October 24 ~  Deep Down Tesserae

"In city, in suburb, in forest, no way to stretch out the arms — so if you would grow, go straight up or deep down." ~ Denise Levertov

Denise Levertov A masterful poet who wrote straight up and deep, Denise Levertov (1923-1997) was born on this day in Essex, England, home-schooled, and started writing poetry as a child.

"I came from a very literate and somewhat literary background. I grew up in a house full of books where everybody read. That's how evenings were spent by the family. It was like a Victorian childhood," she explained.

A nurse during World War II, she published The Double Image at age 22, the first of over 20 books. "When you're really caught up in writing a poem, it can be a form of prayer," she said.

In 1947, she moved to the U.S. and her mentor became poet William Carlos Williams. "Williams was a sort of gateway into my own development as a poet," she said. "He opened up a new way of handling language."

She was inspired by the Transcendentalism of Thoreau, Emerson, and Carlyle. Looking at her life as a work in progress, she once said, "It is fatal to one’s artistic life to talk about something this is in process."

A craftsman with a heart for fine-detail, Levertov celebrated the spirit with rhythm, Nature (especially Seattle's glorious Mt. Rainier), morality, and passion. An anti-war advocate, she wrote with powerful hope, "The day's blow rang out, metallic -- or it was I, a bell awakened, and what I heard was my whole self saying and singing what it knew: I can."

Reach--straight up and deep down.