Hart to Hearts: Even if Hope Seems Far Away

All this talk about hope can actually be a little depressing, I fear. I think that can happen especially when the world seems extra dark. And for some of us — me included, the world feels extra dark as we approach the solstice, now less than a week away. While Denise Levertov’s poem “Talking To Myself” refers to April, its mood may reflect the world as it now. Knowing that some day I may emerge into summer gives me hope even when I’m feeling the overwhelming dark.


Talking to Oneself

Denise Levertov

Try to remember, every April, not this one only
you feel you are walking underwater
in a lake stained by your blood.

When the east wind rips the sunlight
your neck feels thin and weak, youth clothes
don’t warm you.

You feel you are lurching away from
deft shears, rough hands, your fleece
lies at the shepherd’s feet.

And in the first warm days each step
pushes you against a weight,
and you don’t want

to resist that weight
you want to stop, to return
to darkness
– but treaties made
over your head force you to
waver forward.

Yes, this year you feel
at a loss, there is no Demeter
to whom to return

if for a moment you saw
yourself as Persephone.
It is she, Demeter, has gone
down to the dark.

Or if it is Orpheus drawing you forth,
he is inexorable, and does not look back
to let you go.

You are appalled go consider you may be destined
to live to a hundred.
But it’s April,

there is nothing unique in your losses
your pain is commonplace
and your road ordained:

your steps will hurt you
you will arrive
as usual

at some condition you name summer:

an ample landscape,
voluptuous, calm,
of large, very still trees,
water meadows, dream
savannah distances,

where you will gather strength
pulling ripe fruit from the boughs,
for winter and spring,
forgotten seasons.

Try to remember it is always this way.
You live
this April’s pain

you will come to other Aprils,
each will astonish you.