Poem for a Tuesday — “December Moon” by May Sarton
Before going to bed
After a fall of snow
I look out on the field
Shining there in the moonlight
So calm, untouched and white
Snow silence fills my head
After I leave the window.
Hours later near dawn
When I look down again
The whole landscape has changed
The perfect surface gone
Criss-crossed and written on
Where the wild creatures ranged
While the moon rose and shone.
Why did my dog not bark?
Why did I hear no sound
There on the snow-locked ground
In the tumultuous dark?
How much can come, how much can go
When the December moon is bright,
What worlds of play we’ll never know
Sleeping away the cold white night
After a fall of snow.
in Good Poems, New York: Penguin Books, 2002, p. 306.
Born in Belgium, May Sarton emigrated with her family to the United States as a small child at the outbreak of the First World War. Her father, a science historian, taught at Harvard. Sarton returned to Europe as a young adult and traveled in literary circles, meeting Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, and Julian and Juliette Huxley. Her extensive body of work, which included poetry, novels, journals, and essays, was controversial for the time, exploring themes of feminism and sexuality. Linda Barrett Osborne, critic for the Washington Post Book World, once noted that “in whatever May Sarton writes one can hear the human heart pulsing just below the surface.”