Clouds

By Denise Levertov 1923–1997 Denise Levertov
The clouds as I see them, rising   
urgently, roseate in the   
mounting of somber power

surging in evening haste over   
roofs and hermetic   
grim walls—

                          Last night
as if death had lit a pale light
in your flesh, your flesh
was cold to my touch, or not cold   
but cool, cooling, as if the last traces   
of warmth were still fading in you.
My thigh burned in cold fear where   
yours touched it.

But I forced to mind my vision of a sky   
close and enclosed, unlike the space in which these clouds move—
a sky of gray mist it appeared—
and how looking intently at it we saw
its gray was not gray but a milky white
in which radiant traces of opal greens,
fiery blues, gleamed, faded, gleamed again,
and how only then, seeing the color in the gray,   
a field sprang into sight, extending
between where we stood and the horizon,

a field of freshest deep spiring grass   
starred with dandelions,
green and gold
gold and green alternating in closewoven   
chords, madrigal field.

Is death’s chill that visited our bed   
other than what it seemed, is it   
a gray to be watched keenly?

Wiping my glasses and leaning westward,   
clearing my mind of the day’s mist and leaning   
into myself to see
the colors of truth

I watch the clouds as I see them   
in pomp advancing, pursuing   
the fallen sun.

Denise Levertov, “Clouds” from Poems 1960-1967. Copyright © 1966 by Denise Levertov. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation, www.wwnorton.com/nd/welcome.htm.

Source: Poems 1960-1967 (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1983)

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Poet Denise Levertov 1923–1997

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Subjects Love, Relationships, Desire, Heartache & Loss, Realistic & Complicated

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 Love, Relationships, Desire, Heartache & Loss, Realistic & Complicated

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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