“Beginners” – A poem by Denise Levertov

Culture — By on May 7, 2011 2:22 am

Beginners

Denise Levertov

Dedicated to the memory of Karen Silkwood and Eliot Gralla

‘From too much love of living,

Hope and desire set free,

Even the weariest river

Winds somewhere to the sea—‘

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.

How can desire fail?

—we have only begun

to imagine justice and mercy,

only begun to envision

how it might be

to live as siblings with beast and flower,

not as oppressors.

Surely our river

cannot already be hastening

into the sea of nonbeing?

Surely it cannot

drag, in the silt,

all that is innocent?

Not yet, not yet—

there is too much broken

that must be mended,

too much hurt we have done to each other

that cannot yet be forgiven.

We have only begun to know

the power that is in us if we would join

our solitudes in the communion of struggle.

So much is unfolding that must

complete its gesture,

so much is in bud.

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