The Fountain

by Denise Levertov


Original Language English

Don't say, don't say there is no water
to solace the dryness at our hearts.
I have seen

the fountain springing out of the rock wall
and you drinking there. And I too
before your eyes

found footholds and climbed
to drink the cool water.

The woman of that place, shading her eyes,
frowned as she watched -- but not because
she grudged the water,

only because she was waiting
to see we drank our fill and were
refreshed.

Don't say, don't say there is no water.
That fountain is there among its scalloped
green and gray stones,

it is still there and always there
with its quiet song and strange power
to spring in us,

up and out through the rock.

-- from Poems: 1960-1967, by Denise Levertov

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Don't say, don't say there is no water
to solace the dryness at our hearts.
I have seen

the fountain springing out of the rock wall
and you drinking there. And I too...



The image of this fountain has such rich resonance.

The water and the "dryness at our hearts."

Its water springing out of the rock wall.

Footholds allowing us to climb.

Drinking the cool water.

The "woman of that place," waiting to make sure we drink our fill.

And Levertov's exhortation, "Don't say, don't say there is no water." That line, to me, is the pulsing heart of the poem. Those words follow you long after the rest of the poem softens into the gossamer of memory.

It is still there and always there...

it is still there and always there
with its quiet song and strange power
to spring in us...


Rather than try to offer my own understanding of this poem, I'll just let these words work their wet alchemy, their "quiet song and strange power... to spring in us."

Have a beautiful day!



Recommended Books: Denise Levertov

Denise Levertov: Selected Poems Poems: 1960-1967 Breathing the Water The Great Unknowing: Last Poems Candles in Babylon
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The Fountain