"Now I Become Myself" by May Sarton


Born in Belgium in 1912, May Sarton moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1916 to escape the German Army during WW1. At the age of seventeen, she began publishing her poetry in works throughout the United States. This poem explores both individual identity and the ever-present force of time.

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!

Questions to Consider

  1. How does this poem engage with the concept of passing time? 
  2. What does the poet mean by "Time is young" near the end of the poem? 
  3. How does the narrator resolve the conflicts inherent in time and impermanence? 
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