cover image Encore: A Journal of the Eightieth Year

Encore: A Journal of the Eightieth Year

May Sarton. W. W. Norton & Company, $21.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-393-03529-2

Those who may picture old age as static, retrospective, or restrictive will find a wholesome corrective in poet Sarton's journal of her 80th year. As she did in her previous journal, Endgame: A Journal of the Seventy-Ninth Year , Sarton demonstrates that old age can be a vibrant and liberating experience in which one possesses ``the freedom to be absurd, the freedom to forget things . . . the freedom to be eccentric.'' Sarton's engrossing daily journal discloses varied octogenarian satisfactions--garden and flowers that bloom in every entry, celebratory lunches with friends and admirers who frequent her Maine home, the heady bouquet of critical recognition, the rebirth of her poetic voice and newly written poems. Though Sarton's tone is positive, it is never naive: old age also means bouts of pain and ill health, wearying domestic disasters, a war against fatigue, and a keen awareness of the ``perilousness of life on all sides, knowing that at any moment something frightful may happen.'' Despite these parameters, the dominant note sounded is fearless and triumphant, and Sarton's superb accomplishment in these journals may be in convincing us that old age is an experience not to fear, but to look forward to: we believe her when she affirms, ``So here I am, a lucky old woman, rejoicing in her life on this great earth.'' Photos not seen by PW . (Aug.)