Thinking about poetry and peace

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.”

Making Peace

By Denise Levertov

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)