Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sojourns in the Parallel World - Denise Levertov

Several folks have asked for the Denise Levertov poem we read one morning before hoisting our fresh flags and rowing downriver. 
With a promise to post something of my own down the road, I attach her poem below, as reproduced at


      Sojourns in the Parallel World
       Denise Levertov, 1923 - 1997

 We live our lives of human passions,
cruelties, dreams, concepts,
crimes and the exercise of virtue
in and beside a world devoid
of our preoccupations, free
from apprehension--though affected,
certainly, by our actions. A world
parallel to our own though overlapping.
We call it “Nature”; only reluctantly
admitting ourselves to be “Nature” too.
Whenever we lose track of our own obsessions,
our self-concerns, because we drift for a minute,
an hour even, of pure (almost pure)
response to that insouciant life:
cloud, bird, fox, the flow of light, the dancing
pilgrimage of water, vast stillness
of spellbound ephemerae on a lit windowpane,
animal voices, mineral hum, wind
conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering
of fire to coal--then something tethered
in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch
of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free.
No one discovers
just where we’ve been, when we’re caught up again
into our own sphere (where we must
return, indeed, to evolve our destinies)
--but we have changed, a little.

By Denise Levertov, from Sands of the Well. Copyright © 1996 by Denise Levertov. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. thanks so much! i have such fond memories of that first misty moment with that special poem. xxx Miss you all!