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Denise LevertovA Poet's Life$
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Dana Greene

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037108

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037108.001.0001

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Ars longa, vita brevis. Hippocrates

(p.1) Prologue
Denise Levertov

Dana Greene

University of Illinois Press

This chapter provides an overview of the life and work of Denise Levertov. Levertov is described as the quintessential romantic. She wanted to live vividly, intensely, passionately, and on a heroic scale. She wanted the persistence of Cézanne and the depth and generosity of Rilke. But she baffled herself and was baffling to others. Urbane and sophisticated, she was also childlike and irksome. She was exquisitely attentive and present, and paradoxically complex and elusive. Immigrating to America made all the difference in Levertov's life, but she insisted no country would define her. The evidences of Levertov as poet, prophet, and pilgrim are all there in the public record—the interviews, essays, and poetry. But what is obscure, only hinted at, is the conflict and torment she both endured and created in her attempts to deal with her own psyche, her relationships with family, friends, lovers, colleagues, and the historical times in which she lived. This underside of life influenced her prodigious creative work over her long career.

Keywords:   Denise Levertov, women poets, poetry, romantic, prophet, pilgrim

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