We live our lives of human passions, cruelties, dreams, concepts, crimes and the exercise of virtue in and beside a world devoid of our preoccupations, free from apprehension—though affected, certainly, by our actions. A world parallel to our own though overlapping. We call it "Nature"; only reluctantly admitting ourselves to be "Nature" too. Whenever we lose track of our own obsessions, our self-concerns, because we drift for a minute, an hour even, of pure (almost pure) response to that insouciant life: cloud, bird, fox, the flow of light, the dancing pilgrimage of water, vast stillness of spellbound ephemerae on a lit windowpane, animal voices, mineral hum, wind conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering of fire to coal—then something tethered in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free. No one discovers just where we've been, when we're caught up again into our own sphere (where we must return, indeed, to evolve our destinies) —but we have changed, a little.
Denise Levertov - 1923-1997
In California During the Gulf War
Among the blight-killed eucalypts, among trees and bushes rusted by Christmas frosts, the yards and hillsides exhausted by five years of drought, certain airy white blossoms punctually reappeared, and dense clusters of pale pink, dark pink— a delicate abundance. They seemed like guests arriving joyfully on the accustomed festival day, unaware of the year's events, not perceiving the sackcloth others were wearing. To some of us, the dejected landscape consorted well with our shame and bitterness. Skies ever-blue, daily sunshine, disgusted us like smile-buttons. Yet the blossoms, clinging to thin branches more lightly than birds alert for flight, lifted the sunken heart even against its will. But not as symbols of hope: they were flimsy as our resistance to the crimes committed —again, again—in our name; and yes, they return, year after year, and yes, they briefly shone with serene joy over against the dark glare of evil days. They are, and their presence is quietness ineffable—and the bombings are, were, no doubt will be; that quiet, that huge cacophany simultaneous. No promise was being accorded, the blossoms were not doves, there was no rainbow. And when it was claimed the war had ended, it had not ended.