Monday, June 13, 2011

Readings: The Other Kind of Sixties

I went to hear Denise Levertov read her poetry at the 92nd St. Y in New York City, sometime in the 1970s. She was born in the 1923, so she would have been in her 50s at that time. I was somewhere around age thirty. The collection from which the following poem is taken was published in 1990, when she was around 67; so she was probably close to my current age, give or take a couple of years, when she composed it. I know all-too-well, therefore, the truth of what she so eloquently states:

Broken Pact

A face ages quicker than a mind.

And thighs, arms, breasts,
take on an air of indifference.
Heart’s desire has wearied them, they chose to forget
whatever they once promised.

But mind and heart continue
their eager conversation,
they argue, they share epiphanies,
sometimes all night they raise
antiphonal laments.

Face and body have betrayed them,

they are alone together,
unsure how to proceed.

xxx~ Denise Levertov, Evening Train

Still and all, antiphonal laments are better than the other kind. I’m learning that, too. Oh, yes, I am.