Denise Levertov

Eros By Denise Levertov

Eros By Denise Levertov

Eros The flowerlike animal perfume in the god’s curly hair — don’t assume that like a flower his attributes are there to tempt you or direct the moth’s hunger — simply he is the temple of himself, hair and hide a sacrifice of blood and flowers on his altar if any worshipper kneel or not. Hits: 2 »

The Fountain  By Denise Levertov

The Fountain By Denise Levertov

The Fountain by Denise Levertov Don’t say, don’t say there is no water to solace the dryness at our hearts. I have seen the fountain springing out of the rock wall and you drinking there. And I too before your eyes found footholds and climbed to drink the cool water. The woman of that p... »

Matins By Denise Levertov

Matins By Denise Levertov

Matins i The authentic! Shadows of it sweep past in dreams, one could say imprecisely, evoking the almost-silent ripping apart of giant sheets of cellophane. No. It thrusts up close. Exactly in dreams it has you off-guard, you recognize it before you have time. For a second before waking the alarm b... »

Witness  By Denise Levertov

Witness By Denise Levertov

Witness by Denise Levertov Sometimes the mountain is hidden from me in veils of cloud, sometimes I am hidden from the mountain in veils of inattention, apathy, fatigue, when I forget or refuse to go down to the shore or a few yards up the road, on a clear day, to reconfirm that witnessing presence.... »

Celebration  By Denise Levertov

Celebration By Denise Levertov

Celebration by Denise Levertov Brilliant, this day — a young virtuoso of a day. Morning shadow cut by sharpest scissors, deft hands. And every prodigy of green — whether it’s ferns or lichens or needles or impatient points of buds on spindly bushes — greener than ever before... »

Seeing For A Momentby  By Denise Levertov

Seeing For A Momentby By Denise Levertov

Seeing for a Momentby Denise Levert ov I thought I was growing wings — it was a cocoon. I thought, now is the time to step into the fire — it was deep water. Eschatology is a word I learned as a child: the study of Last Things; facing my mirror — no longer young, the news — ... »

Looking, Walking, Being  By Denise Levertov

Looking, Walking, Being By Denise Levertov

Looking, Walking, Being by Denise Levertov “The World is not something to look at, it is something to be in.” — Mark Rudman I look and look. Looking’s a way of being: one becomes, sometimes, a pair of eyes walking. Walking wherever looking takes one. The eyes dig and burrow ... »

To Live In The Mercy Of God By Denise Levertov

To Live In The Mercy Of God By Denise Levertov

To Live in the Mercy of God To lie back under the tallest oldest trees. How far the stems rise, rise before ribs of shelter open! To live in the mercy of God. The complete sentence too adequate, has no give. Awe, not comfort. Stone, elbows of stony wood beneath lenient moss bed. And awe suddenly pas... »

Ein Baum Erzählt Von Orpheus By Denise Levertov

Ein Baum Erzählt Von Orpheus By Denise Levertov

Ein Baum Erzählt Von Orpheus Weißer Tagesanbruch. Stille. Als das Kräuseln begann, hielt ich es für Seewind, in unser Tal kommend mit Raunen von Salz, von baumlosen Horizonten. Aber der weiße Nebel bewegte sich nicht; das Laub meiner Brüder blieb ausgebreitet, regungslos. Doch das Kräuseln kam näher... »

Scraps Of Moon  By Denise Levertov

Scraps Of Moon By Denise Levertov

Scraps of moon by Denise Levertov Scraps of moon bobbing discarded on broken water but sky-moon complete, transcending all violation Here she seems to be talking to herself about the shape of a life: Only Once All which, because it was flame and song and granted us joy, we thought we’d do, be... »

In California – Morning, Evening, Late January By Denise Levertov

In California – Morning, Evening, Late January By Denise Levertov

In California – Morning, Evening, Late January Pale, then enkindled, light advancing, emblazoning summits of palm and pine, the dew lingering, scripture of scintillas. Soon the roar of mowers cropping the already short grass of lawns, men with long-nozzled cylinders of pesticide poking at weed... »

