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Denise Levertov


Stretching Himself as if again,
through downpress of dust
upward, soil giving way
to thread of white, that reaches
for daylight, to open as green
leaf that it is...
Can Ascension
not have been
arduous, almost,
as the return
from Sheol, and
back through the tomb
into breath?
Matter reanimate
now must relinquish
itself, its
human cells,
molecules, five
senses, linear
vision endured
as Man—
the sole
all-encompassing gaze
resumed now,
Eye of Eternity.
Relinquished, earth's
broken Eden.
self-enjoined task
of Incarnation.
He again
Fathering Himself.
He again
Mothering His birth:
torture and bliss.

"Ascension" by Denise Levertov, from her book The Stream and the Sapphire (1997).

Denise Levertov (1923–1997) was born in England to a Welsh mother and a Russian Hasidic father, who converted and became an Anglican priest. She published nearly fifty volumes of poetry, prose, and translations, and taught at Brandeis, MIT, Tufts, Stanford, and the University of Washington. While at Stanford (1982–1993), Levertov converted to Christianity at the age of sixty.

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