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Best Famous Denise Levertov Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Denise Levertov poems. This is a select list of the best famous Denise Levertov poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Denise Levertov poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Denise Levertov poems.

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Written by Denise Levertov |

The Secret

 Two girls discover
the secret of life
in a sudden line of
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 forgotten the secret, the line, the name of the poem.
I love them for finding what I can't find, and for loving me for the line I wrote, and for forgetting it so that a thousand times, till death finds them, they may discover it again, in other lines in other happenings.
And for wanting to know it, for assuming there is such a secret, yes, for that most of all.

Written by Denise Levertov |

Stepping Westward

 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 in blue or above quilts of cloud.
There is no savor more sweet, more salt than to be glad to be what, woman, and who, myself, I am, a shadow that grows longer as the sun moves, drawn out on a thread of wonder.
If I bear burdens they begin to be remembered as gifts, goods, a basket of bread that hurts my shoulders but closes me in fragrance.
I can eat as I go.

Written by Denise Levertov |

Talking to Grief

 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 under my porch.
You long for your real place to be readied before winter comes.
You need your name, your collar and tag.
You need the right to warn off intruders, to consider my house your own and me your person and yourself my own dog.

More great poems below...

Written by Denise Levertov |

People at Night

 A night that cuts between you and you
and you and you and you
and me : jostles us apart, a man elbowing
through a crowd.
We won't look for each other, either- wander off, each alone, not looking in the slow crowd.
Among sideshows under movie signs, pictures made of a million lights, giants that move and again move again, above a cloud of thick smells, franks, roasted nutmeats- Or going up to some apartment, yours or yours, finding someone sitting in the dark: who is it really? So you switch the light on to see: you know the name but who is it ? But you won't see.
The fluorescent light flickers sullenly, a pause.
But you command.
It grabs each face and holds it up by the hair for you, mask after mask.
You and you and I repeat gestures that make do when speech has failed and talk and talk, laughing, saying 'I', and 'I', meaning 'Anybody'.
No one.

Written by Denise Levertov |


 When I found the door
I found the vine leaves
speaking among themselves in abundant
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.
I liked the glimpse I had, though, of their obscure gestures.
I liked the sound of such private voices.
Next time I'll move like cautious sunlight, open the door by fractions, eavesdrop peacefully.

Written by Denise Levertov |

Illustrious Ancestors

 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
with the bench and the floor.
' He used what was at hand--as did Angel Jones of Mold, whose meditations were sewn into coats and britches.
Well, I would like to make, thinking some line still taut between me and them, poems direct as what the birds said, hard as a floor, sound as a bench, mysterious as the silence when the tailor would pause with his needle in the air.

Written by Denise Levertov |

Psalm Concerning the Castle

 Let me be at the place of the castle.
Let the castle be within me.
Let it rise foursquare from the moat's ring.
Let the moat's waters reflect green plumage of ducks, let the shells of swimming turtles break the surface or be seen through the rippling depths.
Let horsemen be stationed at the rim of it, and a dog, always alert on the brink of sleep.
Let the space under the first storey be dark, let the water lap the stone posts, and vivid green slime glimmer upon them; let a boat be kept there.
Let the caryatids of the second storey be bears upheld on beams that are dragons.
On the parapet of the central room, let there be four archers, looking off to the four horizons.
Within, let the prince be at home, let him sit in deep thought, at peace, all the windows open to the loggias.
Let the young queen sit above, in the cool air, her child in her arms; let her look with joy at the great circle, the pilgrim shadows, the work of the sun and the play of the wind.
Let her walk to and fro.
Let the columns uphold the roof, let the storeys uphold the columns, let there be dark space below the lowest floor, let the castle rise foursquare out of the moat, let the moat be a ring and the water deep, let the guardians guard it, let there be wide lands around it, let that country where it stands be within me, let me be where it is.

Written by Denise Levertov |

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.

Written by Denise Levertov |

September 1961

 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 withdrawn into a painful privacy learning to live without words.
"It looks like dying"-Williams: "I can't describe to you what has been happening to me"- H.
"unable to speak.
" The darkness twists itself in the wind, the stars are small, the horizon ringed with confused urban light-haze.
They have told us the road leads to the sea, and given the language into our hands.
We hear our footsteps each time a truck has dazzled past us and gone leaving us new silence.
Ine can't reach the sea on this endless road to the sea unless one turns aside at the end, it seems, follows the owl that silently glides above it aslant, back and forth, and away into deep woods.
But for usthe road unfurls itself, we count the words in our pockets, we wonder how it will be without them, we don't stop walking, we know there is far to go, sometimes we think the night wind carries a smell of the sea.

