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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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“Once Only”

“Once Only”


(p.216) 12 “Once Only”
Denise Levertov

Dana Greene

University of Illinois Press

This chapter details Denise Levertov's final year of life in 1997. The deaths of En Potter and Steve Blevins, Mitch's life-threatening cancer, and her own increasing weakness and worsening health chastened Levertov. Although she always had a sense of the perishability of life, neither her diaries nor poems of this period show a preoccupation with death. A few of her closest friends knew of her lymphoma, but most did not. As her health deteriorated, she vacillated between the desire to live and a denial of nonliving. Mostly she kept on using her limited energy for writing, giving a few lectures and readings, being with friends, seeing doctors. She also restricted her poetry readings, but she did manage to give two in April: one at Stanford at which she read with Eavan Boland, who had been chosen as her replacement in the Creative Writing Program; and the other at the University of Oregon, Eugene, where composer Robert Kyr, inspired by the poetry of Sands of the Well, created Symphony No 7, “The Sound of Light.” Levertov died on Saturday, December 20, 1997.

Keywords:   Denise Levertov, women poets, poetry readings, death

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