Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Image result for a heron
A Reward - Denise Levertov
Tired and hungry, late in the day, impelled
to leave the house and search for what
might lift me back to what I had fallen away from,
I stood by the shore waiting.
I had walked in the silent woods:
the trees withdrew into their secrets.
Dusk was smoothing breadths of silk
over the lake, watery amethyst fading to gray.
Ducks were clustered in sleeping companies
afloat on their element as I was not
on mine. I turned homeward, unsatisfied.
But after a few steps, I paused, impelled again
to linger, to look North before nightfall-the expanse
of calm, of calming water, last wafts
of rose in the few high clouds.
And was rewarded:
the heron, unseen for weeks, came flying
widewinged toward me, settled
just offshore on his post,
took up his vigil.
If you ask
why this cleared a fog from my spirit,
I have no answer.


  1. "impelled/ to search [...] for what/ might lift me back to what I had fallen away from"

    The whole poem is compelling, from start to finish, but I linger over these lines as echoing an aspiration of my own. How hard it is to be undistracted!

    And yes, the heron. Lots of herons in poetry (especially in the poetry of my beloved Dylan Thomas). Am so grateful to have read Levertov's poem. She sounds a little like Mary Oliver here!

    Thank you.

  2. She sounds very like Mary Oliver here - I thought that too. Yes there are lots of herons in poetry! Are there any Dylan Thomas ones you would recommend?

    1. He mentions herons in passing in his "Prologue" (a verse introduction to his collected poems), but the heron is more of a protagonist in "Over Sir John's Hill."

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