Denise Levertov was born in the UK as the daughter of an American mother and a father who was a Hasidic Jew from Germany. Her father became an Anglican priest and Levertov herself eventually became a Christian as well.
She went on to teach at Stanford and it was while she was there in the late 70’s that I discovered her work. She now is among my favorites. I was reminded of her poem on the Incarnation after reading the paper yesterday. I think you’ll find that the poem speaks of the hope that is available in the face of the crushing craziness that we can perpetrate. Here’s what happened in the news that started me thinking:
Each week notices are published by Human Services about adoption intentions. Mothers who are putting up their children must alert potential fathers about the plans to adopt out their children. On July 21, 2010 a little girl was born. The mother listed three potential fathers and then suggested that there we possibly more men who could claim paternity.
What had the young mother named this little girl?
On the Mystery of the Incarnation
It’s when we face for a moment
the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
the taint in our own selves, that awe
cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form
but to this creature vainly sure
it and no other is god-like, God
(out of compassion for our ugly
failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, as brother,