the poem and add them to your page or rearrange them to create your a new poem.

When we can’t find a starting point for inspiration, it can be frustrating and seem like it takes up too much of our precious creative time simply coming up with an idea. One poem can serve as a prompt for several different ways to play on the page. 

I love the first two lines of May Sarton’s poem:

Now I become myself. It’s taken

Time, many years and places;

When do I become myself?

I feel some envy that she’s there. Am I there yet? This is a topic worthy of exploring in my morning pages or in a visual journaling page. 

What are the many faces of Minette?

I don’t have answers, only more questions but I love the inquiry and the visual journey that a poem can prompt!

I will be sharing more ways to connect poetry to your own creative practice in my upcoming Courageous Creativity: A 5- Day Visual Journaling challenge. Our theme for this challenge will be Sacred Wells and Holy Springs. Ready for some fresh and insightful inspiration for your creative practice? Check it out here.


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