Denise Levertov

Here you will find the Poem Prisoners of poet Denise Levertov


Though the road turn at last 
to death?s ordinary door, 
and we knock there, ready 
to enter and it opens 
easily for us, 
all the long journey 
we shall have gone in chains, 
fed on knowledge-apples 
acrid and riddled with grubs. 

We taste other food that life, 
like a charitable farm-girl, 
holds out to us as we pass? 
but our mouths are puckered, 
a taint of ash on the tongue. 

It?s not joy that we?ve lost? 
wildfire, it flares 
in dark or shine as it will. 
What?s gone 
is common happiness, 
plain bread we could eat 
with the old apple of knowledge. 

That old one?it griped us sometimes, 
but it was firm, tart, 
sometimes delectable ... 

The ashen apple of these days 
grew from poisoned soil. We are prisoners 
and must eat 
our ration. All the long road 
in chains, even if, after all, 
we come to 
death?s ordinary door, with time 
smiling its ordinary 
long-ago smile.