Primary Wonder

by Denise Levertov


Original Language English

Days pass when I forget the mystery.
Problems insoluble and problems offering
their own ignored solutions
jostle for my attention, they crowd its antechamber
along with a host of diversions, my courtiers, wearing
their colored clothes; cap and bells.
And then
once more the quiet mystery
is present to me, the throng's clamor
recedes: the mystery
that there is anything, anything at all,
let alone cosmos, joy, memory, everything,
rather than void: and that, O Lord,
Creator, Hallowed One, You still,
hour by hour sustain it.

-- from Denise Levertov: Selected Poems, by Denise Levertov

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Days pass when I forget the mystery.
Problems insoluble and problems offering
their own ignored solutions...


We all wrestle with this, the demands of daily life, of work and family, all our plans and hopes and fears, the need to order everything every moment. In the midst of it all we struggle to remember that "quiet mystery." Balancing a life in this world with that wide open wonder, it can feel like too much to achieve, at times. The demands of the day sometimes demand our all. Yet it is the wonder and the mystery that fills our our lives and gives them meaning.

When "problems" fill the day, then those problems are the day's worship. The most mundane and seemingly meaningless effort, when approached with a sense of service and a questing heart, becomes an act of beauty. And when we finally come exhausted to a quiet moment, we are ready to fall silent before the mystery. Too tired to maintain our pretenses, we rest in awe.

And then
once more the quiet mystery
is present to me...



Recommended Books: Denise Levertov

Denise Levertov: Selected Poems Poems: 1960-1967 Breathing the Water The Great Unknowing: Last Poems Candles in Babylon
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Primary Wonder