Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Poetry for peace?

John Dear SJ, in his column On the Road to Peace, writes about Denise Levertov, one of the leading poets of the century, friend of Thomas Merton and Daniel Berrigan, Catholic convert and outspoken anti-war activist.
These days, as the U.S. bombs Iraq and Afghanistan, funds Israel's occupation of Palestinians, ignores the starving masses from Darfur to Haiti, and maintains thousands of nuclear weapons, we need the wisdom and consolation of Denise Levertov to inspire us.

It all boils down, she says, to "the imagination of peace":

A voice from the dark called out,
"The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war."

An axiom applicable to every warmaking culture -- one of its first losses, the imagination. No one can conceive of a world without war, poverty or nuclear weapons. But poets like Denise Levertov restore our vision. They open our minds to imagine an imponderable world, and push us to announce that vision, and make it come true:

The choice: to speak
or not to speak.
We spoke.
Those of whom we spoke
had not that choice.

Drawing on Denise's inspiration, we too can speak out against war, poverty and nuclear weapons and hope stubbornly for a day in which all might live in peace.

As we like to say, you can read more here.