Posts Tagged ‘Denise Levertov’

Louis Esterhuizen. Denise Levertov as mistieke digter

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013


Op 24 Oktober vanjaar sou Denise Levertov (foto) 90 jaar oud gewees het. En om dié gebeurtenis te vier, het daar vroeër vanjaar ‘n biografie deur Dana Greene (Denise Levertov: A Poet’s Life) by University of Illinois Press verskyn en binnekort ook nog ‘n nuwe antologie van haar gedigte (The Collected Poems of Denise Leverto) by New Directions.

Daarom dat Carl McColman se skryfstuk op Huffington Post my aandag getrek het; veral omrede dit oor Levertov as religieuse digter handel: “Certainly, her devotion to language and the craft of poetry was central to her identity, but contrary to the prevailing intellectual skepticism of our age, she engaged with her rich religious heritage (her ancestors included a rabbi and a Methodist preacher; her father was a Russian Jew who entered the Anglican priesthood). Such engagement led to her own slow conversion from earthy agnosticism to unexpected faith, eventually embracing first Christianity in a general sense, and then Catholicism in the late 1980s, when she was in her 60s.”

McColman se uitgangspunt is dat Levertov selfs vóór haar bekering dikwels mistieke temas in haar gedigte betrek het; dat haar bekering in haar sestigerjare eintlik ‘n natuurlike verloop in haar groei as religieuse mistikus: “While religion only became significant to her late in life, spirituality is evident in even her earliest works, such as Too Easy: to Write of Miracles (1948) where her dismissal of the ‘mysterious utterance to silent truth’ is contrasted with how difficult it is ‘to write of the real image’ – perhaps her earliest declaration that spirituality divorced from nature is facile, while a grounded, natural, embodied spirituality challenges the poet to find ‘a word until it balances with love.’ Twenty years later she explored mythological themes in “A Tree Telling of Orpheus,” and by 1978 her most fully-formed religious poetry began to appear, poems that would be collected in The Stream & the Sapphire: Collected Poems on Religious Themes, published the year of her death (in 1997).”

Gaan lees gerus die volledige skryfstuk. Maar, by wyse van groet, McColman se slotsin waarin hy na Levertov verwys as “a mystic of lyrical unknowing, whose words shine in two directions – toward faith, and toward doubt – only to reveal that there really is only one direction after all.”

Treffend. Hieronder volg een van haar gedigte.



Adam’s Complaint

Some people,
no matter what you give them,
still want the moon.

The bread,
the salt,
white meat and dark,
still hungry.

The marriage bed
and the cradle,
still empty arms.

You give them land,
their own earth under their feet,
still they take to the roads

And water: dig them the deepest well,
still it’s not deep enough
to drink the moon from.

(c) Denise Levertov