The Springtime By Denise Levertov

The Springtime By Denise Levertov

The Springtime The red eyes of rabbits aren’t sad. No one passes the sad golden village in a barge any more. The sunset will leave it alone. If the curtains hang askew it is no one’s fault. Around and around and around everywhere the same sound of wheels going, and things growing older, ... »

Clouds By Denise Levertov

Clouds By Denise Levertov

Clouds The clouds as I see them, rising urgently, roseate in the mounting of somber power surging in evening haste over roofs and hermetic grim walls— Last night As if death had lit a pale light in your flesh, your flesh was cold to my touch, or not cold but cool, cooling, as if the last traces of w... »

Prisoners By Denise Levertov

Prisoners By Denise Levertov

Prisoners Though the road turn at last to death’s ordinary door, and we knock there, ready to enter and it opens easily for us, yet all the long journey we shall have gone in chains, fed on knowledge-apples acrid and riddled with grubs. We taste other food that life, like a charitable farm-girl, hol... »

Illustrious Ancestors  By Denise Levertov

Illustrious Ancestors By Denise Levertov

Illustrious Ancestors by Denise Levertov The Rav of Northern White Russia declined, in his youth, to learn the language of birds, because the extraneous did not interest him; nevertheless when he grew old it was found he understood them anyway, having listened well, and as it is said, ‘prayed... »

Variation On A Theme By Rilke  By Denise Levertov

Variation On A Theme By Rilke By Denise Levertov

Variation On A Theme By Rilke by Denise Levertov (The Book of Hours, Book I, Poem 1, Stanza 1) A certain day became a presence to me; there it was, confronting me — a sky, air, light: a being. And before it started to descend from the height of noon, it leaned over and struck my shoulder as i... »

Caedmon By Denise Levertov

Caedmon By Denise Levertov

Caedmon All others talked as if talk were a dance. Clodhopper I, with clumsy feet would break the gliding ring. Early I learned to hunch myself close by the door: then when the talk began I’d wipe my mouth and wend unnoticed back to the barn to be with the warm beasts, dumb among body sounds of the ... »

Primary Wonder  By Denise Levertov

Primary Wonder By Denise Levertov

Primary Wonder by Denise Levertov Days pass when I forget the mystery. Problems insoluble and problems offering their own ignored solutions jostle for my attention, they crowd its antechamber along with a host of diversions, my courtiers, wearing their colored clothes; cap and bells. And then once ... »

Making Peace  By Denise Levertov

Making Peace By Denise Levertov

Making Peace by Denise Levertov A voice from the dark called out, “The poets must give us imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar imagination of disaster. Peace, not only the absence of war.” But peace, like a poem, is not there ahead of itself, can’t be imagined befor... »

The Secret  By Denise Levertov

The Secret By Denise Levertov

The Secret by Denise Levertov Two girls discover the secret of life in a sudden line of poetry. I who don’t know the secret wrote the line. They told me (through a third person) they had found it but not what it was not even what line it was. No doubt by now, more than a week later, they have... »

Beginners  By Denise Levertov

Beginners By Denise Levertov

Beginners by Denise Levertov Dedicated to the memory of Karen Silkwood and Eliot Gralla “From too much love of living, Hope and desire set free, Even the weariest river Winds somewhere to the sea–“ But we have only begun To love the earth. We have only begun To imagine the fullness of life. H... »

Partial Resemblance By Denise Levertov

Partial Resemblance By Denise Levertov

Partial Resemblance A doll’s hair concealing an eggshell skull delicately throbbing, within which maggots in voluptuous unrest jostle and shrug. Oh, Eileen, my big doll, your gold hair was not more sunny than this human fur, but your head was radiant in its emptiness, a small clean room. Her w... »

Ikon – The Harrowing Of Hell By Denise Levertov

Ikon – The Harrowing Of Hell By Denise Levertov

Ikon – The Harrowing Of Hell Down through the tomb’s inward arch He has shouldered out into Limbo to gather them, dazed, from dreamless slumber: the merciful dead, the prophets, the innocents just His own age and those unnumbered others waiting here unaware, in an endless void He is endi... »

The Sage By Denise Levertov

The Sage By Denise Levertov

The Sage The cat is eating the roses: that’s the way he is. Don’t stop him, don’t stop the world going round, that’s the way things are. The third of May was misty; fourth of May who knows. Sweep the rose-meat up, throw the bits out in the rain. He never eats every crumb, say... »

