Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Publication Title

"this need to dance/this need to kneel": Denise Levertov and the Poetics of Faith


That Denise Levertov (1923-97) was one of the most pioneering and skilled poets of her generation is beyond dispute. Her masterly use of language, innovative experimentations with organic form, and the political acuity disclosed by her activist poetry are well marked by critical communities. But it is also quite clear that the poems Levertov wrote in the last twenty years of her life, with their more explicit focus on theological themes and subjects, are among the best poems written on religious experience of any century, let alone the twentieth. The collection of essays gathered here shed vital light on this neglected aspect of Levertov studies so as to expand and enrich the scope of critical engagement. In a mixture of theoretical considerations and close readings, these essays provide valuable reflections about the complex relationship between poetry and belief and offer philosophically robust insights into different styles of poetic imagination. The abiding hope is to broaden the terrain for discussions in twenty-first-century theology, literary theory, poetics, and aesthetics--honoring immanence, exploring transcendence, and dwelling with integrity within the spaces between.

Publisher Name

Pickwick Publications




ISBN 9781532677373


Author Posting © Wipf and Stock, 2019. This article is posted here by permission of Wipf and Stock for personal use, not for redistribution. The article was published in "this need to dance/this need to kneel": Denise Levertov and the Poetics of Faith, September 2019,

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.