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denise levertov Quotes

Denise Levertov Quotes

Birth Date: 1923-10-24 (Wednesday, October 24th, 1923)
Date of Death: 1997-12-20 (Saturday, December 20th, 1997)



    • To leave the open fields and enter the forest, that was the rite. Knowing there was mystery, they could go. Go back now! And he receded among the multitude of forms, the twists and shadows they saw now, listening to the hum of the world's wood.
    • Praise the invisible sun burning beyond the white cold sky, giving us light and the chimney's shadow.
    • Acknowledgement, and celebration, of mystery probably constitutes the most consistent theme of my poetry from its very beginnings. Because it is a matter of which I am conscious, it is possible, however imprecisely, to call it an intellectual position; but it is one which emphasizes the incapacity of reason alone (much though I delight in elegant logic) to comprehend experience, and considers Imagination the chief of human faculties. It must therefore be by the exercise of that faculty that one moves toward faith, and possibly by its failure that one rejects it as delusion. Poems present their testimony as circumstantial evidences, not as closing argument. Where Wallace Stevens says, 'God and the imagination are one,' I would say that the imagination, which synergizes intellect, emotion and instinct, is the perceptive organ through which it is possible, though not inevitable, to experience God.
    • I like to find what's not found at once, but lies within something of another nature, in repose, distinct.
    • I like the juicy stem of grass that grows within the coarser leaf folded round, and the butteryellow glow in the narrow flute from which the morning-glory opens blue and cool on a hot morning.
    • The world is not with us enough. O taste and see.
    • Two girls discover the secret of life in a sudden line of poetry. I who don't know the secret wrote the line.
    • 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.
    • I was the first to see him, for I grew                     out on the pasture slope, beyond the forest. He was a man, it seemed. . .
    • Then as he sang it was no longer sounds only that made the music: he spoke, and as no tree listens I listened, and language                     came into my roots                                 out of the earth,                     into my bark                                 out of the air, into the pores of my greenest shoots             gently as dew and there was no word he sang but I knew its meaning.
    • He told of journeys,                     of where sun and moon go while we stand in dark,                     of an earth-journey he dreamed he would take some day deeper than roots ... He told of the dreams of man, wars, passions, griefs,                     and I, a tree, understood words - ah, it seemed my thick bark would split like a sapling's that                                                             grew too fast in the spring when a late frost wounds it.
    •                                              Fire he sang, that trees fear, and I, a tree, rejoiced in its flames. New buds broke forth from me though it was full summer.                     As though his lyre (now I knew its name)                     were both frost and fire, its chords flamed up to the crown of me.                     I was seed again.                                         I was fern in the swamp.                                                                         I was coal.
    • And I         in terror                         but not in doubt of                                                             what I must do in anguish, in haste,                         wrenched from the earth root after root, the soil heaving and cracking, the moss tearing asunder - and behind me the others: my brothers forgotten since dawn. In the forest they too had heard, and were pulling their roots in pain out of a thousand years' layers of dead leaves,                 rolling the rocks away,                                             breaking themselves                                                                 out of                                                                         their depths.
    •                                                     The music reached us. Clumsily,             stumbling over our own roots,                                                         rustling our leaves                                                                             in answer, we moved, we followed.
    • By dawn he was gone.                                 We have stood here since, in our new life.                         We have waited.                                                     He does not return.
    • It is said he made his earth-journey, and lost what he sought.                             It is said they felled him and cut up his limbs for firewood.                                                             And it is said his head still sang and was swept out to sea singing.
    • Perhaps he will not return.                                             But what we have lived comes back to us.                         We see more.                                                 We feel, as our rings increase, something that lifts our branches, that stretches our furthest                                                                                                     leaf-tips further.
    • The wind, the birds,                                                 do not sound poorer but clearer, recalling our agony, and the way we danced.
    • To serve the people, one must write for the ideal reader. Only for the ideal reader. And who or what is that ideal reader? God. One must imagine, One must deeply imagine
    • I am not joking. I'm speaking of spirit. Not dogma but spirit. The Way.
    • The poet never must lose despair.
    • Leaps of nerve, heart - cries of communion: if there is bliss, it has been already and will be; out- reaching, utterly. Blind to itself, flooded with otherness.
    • Let Ariel learn a blessing for Caliban and Caliban drink dew from the lotus open upon the waters.
    • pure dust that is all in all.    Bless, weightless Spirit. Drink Caliban, push your tongue heavy into the calyx.
    • I am tired of 'the fine art of unhappiness'.
    • Delivered out of raw continual pain, smell of darkness, groans of those others to whom he was chained - unchained, and led past the sleepers, door after door silently opening - out!
    • And not till he saw the angel had left him, alone and free to resume the ecstatic, dangerous, wearisome roads of what he had still to do, not till then did he recognize this was no dream.
    • He himself must be the key, now, to the next door, the next terrors of freedom and joy.
    • Lord, not you, it is I who am absent.
    • Not for one second will my self hold still, but wanders anywhere, everywhere it can turn. Not you, it is I am absent.
    • You are the stream, the fish, the light, the pulsing shadow. You the unchanging presence, in whom all moves and changes. How can I focus my flickering, perceive at the fountain's heart the sapphire I know is there?
    • Down through the tomb's inward arch He has shouldered out into Limbo to gather them, dazed, from dreamless slumber...
    •             Didmas, neighbor in death, Golgotha dust still streaked on the dried sweat of his body no one had washed and anointed, is here, for sequence is not known in Limbo; the promise, given from cross to cross at noon, arches beyond sunset and dawn.
    • All these He will swiftly lead to the Paradise road: they are safe. That done, there must take place that struggle no human presumes to picture: living, dying, descending to rescue the just from shadow, were lesser travails than this: to break through earth and stone of the faithless world back to the cold sepulcher, tearstained stifling shroud; to break from them back into breath and heartbeat, and walk the world again, closed into days and weeks again, wounds of His anguish open, and Spirit streaming through every cell of flesh so that if mortal sight could bear to perceive it, it would be seen His mortal flesh was lit from within, now, and aching for home. He must return, first, in Divine patience, and know hunger again, and give to humble friends the joy of giving Him food - fish and a honeycomb.
    • Rain-diamonds, this winter morning, embellish the tangle of unpruned pear-tree twigs; each solitaire, placed, it appearrs, with considered judgement, bears the light beneath the rifted clouds - the indivisible shared out in endless abundance.
    • Academy of American Poets: Levertov
    • Modern American Poetry: Levertov
    • Denise Levertov: The American Poet from Britain
    • Women of the Beat Biography for Denise Levertov
    • Bridgewater College: Denise Levertov
    • The Secret
    • denise levertov

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