Denise Levertov

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

In California During The Gulf War - Poem by Denise Levertov

Among the blight-killed eucalypts, among
trees and bushes rusted by Christmas frosts,
the yards and hillsides exhausted by five years of drought,

certain airy white blossoms punctually
reappeared, and dense clusters of pale pink, dark pink--
a delicate abundance. They seemed

like guests arriving joyfully on the accustomed
festival day, unaware of the year's events, not perceiving
the sackcloth others were wearing.

To some of us, the dejected landscape consorted well
with our shame and bitterness. Skies ever-blue,
daily sunshine, disgusted us like smile-buttons.

Yet the blossoms, clinging to thin branches
more lightly than birds alert for flight,
lifted the sunken heart

even against its will.
But not
as symbols of hope: they were flimsy
as our resistance to the crimes committed

--again, again--in our name; and yes, they return,
year after year, and yes, they briefly shone with serene joy
over against the dark glare

of evil days. They are, and their presence
is quietness ineffable--and the bombings are, were,
no doubt will be; that quiet, that huge cacophany

simultaneous. No promise was being accorded, the blossoms
were not doves, there was no rainbow. And when it was claimed
the war had ended, it had not ended.

Comments about In California During The Gulf War by Denise Levertov

  • (10/11/2016 10:59:00 PM)

    Nice poem (Report) Reply

    4 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Dutendra Chamling (12/22/2015 11:19:00 PM)

    Denise Levertov! Beautiful poem! (Report) Reply

  • (12/22/2015 5:41:00 PM)

    thankfully one can exist alongside the other (Report) Reply

    (1/22/2018 10:48:00 AM)


  • Susan Williams (12/22/2015 2:17:00 PM)

    I was captivated by the metaphors and the deep wells of emotions that she drew from and gave us to drink from... They seemed
    like guests arriving joyfully on the accustomed
    festival day, unaware of the year's events, not perceiving
    the sackcloth others were wearing.
    (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (12/22/2015 9:27:00 AM)

    Of evil days! ! With the works of mankind on earth. Nice work. (Report) Reply

  • Mohammed Asim Nehal (12/22/2015 4:22:00 AM)

    Very well thought poem, I liked it. (Report) Reply

  • Jasbir Chatterjee (12/22/2015 12:31:00 AM)

    very nice poem. All those little wars that are played out day in and day out across borders have no meaning whatsoever. They only lead to destruction and more destruction The feeling of dejection that ordinary people feel about these acts is very accurately described in this poem. Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

Read all 8 comments »

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: pink, christmas, rainbow, sunshine, evil, dark, war, smile, joy, hope, sky, tree

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

Famous Poems

  1. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  5. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  6. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  7. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  8. Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
    Mary Elizabeth Frye
  9. I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
    Pablo Neruda
  10. Television
    Roald Dahl
[Report Error]