The wholeness of undivided, intimate attention – an awareing that has no boundaries, no sense of separation, where observer and observed are both obliterated in a single movement of observing – is the subject of one of Denise Levertov‘s last poems, First Love. The whole poem is sublime, but the final few lines speak so powerfully to me that I’m singling them out for this post.
It seems to me that one taste of that timelessness changes everything. This is not some cunning escape into yet another thought-bubble; not some desperate effort to transcend one’s mediocre little life. This is an experienced glimpse of another order of relationship. Haven’t we all had this glimpse? For me, it took hold of the steering wheel and has driven the trajectory of my life.
Through the entirety of your lifetime, what is it that you’ve deeply desired?
What has been – is – the Great Motivator of your days?
`Convolvulus,’ said my mother.
Pale shell-pink, a chalice
no wider across than a silver sixpence.
It looked at me, I looked
filled me as if
I, not the flower,
were a flower and were brimful of rain.
And there was endlesness.
Perhaps through a lifetime what I’ve desired
has always been to return
to that endless giving and receiving, the wholeness
of that attention,
– Denise Levertov, from First Love
in This Great Unknowing, Last Poems
Painting by Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968), Morning Glories (Convolvulus)