by Denise Levertov

Page 5

There are two more of this set of spin-offs, and this is the only one of those where the source of the title sentence or phrase is of special interest. It's from a dream that Thomas Merton had, about which he wrote in a letter to Boris Pasternak. And the phrase is, "I learned that her name was proverb," the name of Ophelia, of a young girl whom he met in his dream.

I learned that her name was Proverb

And the secret names
of all we meet who lead us deeper
of valleys and mountains, twisting valleys
and steeper mountains-
their hidden names are always,
like Proverb, promises:
Rune, Omen, Fable, Parable,
those we meet for only
one crucial moment, gaze to gaze,
or for years know and don't recognize

but of whom later a word
sings back to us
as if from high among leaves,
still near but beyond sight

drawing us from tree to tree
towards the time and the unknown place
where we shall know
what it is to arrive.

The title of the last one is actually two sentences.

The myriad past, it enters us and disappears. Except that within it somewhere, like diamonds, exist the fragments that refuse to be consumed.

Until sometime an ancient
mind or body-it's not clear anymore
which it may be-
those indurate insistences
having crowded out all else
becomes all diamond:
hard transparence cut
to a thousand facets gleaming
with lights of the unseen,
a primal iridescence,
rainbow of death.

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