Blow after vertical blow severed you from the rock-face
in the abandoned quarry

the impact shatters the crystals deep inside you

and renders you opaque, lying there like a stunned space warrior,

oversized, grey-speckled feet pointing seaward
above the rooftops, while your double, sprawled in a grove

on the other side of the island, is having his torso

tickled by overhanging branches. – Imperturbable

youth, who once strode forward smiling, hands clenched
at your sides, undeterred, provides a seat

for the span of an hour. I hadn’t realized the long descent

from the village-that-makes-verses on the mountain slope

would tire me so, leaning against your foursquare
frame, I doze, and wake, and doze again,

while the industrious ant, mistaking me for the figure

I’ve come to admire in its gritty silence, must about-face

as my right leg shudders and twitches involuntarily,
as if to say, behold the man.

by Gabriel Levin

This Thursday (11 October), Steven Matthews, the Director of Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre, will be launching his collection of poetry, Skying (Waterloo Press, 2012). The launch will take place at Blackwell’s Bookshop, Broad Street, Oxford, and will begin at 7pm. Steven will be reading from this new collection alongside Helen Farish, whose own recent collection, Nocturnes at Nohant: The Decade of Chopin and Sand, is published by Bloodaxe Books.

‘Kouros’ is copyright © Gabriel Levin, 2012. It is reprinted from To These Dark Steps (2012) by permission of Anvil Press.

Notes from Anvil Press:

Gabriel Levin’s fourth collection, To These Dark Steps, moves from the Mediterranean world that has engaged his imagination for the last thirty years, to the sombre title sequence written in the shadow of Israel’s bombardment and incursion into Gaza in 2008. These striking poems and their prose commentary (The Fathers are Watching) navigate between the depredations of war and the mind’s need to disengage itself from its surroundings. The final section of this articulate and compassionate book is a fifteen-sonnet cycle dispatched from the shores of an unnamed island, which could be everyman’s abode, in search of what might lie yonder.

Gabriel Levin was born in France, grew up in the United States, and has lived in Jerusalem since 1972. He has published three earlier collections of poetry and translations from Hebrew, French and Arabic. His translation from the medieval Hebrew of Yehuda Halevi, Poems from the Diwan, also appeared with Anvil (2002). His essays on the geographical and imaginative reach of the Levant have appeared in literary journals in England and the United States.

Anvil Press, founded in 1968, is based in Greenwich, south-east London, in a building off Royal Hill that has been used at various points in its 150-year history as a dance-hall and a printing works. Anvil grew out of a poetry magazine which Peter Jay ran as a student in Oxford and retains its small company ethos.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.