Denise Levertov, has said in “Work and Inspiration: Inviting the Muse,” that “poems come into being in two ways.” She goes on to say, there are those poems that are “inspired” and those much more common, poems created by the poet’s conscious process that eventually leads to “unpredictable inspiration.” I have experienced both, but as she says, we would not write many poems if we only counted on the “given” or inspired poems. Instead, most often, we must mine the gold!
Although I have not found the quotation, I know it was Levertov who advised we think about poetry everyday, so until I find it, please take my word for it. So, today, just a few days before the poem-a-day challenge begins, I am consulting Denise Levertov and thinking about poetry and its process. I hope you will too.
I am sharing with you her poem, “Making Peace.”
A voice from the dark called out,
‘The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.’
But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can’t be imagined before it is made,
can’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.
A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.
A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses . . .
A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light—facets
of the forming crystal.
Denise Levertov, “Making Peace” from Breathing the Water. Copyright © 1987 by Denise Levertov. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.
Source: Breathing the Water (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1987)