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Best Famous Denise Levertov Poems

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by Denise Levertov |

The Breathing

 An absolute
patience.
Trees stand
up to their knees in
fog. The fog
slowly flows
uphill.
White
cobwebs, the grass 
leaning where deer 
have looked for apples.
The woods
from brook to where
the top of the hill looks
over the fog, send up
not one bird.
So absolute, it is
no other than
happiness itself, a breathing
too quiet to hear.


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.


by Denise Levertov |

Intrusion

 After I had cut off my hands
and grown new ones

something my former hands had longed for
came and asked to be rocked.

After my plucked out eyes
had withered, and new ones grown

something my former eyes had wept for
came asking to be pitied.


by Denise Levertov |

The Thread

 Something is very gently, 
invisibly, silently, 
pulling at me-a thread 
or net of threads 
finer than cobweb and as 
elastic. I haven't tried 
the strength of it. No barbed hook 
pierced and tore me. Was it 
not long ago this thread 
began to draw me? Or 
way back? Was I 
born with its knot about my 
neck, a bridle? Not fear 
but a stirring 
of wonder makes me 
catch my breath when I feel 
the tug of it when I thought 
it had loosened itself and gone.


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.


by Denise Levertov |

In Mind

 There's in my mind a woman
of innocence, unadorned but

fair-featured and smelling of
apples or grass. She wears

a utopian smock or shift, her hair
is light brown and smooth, and she

is kind and very clean without
ostentation-

but she has
no imagination

And there's a
turbulent moon-ridden girl

or old woman, or both,
dressed in opals and rags, feathers

and torn taffeta,
who knows strange songs

but she is not kind.


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.


by Denise Levertov |

Celebration

 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.


by Denise Levertov |

The Ache Of Marriage

 The ache of marriage:

thigh and tongue, beloved,
are heavy with it,
it throbs in the teeth

We look for communion
and are turned away, beloved,
each and each

It is leviathan and we
in its belly
looking for joy, some joy
not to be known outside it

two by two in the ark of
the ache of it.


by Denise Levertov |

Wedding-Ring

 My wedding-ring lies in a basket 
as if at the bottom of a well. 
Nothing will come to fish it back up 
and onto my finger again. 
 It lies 
among keys to abandoned houses, 
nails waiting to be needed and hammered 
into some wall, 
telephone numbers with no names attached, 
idle paperclips. 
 It can't be given away 
for fear of bringing ill-luck. 
 It can't be sold 
for the marriage was good in its own 
time, though that time is gone. 
 Could some artificer 
beat into it bright stones, transform it 
into a dazzling circlet no one could take 
for solemn betrothal or to make promises 
living will not let them keep? Change it 
into a simple gift I could give in friendship?