A Time Past by Denise Levertov: Recollection of Past Times of Happiness and Present Times of Memory and Sadness

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1. This poem is a confessional one, involving the recollection of past times of happiness and present times of memory and sadness. The concluding image, of the wood waiting somewhere to be burnt, is especially strong and jarring, for it shows a note of bitterness amidst the speaker’s sadness.  The visual imagery of the poem combines the manufactured (the two different sets of steps, the wood of the first) and the natural (dew, quiet, the absence of birds, crickets, falling leaves, a breeze). A tactile image associated with the steps is the splinters, which the speaker still feels in her hands.

1. The “old wooden steps” are a predominating image in the poem. They represent “a time past” of memories when life was new and love was ardent. That the steps have been “replaced with granite” indicates a loss of the good memories. The granite in the steps makes for a solid stairway, but it has none of the past associations. From the poem’s context, we are also to infer that granite suggests the granite of a gravestone. The speaker ends up denying recollecting any other sounds because she concentrated so much on her husband’s “cheerful, unafraid, youthful, ‘I love you too,’” in response to her statement of love (line 7).

1. In my opinion, this poem means that, although time passes, we keep what is important in our hearts.  These things that we retain are much more important than the physical things that we lose. We can see this in how the physical things in this poem have been lost.  Specifically, the wooden steps are no longer there.  They are off somewhere, waiting to be burned. Even though the steps are no longer there, the memories that are associated with them are there.  They linger in the speaker's heart and they make her happy even after time passes and physical things are gone.

1. In my opinion, the steps represent time.  They represent the idea that there are times in the past that are now all gone and can never be found again.  Even...
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