Poetry Club, day 11

In The Joy of Poetry I often said there is no secret to understanding poetry. Because I delight in contradiction, I give you a poem about the secret meaning of a poem. I love the turn in the poem where she begins to talk about her poetry and what secrets it might or might not hold.

P.S. Glynn Young wrote a nice essay about Denise Levertov at Tweetspeak a while back.


The Secret 


Two girls discover

the secret of life

in a sudden line of



I who don’t know the

secret wrote

the line. They

told me


(through a third person)

they had found it

but not what it was

not even


what line it was. No doubt

by now, more than a week

later, they have forgotten

the secret,


the line, the name of

the poem. I love them

for finding what

I can’t find,


and for loving me

for the line I wrote,

and for forgetting it

so that


a thousand times, till death

finds them, they may

discover it again, in other



in other

happenings. And for

wanting to know it,



assuming there is

such a secret, yes,

for that

most of all.


Denise Levertov


Your turn.




  1. True confessions: I don’t know if I like it or don’t like it when someone “sees” in something I write a particular meaning that they are confident I intended. I DO like it when someone sees a connection between the words and something going on in their lives, and that it helped them or yielded an insight, especially when I could not have possibly known about their situation. I admit, though, I don’t care for it when they assume to know my mind or that I even had a particular meaning beyond what I’ve stated. At times I even feel defensive but say nothing. Suffice it to say, I still wrestle with how to respond, if at all.

    I love what this poet has written, how she admits she has no idea what the secret is that those girls feel to have discovered, but that she loves their finding it and many others things.