Partial Resemblance

By Denise Levertov 1923–1997 Denise Levertov
A doll's hair concealing   
an eggshell skull delicately   
throbbing, within which
maggots in voluptuous unrest   
jostle and shrug. Oh, Eileen, my   
big doll, your gold hair was   
not more sunny than this
human fur, but
your head was
radiant in its emptiness,
a small clean room.

Her warm and rosy mouth
is telling lies—she would
believe them if she could believe:   
her pretty eyes
search out corruption. Oh, Eileen   
how kindly your silence was, and   
what virtue
shone in the opening and shutting of your   
ingenious blindness.

Denise Levertov, “Partial Resemblance” from Poems 1960-1967. Copyright © 1961 by Denise Levertov. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation,

Source: The Jacob's Ladder (New Directions, 1961)

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Poet Denise Levertov 1923–1997

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Subjects Youth, Living

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Denise  Levertov


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 Youth, Living

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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