At The Justice Department November 15, 1969 By Denise Levertov

At The Justice Department November 15, 1969 By Denise Levertov

At The Justice Department November 15, 1969 Brown gas-fog, white beneath the street lamps. Cut off on three sides, all space filled with our bodies. Bodies that stumble in brown airlessness, whitened in light, a mildew glare, that stumble hand in hand, blinded, retching. Wanting it, wanting to be he... »

Of Being  By Denise Levertov

Of Being By Denise Levertov

Of Being by Denise Levertov I know this happiness is provisional: the looming presences — great suffering, great fear — withdraw only into peripheral vision: but ineluctable this shimmering of wind in the blue leaves: this flood of stillness widening the lake of sky: this need to dance,... »

Hypocrite Women By Denise Levertov

Hypocrite Women By Denise Levertov

Hypocrite Women Hypocrite women, how seldom we speak of our own doubts, while dubiously we mother man in his doubt! And if at Mill Valley perched in the trees the sweet rain drifting through western air a white sweating bull of a poet told us our cunts are ugly—why didn’t we admit we have thou... »

The Depths By Denise Levertov

The Depths By Denise Levertov

The Depthsby Denise Levertov the abyss of everlasting light is revealed. The last cobwebs of fog in the black fir trees are flakes of white ash in the world’s hearth. Cold of the sea is counterpart to this great fire. Plunging out of the burning cold of ocean we enter an ocean of intense noon... »

An Excerpt By Denise Levertov

An Excerpt By Denise Levertov

An Excerpt iiGloria Praise the wet snow falling early. Praise the shadow my neighor’s chimney casts on the tile roof even this gray October day that should, they say, have been golden. Praise the invisible sun burning beyond the white cold sky, giving us light and the chimney’s shadow. P... »

News Report, September 1991 By Denise Levertov

News Report, September 1991 By Denise Levertov

News Report, September 1991 U.S. BURIED IRAQI SOLDIERS ALIVE IN GULF WAR ‘What you saw was a bunch of trenches with arms sticking out.’ ‘Plows mounted on tanks. Combat earthmovers.’ ‘Defiant.’ ‘Buried.’ ‘Carefully planned and rehearsed.’ &#... »

Goodbye To Tolerance By Denise Levertov

Goodbye To Tolerance By Denise Levertov

Goodbye To Tolerance Genial poets, pink-faced earnest wits— you have given the world some choice morsels, gobbets of language presented as one presents T-bone steak and Cherries Jubilee. Goodbye, goodbye, I don’t care if I never taste your fine food again, neutral fellows, seers of every side. Toler... »

The 90th Year By Denise Levertov

The 90th Year By Denise Levertov

The 90th Year High in the jacaranda shines the gilded thread of a small bird’s curlicue of song-too high for her to see or hear. I’ve learned not to say, these last years, ‘O, look!-O, listen, Mother!’ as I used to. (It was she who taught me to look; to name the flowers when I was ... »

A Time Past By Denise Levertov

A Time Past By Denise Levertov

A Time Past The old wooden steps to the front door where I was sitting that fall morning when you came downstairs, just awake, and my joy at sight of you (emerging into golden day— the dew almost frost) pulled me to my feet to tell you how much I loved you: those wooden steps are gone now, decayed r... »

Only Once  By Denise Levertov

Only Once By Denise Levertov

Only Once by Denise Levertov All which, because it was flame and song and granted us joy, we thought we’d do, be, revisit, turns out to have been what it was that once, only; every invitation did not begin a series, a build-up: the marvelous did happen in our lives, our stories are not drab w... »

February Evening In New York By Denise Levertov

February Evening In New York By Denise Levertov

February Evening In New York As the stores close, a winter light opens air to iris blue, glint of frost through the smoke grains of mica, salt of the sidewalk. As the buildings close, released autonomous feet pattern the streets in hurry and stroll; balloon heads drift and dive above them; the bodie... »

