Denise Levertov


                             You must love the crust of the earth
                              on which you dwell. You must be
                              able to extract nutriment out of a
                              sandheap. You must have so good
                              an appetite as this, else you will live 
                              in vain.

Joy, the, ‘well…joyfulness of
joy’—‘many years
I had not known it,’ the woman of eighty
said, ‘only remembered, till now.’

in dark fields.
                      On Tremont Street,
on the Common, a raw dusk, Emerson
‘glad to the brink of fear’.
                  It is objective,

stands founded, a roofed gateway;
we cloud-wander

away from it, stumble
again towards it not seeing it,

enter cast-down, discover ourselves
‘in joy’ as ‘in love.’

                             ‘They knocked an
old scar-off—the pent blood
rivered out and out—
                                   When I

white and weak, understood what befell me

speech quickened in me, I
came to myself,’
                         —a poet
fifty years old, her look a pool
whose sands have down-spiralled, each grain

dream-clear now, the water
freely itself, visible transparence.

Seeing the locus of joy as the gate
of a city, or as a lych-gate,

I looked up lych-gate: it means
body-gate—here the bearers

rested the bier till the priest came
(to ferry it into a new world).
                                               ‘You bring me

life!’ Rilke cried to his
deathbed visitor; then, ‘Help me
towards my death,’ then, ‘Never forget,
dear one, life is
                      I looked up ‘Joy’
in Origins, and came to

‘Jubilation’ that goes back
to ‘a cry of joy or woe’ or to ‘echoic
iu of wonder.’

Again the old lady
sure for the first time there is a term
to her earth-life

enters the gate—‘Joy is
so special a thing, vivid—‘

her love for the earth
returns, her heart lightens,
she savors the crust.