May 04 2012

Denise Levertov – Variation On a Theme by Rilke

Published by at 8:41 am under Poetry

Variation On A Theme By Rilke
by Denise Levertov

(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

/ Photo by mcciva1 /

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…

Denise Levertov, Denise Levertov poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Denise Levertov

US (1923 – 1997) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic : Beat

More poetry by Denise Levertov

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Denise Levertov – Variation On a Theme by Rilke”

  1. rena navonon 04 May 2012 at 10:56 am

    If there must be a muse to wake us up and act, it might as well be Rilke. This poetic choice is a strong one, clear and forthright: who is not in need of such forceful encouragement sometimes? Thank you Denise for confessing your desperate need such as all of us are liable to experience.

  2. franon 04 May 2012 at 12:42 pm

    yes! the power to give shape…the artist , sculpture, acto, musican….a sky, air, light, a being… a stage , a set…to act, interact with. Very cool images and the magic of thought for the day much appreciation:) blessed and bright weekend

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