In the latest issue:

Botanic Macaroni

Steven Shapin

What made the Vikings tick?

Tom Shippey

In the Lab

Rupert Beale

Will there be a Brexit deal?

Anand Menon

Short Cuts: Under New Management

Rory Scothorne


Bridget Alsdorf

Sarah Moss

Blake Morrison

Poem: ‘Country Music’

Ange Mlinko

On the Trail of Garibaldi

Tim Parks

Art Lessons

Peter Campbell

You’ll like it when you get there

Tom Crewe

Early Kermode

Stefan Collini

‘The Vanishing Half’

Joanna Biggs

At the Movies: ‘The Truth’

Michael Wood

The Suitcase: Part Two

Frances Stonor Saunders

Poem: ‘Siri U’

Jorie Graham

Diary: Getting into Esports

John Lanchester


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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