To read Denise Levertov is to salve the soul. She speaks from a place of deep caring and spirituality. Her poems weave the sacred and everyday into a pattern for hope. While she never calls herself a feminist, her work insists on the place of politics in personal life, and hence in poetry.
Political poems are so difficult to write. The poet wants to balance position and poetry as Levertov does. Her work embodies the dictum of William Carlos Williams: “No ideas but in things."
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.
copyright 1987, from _Breathing the Waters_ and _What Could It Be_, Levertov
copyright 1982 from _Candles in Babylon_, Levertov
NY: New Directions