Healing through Poetry: Excerpt from a Denise Levertov Poem

I suck when dealing with tragedy. Really, there's no better way to say this.

When something terrible happens, I become unfocused, don't stop checking the news, and basically feel a knot begin in my stomach.

This happened to me Friday after the Newtown Elementary School shootings.  My husband was at the store and he called me and I knew about them, but I didn't tell him because I wanted him to live a little longer without the knowledge of knowing 20 children had been murdered at school.

Can you believe I am typing that?  Murdered at school?  First graders?

It sickens me and angers me and depresses me and makes me so sad.

But we have to move forward and I realize there's a time when reading or watching the news is only hurting us more.  It is in these times that I turn to books and poetry.

I can't make sense of what happened.

But I can use another's words to help me heal.  On Friday, it was Denise Levertov's poem (first published in 1981) called "Mass of the Day of St. Thomas Didymus."  This is from the second section "Gloria."

The typewriter is my own, my old Corona (think 1929 or 1937, I forget as I type this).  The evergreens are from my tree and the poem, that's all of ours to have now.

Here's the full section, the above was what I needed to get me through, to help me begin healing.

ii  Gloria
Praise the wet snow
        falling early.
Praise the shadow
        my neighor's chimney casts on the tile roof
even this gray October day that should, they say,
have been golden.
the invisible sun burning beyond
     the white cold sky, giving us
light and the chimney's shadow.
god or the gods, the unknown,
that which imagined us, which stays
our hand,
our murderous hand,
                   and gives us
in the shadow of death,
            our daily life,
            and the dream still
of goodwill, of peace on earth.
flow and change, night and
the pulse of day.

I signed this petition on the White House webpage to begin talking and making changes in America on gun control when it was at 15,000 names. It's currently at 168,000. 

It helped me feel as if I was making a difference.  If you want to sign it, feel free. 

Anyway, I hope you are all healing and finding good in your world.

Be well.

~ Kells
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  1. Do you know Peggy Rosenthal's book "Praying Through Poetry: Hope for Violent Times"? I recommend it. I reviewed it on my blog in Feb. 2011.

  2. Me too...thank you. Actually, both comments. I'll look at Praying Through Poetry.


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