Monday, January 16, 2012

On This Day

O Taste and See

The world is
not with us enough
O taste and see

the subway Bible poster said,
meaning The Lord, meaning
if anything all that lives
to the imagination’s tongue,

grief, mercy, language,
tangerine, weather, to
breathe them, bite,
savor, chew, swallow, transform

into our flesh our
deaths, crossing the street, plum, quince,
living in the orchard and being
hungry, and plucking
the fruit.

Denise Levertov was born in 1923 in suburban London. Her father, an Anglican priest, had grown up and been educated in the Hassidic tradition. Her mother was Welsh. Levertov began writing at a young age; she sent some of her poems to T.S. Eliot when she was just 12 years old--and received a letter of encouragement in reply. She moved to the US in 1947 and became a citizen in 1955. She was greatly influenced by the Black Mountain poets. Levertov became Christian in 1984, converting to Roman Catholicism in 1989. She died in 1997.

I still have the original copy of my senior year high school English paper, a critique of O Taste and See, my favorite of all the poems by Denise Levertov. Many more of her poems may be found here.
Photo of Denise Levertov by The Luce Studio, courtesy of New Directions.

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