Denise Levertov Biography
(1923– ), The Double Image, Here and Now, Overland to the Islands
American poet, born in Ilford, Essex, and privately educated. Her experiences as a nurse during the Second World War inform her first collection of verse, The Double Image (1946), which showed affinities with the poetry of the New Apocalypse. After moving to New York, she took American citizenship in 1955. During the 1950s she was associated with the Black Mountain poets. She began teaching at American universities in 1965 and became Professor of English at Stanford University in 1981. Her reputation was established by Here and Now (1957) and Overland to the Islands (1958), which displayed her originality of tone in free verse of great suppleness. The lyrical concern with essentially spiritual values in With Eyes at the Back of Our Heads (1959) and The Jacob's Ladder (1961) combined with energetic opposition to the Vietnam War in The Sorrow Dance (1967), To Stay Alive (1971), and Footprints (1972). Her political convictions and feminist beliefs remain characteristic of subsequent work. Her numerous later collections include The Freeing of the Dust (1975), Candles in Babylon (1982), Breathing the Water (1987), and A Door in the Hive (1989). Collected Earlier Poems, 1940–1960 appeared in 1979. Her critical writings are collected in The Poet in the World (1973) and Light up the Cave (1981), which also contains autobiographical material.