Frail Sanctuary

From ‘Agnus Dei’

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . God then,
. . . . . . . . . . encompassing all things, is
. . . . . . . . . . defenseless? Omnipotence
. . . . . . . . . . has been tossed away, reduced
. . . . . . . . . . to a wisp of damp wool?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . And we
. . . . . . . . . . frightened, bored, wanting
only to sleep till catastrophe
has raged, clashed, seethed and gone by without us,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . wanting then
to awaken in quietude without remembrance of agony,

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . we who in shamefaced private hope
. . . . . . . . . . had looked to be plucked from fire and given
. . . . . . . . . . a bliss we deserved for having imagined it,

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . is it implied that we
. . . . . . . . . . . . must protect this perversely weak
. . . . . . . . . . . . animal, whose muzzle’s nudging
. . . . . . . . . . . . suppose there is milk to be found in us?
. . . . . . . . . . . . Must hold to our icy hearts
. . . . . . . . . . . . a shivering God?

So be it.
. . . . . Come, rage of pungent
. . . . . quivering,
. . . . . . . . . . . . dim star.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Let’s try
. . . . . . . . . . if something human still
. . . . . . . . . . can shield you,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . spark
. . . . . . . . . . of remote light.

Denise Levertov, from The Stream and the Sapphire

3 thoughts on “Frail Sanctuary

  1. It’s a wonderful book: a selection of Levertov’s religious poems drawn from about seven different books and it’s tiny (but with good production values), so very easy to slip into handbag or add to luggage without adding much weight or volume.

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