Variation On A Theme By Rilke

by Denise Levertov


Original Language English

(The Book of Hours, Book I, Poem 1, Stanza 1)

A certain day became a presence to me;
there it was, confronting me -- a sky, air, light:
a being. And before it started to descend
from the height of noon, it leaned over
and struck my shoulder as if with
the flat of a sword, granting me
honor and a task. The day's blow
rang out, metallic -- or it was I, a bell awakened,
and what I heard was my whole self
saying and singing what it knew: I can.

-- from Breathing the Water, by Denise Levertov

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

The Rilke verse referenced is--

The hour is striking so close above me,
so clear and sharp,
that all my senses ring with it.
I feel it now: there's a power in me
to grasp and give shape to my world.


(translation by Anita Barrows & Joanna Macy)


Today, as every day, is a perfect day to ring out like a bell awakened...



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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Variation On A