Two girls discover
the secret of life
in a sudden line of

I who don’t know the
secret wrote
the line. They
told me

(through a third person)
they had found it
but not what it was
not even

what line it was. No doubt
by now, more than a week
later, they have forgotten
the secret,

the line, the name of
the poem. I love them
for finding what
I can’t find,

and for loving me
for the line I wrote,
and for forgetting it
so that

a thousand times, till death
finds them, they may
discover it again, in other

in other
happenings. And for
wanting to know it,

assuming there is
such a secret, yes,
for that
most of all.

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


  1. Joseph says:

    Poems can be interpreted in various ways, yes; but one remains limited to, constrained by, the text, so a poem cannot willy-nilly mean “anything whatsoever” or “wahtever one want’s it to mean”.

    And that is the challenge when interpreting a poem: to stay within the bounds of it.

  2. Nanci Warner says:

    Denise Levertov was a very special poet. When a pair of teenage girls met her, likley at a book signing, they told her one of the lines of her poems had taught them the secret of life. However, they could not tell her the name of the poem, nor the line. Rather than be offended, she found delight in the fact that they had, evn for a moment, found such meaning in her poem, rather in any poem, and that by forgetting the line so quickly they could discover it over and over again. To discover personal meaning in a line of poetry is the secret of poetry,Magical, isn’t it, how someone can write something out of nothing and have it speak to your heart. That is what she is saying in this poem, that poetry is magical.

  3. thomas says:

    I think this poem shows how one poem can be viewed by many people and mean something different each time

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