Category Archives: Denise Levertov

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.

                                

Denise Levertov

Born in England in 1923, Ms. Levertov immigrated to the U.S. in the late 1940s and became a U.S. citizen (befitting National Poetry Month when this blog is being written).  Ms. Levertov began writing when she was young, publishing her first poem at age 17 in the literary publication, Poetry Quarterly.  Her first book of poems “Double Image” was published before she reached age 21.

Ms. Levertov did not want her poetry to be affiliated with any particular group of poets and shunned any attempts to categorize her poems.  What did become evident, however, is that her open, experimental style placed among other American avant garde poets of her era, the mid twentieth century, and also earlier experimental poets.

In 1959 a collection of her poems entitled “With Eyes at the Back of Our Heads,” established Ms. Levertov as a strong and prominent poet.  She went on to publish more than twenty volumes of poetry before her death in 1997.  She also worked as the poetry editor of several periodical publications such as “Nation” and “Mother Jones.”

In the mid 1990s I did some research into Denise Levertov and her poetry, having made selections of her work for a performance piece.  Her imagery is often direct and concrete, and her poems can also be intimate and lively.

Ms. Levertov is buried at Lakeview Cemetery in Seattle, Washington, a place she made her home in the later years of her life.

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