In Denise Levertov's poem, "A Time Past," she focuses on an inanimate object that reminds her of a former love and her many feelings about their relationship and its termination. In addition, she comments on other special people in her life and moments she spent with them. Levertov seems to share her very real and personal feelings in this poem. It is not totally clear whether or not she is reflecting on her life with her former husband, Mitchell Goodman, in the poem but it is very possible. Goodman was "arraigned with other notable persons for 'conspiracy'" during the Vietnam War (1110). The two may have divorced soon after this incident or even before it. Since Levertov wrote this poem in 1975, this time frame would be consistent. Throughout the poem, Levertov reflects on what the object, the old wooden steps, mean to her and remind her about. The steps hold a great deal of cherished memories for her but she does not cling to their physical presence as they, too, are a memory.
In the first stanza of her poem, Levertov recalls a moment that she shared with her husband before they parted ways. She says, "The old wooden steps to the front door/ where I was sitting that fall morning/ when you came downstairs, just awake,/ and my joy at sight of you... pulled me to my feet to tell you/ how much I loved you" to show the degree to which she was in love with this man at that time (lines 1-8). Her use of the word "you" shows that she is speaking to that man in this stanza. It is interesting to hear that it was not only her "joy at sight of" him but also "the old wooden steps" that caused her to stand up. It is obvious that the steps alone could n...
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...ons of her present life, we know that she has found peace and happiness with her past.
Levertov shares many personal feelings in this poem. She clearly cherishes the marriage that she had with her former husband and does not seem to hold any harsh feelings toward him. In addition, she shows in the poem that she loves her son very much, wherever he may be. She also includes what we can gather to be a sad memory for her: the loss of her friend. Even here she still focuses on the happy memory of sharing the old wooden steps with this friend. This poem involves Levertov reminiscing about the old wooden steps on the front of her house where she spent many happy times. By recalling the steps, she is able to recall those many happy times spent there. Through reading this poem, we hear Levertov's very personal voice speaking about "A Time Past."
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