Contraband By Denise Levertov: Reading and Meditation

August 18, 2020  • Todd Breyfogle

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Contraband, Denise Levertov


The world seems unusually unreasonable at the moment, trapped between too much thinking and too little. There is an abundance of rationalizing—the use of reason to explain things away, to conceal guilt, to create alternate worlds lost in distraction. Reason can get in the way of reason. Excuses are smuggled in. It is odd that an age of hyper-rationalism seems so lacking in wisdom and common sense. Reason, Denise Levertov tells us, is toxic in large quantities. It clouds our vision, locks us in a prison cell. What does it mean to take reason as a condiment, a pinch of fine powder rather than the main meal? When does reason become the barrier rather than the bridge? We create a polished cell reflecting our own faces. And still the filtered light squeezes in through the cracks…unless we explain it away. What are the splinters of fire that are trying to reach you?

Todd Breyfogle, Denver, Colorado

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