Sojourns in the Parallel World

Denise Levertov

 
We live our lives of human passions,
cruelties, dreams, concepts,
crimes and the exercise of virtue
in and beside a world devoid
of our preoccupations, free
from apprehension--though affected,
certainly, by our actions. A world
parallel to our own though overlapping.
We call it "Nature"; only reluctantly
admitting ourselves to be "Nature" too.
Whenever we lose track of our own obsessions,
our self-concerns, because we drift for a minute,
an hour even, of pure (almost pure)
response to that insouciant life:
cloud, bird, fox, the flow of light, the dancing
pilgrimage of water, vast stillness
of spellbound ephemerae on a lit windowpane,
animal voices, mineral hum, wind
conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering
of fire to coal--then something tethered
in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch
of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free.
No one discovers
just where we've been, when we're caught up again
into our own sphere (where we must
return, indeed, to evolve our destinies)
--but we have changed, a little.
 
By Denise Levertov, from Sands of the Well. Copyright © 1996 by Denise Levertov. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.

Poems by This Author

Ikon: The Harrowing of Hell by Denise Levertov
Down through the tomb's inward arch
In California During the Gulf War by Denise Levertov
Among the blight-killed eucalypts, among
Losing Track by Denise Levertov
Long after you have swung back
Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus [excerpt] by Denise Levertov
Praise the wet snow
St. Peter and the Angel by Denise Levertov
Delivered out of raw continual pain,
The Broken Sandal by Denise Levertov
Dreamed the thong of my sandal broke
The Great Black Heron by Denise Levertov
Since I stroll in the woods more often
The Métier of Blossoming by Denise Levertov
Fully occupied with growing--that's
The Mutes by Denise Levertov
Those groans men use
The Secret by Denise Levertov
Two girls discover
The Sharks by Denise Levertov
Well then, the last day the sharks appeared
When We Look Up by Denise Levertov
He had not looked