MAY SARTON, American poet and author, was born (d: 1995); May Sarton wrote some of the most beautiful lyric poetry of the 20th century. Her poems are accessible, free of self-conscious experimentation, and divorced from membership in any particular school of poetry. Many of them are pellucid reflections of the Lesbian experience, as are her novels. Her reputation was soundly established before she published Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing (1965).
She feared, rightly, that writing so strongly about Lesbianism would lead to a diminution of the value of her work. “The fear of homosexuality is so great that it took courage to write Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing,” she said in the Journal of Solitude (1973), “to write a novel about a woman who is not a sex maniac, a drunkard, a drug-taker, or in any way repulsive, to portray a homosexual who is neither pitiable nor disgusting without sentimentality…” Read this remarkable novel and read the Journal, where May Sarton reveals, not surprisingly, that she is Mrs. Stevens.