Stepping Westward  By Denise Levertov

Stepping Westward By Denise Levertov

Stepping Westward by Denise Levertov What is green in me darkens, muscadine. If woman is inconstant, good, I am faithful to ebb and flow, I fall in season and now is a time of ripening. If her part is to be true, a north star, good, I hold steady in the black sky and vanish by day, yet burn there i... »

A Map Of The Western Part Of The County Of Essex In England By Denise Levertov

A Map Of The Western Part Of The County Of Essex In England By Denise Levertov

A Map Of The Western Part Of The County Of Essex In England Something forgotten for twenty years: though my fathers and mothers came from Cordova and Vitepsk and Caernarvon, and though I am a citizen of the United States and less a stranger here than anywhere else, perhaps, I am Essex-born: Cranbroo... »

On A Theme By Thomas Merton By Denise Levertov

On A Theme By Thomas Merton By Denise Levertov

On A Theme By Thomas Merton “Adam, where are you?”        ;    God’s hands palpate darkness, the void that is Adam’s inattention, his confused attention to everything, impassioned by multiplicity, his despair. Multiplicity, his despair;       & nbsp;   God’s hands ... »

Freedom  By Denise Levertov

Freedom By Denise Levertov

Freedom by Denise Levertov Perhaps we humans have wanted God most as witness to acts of choice made in solitude. Acts of mercy, of sacrifice. Wanted that great single eye to see us, steadfast as we flowed by. Yet there are other acts not even vanity, or anxious hope to please, know of — bone ... »

Song For Ishtar By Denise Levertov

Song For Ishtar By Denise Levertov

Song For Ishtar The moon is a sow and grunts in my throat Her great shining shines through me so the mud of my hollow gleams and breaks in silver bubbles She is a sow and I a pig and a poet When she opens her white lips to devour me I bite back and laughter rocks the moon In the black of desire we r... »

A Gift  By Denise Levertov

A Gift By Denise Levertov

A Gift by Denise Levertov Just when you seem to yourself nothing but a flimsy web of questions, you are given the questions of others to hold in the emptiness of your hands, songbird eggs that can still hatch if you keep them warm, butterflies opening and closing themselves in your cupped palms, tr... »

Making Peace By Denise Levertov

Making Peace By Denise Levertov

Making Peace A voice from the dark called out, “The poets must give us imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar imagination of disaster. Peace, not only the absence of war.” But peace, like a poem, is not there ahead of itself, can’t be imagined before it is made, can... »

To the Reader – Denise Levertov

To the Reader – Denise Levertov

As you read, a white bear leisurely pees, dyeing the snow saffron, and as you read, many gods lie among lianas: eyes of obsidian are watching the generations of leaves, and as you read the sea is turning its dark pages, turning its dark pages. ~ To the Reader – Denise Levertov Hits: 1 »

Looking, Walking, Being – Denise Levertov

Looking, Walking, Being – Denise Levertov

”The World is not something to look at, it is something to be in.” Mark Rudman I look and look. Looking’s a way of being: one becomes, sometimes, a pair of eyes walking. Walking wherever looking takes one. The eyes dig and burrow into the world. They touch fanfare, howl, madrigal,... »

A Tree Telling of Orpheus – Denise Levertov

A Tree Telling of Orpheus – Denise Levertov

White dawn. Stillness.When the rippling began I took it for sea-wind, coming to our valley with rumors of salt, of treeless horizons. But the white fog didn’t stir; the leaves of my brothers remained outstretched, unmoving. Yet the rippling drew nearer – and then my own outermost branches beg... »

An Embroidery – Denise Levertov

An Embroidery – Denise Levertov

Rose Red’s hair is brown as fur and shines in firelight as she prepares supper of honey and apples, curds and whey, for the bear, and leaves it ready on the hearth-stone. Rose White’s grey eyes look into the dark forest. Rose Red’s cheeks are burning, sign of her ardent, joyful co... »

Talking to Grief – Denise Levertov

Talking to Grief – Denise Levertov

Ah, Grief, I should not treat you like a homeless dog who comes to the back door for a crust, for a meatless bone. I should trust you. I should coax you into the house and give you your own corner, a worn mat to lie on, your own water dish. You think I don’t know you’ve been living unde... »

