Everything that Acts Is Actual

By Denise Levertov 1923–1997 Denise Levertov
From the tawny light
from the rainy nights
from the imagination finding
itself and more than itself
alone and more than alone
at the bottom of the well where the moon lives,   
can you pull me

into December? a lowland
of space, perception of space
towering of shadows of clouds blown upon
clouds over
                  new ground, new made
under heavy December footsteps? the only
way to live?

The flawed moon
acts on the truth, and makes   
an autumn of tentative
silences.
You lived, but somewhere else,
your presence touched others, ring upon ring,
and changed. Did you think   
I would not change?

                              The black moon
turns away, its work done. A tenderness,
unspoken autumn.   
We are faithful
only to the imagination. What the
imagination
             seizes
as beauty must be truth. What holds you
to what you see of me is
that grasp alone.

Denise Levertov, “Everything that Acts Is Actual” from Collected Earlier Poems 1940-1960. Copyright 1949, © 1979 by Denise Levertov. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation, www.wwnorton.com/nd/welcome.htm.

Source: Selected Poems (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2002)

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Poet Denise Levertov 1923–1997

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Subjects Fall, Nature

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Denise  Levertov

Biography

During the course of a prolific career, Denise Levertov created a highly regarded body of poetry that reflects her beliefs as an artist and a humanist. Her work embraces a wide variety of genres and themes, including nature lyrics, love poems, protest poetry, and poetry inspired by her faith in God. "Dignity, reverence, and strength are words that come to mind as one gropes to characterize . . . one of America's most respected . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Fall, Nature

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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