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Collected Poems

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  137 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
In his memoirs and fiction, Primo Levi bore witness to the suffering of the Holocaust and books like The Periodic Table and The Drowned and the Saved are now recognised as classics of twentieth-century literature. Throughout his writing life, Levi also produced poetry and this volume collects together all his poems, including eighteen that have not previously appeared in b ...more
Paperback, 104 pages
Published March 9th 1992 by Faber Faber (first published 1981)
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Apr 14, 2008 Bryant rated it really liked it
Primo Levi survived Auschwitz, and his poems are largely preoccupied with this experience. Like many writers who deal with genocide, he must aim at communicating horrors that are virtually incommunicable. His skeletal language is stripped to a probing of fundamentals:

"Consider whether this is a man,
Who labors in the mud
Who knows no peace
Who fights for a crust of bread
Who dies at a yes or a no."

In later poems, Levi examines the hardships of various figures from classical antiquity, including a re
Aug 15, 2013 Molly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Se questo è un uomo

Voi che vivete sicuri
nelle vostre tiepide case,
voi che trovate tornando a sera
il cibo caldo e visi amici:
Considerate se questo è un uomo
che lavora nel fango
che non conosce pace
che lotta per mezzo pane
che muore per un si o per un no.
Considerate se questa è una donna,
senza capelli e senza nome
senza più forza di ricordare
vuoti gli occhi e freddo il grembo
come una rana d'inverno.
Meditate che questo è stato:
vi comando queste parole.
Scolpitele nel vostro cuore
stando in casa andando
Bro_Pair أعرف
Some excellent poems in here, but most are disappointing. Levi's at his best when he's writing in a hangdog kind of deadpan; in "Unfinished Business" he slyly uses a flat affect to evince probably one of the funnier portraits of a failed artist I've seen in a while. And he is really good writing about animals. Read all the poems in this named for animals.
Adam  McPhee
Mar 21, 2017 Adam McPhee rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, italy, jewish
Agree with Bro_Pair's review: some great poems mixed with a lot of disappointments. The animal ones, though, are fantastic. And of course the ones reflecting on the Holocaust are haunting and somber.

To be fair to Levi, he points out that he's not a poet and some of them are little more than scribblings he occasionally jotted down when he couldn't convey it in prose. And the ones that work are, despite his own misgivings, excellent. Maybe some of the best poetry I've ever read.

Favourites: Arac
Lisa Rector
Jul 10, 2017 Lisa Rector rated it liked it
Favorite poems - The Crow's Song, After R. M. Rilke, Epitaph, The Crow's Song II, There Were a Hundred, Pliny, The Girl-child of Pompeii, Toward the Valley, Wooden Heart, The First Atlas, Autobiography, Voices, Unfinished Business, Partisan, Arachne, Passover, Old Mole, A Bridge, The Work, A Mouse, A Profession, and Chess.
Sep 19, 2009 Steve rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I'm somewhat torn as far as how to rate this collection. The first 20 pages contain the best poems, which were written, for the most part, around 1946. These are searing Holocaust poems, and they will stay with you. It's amazing that Levi wrote so soon (and so well) after his experience in Auschwitz. Catharsis, yes, but to see such pain transformed into such diamond like poetry (and I'm reading a translation) so close to the event, is something I find to be remarkable. However, as a result, the ...more
Aug 03, 2015 Victoria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1980s
I loved his poetry, meaningful and heartfelt. Just a touch of sinister which I love. I really enjoyed the metaphors, although I did feel a bit disorientated - as i think my brain does not compute the style as well as I would love to.

I absolutely LOVED this piece


Only my enemy for all time,
The abominable black queen,
Has had nerve equal to mine
In helping her inept king.
Inept and cowardly mine too — that’s understood.
From the very start he crouched
Behind his row of plucky pawns,
Then fle
Mar 14, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I loved his poetry. It's meaningful and heartfelt and I felt that they were some of the best poems I've read.
Jen Helfand
Nov 09, 2014 Jen Helfand rated it liked it
What weight. What strong swelling suffering. Made me light a candle and pray.
Jul 27, 2007 Jenni rated it really liked it
Shelves: poets, translations
Mostly known for his gripping memoirs, but he's also an excellent poet.
Jeremy Tibbetts
Jun 10, 2013 Jeremy Tibbetts rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Levi's poetry is tragic and sweeping, epic and lonely. Some of them are difficult to read, some of them are pleasing, but all deserve a read through.
Jun 11, 2014 Cassie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jan 01, 2012 Angie rated it liked it
It's a pity that he didn't write more poems in his lifetime - this was a good collection and left me wanting to read more.
Jan 26, 2016 Edith rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion, poetry
In my opinion, this book is a must-read. That is all.
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  • Collected Shorter Poems, 1927-1957
  • Selected Poems
  • Selected Poems: 1931-2004
  • Collected Poems
  • Selected Poems
  • Cuttlefish Bones
  • Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness
  • Quicksands: A Memoir
  • The Runaway Soul
  • Silence in the Snowy Fields
  • Poems and Prose
  • Ring of Bone: Collected Poems, 1950-1971
  • The Selected Poems
  • The Trojan Women and Other Plays
  • Selected Poetry
  • New Selected Poems, 1957-1994
  • Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems
  • Talking to My Body
Primo Michele Levi (Italian: [ˈpriːmo ˈlɛːvi]; 31 July 1919 – 11 April 1987) was an Italian chemist and writer. He was the author of several books, novels, collections of short stories, essays, and poems. His best-known works include If This Is a Man (1947), his account of the year he spent as a prisoner in the Auschwitz extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland; and his unique work, The Periodic ...more
More about Primo Levi...

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