The next installment from our Wedding Poetry Series for wedding ceremony readings comes from Denise Levertov (Oct. 24, 1923 – Dec. 20, 1997). During the course of a prolific career, Levertov created a highly regarded body of poetry that reflects her beliefs as an artist and a humanist. Her work embraces a wide variety of genres and themes, including nature lyrics, love poems, protest poetry, and poetry inspired by her faith in God. Levertov’s poem First Love is an exquisite example of the depths our spirits go to to find “the one,” and these verses would be lovely read by a well-spoken reader at any wedding ceremony, especially if there was a mic so each sentence is audible to all the wedding guests.
By Denise Levertov
It was a flower.
There had been,
before I could even speak,
another infant, girl or boy unknown,
who drew me – I had
an obscure desire to become
connected in some way to this other,
even to be what I faltered after, falling
to hands and knees, crawling
a foot or two, clambering
up to follow further until
arms swooped down to bear me away.
But that one left no face, had exchanged
no gaze with me.
There was Before I saw it, the vague
past, and Now. Forever. Nearby
was the sandy sweep of the Roman Road,
and where we sat the grass
was thin. From a bare patch
of that poor soil, solitary,
sprang the flower, face upturned,
looking completely, openly
into my eyes.
I was barely
old enough to ask and repeat its name.
‘Convolvulus,’ said my mother.
Pale shell-pink, a chalice
no wider across than a silver sixpence.
It looked at me, I looked
filled me as if
I, not the flower,
Were a flower and were brimful of rain.
And there was endlessness.
Perhaps through a lifetime what I’ve desired
has always been to return
to that endless giving and receiving, the wholeness
of that attention,
Source: Poetry Foundation
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