The Poet’s “Caressive Sight:” Denise Levertov’s Transactions with Nature
The scientific consciousness which broke with the holistic perception of life is credited with “unweaving the rainbow,” or disenchanting the world. No longer perceived as sacred, the non-human world of plants and animals became a site of struggle for domination and mastery in implementing humankind’s supposedly divine mandate to subdue the earth. The nature poetry of Denise Levertov is an attempt to reverse this trend, reaffirm the sense of wonder inherent in the world around us, and reclaim some “holy presence” for the modern sensibility. Her exploratory poetics witnesses to a sense of relationship existing between all creatures, both human and non-human. This article traces Levertov’s “transactions with nature” and her evolving spirituality, inscribing her poetry within the space of alternative – or romantic – modernity, one that dismantles the separation paradigm. My intention throughout was to trace the way to a religiously defined faith of a person raised in the modernist climate of suspicion, but keenly attentive to spiritual implications of beauty and open to the epiphanies of everyday.