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This Great Unknowing: Last Poems [Kindle Edition]

Denise Levertov
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

When Denise Levertov died on December 20, 1997, she left behind forty finished poems, which now form her last collection, This Great Unknowing.

Few poets have possessed so great a gift or so great a body of work—when she died at 74, she had been a published poet for more than half a century. The poems themselves shine with the artistry of a writer at the height of her powers.

Editorial Reviews


"A purely numinous and transcendent poetry where subject and object seem one and divinely inspired." -- Publishers Weekly

"There are no ornamental flourishes, no dead words, no faked emotion, no public posture. Book by book, I have read her poems for their subtle music, for their deep compassionate intelligence, for their imagination, for their author's dignity and integrity and grace; and, most of all, for the infomitable and humble spirit that hungers there. I have savored them all, like honey." -- Sam Hamill, The American Poetry Review

A touchstone, a maintainer for our generation. Denise Levertov was a constantly defining presence in the world we shared, a remarkable and transforming poet for all of us. -- Robert Creeley

Alienation In Silicon Valley
Ancient Stairway
Animal Spirits
Beyond The Field
A Clearing
A Cryptic Sign
Dark Looks
Descending Sequence
Drawn In Air
Elephant Ears
Enduring Love
First Love
For The Asking
From Below
A Hundred A Day
Mass Of The Moon Eclipse
The Metier Of Blossoming
Moments Of Joy
The Mountain's Daily Speech Is Silence
A New Flower
Noblesse Oblige
Once Only
The Poodle Palace
Roast Potatoes
Scraps Of Moon
Southern Cross
Swift Month
That Day
Thinking About Paul Celan
Visitation. Overflow
-- Table of Poems from Poem Finder®

About the Author

Denise Levertov (1923-1997) was a British born American poet. She wrote and published 20 books of poetry, criticism, translations. She also edited several anthologies. Among her many awards and honors, she received the Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Frost Medal, the Lenore Marshall Prize, the Lannan Award, a grant from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Product Details

  • File Size: 852 KB
  • Print Length: 80 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (September 17, 2000)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #519,047 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent poems in a beautiful book. December 21, 1999
By A Customer
This book was my first introduction to the poems of Denise Levertov. I heard about it in an essay written by Kathleen Norris in The Christian Century. The poems are strikingly beautiful and accessible to anyone. Levertov captures our imagination with the depth of her insights and the beauty of her words--not with the obscurity of her images. I have given copies of this to no less than four friends and each of them have bought other copies of her works for themselves. Highly recommended.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely. August 16, 2004
Denise Levertov, This Great Unknowing: Last Poems (New Directions, 1999)

I am ashamed to admit that for many years, based on some of her very early writings, I have mindlessly lumped Denise Levertov in with the Beats, specifically a number of the Beats whom I've never been able to stomach (Diane Wakoski being chief among them, with Robert Creeley and that Kelly fellow who used to publish a book every two weeks or so on Black Sparrow running a close second). It took me reading Richard Jackson's fantastic The Dismantling of Time in Contemporary Poetry a year and a half ago, in which Levertov is one of the six poets he discusses in depth, for me to consider changing that idea; by association, he puts her on the same level as such giants as Robert Penn Warren, John Hollander, and the finest living poet working in America today, Charles Simic, among others. My mind shifts gears gradually, sometimes very gradually, and I am just now getting round to giving the late Ms. Levertov another try. I'm quite glad I did, and wish I'd read The Dismantling of Time in Contemporary Poetry when it first came out some twelve years ago.

This Great Unknowing is, not surprisingly, a book overshadowed with the idea of death. Not an uncommon theme for a writer who's approaching the age of seventy-five and knows she probably isn't long for this world. The work herein is also possessed of a great maturity (something many seventy-five-year-old poets never acquire), a fine ear for tonality, and a decided calming of the radical spirit, though it has not gone away entirely. And when the radical spirit comes out, as with most poets, the work does suffer; Levertov, like almost all of her contemporaries, was never big on the art of subtlety.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mahatma Denise January 24, 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I miss Denise Levertov. I never knew her personally, but she spoke to me through her poetry in ways that few others have. I still remember how stunned I was to hear of her death--several months after the fact, in casual conversation with Deborah Larsen, a great-souled poet in her own right.
I've been rereading during these bleak but beautiful winter months Levertov's posthumous poems. To my mind, they offer some of the best work she ever did. They continue her themes of yearning for something that can't quite be uttered, her love for the particular, her striving to reach a level of awareness before which the heart of being will be revealed, and her concerns for justice and for the environment. But now there's a poignancy, a nostalgia, an anticipation--and perhaps an acceptance--to her verse that suggest a woman awaiting the end. I read her words--her sighs, really--and my soul expands just a little bit more than it would've.
One poem especially touches me--"Memory demands so much." Part of it is a fitting swansong for Levertov:
Take me flying before
you vanish, leaf, before
I have time to remember you,
intent instead on being
in the midst of that flight,
of those unforeseeable words.
Farewell, Denise. And thanks.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Levertov, in these last poems before her death, concentrates her gift on the social issues of our day. She describes the poor and 'wretched of the Earth' so subtley, through their feet, their laugh, their rage at being turned aside. Her nature poems become statements about the inner life of the mountain, the flower. The reader is drawn into the scene and then left to ponder the outcome. I have been moved by Levertov's stories which, I believe, call for a response from the reader. This is Denise Levertov's legacy to the world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars How do we know a mystery? March 30, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Levertov is a national treasure, and these final 40 poems reflect her craft. They touch upon a greater world and the title reflects that struggle.We find here a continuation of themes from Oh Taste and See and With Eyes in the Back of our Head. Clear honest lines--no excesses.
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