The Secret

By Denise Levertov 1923–1997 Denise Levertov
Two girls discover   
the secret of life   
in a sudden line of   
poetry.

I who don’t know the   
secret wrote   
the line. They   
told me

(through a third person)   
they had found it
but not what it was   
not even

what line it was. No doubt   
by now, more than a week   
later, they have forgotten   
the secret,

the line, the name of   
the poem. I love them   
for finding what   
I can’t find,

and for loving me   
for the line I wrote,   
and for forgetting it   
so that

a thousand times, till death   
finds them, they may   
discover it again, in other   
lines

in other   
happenings. And for   
wanting to know it,   
for

assuming there is   
such a secret, yes,   
for that   
most of all.

Denise Levertov, “The Secret” from O Taste and See: New Poems. Copyright © 1964 by Denise Levertov. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: O Taste and See: New Poems (1964)

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Poet Denise Levertov 1923–1997

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

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 Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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