Tuesday, March 21, 2023

“Primordial” memory in Denise Levertov’s poem “Becca” in “Evening Train” (1992)

I wrote in January about how two of the poems in Denise Levertov's "A Door in the Hive" (1989) make long-lost moments vivid through recollection (of a family story about her grandmother in "Inheritance") and imagination (of a medieval mason in "The Past II"). In Levertov's "Evening Train" (1992), the poem "Becca" does this with a personal memory of herself as a small child running between the clotheslines hung with washing by the family's washerwoman: "Lodged in my head / forever, primordial. Becca. / Known. Unknown." The poem's rendering of this "primordial" memory makes this "unknown" woman "known" to me, reading of her in 2023 (the 100th anniversary of Levertov's birth). (Andrew Shields, #111words, 21 March 2023)


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