The Avowal

"The Avowal," by Denise Levertov

As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.

I've been thinking a lot about what I call "the tension of intensity." I always thought it was a good thing, but there is a fine line between good, productive intensity and soul-draining intensity. This poem, which I found reprinted in Passionate Practice: The Musician's Guide to Learning, Memorizing, and Performing by Margaret Elson, is a reminder that "the tension of intensity" isn't necessarily all there is when it comes to producing music, a novel, or any art.


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