What it Means to Live

Photo by Jackson David on Pexels.com

Rather than rush out my three photo inspired poems tonight, I felt we required a journey to the deepening ground of Denise Levertov. I fell in love with this poem when I first read it in the AP English Literature textbook I use by Edgar Roberts. In a time when how we move forward as the human race draws such divergent responses, often with bitter animosity, Levertov’s voice is like the cool breeze blowing in through the window of my library this mid-May evening. I’m pretty sure my cooperating teacher, Jack Warner, would ask you to complete a “Privileged Word” exercise for this poem. For so few words, the diction carries weight. Savor the colon at the end of the poem. It’s not a mistake. (Note: if the format removes the tabs before the third through sixth lines, and the larger tab before the final line, know that they should be tabbed in – format matters!)

Of Being – Denise Levertov

I know this happiness
is provisional:

the looming presences —
great suffering, great fear —

withdraw only
into peripheral vision:

but ineluctable this shimmering
of wind in the blue leaves:

this flood of stillness
widening the lake of sky:

this need to dance,
this need to kneel:
this mystery:

from Denise Levertov: Selected Poems, by Denise Levertov

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