In the latest issue:

The Word from Wuhan

Wang Xiuying

‘The Man in the Red Coat’

Luc Sante

Is it OK to have a child?

Meehan Crist

Short Cuts: Ubu Unchained

August Kleinzahler

Bury that bastard

Nicole Flattery

Surplus Sons

Clare Bucknell

Oliver Lee Jackson

Adam Shatz

The Servant Problem

Alison Light

Poem: ‘1 x 30’

Anne Carson

The Old Bailey

Francis FitzGibbon

Jiggers, Rods and Barleycorns

James Vincent

More Marple than Poirot

J. Robert Lennon

On Rachael Allen

Matthew Bevis

Like a Ball of Fire

Andrew Cockburn

The Staffordshire Hoard

Tom Shippey

Blessed Isles

Mary Wellesley

At the Movies: ‘Jojo Rabbit’ and ‘A Hidden Life’

Michael Wood

Redeeming Winnie

Heribert Adam

Diary: A Friendly Fighting Force

Nick McDonell


Birth of a Philosopher

Plato was a young man when Helike
sank below the waters of the gulf.

The spasms of the earthquake
could be felt all night, tugging at the roots
of the city. For three days afterwards
the ground subsided – rapidly at first,
then gradually, caving and collapsing
as if hauled by an enormous hand. Temples
toppled, others sagged beneath the inrush
of the waves.

tourists began to arrive from Corinth,
even from Plataea, Athens, Thebes,
to gaze at streets and squares below the clear
new lake.

was particularly gripped – sceptics and the pious
naturally offering different explanations –
by the great bronze statue of Poseidon,
beard just breaking the surface,
which a shoal of mullet had already started
to explore.


In the hills of Naxos
neglected, perhaps unseen
for 2000 years

lies a stone god:
a fragment
prised from the mountain.

The head
can be recognised as a head
by its emergence

from the massive torso,
arms and chest

the thighs
founder into a jumble
of smashed rock.

When does rock
become stone? when does
the hewn stone

find itself a god?
When we stand it upright
on a plinth inscribed

Thor, Mithra, Tlaloc
Vishnu, Amun-Ra?

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