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.