Denise Levertov Quotes

Denise Levertov was a British-born naturalized American poet who was a recipient of the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry. She is known for her political activism and her unique poetic style. Denise Levertov left an extensive collection of quotes that offer insight into her thoughts on politics, war and life. Here are some of the best quotes from Denise Levertov that will be sure to inspire you and encourage you to stand up for what you believe in.

  • Breathe the sweetness that hovers in August.

    Denise Levertov
  • You have come to the shore. There are no instructions.

    Denise Levertov
  • The artist must create himself or be born again.

    Denise Levertov
  • There comes a time when only anger is love.

    Denise Levertov
  • It’s when we face for a moment the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know the taint in our own selves, that awe cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart.

    Denise Levertov
  • The world is not with us enough. O taste and see.

    Denise Levertov
  • Writing poetry is a process of discovery…you can smell the poem before you see it….Like some animal.

    Denise Levertov
  • Every day, every day I hear enough to fill a year of nights with wondering.

    Denise Levertov
  • Love is a landscape the long mountains define but don’t shut off from the unseeable distance.

    Denise Levertov
  • Peace as a positive condition of society, not merely as an interim between wars, is something so unknown that it casts no images on the mind’s screen.

    Denise Levertov
  • We call it “Nature”; only reluctantly admitting ourselves to be “Nature” too.

    Denise Levertov
  • Days pass when I forget the mystery. Problems insoluble and problems offering their own ignored solutions jostle for my attention, they crowd its antechamber along with a host of diversions, my courtiers, wearing their colored clothes; caps and bells. And then once more the quiet mystery is present to me, the throng’s clamor recedes: the mystery that there is anything, anything at all, let alone cosmos, joy, memory, everything, rather than void: and that, 0 Lord, Creator, Hallowed one, You still, hour by hour sustain it.

    Denise Levertov
  • Grief is a hole you walk around in the daytime and at night you fall into it.

    Denise Levertov
  • And our dreams, with what frivolity we have pared them like toenails, clipped them like ends of split hair.

    Denise Levertov
  • Looking, Walking, Being, I look and look. Looking’s a way of being: one becomes, sometimes, a pair of eyes walking. Walking wherever looking takes one. The eyes dig and burrow into the world. They touch, fanfare, howl, madrigal, clamor. World and the past of it, not only visible present, solid and shadow that looks at one looking. And language? Rhythms of echo and interruption? That’s a way of breathing. breathing to sustain looking, walking and looking, through the world, in it.

    Denise Levertov
  • Affliction is more apt to suffocate the imagination than to stimulate it.

    Denise Levertov
  • We are so many and many within themselves travel to far islands but no one asks for their story.

    Denise Levertov
  • If woman is inconstant, good, I am faithful to ebb and flow, I fall in season and now is a time of ripening.

    Denise Levertov
  • In the dark I rest, unready for the light which dawns day after day, eager to be shared. Black silk, shelter me. I need more of the night before I open eyes and heart to illumination. I must still grow in the dark like a root not ready, not ready at all.

    Denise Levertov
  • One of the obligations of the writer is to say or sing all that he or she can, to deal with as much of the world as becomes possible to him or her in language.

    Denise Levertov
  • Images split the truth in fractions.

    Denise Levertov
  • The AvowalAs swimmers dareto lie face to the skyand water bears them,as hawks rest upon airand air sustains them;so would I learn to attain freefall, and floatinto Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,knowing no effort earnsthat all-surrounding grace.

    Denise Levertov
  • Let the space under the first storey be dark, let the water lap the stone posts, and vivid green slime glimmer upon them; let a boat be kept there.

    Denise Levertov
  • Mountain, mountain, mountain, marking time. Each nameless, wall beyond wall, wavering redefinition of horizon.

    Denise Levertov
  • We must breathe time as fishes breathe water.

    Denise Levertov
  • There’s in my mind a… turbulent moon-ridden girl or old woman, or both, dressed in opals and rags, feathers and torn taffeta, who knows strange songs but she is not kind.

    Denise Levertov
  • But we have only begun to love the earth. We have only begun to imagine the fullness of life. How could we tire of hope?-so much is in bud.

    Denise Levertov
  • Very few people really see things unless they’ve had someone in early life who made them look at things. And name them too. But the looking is primary, the focus.

    Denise Levertov
  • But for us the road unfurls itself, we don’t stop walking, we know there is far to go.

    Denise Levertov
  • Marvelous Truth, confront us at every turn, in every guise.

    Denise Levertov
  • The poem has a social effect of some kind whether or not the poet wills it to have. It has a kenetic force, it sets in motion…elements in the reader that would otherwise remain stagnant.

    Denise Levertov
  • What I heard was my whole self saying and singing what it knew: I can.

    Denise Levertov
  • In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.

    Denise Levertov
  • I’m not very good at praying, but what I experience when I’m writing a poem is close to prayer.

    Denise Levertov
  • There is no savor more sweet, more salt than to be glad to be what, woman, and who, myself, I am.

    Denise Levertov
  • Do you mistake me? I am speaking of living, of moving from one moment into the next, and into the one after, breathing death in the spring air.

    Denise Levertov
  • Each part of speech a spark awaiting redemption, each a virtue, a power in abeyance.

    Denise Levertov
  • It is fatal to one’s artistic life to talk about something that is in process.

    Denise Levertov
  • When you’re really caught up in writing a poem, it can be a form of prayer. I’m not very good at praying, but what I experience when I’m writing a poem is close to prayer. I feel it in different degrees and not with every poem. But in certain ways writing is a form of prayer.

    Denise Levertov
  • I believe every space and comma is a living part of the poem and has its function, just as every muscle and pore of the body has its function. And the way the lines are broken is a functioning part essential to the life of the poem.

    Denise Levertov
  • Both art and faith are dependent on imagination; both are ventures into the unknown.

    Denise Levertov
  • So absolute, it is no other than happiness itself, a breathing too quiet to hear.

    Denise Levertov
  • I like to find what’s not found at once, but lies within something of another nature, in repose, distinct.

    Denise Levertov
  • Prophetic utterance, like poetic utterance, transforms experience and moves the receiver to new attitudes. The kinds of experience–the recognitions or revelations–out of which both prophecy and poetry emerge, are such as to stir the prophet or poet to speech that may exceed their own known capacities; they are “inspired,” they breathe in revelation and breathe out new words; and by so doing they transfer over to the listener or reader a parallel experience, a parallel intensity, which impels that person into new attitudes and new actions.

    Denise Levertov
  • Mediocrity is perhaps due not so much to lack of imagination as to lack of faith in the imagination, lack of the capacity for this abandon.

    Denise Levertov
  • A poet articulating the dreads and horrors of our time is necessary in order to make readers understand what is happening, really understand it, not just know about it but feel it: and should be accompanied by a willingness on the part of those who write it to take additional action towards stopping the great miseries which they record.

    Denise Levertov
  • Nothing we do has the quickness, the sureness, the deep intelligence living at peace would have.

    Denise Levertov
  • You can live for years next door to a big pine tree, honored to have so venerable a neighbor, even when it sheds needles all over your flowers or wakes you, dropping big cones onto your deck at still of night.

    Denise Levertov
  • Insofar as poetry has a social function it is to awaken sleepers by other means than shock.

    Denise Levertov

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