Oct. 25, 2010: EVERYTHING THAT ACTS IS ACTUAL (Denise Levertov)

I know, I know, I should just start calling it Every Other Monday’s Verse.

The Fair Labor Standards Act went into effect on October 24, 1938,
about a year after my dad was born. It set minimum wage and maximum
hour standards for American workers. October 24 is also the birthday
of poet Denise Levertov, Ms. “delve into verse” herself. She’s
sometimes called a metaphysical poet, as much for her preoccupation
with spirituality and religion as for any connection with the much
earlier group of English writers. The sense of an otherworld touching
ours is apparent in her lines here, “You lived, but somewhere else,/
your presence touched others, ring upon ring,/ and changed.” I’m not
sure what to make of the moon in this poem, but if anyone likes the
challenge of metaphor please jump in. I do like the Keats reference,
though. Have a good week. Don’t work too many hours. -ed.

EVERYTHING THAT ACTS IS ACTUAL

From the tawny light
from the rainy nights
from the imagination finding
itself and more than itself
alone and more than alone
at the bottom of the well where the moon lives,
can you pull me

into December? a lowland
of space, perception of space
towering of shadows of clouds blown upon
clouds over
new ground, new made
under heavy December footsteps? the only
way to live?

The flawed moon
acts on the truth, and makes
an autumn of tentative
silences.
You lived, but somewhere else,
your presence touched others, ring upon ring,
and changed. Did you think
I would not change?

The black moon
turns away, its work done. A tenderness,
unspoken autumn.
We are faithful
only to the imagination. What the
imagination
seizes
as beauty must be truth. What holds you
to what you see of me is
that grasp alone.

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