Oct 12 – Denise Levertov “Prayer for Revolutionary Love”

rape & revolutionary love
Posted on October 23, 2013 by

Friday, October 12  “That we endure absence, if need be,
without losing our love for each other.
without closing our doors to the unknown.”

A recent grad called me last night  (i.e., Oct 23, 2013 less than one month since the poetry list’s 1st Post ever)  to talk about a close women friend who had called him a few days before after she was raped by someone she knew. She was the second close friend to open her experience of savage violence — in the world of promising and talented and generous young adults. The first had been his little sister two years before. We talked a while about powerlessness and violence, rage and shame. About grief.

Here’s the invitation by Lori Glenn, faculty  host for an evening about domestic violence that year.   “Please join us for to learn more about dating violence and healthy relationships. We will start with a presentation in Chemistry 114 at 5:30pm. Food will be served. At approximately 7:00pm we will convene in the Kassab Mall to honor victims of all types of domestic violence with a Candlelight Vigil.  Please come!   Bring a friend!   Better yet…bring a date!”

Convening this domestic violence education program years ago can remind our university community that education about attacks on women is not new, not at all.  Neither, though, is the timeless power of great poetry.   I have loved Denise Levertov’s poems for many years before beginning the poetry list 613 posts ago  (n.b. to browse all Denise Levertov poems in the archive blog go to http://sites.udmercy.edu/mission-and-identity/ & search on “Levertov”).  Years ago also, “Revolutionary Love,” became my most deeply loved poem about love between two people.  It still is.  Her strong, wise language can anoint this season of intense conflict about interpersonal sexual violence.

Best to read the poem out loud, with pauses.

Have a blest weekend.

john sj

p.s. On this date in 1980 I sat with, and sometimes held, my father the night he lay dying of pancreatic cancer.   We told each other important things that long night that anoint this date for me year after year.   Two months later I drove a U-Haul from Philly to Motown to begin my faculty contract at what was then “U of D.”

 

Today’s Post – “Prayer for Revolutionary Love”

That a woman not ask a man to leave meaningful work to follow her
That a man not ask a woman to leave meaningful work to follow him.

That no one try to put Eros in bondage
But that no one put a cudgel in the hands of Eros.
That our loyalty to one another and our loyalty to our work
not be set in false conflict.

That our love for each other give us love for each other’s work
That our love for each other’s work give us love for one another.
That our love for each other’s work give us love for one another.
That our love for each other give us love for each other’s work.

That our love for each other, if need be,
give way to absence. And the unknown.
That we endure absence, if need be,
without losing our love for each other.
Without closing our doors to the unknown.

Denise Levertov
b. October 1923  d. December 1997
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denise_Levertov

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