* glimpsing fireflies with Denise Levertov

There’s something about poetry – writing and reading it – that develops your ability to deal with the ephemeral, the fleeting, your ability to deal with almost’s.

You can work on a poem for years and still only almost say it.  Or you can read The Wasteland a few times and still only almost get it.  Yet, if it’s good, that almost is worth it.

It’s akin to pointing out fireflies: those little buggers will spark for a second in the grass – but by the time you elbow the person next to you to point them out, the light’s gone and you are left looking out into dark grass until another one lights up.

That glimpse of light – and how it passes onto another – is what I believe the poem below by Denise Levertov to be about.  There is what you see and what you would like others to see – both in writing and in life.

* no, quick, look *
* no, quick, look *

The Secret – Denise Levertov

Two girls discover
the secret of life
in a sudden line of

I who don’t know the
secret wrote
the line.  They
told me

(through a third person)
they had found it
but not what it was
not even

what line it was.  No doubt
by now, more than a week
later, they have forgotten
the secret,

the line, the name of
the poem.  I love them
for finding what
I can’t find,

and for loving me
for the line I wrote,
and for forgetting it
so that

a thousand times, til death
finds them, they may
discover it again, in other

in other
happenings.  And for
wanting to know it,

assuming there is
such a secret, yes,
for that
most of all.


Happy almosting!


2 responses to “* glimpsing fireflies with Denise Levertov”

  1. I really liked your introduction and the connections you’ve made with Levertov’s poem. This has always been a great favorite of mine.

    1. Glad you liked my words on Levertov’s poem! It’s one of those where that always makes me feel like another human being has experienced something of what I have experienced in the silence and work of writing. Thanks for reading!

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