Denise Levertov died on December 20, 1997, at the age of 74. She was born in London and educated at home. She wrote more than 30 books of poetry, essays, and translations as well as being a distinguished university professor. Paul Lacey, an English professor at Earlham College, has assembled this posthumous collection and added a note on the text.
One of the hallmarks of Levertov's poetry is her earnest examination of the natural world for hints, signs, and traces of the transcendent. In two of the best poems in this collection, she focuses all of her attention and imagination upon a flower ("First Love") and some vine leaves ("Aware"). She also tries to interpret the many moods of a mountain ("The mountain's daily speech is silence").
But as the title indicates, Levertov is also a mystic who respects the mystery of all living things. Our portion is not to pin down, dissect, or define but to honor the magnificence of being. In "Feet" Levertov practices what she preaches by reveling in the sanctification of the flesh experienced in a foot washing ritual at a church on Maundy Thursday.