Sands of the Well

Denise Levertov, Author
Denise Levertov, Author New Directions Publishing Corporation $10.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1316-5
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
Paperback - 136 pages - 978-0-8112-1361-5
Paperback - 144 pages - 978-1-85224-433-0
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In her 21st collection, septuagenarian Levertov (Evening Train; Oblique Prayers) continues to find God in the natural world and in ""human passions, cruelties, dreams, concepts, crimes, and the exercise of virtue."" Nature, however, is what puts all of the latter in perspective and allows us to realize the divine. At their best, these poems, in the imagist tradition, transport a reader into the rendered scenes, the lines becoming like ""oarstrokes over/ the waveless, dark,/ secretive water."" While the last of the eight sections, ""Close to a Lake,"" offers a heady brew of old and new testament faith, it is Levertov's more searching, personal reflections that ring truest: ""...I lay low, evasive,/ imagining mortal weariness it's not yet time for."" One feels, throughout, that the spirituality is in our own hands: ""...when you seem to yourself/ nothing but a flimsy web/ of questions, you are given/ the questions of others to hold/ in the emptiness of your hands,/ songbird eggs that can still hatch/ if you keep them warm..../ You are given the questions of others/ as if they were answers/ to all you ask."" (Apr.)
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