Denise Levertov's poem Beginners: year?
July 4, 2015 7:06 PM   Subscribe

Denise Levertov's poem Beginners: specifically in what year did she write it? I know it was published in 1982 or earlier, and I know it's dedicated to two activists who died "in the mid-70s" (although I don't know whether it was dedicated to them posthumously).
posted by kalapierson to Writing & Language (4 answers total)
Response by poster: [It was published in a set of poems written from 1972 to 1982]
posted by kalapierson at 7:08 PM on July 4, 2015

Hi. Literary scholar here, though not a scholar of Levertov. The way to look for this info would be (a) to see if Levertov left her papers to a library/university and go through them to see if there's any trace of earlier drafts of the poem; (b) read through a bio and see if it mentions it. But the truth is that there's a reason scholars focus on date of publication. As opposed to the clarity of date of publication, when something is written can be a confusing and difficult data point; she might have been writing it over a period of several years in the late 70s, for example.

What's at stake for you in finding out when she wrote it?
posted by correcaminos at 5:24 AM on July 5, 2015

Ah. You might also look to see if she published it in a literary journal before she included it in the book you mention.
posted by correcaminos at 5:25 AM on July 5, 2015

Response by poster: Good points, thank you. At stake is just the desire for correctness. (Prepping a musical score that's my setting of an excerpt from this poem, and I always like to include the year of the piece and the year of the text when possible. I have the text-setting permission from the publisher, of course, but they don't know the exact year because that's not their responsibility.)

I put in a request at the LOC's ask-a-librarian site where they might have access to more info.
posted by kalapierson at 10:33 AM on July 5, 2015

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