Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Denise Levertov's Incredible Poetry

Adam's Complaint
Denise Levertov

Some people,
no matter what you give them,
still want the moon.
The bread, the salt,
white meat and dark,
still hungry.
The marriage bed and the cradle,
still empty arms.
You give them land,
their own earth under their feet,
still they take to the roads.
And water: dig them the deepest well,
still it's not deep enough
to drink the moon from.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *~ * ~ * ~ * ~

The Avowal
By Denise Levertov

As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air and air
sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

By Denise Levertov

While we were visiting David’s grave
I saw at a little distance

a woman hurrying towards another grave
hands outstretched, stumbling

in her haste; who then
fell at the stone she made for

and lay sprawled upon it, sobbing,
sobbing and crying out to it.

She was neatly dressed in a pale coat
and seemed neither old nor young.

I couldn’t see her face, and my friends
seemed not to know she was there.

Not to distress them, I said nothing.
But she was not an apparition.

And when we walked
back to the car in silence

I stood stealthily back and saw she rose
and quieted herself and began slowly

to back away from the grave.
Unlike David, who lives

in our lives, it seemed
whoever she mourned dwelt

there, in the field, under stone.
It seemed the woman

believed whom she loved heard her,
heard her wailing, observed

the nakedness of her anguish,
and would not speak.

~from: “Denise Levertov Poems 1968 - 1972”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Denise Levertov's Books of Poetry

The Double Image (1946)
The Sharks (1952)
Here and Now (1956)
Overland to the Islands (1958)
With Eyes at the Back of Our Heads (1959)
The Jacob's Ladder (1961)
O Taste and See: New Poems (1964)
The Sorrow Dance (1967)
Life At War (1968)
At the Justice Department, November 15, 1969
Relearning the Alphabet (1970)
To Stay Alive (1971)
Footprints (1972)
The Freeing of the Dust (1975)
Life in the Forest (1978)
Wedding-Ring (1978)
Collected Earlier Poems 1940-1960 (1979)
Candles in Babylon (1982)
The May Mornings(1982)
Poems 1960-1967 (1983)
Oblique Prayers: New Poems (1984)
Selected Poems (1986)
Poems 1968-1972 (1987)
Breathing the Water (1987)
A Door in the Hive (1989)
Evening Train (1992)
A Door in the Hive / Evening Train (1993)
The Sands of the Well (1996)
The Life Around Us: Selected Poems on Nature (1997)
The Stream & the Sapphire: Selected Poems on Religious Themes (1997)

Denise Levertov's Books of Prose:

The Poet in the World (1973)
Light Up the Cave (1981)
New & Selected Essays (1992)
Tesserae: Memories & Suppositions (1995)
The Letters of Denise Levertov and William Carlos Williams, edited by Christopher MacGowan (1998).
The Letters of Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov, edited by Robert J. Bertholf & Albert Gelpi. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004.


Karen said...

Wonderful, wonderful! Thank you.

Phoenix said...

That second poem is simply beautiful. Such a poignant contrast of how two people grieve in two very different ways.

What a fantastic poet! I'd never heard of her before - so grateful you posted these so I have another writer's works to check out :)

Marion said...

Karen, you are very welcome. Thanks for stopping by. Blessings!

Phoenix, all of her poetry is awesome, but my favorite is a skinny little book, "Breathing the Water" and a book of her prose essays called "The Poet in the World". You're in for a delightful treat. Happy reading!!! Blessings & Love...

Kelly said...

Now you KNOW I love Denise Levertov!

Wonderful selections you posted here.

Marion said...

Yes, Kelly, I know. I need a good strong dose of her words on a regular basis to keep me grounded. LOL! Glad you enjoyed the poems. Love & Blessings!!

Renee said...

Holy crow have you read all of thos dear friend.

Love Renee xoxo

Marion said...

Renee, I own about 8 of her books, many of them collections that contain the smaller books. I wish I had them all, though. LOL! I love, love "The Poet in the World". It's prose essays that are must amazing. Love, Peace & Blessings, my sweet pal!

Wine and Words said...

I love Adam's Complaint. It is me at times, and others also. It is our nature to want all, and especially yours...until I have it. Then I want mine back. Hindsight is crystal clear.

Marion said...

Me too, Annie, although not so much lately as when I was younger. I'm wanting less nowadays and becoming happier with what I have. Oh, yeah, hindsight is pure-dee 20/20! Love & Blessings!

TheChicGeek said...

Lovely, Marion. I've never read her before. I love the first one...don't you know people like that? Ugh! Never satisfied. She sums them up perfectly!

Happy Days, Marion :D

SarahA said...

This is the purrrrrrrrrrrrrrfect place to come to, with a cup of coffee.As I savour the coffee of my lips, I too savour the words you share. Always.
I am liking this Denise Levertov and what she does with words.So much truth in what she writes.

Marion said...

Kelly, yes, I know people like that and they never seem to be happy, only restless. Ms. Levertov is a fabulous poet. Happy Days to you too! Blessings!

Saraha, I'm glad you enjoy your visits. I'm headed for my first cuppa coffee myself right now. I appreciate you! Love & Blessings!

Judith Ellis said...

That first poem is so true for so many of us, eh? "The eye is never satisfied." The problem with this is that dissatisfaction is often contagious. I divorce myself from the company of such people posthaste. The photo is beautiful. For me, it's both stark and voluminous. Thanks for sharing, Marion.

Marion said...

Judith, I know, I'm guilty of the endless 'wanting' myself at times and then I catch myself. I love a book by Timothy Miller that I read years ago and need to read again. It's "How to Want What You Have: Discovering the Magic and Grandeur of Ordinary Existence". The book really changed my outlook on life. I've been training myself in the last few years to begin getting rid of 'stuff' and buying less 'stuff' also. The older I get the lighter I seem to want to be. I even weeded out my books, clothes and dishes. It works because the more I give away, the lighter I feel. LOL! I hope to have nothing but the bare essentials by the time I die.

That's one of my favorite photos I took last year. I like the colors and textures in it. (I love blue glass!) I appreciate you, Judith. Blessings & Love!!

Serena said...

I love those selections! And the photo is stunning, Marion. Hope you've had a lovely day.

Marion said...

Thanks, SJ! I love taking pictures. Digital photography becoming so inexpensive has opened entire worlds that I could never afford before. Every day brings fresh discoveries just walking around my yard. Love & Blessings!

Renee said...

To know you is to love you and I don't blame your son-in-law.

Sweet friend, my wednesdays women are always made up. So thankfully none of that happened to me but I am glad that things have worked out wonderfully for you.

I love you.

Love Renee xoxo

RNSANE said...

I appreciate your introducing me to this incredible poet. I am not quite sure how I even stopped by your blog - I was led here somehow. I love poetry and dabble at it myself!

Marion said...

Renee, thanks for stopping in. Blessings!

Carmen, I'm glad you enjoyed your visit and the poetry. Blessings!

Phoenix said...

Thank you, Marion, for your kind comments. And your cookies sound so incredibly yummy and comfort-food like, mmmmm....

And I count my blessings every day when it comes to my friends :)

Marion said...

You're welcome, Phoenix. I'll post the recipe one day next week. They're easy to make. Blessings!