Thursday, September 29, 2005

Celebration

Brilliant, this day – a young virtuoso of a day.
Morning shadow cut by sharpest scissors,
deft hands. And every prodigy of green –
whether it's ferns or lichens or needles
or impatient points of buds on spindly bushes –
greener than ever before. And the way the conifers
hold new cones to the light for the blessing,
a festive right, and sing the oceanic chant the wind
transcribes for them!
A day that shines in the cold
like a first-prize brass band swinging along
the street
of a coal-dusty village, wholly at odds
with the claims of reasonable gloom.

© 1999 Denise Levertov. from The Great Unknowing: Last Poems.
(found online on Modern American Poetry website)

I’d have to say that Leverton’s voice in her writing speaks to me better than many other poets. I read quite a few of her poems before getting to Celebration and was taken away by its elaborate and surprising beauty. The way she describes the sun raising, touching the land and effecting everything in it. The world just seems so alive. Almost more so than we generally think of it. The plants become active and stretch themselves out, reaching for light and warmth of the life given to them by the sun.

Often times when poets describe a situation they return to nature, the basic figure in our lives to draw up evidence for their meaning and interpretation. But Leverton does the exact opposite she is writing about the sun rising over a valley of trees and brush, and compares it to an old dusty town, an image of the Dust Bowl, desolate and lifeless. But as a “first-prize brass band” comes thundering through, shining in the sun and filling the air with loud, boisterous music, everything changes.

The line that really caught me was “Morning shadow cut by sharpest scissors, deft hands.” The imagery is just amazing. The sharp, lines of the tree braches and their exaggerated lined casting themselves on the ground. She continues throughout the poem using little metaphors to given the reader a deeper meaning and more powerful image of her setting.

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