Now Reading: Denise Levertov

Over the years, I have returned quite often to Denise Levertov. Usually in small chunks. I had an early volume of her Collected Poems that I would dip into every now and then. But searching my shelves now, I cannot find it.

I found this small paperback, The Life Around Us, on Amazon.  It has a copyright of 1997, which means it would have been published in the last year of her life.

It is a collection of Nature poems, chosen by Levertov, with a very brief introduction explaining how she assembled the little volume.

In her introduction she says, “In the last few decades of the twentieth century it has become ever clearer to thinking people that although we humans are a part of nature ourselves, we have become, in multifarious ways, an increasingly destructive element within it, shaking and breaking the ‘great web’ – perhaps irremediably.”

They are then poems of many moods: wonder, anger, frustration, fear.  They are also, as you would expect from Denise Levertov, wonderful.

Here are some of my favorite lines so far:

the fierce, brilliant faith
that pierces the heart all summer

*  *  *  *  *  *

prairie subtleties, verbs
declined in gray,
green tones sustained, vast plainsong.

*  *  *  *  *  *

and each day one,
sometimes two, morning-glories,
faultless, blue, blue sometimes
flecked with magenta, each
lit from within with
the first sunlight.

 

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