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.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Denise Levertov's poem The Avowal


  1. Timothy Williams says:

    I just discovered this poem today, and I have undertaken to set it to music.

  2. Howard Hunter says:

    Ever since my first reading of this tribute to George Herbert I have cherished it as it is, but I wish I could have asked Denise Levertov whether she would agree that two more words of her final line would convey an even deeper meaning. She writes “no effort earns” and I would ask her to consider a parenthesis “or loses” that all-surrounding grace.

  3. B. Love says:

    All the metaphors operate in the same direction. If you wish to achieve grace, the message is don’t try. Be open and willing. It is like a surgeon keeping his hand still by not trying to keep it still.

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