The Poets

October 24, 2012

A Very Cool Poet

Denise Levertov, born this day in 1923,  is the first female Beat poet that I began to read and study … I love her- her style is cool, the way she employs imagery is cool, her chosen subjects are cool, and I’ll go as far as to say that she’s among the coolest of the Beat poets.

This poem, St. Peter and the Angel, is an awesome story about deliverance and the curious mixture of dread and jubilance that comes with the realization of it. Check it out, you’ll enjoy her storytelling, I promise …

St. Peter and the Angel
by Denise Levertov (1923 – 1997)

Delivered out of raw continual pain,
smell of darkness, groans of those others
to whom he was chained--

unchained, and led
past the sleepers,
door after door silently opening--
    And along a long street's
majestic emptiness under the moon:

one hand on the angel's shoulder, one
feeling the air before him,
eyes open but fixed . . .

And not till he saw the angel had left him,
alone and free to resume
the ecstatic, dangerous, wearisome roads of
what he had still to do,
not till then did he recognize
this was no dream. More frightening
than arrest, than being chained to his warders:
he could hear his own footsteps suddenly.
Had the angel's feet
made any sound? He could not recall.
No one had missed him, no one was in pursuit.
He himself must be
the key, now, to the next door,         

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