a bent cover

img_1408Don’t you hate when this happens to one of your books?

I ordered May Sarton‘s Plant Dreaming Deep online.  I was excited as I was pulling the book out of the padded envelope…only to find it had made its entire journey with the bottom right corner folded back.  Aaaagh!  I immediately pressed it back into place.  Weighted it down with other books.  A day later, no improvement.  I admit I had thoughts of giving this book away and ordering another copy.  But I got hold of myself–another lesson that nothing is ever perfect–then took hold of that bent cover, opened the book, and began to read.

Another confession:  In the past, whenever I heard the title of the book, I thought of a plant that was dreaming.  Never once did I consider that the reader was being encouraged to plant dreaming deep.  But before I even arrived at the first page of the book, I came upon the epigraph, four lines of one of Sarton’s poems where a man who has been out roaming comes home “Seasoned and stretched to plant his dreaming deep.”

May Sarton

Polly Thayer's portrait of May Sarton owned by the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University

Plant Dreaming Deep is May Sarton’s memoir about settling down in a house in the village of Nelson, about two hours from Boston, for the stated purpose of rescuing her parents’ Belgian furniture from the cellar in which it was being stored.  She was in her early 50’s.

After a load of firewood is dumped in her yard, she and a visiting friend set about making order out of disorder.  Afterwards she writes, “There is something very satisfying about a well-stacked cord of wood on a back porch.”

She writes about how supportive a routine is, that “the spirit moves around freely in it.”  Just as Annie Dillard writes about a schedule  as “a net for catching days.”

Plant Dreaming Deep is the story of May Sarton’s house, her garden, and her village, what she calls “a tangible reality outside myself, against which I could prove almost everything I had come to believe.”  It was published in 1968.

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4 thoughts on “a bent cover

  1. I really loved Plant Dreaming Deep. I just read it a couple of months ago, and I read it about ten years ago. I loved it both times. I just made my way through most of Journal of a Solitude because you mentioned it somewhere in your postings. I liked little bits of it, but I didn’t like all the whining and complaining, even though that goes on in real life. I guess I have enough of it in my real life, so I don’t need or want to read about hers, even if it is May Sarton. I guess it should make me feel better that she often got terribly depressed and enraged, but it doesn’t. I like Plant Dreaming Deep so much better, where that bad stuff is mostly sifted out. In Journal of a Solitude, she talked about how people would have the wrong idea of her if they just read Plant Dreaming Deep and didn’t hear about all the annoying, sad, depressing things in her life. But I don’t really want to read about those. So I stopped reading Journal when I probably just had fifty pages to go.

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  2. That portrait of May Sarton in your post is gorgeous! I love the colors.

    I absolutely can’t stand bent covers or pages in books, either! I try to straighten them, too.

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  3. I love May. I have felt this affinity since I read A Journal of Solitude. Collecting all her works. Right now I long to have Plant Dreaming Deep and A Grain of Mustard Seed. I write and am glad to have had an experience of her metaphysical didacticism. It hurts that she wasn’t as recognised as her peers. She’ll always have a place in my heart.

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  4. Hi Sochi-

    I love May Sarton too! But I’ve only read her journals, three of them: Plant Dreaming Deep, Journal of a Solitude, and The House by the Sea. How do you like her poetry?

    I think I’ll put one of her novels on my list for this summer. Do you have one to recommend?

    Hope to hear back from you–cynthia

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