Oyster Boy Review 18  
  Winter 2003–4
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The Selected Poems, by Denise Levertov

Jeffery Beam

  The Selected Poems.
Denise Levertov.
New Directions Publishing, 2002.
240 pages, $24.95 (hardcover).
ISBN: 0811215202

This seems the right place to interject New Directions's recently released Levertov selected. I've reviewed Levertov's books before and so won't go into any detail here other than to say this serves as a fine introduction to the work of one of the twentieth century's most impassioned metaphysically, environmentally, and politically engaged poets. Her poems mark a critical solidification of the importance of free verse as a rich field for revealing, music, lyric beauty, and human thought and feeling in process. Representing six decades of tenacious, exploratory, and visionary poems, The Selected Poems demonstrates that social action and the mystical spring from the same root: "A voice from the dark called out, / 'The poets must give us / imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar / imagination of disaster. Peace, not only / the absence of war.'" ("Making Peace") Levertov's work is essential to understanding the human predicament and the barriers that exist to prevent us from realizing it.