I was thumbing through a copy of Contemporary American Poetry price six shillings, published 1962 that I borrowed from a friend at University. I couldn’t help noticing that there appeared to be only two woman poets in the collection by Donald Hall and of neither had I heard. At first perusal some of the poems by Denise Levertov seemed to be redolent of new perceptions of American springtime and then I read the blurb in the front-
DENISE LEVERTOV (b. 1923) comes from Ilford in Essex, England, and served as a nurse during the Second World War, when her poems were first published by Wrey Gardiner in London. She married an American and has lived in the United States since 1948. She published her first book, The Double Image, in England in 1946. Her American books are Here and Now (1957), Overland to the Islands (1958), With Eyes at the Back of our Heads (1960), and The Jacob’s Ladder (1961).
This delightful poem about origins and identities is immersed in beautiful place names both suburban and sylvan. Rivers run through it and there is the lovely image of the forlorn white statue standing in the old house garden. It is a reflection of childhood innocence and religious thoughts add to the majesty of the poetic voice. ( ” merciful Phillipa”, “multitudes” and “Simeon quiet evensong”) In the meeting and parting she brings together Belarus and Spain, the United States and Wales. It is about the expansion of the world as in the maps of a child’s imagination; the safety and containment of morning sunlight on garden walls.