A Door in the Hive (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
Denise Levertov’s poetry is a perpetual irritant to the pragmatist. As Robert Duncan demonstrated in The Truth and Life of Myth (1968), modern critics disliked the young Levertov’s Hasidic fancies of angels disguised as peddlers on a New York street. For Levertov, the natural world manifests revelation, and if realists are impatient with her, she is frustrated with their resignation:
why should peopleplod forever on foot, not glide like heronsthrough the blue and whitepromise unfoldingover their heads, overthe river’s thawing?
This from A Door in the Hive, a question that Levertov’s father pondered after spotting the same flying man whom Marc Chagall saw and painted flying over his town. Levertov’s father also discovered the Messiah, Christ himself, but his fellow Jews, realists worn with waiting nineteen hundred years, would have none of that either.
Levertov has inherited her father’s hopefulness, and it has not diminished if the current book is indicative. Her title comes from the poem “Dream ’Cello,” in which she wonders about possible revelations from a hidden world. She...
(The entire section is 1611 words.)
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