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The Stream and the Sapphire was originally published in 1997. Levertov uses a fish or marine motif to organize her collection which primarily focuses on Levertov's views on faith and spirituality; The Stream and the Sapphire is cleverly divided into four main sections: "The Tide," "Believers," "Conjectures," and "Fish and a Honeycomb."
The title of the collection was taken from one of her poems within the collection, "Flickering Mind" in which the speaker has the perspective of a minnow surveying the movement of the water rushing through the stream; Levertov uses the imagery and metaphor of the stream to represent the flow of time to convey her understanding of faith and God:
You are the stream, the fish, the light,
the pulsing shadow,
you the unchanging presence, in whom all
moves and changes. ("The Flickering Mind")
"The Flickering Mind" delves into Levertov's relationship with God, suggesting that "Lord, not you, it is I who am absent;" but she follows her sense of disconnect with the powerful image of a God who is steadfast and faithful, "an unchanging presence." Levertov's poetry in The Stream and the Sapphire powerfully underscores themes of human frailty, faith, and imagination.
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