Sep 20 2017

Denise Levertov – Witness

Published by at 7:40 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

/ Image by notnyt /

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.


To all my friends in Mexico recovering from the earthquake, and to my friends in the Caribbean and Gulf states hunkering down against one more hurricane — my thoughts are with you. Be safe.

Recommended Books: Denise Levertov

Denise Levertov: Selected Poems Poems of Denise Levertov: 1960-1967 Breathing the Water The Great Unknowing: Last Poems Candles in Babylon
More Books >>

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

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

More poetry by Denise Levertov

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Denise Levertov – Witness”

  1. Ann Griffinon 20 Sep 2017 at 8:31 am

    The eternal. We know it’s there, we think we’ve seen it, the mountain, a thousand times here in Boulder. Though my sister from North Carolina, visiting me, stops several times a day and says,”Let’s sit down here and look. It’s ordinary to you, but to me it’s all new. I just have to sit and look,” and I can feel her awe and stillness. And that makes me stop.

    We’re both in our 80’s and it has taken us this long to allow ourselves time to stop and be filled together.

    Thank you Ivan!
    Blessings to you today and Always

  2. Amardeep Singhon 20 Sep 2017 at 8:53 am

    Great poem, Ivan. Thank you. And your commentary was spot on.

  3. Annaon 21 Sep 2017 at 12:50 am

    Sitting quietly
    doing nothing,
    looking through
    the eyes of the
    Witnessing Presence,
    the day is clear,
    the mountain is there,
    so many stars on the sky…

  4. marrobon 21 Sep 2017 at 6:16 am

    There is such a sense of peace and silence too
    in this poem and commentary.

    Thank you ….and appropriate on this International Peace Day.

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