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Archive for the ‘Denise Levertov’ Category

SOJOURNS IN THE PARALLEL WORLD

We live our lives of human passions,
cruelties, dreams, concepts,
crimes and the exercise of virtue
in and beside a world devoid
of our preoccupations, free
from apprehension–though affected,
certainly, by our actions. A world
parallel to our own though overlapping.
We call it “Nature”; only reluctantly
admitting ourselves to be “Nature” too.
Whenever we lose track of our own obsessions,
our self-concerns, because we drift for a minute,
an hour even, of pure (almost pure)
response to that insouciant life:
cloud, bird, fox, the flow of light, the dancing
pilgrimage of water, vast stillness
of spellbound ephemerae on a lit windowpane,
animal voices, mineral hum, wind
conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering
of fire to coal–then something tethered
in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch
of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free.
No one discovers
just where we’ve been, when we’re caught up again
into our own sphere (where we must
return, indeed, to evolve our destinies)
–but we have changed, a little.

– DENISE LEVERTOV –

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Today, ice. Cold. A storm en route. Or so they say. I walk 218, navigating ice flows. The wind bites.

THE WOMB OF STARS

The womb of stars embraces us;
remnants of their fiery furnaces
pulse through our veins.

We are of the stars,
the dust of the explosions
cast across space.

We are of the earth:
we breathe and live in the breath
of ancient plants and beasts.

Their cells nourish the soil;
we build our communities
on their harvest of gifts.

Our fingers trace the curves
carved in clay and stone
by forebears unknown to us.

We are a part
of the great circle of humanity
gathered around the fire, the
hearth, the altar.

An awe so quiet I don’t know
when it began.

A gratitude had begun to sing
in me.

Was there some moment dividing
song from no song?

When does dewfall begin?

When does night fold its arms
Over our hearts to cherish them?

When is daybreak?

– DENISE LEVERTOV –

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WITNESS

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.

– DENISE LEVERTOV –

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Recently, my college roommate sent me a link to this site:
Let’s Say Thanks

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Regardless of your thoughts and feelings about the war, we all have an opportunity to send holiday cheer to men and women who will be away from their families and loved ones during this holiday season.

When I think about what I can do–how I can serve “my corner of the the world” (which, as I mentioned is getting larger by the day), I think increasingly about “making peace.”

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’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.

A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.

A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses. . . .

A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light–facets
of the forming crystal.

DENISE LEVERTOV –

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My day starts early and I spend it crisscrossing Orange County…morning meeting in Montgomery; afternoon at the hospital; cell phone ringing; client calls in between.

In my rush to get out the door, I forget my camera. The light is soft–there’s moisture hanging in the early morning air. Autumn colors muted…I frame imaginary photos in my mind’s eye, enjoying the click of my internal shutter. I drive through black dirt country; some fields plowed; others with hay rolls, tractors. Beautiful. It clears; the sky is bright; the clouds roll in; it looks momentarily like rain. Later, I grab my camera and pause by the Hudson. It clears again; the moon rises; the air is sweet.

LOOKING, WALKING, BEING

“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, clamor.
World and the past of it,
not only
visible present, solid and shadow
that looks at one looking.

And language? Rhythms
of echo and interruption?
That’s
a way of breathing.

breathing to sustain
looking,
walking and looking,
through the world,
in it.

– DENISE LEVERTOV –

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– VARIATION ON A THEME BY RILKE –
(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 if with
the flat of a sword, granting me
honor and a task. The day’s blow
rang out, metallic — or it was I, a bell awakened,
and what I heard was my whole self
saying and singing what it knew: I can.


– DENISE LEVERTOV –

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WEB

Intricate and untraceable
Weaving and interweaving
Dark stand with light

Designed, beyond
All spiderly contrivance
To link, not to entrap

Elation, grief, joy, contrition,
Entwined,
Shaking, changing, forever
Forming, transforming:

All praise, all praise to the great web.

– DENISE LEVERTOV –

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