Levertov's imagery and mastery of language stands out to me, especially in a poem like "The Clearing:"
What lies at the end of enticing
country driveways, curving
off among trees? Often only
a car graveyard, a house-trailer,
a trashy bungalow. But this one,
for once, brings you
through the shade of its green tunnel
to a paradise of cedars,
of lawns mown but not too closely,
of iris, moss, fern, rivers of stone rounded
by sea or stream,
of a wooden unassertive large-windowed house.
Read the rest of this poem here. "Paradise is a kind of poem." How great is that? And the sounds are amazing too. And the way she plays with the "It's paradise" line...the line play is a calling card of hers, it seems.
Some of these same characteristics appear in "A Time Past:"
The old wooden steps to the front door
where I was sitting that fall morning
when you came downstairs, just awake,
and my joy at sight of you (emerging
into golden day—
the dew almost frost)
pulled me to my feet to tell you
how much I loved you:
those wooden steps
are gone now, decayed
replaced with granite,
hard, gray, and handsome.
The old steps live
only in me:
my feet and thighs
remember them, and my hands
still feel their splinters.
Read the rest here. This one, like her others, strikes me as meticulously and almost perfectly crafted. Her poems are works of art, without a doubt.
And if you're not familiar with Levertov's work, please take a moment and explore these gems:
- some more line play and use of italics (and an awesome title) in "Everything That Acts is Actual"
- capturing some deep emotions in "Losing Track"
- a powerful message in "In California During The Gulf War"
- mystic beauty in "Seeing For a Moment"
- an irresistible poem about poetry or about the secret of life...or both...in "The Secret" which is one of my absolute Levertov faves.
- an irresistible poem that's about a lot more than a sandal--"The Broken Sandal"
Once you read these I hope you'll agree with Denise Levertov's top-five ranking! And while you're waiting for the final four posts, be sure to check out the rest of the countdown in case you missed it.