|Like section II, sections III & IV of Denise Levertov's The
Stream and the Sapphire often work from written and visual texts. The material
in these sections tend to focus more on doctrines, with section III being aptly named
"Conjectures." Section IV focuses on the last events surrounding Christ's
mission on earth. Below, along with the discussion questions for various poems from
these sections, I've included scriptural references or links to background images and
"On Parables of the Mustard
Seed" (see her ref's.) & "What the Figtree Said" (Matt 21:18-22, Mk
In each poem, Levertov is reading against an implicit
earlier interpretation. What is that earlier interpretation? What makes hers
What imagery does she focus on each poem? Why?
"Salvator Mundi: Via Crucis" (Rembrandt's 1655-57 portrait of Christ)
"Ikon: The Harrowing of Hell" (Icons)
How do the visual images act as conversation partners
in each poem?
What are the key motives/struggles attributed to
Jesus in each poem?
"On a Theme from Julian's Chapter XX" (Matt
27, Lk 23, Mk 15, Jn 19)
"On Belief in the Physical Resurrection of
Jesus" (Mt 28, Mk 16, Lk 24, Jn 20)
"St. Thomas Didymus" (Mk 9:14-32; Jn
"Ascension" (Acts 1)
In each poem, what key moment in Christ's mission is
stressed? How does Levertov focus on the personal, subjective nature of that
Levertov, in particular, focuses on the tension
between the bodily and the spiritual world. What particular struggles does Christ
undergo as the Incarnate One?
Likewise, how important is the bodily to Levertov
herself and to Thomas?