RSS Feed

The Angels and the Furies

May Sarton used the questions about the light and dark sides we each possess, but often go unnoticed. They inhabit our souls, which she calls premier danseur–first dancer. The angels and furies of our personalities are always with us, dancing with each other to gain our attention.

When I read this poem some time ago, I jotted down that to notice the furies sometimes they have to dance furiously to gain our attention. We prefer not to acknowledge their presence, but they are there and real along with our angels.

It is the mindful inner work that helps us understand the paradox of living in a world with both our angels and furies. It is not a choice between them. They exist with each other and both need our time and attention.

Have you not wounded yourself
And battered those you love
By sudden motions of evil,
Black rage in the blood
When the soul, premier danseur,
Springs toward a murderous fall?
The furies possess you.


Have you not surprised yourself
Sometimes by sudden motions
Or intimations of goodness,
When the soul, premier danseur,
Perfectly poised,
Could shower blessings
With a graceful turn of the head?
The angels are there.


The angels, the furies
Are never far away
While we dance, we dance,
Trying to keep a balance
To be perfectly human
(Not perfect, never perfect,
Never an end to growth and peril),
Able to bless and forgive
This is what is asked of us.


It is light that matters,
The light of understanding.
Who has ever reached it
Who has not met the furies again and again?
Who has reached it without
Those sudden acts of grace?


About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

36 responses »

  1. So nice to have you writing again and providing evocative readings. Hope all is well and that your studies are rewarding. Peace, Harlon

  2. While I try my best to keep the furies hidden, I am sure they await beneath the surface. My sons remember twice in my life when they emerged in full force. But only twice.

  3. Oh such a beautiful poetic share, Ivon

  4. I love those sudden acts of grace. Still working on loving the furies, though I can usually at least accept them, and occasionally even judicially use them when necessary.

  5. Great poem. Thanks you for sharing it

  6. I had to be with this poem 3 days before responding, Ivon. I love good poetry for the reason that it turns the marble of subject matter in its hand until a side yet unrevealed presents itself. I do indeed know the Furies, if not now, previously. I do think age and mindfulness can harness them, if nothing else. The two sides of perhaps the same coin tinged with desire, the Angels and the Furies, seem poised and ready for us to don their wings or hold their fires of transformation in the palms of our hands. It seems so easy to choose, and then … Life happens. Again. 😉 Be well, Ivon.

  7. the timing on reading this poem was perfect for me, Ivon. Years ago I enjoyed May Sarton, but I haven’t seen one of her poems now for years, And what a master she was. Thanks so much.

  8. Yes, indeed. Thanks for sharing, Ivon.

  9. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  10. Reblogged this on beyondtheflow and commented:
    I am quite mindful of the tension between the light and dark in myself and through dance have gained a sharper appreciation of that tension. Hence, I wanted to this this with you and revisit it myself.
    xx Rowena

  11. Ivon, thanks for sharing this insightful poem about the duality of our humanness. With “the furies” in control of our world, “the angels” cannot tire in a never-ending battle to dose the flames.

  12. I have been reading May Sarton for many decades. I love her work. I love this post about the angels and the furies. it just fit into my day perfectly. Hugs, Barbara


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: