I recently taught this poem to medical students at Mt Sinai as part of a mini-class on the literature of aging. It seems especially appropriate to share it on the day of the late May Sarton’s birthday.

On a Winter Night
May Sarton

On a winter night
I sat alone
In a cold room,
Feeling old, strange
At the year’s change,
In fire light.

Last fire of youth,
All brilliance burning,
And my year turning –
One dazzling rush,
Like a wild wish
Or a blaze of truth.

First fire of age,
And the soft snow
Of ash below –
For the clean wood
The end was good;
For me, an image

For then I saw
That the fires, not I
Burn down and die;
That fire of gold
Turns old, turns cold.
Not I. I grow.

Nor old, nor young,
The burning sprite
Of my delight,
A salamander
In fires of wonder,
Gives tongue, gives tongue!

May we all cultivate this optimistic attitude towards our own aging process!