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:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form but to this creature vainly sure it and no other is god-like,
God (out of compassion for our ugly failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, as brother, the Word.
from The Stream & the Sapphire: Selected Poems on Religious Themes
During the course of a prolific career, Denise Levertov created a highly regarded body of poetry that reflects her beliefs as an artist and a humanist. Her work embraces a wide variety of genres and themes, including nature lyrics, love poems, protest poetry, and poetry inspired by her faith in God.
“Dignity,reverence, and strength are words that come to mind as one gropes to characterise . . . one of America’s most respected poets,” wrote Amy Gerstler in the Los Angeles Times Book Review. Gerstler added that a “reader poking her nose into any Levertov book at random finds herself in the presence of a clear uncluttered voice—a voice committed to acute observation and engagement with the earthly, in all its attendant beauty, mystery and pain.”