Jun 12 2013

Denise Levertov – Witness

Published by at 9:17 am under Poetry

by Denise Levertov

Sometimes the mountain
is hidden from me in veils
of cloud, sometimes
I am hidden from the mountain
in veils of inattention, apathy, fatigue,
when I forget or refuse to go
down to the shore or a few yards
up the road, on a clear day,
to reconfirm
that witnessing presence.

— from Denise Levertov: Selected Poems, by Denise Levertov

/ Photo by B.Riordan /

The miraculous, the eternal, the mountain. Sometimes (briefly) it hides from us. Sometimes (often) we simply don’t look.

It begs the question: that terrible empty ache at the rootstalk of the heart, is it because there is a great gaping hole in the world? Or is it that we have not yet decided to look?

Some fine clear day soon, let us walk up the road, leaving the rest of the day behind. Let us find a good spot, and there sit down. With nothing else to do, let us see the mountain.

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

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

More poetry by Denise Levertov

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Denise Levertov – Witness”

  1. sobhanaon 12 Jun 2013 at 4:00 pm

    The poem is true and so is your thoughts that defies any explanations of mine as always Both are wonderful to read, enjoy as well as absorb the deep inner spiritual meanings I am so profoundly joyful that I don’t know how to express my happiness

    Thank you ever so much, Ivan

  2. maryann moonon 12 Jun 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Yes, that sounds fine, to go out adventuring with just the thought to sit and look at the

    mountain and to feel the light and wisdom that lives in the mountain, and to thank God or

    our Higher Self for creating the mountain to learn from. Today, by the way, is a particularly

    fine day. I drove to San Francisco alone and had lunch at my favorite place called Greens

    and sat in joy looking out at the glorious S F bay and all the sail boats; also enjoyed an

    absolutely marvelous vegetarian meal, very gourmet stuff.

  3. Therese Monaghan O.P.on 13 Jun 2013 at 10:08 am

    I love that image: “my veils of inattention, apathy, fatigue” contrasted with the veil I have no control over. But when the veil lifts–Oh miracle of wonder.
    thank you again, Ivan.

  4. vegeteon 14 Jun 2013 at 4:48 am

    Just re-read this poem by Denise Levertov. So wonderful, Ivan.
    It reminds me of another one I’ve memorized that I can carry wherever I go, weighing nothing, worth much much more than what I hoist on my shoulder or carry in a pocket, and that can be used at any time when i remember to access it’s wisdom:

    “Sometimes I go about pitying myself,
    and while all the while I’m being carried by great winds across the sky”

    Ojibway saying (tr. by Robert Bly)

    Once again, many thanks Ivan for your unique lyrical spirit.

  5. Carolon 14 Jun 2013 at 6:32 am

    Thank you Ivan for another lovely poem –

    this one is so simple and so eloquent – if we could but remember. . .
    thank you.

  6. Terry Babbon 22 Jun 2013 at 12:51 pm

    An Attack: At the Heart of Things
    by Terry Babb

    Through late evening, long night, and day
    Following, I lay in anguish. Mere visage
    Of a mountain – dark to my sight – left
    Me as a vessel stripped – so bereft. Lost.
    Until covering abyss with invective plea:
    How dare you desert me, how can you
    Not know the fear & slightness I feel. God,
    Damn you! (And worse words I spent!)
    Emptied, I slumbered deep.

    And awakened knew my rescue clear:
    Without qualm at any choice before me,
    I would be
    GOOD ENOUGH, safe!

    Upon telling the tale to a friend, she asked
    Do you know what happened, that event –
    What it was?

    What? I held no sign.

    Then, Grace said, soft as prayer: my friend,
    Was a spiritual experience.



    And with reflection, I believed

    And am grateful to tell it to you.

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