Making Peace

By Denise Levertov 1923–1997 Denise Levertov
A voice from the dark called out,
“The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.”

But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can’t be imagined before it is made,
can’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.

A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.

A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses. . . .

A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light—facets
of the forming crystal.

Denise Levertov, “Making Peace” from Breathing the Water. Copyright © 1987 by Denise Levertov. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Breathing the Water (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1987)

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Poet Denise Levertov 1923–1997

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

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, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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