From May 3-6, the May Sarton Centennial will be held in the town of York, where Sarton, one of Maine’s most important authors, lived in her “house by the sea.” The centennial celebration will include music, commentaries, poetry readings and even a clambake. Details are available at the Sarton 100 website, In preparation for the festivities, here’s a characteristically vivid and witty poem by the poet herself.

A Parrot

By May Sarton

My parrot is emerald green,

His tail feathers, marine.

He bears an orange half-moon

Over his ivory beak.

He must be believed to be seen,

This bird from a Rousseau wood.

When the urge is on him to speak,

He becomes too true to be good.


He uses his beak like a hook

To lift himself up with or break

Open a sunflower seed,

And his eye, in a bold white ring,

Has a lapidary look.

What a most astonishing bird,

Whose voice when he chooses to sing

Must be believed to be heard.


That stuttered staccato scream

Must be believed not to seem

The shriek of a witch in the room.

But he murmurs some muffled words

(Like someone who talks through a dream)

When he sits in the window and sees

The to-and-fro wings of wild birds

In the leafless improbable trees.