The Secret

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.
 
By Denise Levertov, from Poems 1960-1967. Copyrightt © 1966, 1964 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
Sojourns in the Parallel World by Denise Levertov
We live our lives of human passions,
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 Sharks by Denise Levertov
Well then, the last day the sharks appeared
When We Look Up by Denise Levertov
He had not looked


Further Reading

Poems about Living
"I'm afraid of death"
by Kathleen Ossip
A Toast
by Ilya Kaminsky
Another Elegy
by Jericho Brown
Ashes of Life
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
August, 1953
by David Wojahn
bonne chance de lycée
by Buck Downs
C'est La Guerre
by Danniel Schoonebeek
Characteristics of Life
by Camille T. Dungy
Corpse Flower, Luna Moth
by Daniel Tobin
Costumes Exchanging Glances
by Mary Jo Bang
Daily Life
by Susan Wood
Difficult Body
by Mark Wunderlich
Elegy in Joy [excerpt]
by Muriel Rukeyser
En Route
by Darcie Dennigan
far memory
by Lucille Clifton
First Things to Hand
by Robert Pinsky
Flowers of Rad
by Sampson Starkweather
Forth Into View, Random Warriors
by Pattiann Rogers
from Oracles for Youth
by Caroline Gilman
from Two Inch Fables
by Marilyn Chin
Frozen
by Natasha Head
How to Uproot a Tree
by Jennifer K. Sweeney
I could suffice for Him, I knew (643)
by Emily Dickinson
I Have a Rendezvous With Life
by Countee Cullen
I Know A Few Things
by Stuart Dischell
In a Landscape: IV
by John Gallaher
In Betweenness
by Pierre Joris
Insomnia
by Alicia Suskin Ostriker
Life
by Joe Brainard
Life is Fine
by Langston Hughes
Little Night Prayer
by Péter Kántor
Living in Numbers
by Claire Lee
Lost and Found
by Ron Padgett
Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus [excerpt]
by Denise Levertov
Meaning
by Carl Dennis
Meditation 29
by Philip Pain
Montparnasse
by Ernest Hemingway
My Teacup
by Alli Warren
On Disappearing
by Major Jackson
On Living
by Nazim Hikmet
On the Gallows Once
by Kofi Awoonor
One Train May Hide Another
by Kenneth Koch
Past Inclemency & Present Warmth
by Eryn Green
Poem Excluding Fiction
by Noah Falck
Preparation
by Effie Waller Smith
Primitive State [excerpt]
by Anselm Berrigan
Roar Shack
by Alice Fulton
Samurai Song
by Robert Pinsky
Song for Future Books
by Joanna Fuhrman
Songs of a Girl
by Mary Carolyn Davies
Sonnet
by Bill Knott
Spent
by Mark Doty
sugar is smoking
by Jason Schneiderman
Summer in Winter in Summer
by Noah Eli Gordon
Tear It Down
by Jack Gilbert
The Clouded Morning
by Jones Very
The Layers
by Stanley Kunitz
The Life So Short...
by Eamon Grennan
The Old Stoic
by Emily Brontë
The Pain
by Laura Kasischke
This is My Life
by William Stanley Braithwaite
Thoughts
by Walt Whitman
Thrown as if Fierce & Wild
by Dean Young
Variation on a Theme
by W. S. Merwin
Virgil's Hand
by Francesc Parcerisas
What the Living Do
by Marie Howe
What Wild-Eyed Murderer
by Peter Meinke
What's Left (Al-Mutanabbi Street)
by Katrina Roberts
Where I Live
by Maxine Kumin
won't you celebrate with me
by Lucille Clifton
Yellow Beak
by Stephen Dobyns
[I'm not with my]
by Joshua Beckman
Poems about Reading
from Please Bury Me in This
by Allison Benis White
After Reading Lao Tzu
by Amy Newlove Schroeder
Book Loaned to Tom Andrews
by Bobby C. Rogers
Books
by Gerald Stern
Burning of the Three Fires
by Jeanne Marie Beaumont
Forgetfulness
by Billy Collins
Hans Reading, Hans Smoking
by Liam Rector
How to Read a Poem: Beginner's Manual
by Pamela Spiro Wagner
Inspire Hope
by Amy Lawless
Learning to Read
by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
Light By Which I Read
by Eric Pankey
Love For This Book
by Pablo Neruda
My First Memory (of Librarians)
by Nikki Giovanni
One Train May Hide Another
by Kenneth Koch
Passerby, These are Words
by Yves Bonnefoy
Reading Moby-Dick at 30,000 Feet
by Tony Hoagland
Reading Novalis in Montana
by Melissa Kwasny
Shawl
by Albert Goldbarth
Stet Stet Stet
by Ange Mlinko
The Author to Her Book
by Anne Bradstreet
The Best Thing Anyone Ever Said About Paul Celan
by Shane McCrae
The Land of Story-books
by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Reader
by Richard Wilbur
There is no frigate like a book (1263)
by Emily Dickinson
To the Reader
by Jena Osman
To the Reader: If You Asked Me
by Chase Twichell
Untitled [I closed the book and changed my life]
by Bruce Smith
Why I Am Afraid of Turning the Page
by Cate Marvin
You Begin
by Margaret Atwood