Making Peace

Poetry

Denise Levertov

Anti-war poems by Denise Levertov, a passionate advocate of peace and justice and one of the greatest American poets of the twentieth century.

Denise Levertov achieved recognition as a poet at a young age, winning the admiration of such older poets as T.S. Eliot and William Carlos Williams. Though she initially drew a line between her poetic works and her commitment to peace and justice, the Vietnam War inspired a change, and at the time of her death in 1997, she was acclaimed not only for her poetry, but also for her political engagement. Making Peace collects Levertov's finest poems about war and peace, subjects which she addresses with passion and nuance. Spanning the last three decades of her life, their subjects range from Vietnam to the death-squads of El Salvador to the first Gulf War. Often brutally vivid—in "The Certainty" she writes, "war / means blood spilling from living bodies"—Levertov's poems always have at their core her love for humanity, even as she registers her horror at what humans do to one another. Introduced by Levertov scholar Peggy Rosenthal, these poems mirror the destruction that we witness today, but they also hold within them, as Levertov writes, "a small grain of hope."