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The heART of Ritual

musings

Seasonal Poetry & Prose: 'Sojourns in a Parallel World', by Denise Levertov



We live our lives of human passions,

cruelties, dreams, concepts,

crimes and the exercise of virtue

in and beside a world devoid

of our preoccupations, free

from apprehension—though affected,

certainly, by our actions. A world

parallel to our own though overlapping.

We call it `Nature;' only reluctantly

admitting ourselves to be `Nature' too.

Whenever we lose track of our own obsessions,

our self-concerns, because we drift for a minute,

an hour even, of pure (almost pure)

response to that insouciant life:

cloud, bird, fox, the flow of light, the dancing

pilgrimage of water, vast stillness

of spellbound ephemerae on a lit windowpane,

animal voices, mineral hum, wind

conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering

of fire to coal—then something tethered

in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch

of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free.

No one discovers

just where we've been, when we're caught up again

into our own sphere (where we must

return, indeed, to evolve our destinies)

—but we have changed, a little.



 "Sojourns in the Parallel World" by Denise Levertov. Text as published in Sands of the Well (New Directions, 1998 edition).

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