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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

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and taught for 15 years in a wonderful hybrid school. My dissertation topic and research were how certain teachers experience becoming who teachers. In teaching and leanring, I am a boundary-crosser who understands moving ahead is a leap of faith. Teaching is a calling and vocation to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what calls me next. I am an educator, phenomenologist, scholar, boundary-crosser, published poet, author, parent, grandparent, and spouse.

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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


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