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Variations  On A Theme By Rilke

Denise Levertov

(The Book of Hours, Book I, Poem 1, Stanza 1)

 A certain day became a presence to me; 

there it was, confronting me -- a sky, air, light: 

a being. And before it started to descend

from the height of noon, it leaned over

and struck my shoulder as if with

the flat of a sword, granting me

honor and a task. The day's blow

rang out, metallic – or it was I, a bell awakened,

and what I heard was my whole self

saying and singing what it knew: I can.