By Denise Levertov
As swimmers dare
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
fell at the stone she made for
and lay sprawled upon it, sobbing,
sobbing and crying out to it.
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”
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)
The Freeing of the Dust (1975)
Life in the Forest (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)
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.