Denise Levertov visited North Vietnam in 1972, and several of these free-form poems were written there, recording her horror...

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THE FREEING OF THE DUST

Denise Levertov visited North Vietnam in 1972, and several of these free-form poems were written there, recording her horror and indignation and concretizing her anti-war activist perceptions of human waste, mutilated flesh, devastated cityscape. She's angry, murderously enraged at Kissinger, Nixon and their henchmen (pulling no punches: ""O to kill the killers!""), distressed at the bland, milky ignorance of the POWs; she has no forgiveness for the ""smart,"" technologically advanced bomb-and-strafers, ""homo faber of laser beams."" Her other, offerings--in praise of ""love, lovers, husband, child, land and ocean, struggle and solitude""--are weak by contrast with the whirlwind force of her agitated conscience. But since she is a most serious, thoroughgoing, fight-thinking humanist, she also regards the calling of poet as a sacred trust and duty. Notable among her writing on writing are ""Growth of a Poet,"" ""The Poem Rising by Its Own Weight,"" and ""Conversation in Moscow,"" a poem which captures the rhythms of a dinner-party discussion about the ""mystery"" of poetry, that old czarist reactionary Dostoevsky, the nature of religion, and what it means to Serve the People. A Soviet historian who was listening to Levertov, then remarks tenderly: ""How young! How pure!"" Yes, that's what she is.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 1975

ISBN: 0811205827

Page Count: -

Publisher: New Directions

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1975