FMSW-Papier-Mache Ed1994 saw the birth of From May Sarton’s Well:Writings of May Sarton, Selections by Edith Royce Schade. The book was published by Papier-Mache Press in September of that year,  with a copper colored cover. This second decade since its publication has sent me to musing about what happened during that year and what I thought about it all.

What an  exciting time it was for me. It followed a long gestation period that began with my reading of May’s Plant Dreaming Deep in 1971.

On February 3, 1994 I wrote the following in my journal:

“I sent “the book” to Papier-Mache today!

“I feel as if I am sending a child off to college in some ways. She is likely to change a lot. She is in other hands. How will she be seen by other people? Will she speak to them? Will they understand her? I have very little influence on her now. But I care a lot. Like a child, she is more than me. I gave her birth, and tried to nourish her, but she took off and grew on her own. She is herself. I don’t understand everything about her. Many will see her very differently than I. How fortunate I have been to nurture her. I am proud of her, but I cannot and must not take full credit for her. She is a gift.”

I was thinking especially of the photographs I had made for the book. I didn’t even mention the major role of May’s writing in these thoughts I’d jotted down. But I realize now even more than I did then, that “she”–From May Sarton’s Well–was a gift to me. I think it has been a gift to readers too, though, and hope that will continue as long as books are read.

The Poet and The Farmer


This photograph (on page 133 of From May Sarton’s Well) accompanies a quotation from Sarton’s memoir, Plant Dreaming Deep about Perley Cole, the farmer she often hired to help around her place in Nelson, New Hampshire. In “A Recognition”, her poem that follows on the next page, she elaborates on why, as she says, “I am, I think more of a poet than I was before I knew him”.

May Sarton had great respect Perley, especially as she observed him pulling “some order out of this rugged land”. He worked in harmony with his scythe early in the day when the tough grass was still bent with dew,  “to prune, to make clear, to uncover”. She saw a similar need in her life and work as a poet.

The man in my photograph is not Perley Cole, but I was moved by the way he and his horse were in harmony carefully cultivating a field of young corn. They cut out the weeds to strengthen the crop.


P.S. By the way, I put an appendix—References—in the back of the book to give the source of every quotation and poem.  I hope this will inspire and help readers to continue reading Sarton’s works.


If she had lived this long, May Sarton would be 100 years old this May 3rd. She died in York, Maine, July 16 1995. That beautiful seaside town will celebrate her legacy with their Sarton Centenial Celebration, May 3 – May 6, 2012.

I am excited that I’ll be part of the symposium. Not only will I have the opportunity to meet again with a few of the close friends of May’s that I met at the celebration of her 80th birthday in Westbrook, Maine twenty years ago, there will be interesting and fun events to attend. As a participant. I will give a multi-media talk about May Sarton and the creation of our book, From May Sarton’s Well, with slides from two of my visits to her home, Wild Knoll in York, at 12:30 on Friday, May 4th and repeat it on Saturday, May 5 at 8:45. Also on Friday, at 3:00, I will be a member of the panel for “Conversation with Writers and Friends”.

This photograph is one that I made during my visit with May in 1983. My friend, Anne Alvord, my camera and I accompanied May and her lovely Sheltie, Tamas, on May’s morning walk a loop around Wild Knoll.

It would be fun to have an opportunity to meet some of you who have read this or other of my blogs. Here is a link to the Sarton Centennial Celebration:




Luna MothYou may wonder why this image is showing up in my blog. What does it have to do with May Sarton? What does it have to do with my photographs?

May wrote a lot about the muse, about who and what inspired her to write, particularly poetry. May Sarton, the person and the writer was certainly a muse for me in my photography and while I was creating From May Sarton’s Well. During that process her influence was direct. Now her influence is subtle, and has become part of me. Her’s is among many influences that have become part of me.

She is among many creative people who have lead me to try a new medium—painting, and then to combine that with my photography. New digital technology has made this possible. “Luna Moth” started with my photograph of one of those ethereal insects that was clinging to a pasture gate. I decided I wanted a more poetic background for it. So I painted this moonlit scene and scanned it. I extracted the moth from my original photograph and–in different sizes and positions—digitally combined the moth imagesand my painting into this piece. I know that May’s spirit, as a muse, helped lead me to create “Luna Moth”.


Sarton’s Poems, My Photographs

From May Sarton’s Well
 is collaboration between the writer, May Sarton, and me, Edith Royce Schade, the photographer and editor. I hope some of you who visit this website and are—or will become—familiar with the book might be interested in finding out why I selected one of my photographs, or created a new one to accompany a particular poem or prose excerpt by May Sarton. So, this is the first of what I plan to be a series of blogs about the process.

This is the only photograph I placed on a page that faces a poem in the whole book. No other poem is paired with a photograph. Why?   I did not want it to seem as if I was trying to illustrate her poems. So, with this exception, only prose quotations face, or are on the same page as a photograph. I felt that this photograph of sun reflected in the calm sea in no way illustrates the light she talks about in “For Monet”. I felt the image and the poem should begin the chapter on “Light”.

I explain my intent in the book’s preface, “I think of my photographs as an accompaniment to May’s prose and poetry, as a piano is to a lyric singer—sometimes in unison, often in harmony, occasionally in counterpoint. Generally I have paired my photographs with May’s prose, separating the images from the poems so that the poetry may stand on its own as a point of departure for the reader’s musings.”


Edith’s Blog

Here I am with May Sarton at the party she had after the “May Sarton At 80” Conference at Westbrook College, June, 1992. (Photograph by Martha Wheelock)


I would say that since 1971 when I read a book by May Sarton called Plant Dreaming Deep”, Sarton’s writings began to become part of who I was and who I am today. Although her life and her self was very different than mine, much of what she wrote about resonated with what I thought about life. Her influence on me grew as read more of her work and eventually came to know her personally.

May 3,2012 will be May Sarton’s 100th birth anniversary. There will be a celebration of that in York, Maine. For more about “May Sarton Centennial Symposium” go to: I will be one of the speakers there, so I am thinking a lot about the writer and how I came to know her and collaborate with her to create From May Sarton’s Well.  I am starting this blog to share my thoughts and some of my photographs from time to time with you who drop in on this website.