Denise Levertov

(24 October 1923 – 20 December 1997 / Ilford, Essex)

Denise Levertov Poems

41. The Elves 1/3/2003
42. Zeroing In 1/3/2003
43. Pleasures 1/3/2003
44. The Breathing 1/3/2003
45. The Rainwalkers 1/3/2003
46. Looking, Walking, Being 1/3/2003
47. Wedding-Ring 1/3/2003
48. Intrusion 1/3/2003
49. People At Night 1/3/2003
50. From The Roof 1/3/2003
51. The Mutes 1/3/2003
52. Stepping Westward 1/3/2003
53. The Avowal 1/3/2003
54. An Excerpt From &Quot;Mass For The Day Of St. Thomas Didymus&Quot; 1/20/2003
55. Losing Track 1/3/2003
56. Ikon: The Harrowing Of Hell 1/3/2003
57. Grey Sparrow Addresses The Mind's Ear 1/3/2003
58. The Ache Of Marriage 1/3/2003
59. An Embroidery 1/3/2003
60. The Garden Wall 1/3/2003
61. Variation On A Theme By Rilke 1/3/2003
62. Contraband 1/3/2003
63. To The Snake 1/3/2003
64. Everything That Acts Is Actual 1/3/2003
65. In Mind 1/3/2003
66. Celebration 1/3/2003
67. Bearing The Light 1/3/2003
68. Illustrious Ancestors 1/3/2003
69. Hymn To Eros 1/3/2003
70. Aware 1/3/2003
71. Living 1/3/2003
72. The Secret 1/3/2003
73. Adam's Complaint 1/3/2003
74. In California During The Gulf War 1/3/2003
75. A Tree Telling Of Orpheus 1/3/2003
76. Talking To Grief 1/3/2003
77. What Were They Like? 1/3/2003
Best Poem of Denise Levertov

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 ...

Read the full of What Were They Like?

The Elves

Elves are no smaller
than men, and walk
as men do, in this world,
but with more grace than most,
and are not immortal.

Their beauty sets them aside
from other men and from women
unless a woman has that cold fire in her

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