Denise Levertov

The Illustration

Months after the Muse
had come and gone across the lake of vision,
arose out of childhood the long-familiar
briefly forgotten presaging of her image—

‘The Light of Truth’—frontispiece
to ‘Parables of Nature,’ 1894—a picture
intending another meaning than the which it gave
(for I never read the story until now)

intending to represent Folly
sinking into a black bog, but for me having meant
a mystery, of darkness, of beauty, of serious
dreaming pause and intensity

where not a will-o’-the-wisp but
a star come to earth burned before the
closed all-seeing eyes
of that figure later seen as the Muse.

By which I learn to affirm
Truth’s light at strange turns of the mind’s road,
wrong turns that lead
over the border into wonder,

mistaken directions, forgotten signs
all bringing the soul’s travels to a place
of origin, a well
under the lake where the Muse moves.