(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Plant Dreaming Deep is a memoir of poet and novelist May Sarton’s first experience of buying a house and setting down roots. Sarton, who was born in Belgium and moved to the United States in 1918, traveled widely and moved often until 1958. At the age of forty-five, she begins to long for a sense of permanence. A beautifully crafted but run-down eighteenth century farmhouse in Nelson, New Hampshire, takes her fancy, and she commits herself to purchasing and rehabilitating it, determined to create a satisfactory solitary life there.

Plant Dreaming Deep describes the joys and problems of home ownership, while illuminating Sarton’s character. Her artistic nature and love of beauty shine through in her careful restoration of the house. She paints the walls white throughout, to catch the light and provide a background for her art works and for the Flemish furniture she inherited from her parents. She insists on finding just the right color of yellow for the kitchen floor and blue for the kitchen cabinets. Her love of nature is evident in her descriptions of her surroundings. One chapter is devoted to her joy in her garden, in which she starts every day except in the dead of winter picking flowers for her house. She then spends an hour or more each morning arranging flowers in bouquets to be put around the house.

Although Sarton’s life is a solitary one, mainly spent alone working in her garden, writing at her desk, or...

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(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Suggested Readings

Hunting, Constance, ed. May Sarton: Woman and Poet. Orono, Maine: National Poetry Foundation, 1992.

Sarton, May. May Sarton, Among the Usual Days: A Portrait. Edited by Susan Sherman. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.

Sibley, Agnes. May Sarton. New York: Twayne, 1972.