On Poetry: The Dreadful Beauty Of The Narrow Path



April is National Poetry Writing Month are you in?

I’m saying it:  I’m in.  I’m committed to writing one poem every day this month (yes, I started a poem yesterday).  I am going to find the courage (it may be hiding under my bed or in the broom closet) to share one or three of these poems with you so you have been warned.

It would really make me feel braver if you would share your poems too.  I hope you won’t laugh too loudly or too long at my scribblings.

But today is not a day for uproar and laughter.  No, today belongs to Peter Davison(1928-2004).

Peter Davison was a man of many talents: poet, singer, amateur actor and editor to authors like Carl Jung, Stanley Kunitz and Agnes de Mille.  He believed that public writing had become too much the stuff of nouns, commodified and inert, and not enough the stufff of verbs.

Don’t you agree with that? He once said that the verb “to die” has a lot more life packed into it than the verb “to be” ever will.

When I first read Mr Davison’s “The Level Path”  I couldn’t just photocopy it, no, I had to write it out in my journal (2010). That’s how much I loved it.  I also think I wept.

Read it out loud, you’ll see.


Descend here along a shower of

shallow steps past the potting shed with

its half-rotted ironbound door


to reach the level path.  It winds

northward, high hat, girdling

the waist of a limestone cliff


beyond earshot of the clamorous village below.  The

squeezed access bears us vaguely along

shifting digressions of the compass, past


eye-level seductions of violet, periwinkle, primrose, and petals

like lisping yellow butterflies.  Naked limbs

of beech, haggard liftings of pine,


a hairy upthrust of cedar beside a

curving stone bench, all hint at eruptions

into Eros.  Yet another seat displays


a cushion of undisturbed luxuriant moss around its clefts and

edges.  Thick harsh leaves

of holly, ivy, even of palmetto


thrust up, pathside, between tender new petals,

while other friendly shrubs reach down

from overhead to fondle our faces.


There is no escape from the dreadful beauty of

this narrow path.  It leads nowhere

except to itself and

the black water below.








5 thoughts on “On Poetry: The Dreadful Beauty Of The Narrow Path

  1. I love this poem and I’ve never heard of Peter Davison so I’ll be googling his work right now 😀

    PS – one a side note, when I click on your link from the comments you’ve left on my posts (thank you so much:) I get a ‘test page’ and can’t find your blog. So basically I’m relying on emails to see when you’ve posted (and sometimes I just delete all my emails) 😦 I think there is something in ‘settings’ that you can change so when someone reads your comment they can be taken to this page instead of the other one. I’ve put the link below of where I’m taken when I click on your name.

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