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Selected Poems

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  455 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Culled from two dozen poetry books, and drawing from six decades of her writing life, The Selected Poems of Denise Levertov offers a chronological overview of her great body of work. It is splendid and impressive to have at last a clear, unobstructed view of her ground-breaking poetry -- the work of a poet who, as Kenneth Rexroth put it, "more than anyone, led the redirect ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published November 1st 2002 by New Directions Publishing Corporation (first published January 1st 1986)
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Kevin P.
Aug 20, 2008 Kevin P. rated it really liked it
Five poets in one, you'll see in this book. How do you like that Yoda voice? Romantic, Black Mountain Poet, Protest Poet, Earth Poet, Spiritual Poet. What's overlooked is that although "content" becomes what rules her later work, "organic form," is its vessel.
Sep 12, 2009 sdw rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I received this book in August 2006. The inscription from my friend reads "Poems to heal the body."

I love poetry although I am not a poet. Good poetry reminds me of high school when I sat in LA coffee shops smoking cloves and dreaming of being a suicide-free Sylvia Plath. Although I was filled with the typical teenage angst, I was also full of hope and promise. Good poetry always brings me back to that feeling of hope and promise.

I love the simplicity clarity and grace of Levertov's writing.

Mike Lindgren
Apr 05, 2013 Mike Lindgren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
The career of the late Denise Levertov was marked by an extraordinary fecundity of voice, subject, and expression. To read this slim but cannily assembled Selected Poems is to trace the half-century development of a poetic sensibility that was fearless and wide-ranging to a degree, I think, unmatched by any American poet of the 20th century save, perhaps, Stevens and Lowell. Like De Kooning or Yeats -- like all truly great artists -- Levertov's poetry underwent a long process of transformation, ...more
Krista Stevens
Feb 02, 2013 Krista Stevens rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, adult
Not my favorite - no religious poems. But loved
"The Lesson"
Martha, 5, scrawling a drawing, murmurs
"These are two angels. These are two bombs. They
are in the sunshine. Magic
is dropping from the angels' wings."
Nik, at 4, called
over the stubble field, "Look,
the flowers are dancing underneath the
tree, and the tree
is looking down with all its apple-eyes."
Without hesitation or debate,words
used and at once forgotten.

And loved "The Great Dahlia"
Great lion-flower, whose flames
are tipped with white,
Apr 28, 2016 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Denise Levertov is one of those poets that I appreciate as much for the person she was as I do the poetry she wrote. This collection spans her lifetime and allows the reader to trace the development of her spirituality, in particular (and less so the political activism which I admired). I suppose I would connect with her more if that development had brought her somewhere other than the Catholic Church, but there is a fine sensibility communicated, one that allows you to get past your own spiritu ...more
Sep 06, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it
from Selected Poems by Denise Levertov

Living Alone (I)
(from The Freeing of the Dust, 1975)

In this silvery now of living alone,
doesn't it seem, I ponder,
anything can happen?
On the flat roof of a factory
at eye level from my window,
starling naiads dip in tremulous rainpools
where the sky floats, and is no smaller
than long ago.
Any strange staircase, as if I were twenty-one-
any hand drawing me up it,
could lead me to my life.
Some days.

And if I coast, down toward home, spring evenings, silently,
a kind
Jul 12, 2016 Chad rated it really liked it
I started this book in April for National Poetry Month, but didn't finish it until July. Give yourself some time to wade through slowly and reflect. I couldn't force myself to plow through and be done quickly.

Denise Levertov is one of my favorite poets. I enjoyed reading through this collection and seeing how her poetry evolved over her lifetime of work. I also enjoyed the forward and afterword biographies which gave context to her poems.

Would recommend to anyone interested in poetry, period.
May 23, 2013 Chris rated it it was amazing
"We must breathe time as fishes breathe water."

It's not just that I share her politics and her faith—though I'm sure that helps. The precision and range of the images sells me on this work. I haven't taken more genuine wisdom from my daily reading since ... probably when it was Rilke, three years ago. Clearly I need to read more poetry!
Kathy Peveler
Nov 17, 2011 Kathy Peveler rated it it was amazing
When you read her the first time, you will spend the rest of your life trying to read every poem she ever wrote. She is magnificent and I'm thrilled I actually got to see her live. Read her work and you will understand the 60s and 70s.
Dana Jerman
Jun 06, 2012 Dana Jerman rated it it was ok
Levertov reminds me of everything that's too flowery and juevenile about my poems. It's "posey", which to me means it's gearing up to take itself almost too seriously. That and the voice(s) all ran together after awhile.
Oct 19, 2008 Melissa rated it it was amazing
Not all poetry is awful, which is kind of what I thought before I read Denise Levertov. Luckily, she changed my view of poetry and since then I've explored this genre and found that I could actually enjoy it. My favorites are "In Mind" and "About Marriage"
Sep 27, 2010 Melampus rated it liked it
Posso vantarmi? Sì posso. Lo lessi e lo tradussi
Justin Koop
Nov 16, 2016 Justin Koop rated it it was amazing
Incredible feminist Cold War poetry. In my opinion, one of the greatest in American poetry
Jan 29, 2008 John rated it it was amazing
I love these poems. Very vivid, rich with images.
Jill Chan
Feb 02, 2009 Jill Chan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want to reread this. It's been awhile since I bought it and I think it's time to revisit. I suspect I might be even more appreciative of her work.
Denise Levertov is one of my favorite poets. Her beautiful artistry in her combination of nature and the spiritual is stunning.
Carrie Chappell
Mar 19, 2013 Carrie Chappell rated it it was amazing
Her spirit stuns me.
Paul Gleason
Paul Gleason rated it it was amazing
Mar 31, 2012
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Dec 06, 2012
Tracey rated it it was amazing
Aug 16, 2011
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Mark Vogel
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Jul 02, 2015
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  • Migration: New and Selected Poems
  • Selected Poems
  • Given Sugar, Given Salt
  • Selected Poems of Charles Olson
  • Collected Poems, 1943-2004
  • Fuel
  • Selected Poems
  • Fire to Fire
  • How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-2002
  • Collected Poems
  • The Blue Estuaries
  • Collected Poems
  • Black Zodiac
  • The Selected Poems
  • Without: Poems
  • Astonishments: Selected Poems
  • Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet
  • The Fact of a Doorframe: Poems Selected and New, 1950-1984
Denise Levertov was born in Ilford, Essex, England. Her mother, Beatrice Spooner-Jones Levertoff, was Welsh. Her father, Paul Levertoff, immigrated to England from Germany, was a Russian Hassidic Jew who, after converting to Christianity, became an Anglican parson. At the age of 12, she sent some of her poems to T. S. Eliot, who replied with a two-page letter of encouragement. In 1940, when she wa ...more
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