Celebration – Denise Levertov

Celebration – Denise Levertov

Brilliant, this day – a young virtuoso of a day. Morning shadow cut by sharpest scissors, deft hands. And every prodigy of green – whether it’s ferns or lichens or needles or impatient points of buds on spindly bushes – greener than ever before. And the way the conifers hold new cones to the ... »

To the Snake – Denise Levertov

To the Snake – Denise Levertov

Green Snake, when I hung you round my neck and stroked your cold, pulsing throat as you hissed to me, glinting arrowy gold scales, and I felt the weight of you on my shoulders, and the whispering silver of your dryness sounded close at my ears — Green Snake–I swore to my companions that... »

Pleasures – Denise Levertov

Pleasures – Denise Levertov

I like to find what’s not found at once, but lies within something of another nature, in repose, distinct. Gull feathers of glass, hidden in white pulp: the bones of squid which I pull out and lay blade by blade on the draining board– tapered as if for swiftness, to pierce the heart, bu... »

Aware – Denise Levertov

Aware – Denise Levertov

When I found the door I found the vine leaves speaking among themselves in abundant whispers. My presence made them hush their green breath, embarrassed, the way humans stand up, buttoning their jackets, acting as if they were leaving anyway, as if the conversation had ended just before you arrived... »

The Dog of Art – Denise Levertov

The Dog of Art – Denise Levertov

That dog with daisies for eyes who flashes forth flame of his very self at every bark is the Dog of Art. Worked in wool, his blind eyes look inward to caverns and jewels which they see perfectly, and his voice measures forth the treasure in music sharp and loud, sharp and bright, bright flaming bar... »

Ikon The Harrowing of Hell – Denise Levertov

Ikon The Harrowing of Hell – Denise Levertov

Down through the tomb’s inward arch He has shouldered out into Limbo to gather them, dazed, from dreamless slumber: the merciful dead, the prophets, the innocents just His own age and those unnumbered others waiting here unaware, in an endless void He is ending now, stooping to tug at their h... »

The Well – Denise Levertov

The Well – Denise Levertov

At sixteen I believed the moonlight could change me if it would. I moved my head on the pillow, even moved my bed as the moon slowly crossed the open lattice. I wanted beauty, a dangerous gleam of steel, my body thinner, my pale face paler. I moonbathed diligently, as others sunbathe. But the moon&... »

September 1961 – Denise Levertov

September 1961 – Denise Levertov

This is the year the old ones, the old great ones leave us alone on the road. The road leads to the sea. We have the words in our pockets, obscure directions. The old ones have taken away the light of their presence, we see it moving away over a hill off to one side. They are not dying, they are wi... »

An excerpt from Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus – Denise Levertov

An excerpt from Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus – Denise Levertov

Praise the wet snow falling early. Praise the shadow my neighor’s chimney casts on the tile roof even this gray October day that should, they say, have been golden. Praise the invisible sun burning beyond the white cold sky, giving us light and the chimney’s shadow. Praise god or the go... »

The Garden Wall – Denise Levertov

The Garden Wall – Denise Levertov

Bricks of the wall, so much older than the house – taken I think from a farm pulled down when the street was built – narrow bricks of another century. Modestly, though laid with panels and parapets, a wall behind the flowers – roses and hollyhocks, the silver pods of lupine, sweet... »

In Mind – Denise Levertov

In Mind – Denise Levertov

There’s in my mind a woman of innocence, unadorned but fair-featured and smelling of apples or grass. She wears a utopian smock or shift, her hair is light brown and smooth, and she is kind and very clean without ostentation- but she has no imagination And there’s a turbulent moon-ridde... »

The Great Black Heron – Denise Levertov

The Great Black Heron – Denise Levertov

Since I stroll in the woods more often than on this frequented path, it’s usually trees I observe; but among fellow humans what I like best is to see an old woman fishing alone at the end of a jetty, hours on end, plainly content. The Russians mushroom-hunting after a rain trail after themsel... »

Settling – Denise Levertov

Settling – Denise Levertov

I was welcomed here—clear gold of late summer, of opening autumn, the dawn eagle sunning himself on the highest tree, the mountain revealing herself unclouded, her snow tinted apricot as she looked west, Tolerant, in her steadfastness, of the restless sun forever rising and setting. Now I am given ... »

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