February Evening in New York

By Denise Levertov 1923–1997 Denise Levertov
As the stores close, a winter light
    opens air to iris blue,
    glint of frost through the smoke
    grains of mica, salt of the sidewalk.
As the buildings close, released autonomous   
    feet pattern the streets
    in hurry and stroll; balloon heads
    drift and dive above them; the bodies   
    aren't really there.
As the lights brighten, as the sky darkens,
    a woman with crooked heels says to another woman   
    while they step along at a fair pace,
    "You know, I'm telling you, what I love best   
    is life. I love life! Even if I ever get
    to be old and wheezy—or limp! You know?   
    Limping along?—I'd still ... " Out of hearing.   
To the multiple disordered tones
    of gears changing, a dance
    to the compass points, out, four-way river.   
    Prospect of sky
    wedged into avenues, left at the ends of streets,   
    west sky, east sky: more life tonight! A range   
    of open time at winter's outskirts.

Denise Levertov, “February Evening in New York” from Collected Earlier Poems 1940-1960. Copyright © 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1979 by Denise Levertov. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation, www.wwnorton.com/nd/welcome.htm.

Source: Collected Earlier Poems 1940-1960 (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1979)

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Poet Denise Levertov 1923–1997

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Subjects Growing Old, Winter, Living, 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 Growing Old, Winter, Living, Nature

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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