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.
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