Monday, January 1, 2018

Denise Levertov*

Denise Levertov (1923—1997) is a British-born American poet who authored more than two dozen collections, including The Collected Poems of Denise Levertov (2013, New Directions). She is considered one of the Black Mountain poets — along with Robert Creeley, Edward Dorn and Robert Duncan — because her early work appeared in the Black Mountain Review.

Becoming a political activist, Levertov was outspoken in opposition to the Vietnam War. She served as Poetry Editor of The Nation in the early '60s, and of Mother Jones in the 1970s. She also taught at various schools, including Stanford University.

Levertov had considered herself to be an agnostic, even though her father as a Hasidic Jew had converted to Christianity, and had become an Anglican priest. She often wrote on religious themes — taking a long, circuitous route to faith — eventually declaring her own conversion in 1984.

For the New Year, 1981

I have a small grain of hope—
one small crystal that gleams
clear colors out of transparency.

I need more.

I break off a fragment
to send you.

Please take
this grain of a grain of hope
so that mine won’t shrink.

Please share your fragment
so that yours will grow.

Only so, by division,
will hope increase,

like a clump of irises, which will cease to flower
unless you distribute
the clustered roots, unlikely source—
clumsy and earth-covered—
of grace.

*This is the third Kingdom Poets post about Denise Levertov: first post, second post, fourth post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis. His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.