Written by Denise Levertov |

The Mutes

 Those groans men use
passing a woman on the street
or on the steps of the subway

to tell her she is a female
and their flesh knows it,

are they a sort of tune,
an ugly enough song, sung
by a bird with a slit tongue

but meant for music?

Or are they the muffled roaring
of deafmutes trapped in a building that is
slowly filling with smoke?

Perhaps both.
Such men most often look as if groan were all they could do, yet a woman, in spite of herself, knows it's a tribute: if she were lacking all grace they'd pass her in silence: so it's not only to say she's a warm hole.
It's a word in grief-language, nothing to do with primitive, not an ur-language; language stricken, sickened, cast down in decrepitude.
She wants to throw the tribute away, dis- gusted, and can't, it goes on buzzing in her ear, it changes the pace of her walk, the torn posters in echoing corridors spell it out, it quakes and gnashes as the train comes in.
Her pulse sullenly had picked up speed, but the cars slow down and jar to a stop while her understanding keeps on translating: 'Life after life after life goes by without poetry, without seemliness, without love.

Written by Denise Levertov |

Triple Feature

 Innocent decision: to enjoy.
And the pathos of hopefulness, of his solicitude: --he in mended serape, she having plaited carefully magenta ribbons into her hair, the baby a round half-hidden shape slung in her rebozo, and the young son steadfastly gripping a fold of her skirt, pale and severe under a handed-down sombrero -- all regarding the stills with full attention, preparing to pay ad go in-- to worlds of shadow-violence, half- familiar, warm with popcorn, icy with strange motives, barbarous splendors!

Written 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.
And the way the conifers hold new cones to the light for the blessing, a festive right, and sing the oceanic chant the wind transcribes for them! A day that shines in the cold like a first-prize brass band swinging along the street of a coal-dusty village, wholly at odds with the claims of reasonable gloom.

Written by Denise Levertov |

Losing Track

 Long after you have swung back
away from me
I think you are still with me:

you come in close to the shore
on the tide
and nudge me awake the way

a boat adrift nudges the pier:
am I a pier
half-in half-out of the water?

and in the pleasure of that communion
I lose track,
the moon I watch goes down, the

tide swings you away before
I know I'm
alone again long since,

mud sucking at gray and black
timbers of me,
a light growth of green dreams drying.

Written by Denise Levertov |

Hymn To Eros

 O Eros, silently smiling one, hear me.
Let the shadow of thy wings brush me.
Let thy presence enfold me, as if darkness were swandown.
Let me see that darkness lamp in hand, this country become the other country sacred to desire.
Drowsy god, slow the wheels of my thought so that I listen only to the snowfall hush of thy circling.
Close my beloved with me in the smoke ring of thy power, that we way be, each to the other, figures of flame, figures of smoke, figures of flesh newly seen in the dusk.

Written by Denise Levertov |

Zeroing In

 "I am a landscape," he said,
"a landscape and a person walking in that landscape.
There are daunting cliffs there, and plains glad in their way of brown monotony.
But especially there are sinkholes, places of sudden terror, of small circumference and malevolent depths.
" "I know," she said.
"When I set forth to walk in myself, as it might be on a fine afternoon, forgetting, sooner or later I come to where sedge and clumps of white flowers, rue perhaps, mark the bogland, and I know there are quagmires there that can pull you down, and sink you in bubbling mud.
" "We had an old dog," he told her, "when I was a boy, a good dog, friendly.
But there was an injured spot on his head, if you happened just to touch it he'd jump up yelping and bite you.
He bit a young child, they had to take him to the vet's and destroy him.
" "No one knows where it is," she said, "and even by accident no one touches it: It's inside my landscape, and only I, making my way preoccupied through my life, crossing my hills, sleeping on green moss of my own woods, I myself without warning touch it, and leap up at myself--" "--or flinch back just in time.
" "Yes, we learn that It's not terror, it's pain we're talking about: those places in us, like your dog's bruised head, that are bruised forever, that time never assuages, never.