Denise Levertov’s secret

Denise Levertov's secret

Denise Levertov (1923 – 1997) left us with some interesting and beautiful poems. Denise Levertov’s secret, what’s it all about? Is it about the discoveries in life? The mysteries of life? More importantly, is it possible to discover something important when reading poetry?

About “The Secret”

In this poem, written in the first person, we can read about two girls who discovered the secret of life when reading poetry. As the reader of this poem, you can’t help to ask yourself: “Is this possible?”

Let’s assume that Levertov is the person telling us this story. It seems that she has forgotten about this secret at one point. As time passes, the details are forgotten. So, is it safe to assume that Levertov is telling about her own experiences?

Let’s not assume that Levertov is telling us a story about herself. Instead, she tells the story about all of humankind. What is, or rather was, important or high valued at one time, was forgotten in a later period.

The deeper meaning that Levertov might have been referring to could be the reason why we are here on Earth. But was that something you would forget? Even after such a short period? Leverton mentioned a week in this poem.

Perhaps it’s simpler than this. Perhaps it’s just two very young girls, who found out something they found important, but in the end, it wasn’t.

You decide, what’s the meaning behind this poem.

The Secret - Denise Levertov

The Secret

Two girls discover  
the secret of life  
in a sudden line of  
poetry.

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  
lines

in other  
happenings. And for  
wanting to know it,  
for

assuming there is  
such a secret, yes,  
for that  
most of all.

– – Denis Levertov

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