Denise Levertov Poems
- What Were They Like? Did the people of Viet Nam use lanterns...
- Aware When I found the door I found the vine ...
- A Tree Telling Of Orpheus White dawn. Stillness.When the ...
- Adam's Complaint Some people, no matter what you give ...
- Contraband The tree of knowledge was the tree of ...
- Celebration Brilliant, this day – a young virtuoso of a ...
- Everything That Acts Is Actual From the tawny light from the...
Denise Levertov was a British-born American poet.
Born in Ilford, Essex, England, her mother, Beatrice Spooner-Jones Levertoff, was Welsh. Her father, Paul Levertoff, immigrated to England from Germany, was a Russian Hassidic Safardic Jew who became an Anglican priest. While being educated at home, Levertov showed an enthusiasm for writing from an early age. When she was five years old, she said later in life, she declared she would be a writer. At the age of 12, she sent some of her poems to T. S. Eliot, who replied with a two-page letter of encouragement. In 1940, when she was 17, Levertov published her first poem.
During the Blitz, Levertov ... more »
Click here to add this poet to your My Favorite Poets.
Quotationsmore quotations »
The poem has a social effect of some kind whether or not the poet wills it to have. It has kinetic force, it sets in motion ... [ellipsis in source] elements in the reader that would otherwise be stag...Denise Levertov (b. 1923), U.S. poet. As quoted in Against Forgetting, sect. 5, by Carolyn Forche (1993). Written in 1965, during the Vietnam War;...
What Were They Like?
Did the people of Viet Nam
use lanterns of stone?
Did they hold ceremonies
to reverence the opening of buds?
Were they inclined to quiet laughter?
Did they use bone and ivory,
jade and silver, for ornament?
Had they an epic poem?
Did they distinguish between speech and singing?
Sir, their light hearts turned to stone.
It is not remembered whether in gardens
stone gardens illumined pleasant ways.
Perhaps they gathered once to delight in blossom,
but after their children were killed
there were no more buds.
Sir, laughter is bitter to the burned ...