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To These Dark Steps

Gabriel Levin

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Imprint: Anvil Press Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (80 pages)
(Pub. May 2012)
9780856464447
£8.95 £8.05
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    The Weighing of Souls

    What of the anonymous faces poking
    out of the antique masonry? Gislebertus made
    this
    – carved heads with broad, shapeless snouts,
    grimacing from their chinks and sooty
    vaults. Why is it, with their bulging brows
    and sunken, bandito eyes, their huge,
    gaping mouths and devilish looks
    (last night, muting the newscast,
    I read in Imago Hominis such masks
    were the face of evil) why then is it they evoke,
    the evident … no, the risibly human?
    However twisted their features, we trip over
    our own shadows in the dissembler,
    the suicide and the buffoon, the bold warrior
    and the sinner on the pan of the scales.

    Gabriel Levin’s fourth collection 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 surrundings. The atonal, dissonant, radical music of the moderns – Webern, Messiaen, Bartók, Ligeti, Feldman – provides the emotive power, the retreat, and the solace from which to speak privately of the public arena of warfare.

    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 and grew up in the United States and Israel. Errant is his sixth collection of poetry. He has translated from the Hebrew, Arabic, and French and has published a collection of essays, The Dune’s Twisted Edge: Travels in the Levant . He lives in Jerusalem. ... read more
    Praise for Gabriel Levin  'This is an exquisite book. It is not often that one journeys through poetic lands with such breathless anticipation as I have done through The Maltese Dreambook...like all good poetry, his verses are multi-layered and demanding...Coleridge believed that language is the vehicle through which divinity passes into humanity and that poets are the true guardians of it. In Levin one could not wish for a more passionate and imaginative guardian.'

    Sonja Besford, Ambit

    'The poems are richly layered, musical explorations of the act of translation, from experience into art, and from the ancient world into the present...Given the realized ambition, technical achievement and stunning visual quality of this collection, Levin, for the foreseeable future at least, seems similarly set to stay.'

    Sinead Morrisey, PN Review March-April, 2000

      'Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, the poet Gabriel Levin has written another erudite, modernist and intellectually stimulating volume, Errant.'

    Peter Lawson, The Jewish Chronicle

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