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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


The Collected Poems of  Kathleen Raine (Counterpoint) The lifework of one of the 20th century's greatest poets Since her first collection of poems published in 1943, Kathleen Raine has been writing a kind of mystical nature poetry all her own, a poetry immersed in the quiet air of solitude and imagination. Vita Sackville-West, writing in the Observer, spoke of her "curious purity": "Her poems are like drops of water, clear, self-contained, and sometimes iridescent with the elusive colors of mysticism." Collected Poems is the lifework of a visionary, a celebration of the miracles of nature and man's place among them. Now in her ninety-second year she has chosen this work from eleven published collections and from other uncollected and unpublished sources. The earliest poems were written in the mid-thirties, the latest in the late nineties.

Kathleen Raine is both poet and scholar. She is an internationally respected critic of William Blake and W. B. Yeats and has won many literary awards including the Harriet Monroe Prize and the Edna St. Vincent Millay Prize from the American Poetry Society. She lives in London. The Inner Journey of the Poet, and Other Papers
by Kathleen Raine, photography by Brian Keeble (George Braziller) continues her autobiographical reflections.

Yeats the Initiate by Kathleen Raine (Rowman & Littlefield) The eminent poet and scholar Kathleen Raine, leading exponent of "the learning of the imagination," brings together all her essays on Yeats (some never before printed) covering many aspects of the traditions and influences that informed his great poetry. In saluting Raine's "magnificent achievement in this rich and learned book," Professor Augustine Martin of University College Dublin states that she "irradiates [Yeats] and every corner of his work. Her unique and unanswerable contribution to Yeatsian criticism is to establish his authority as an immensely learned poet and thinker in the tradition of Plato and the Eternal Philosophy." Contains over 140 illustrations.

William Blake by Kathleen Raine (Thames & Hudson) is the abridged edition of her monumental study Blake and Tradition, the A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts 1962 (Bollengen Series XXXVII), (Blake and Antiquity is the Princeton abridgement.), which helped to provide a cultural content to the great eccentric English poet. Raine’s pioneering effort pretty much helped set the directions of other Blake critics, though her views never became mainstream tin Blakean studies.

Kathleen Raine has published eleven volumes of poetry since 1943. She is a scholar of William Blake and W. B. Yeats. Her autobiography has been published in several volumes. She is the founder of the Temenos Academy, London, and the editor of the Temenos Review.

The Work of the Temenos Academy

The Temenos academy was launched in 1990 as a teaching organisation dedicated to the same central idea that had inspired the earlier 'Temenos Review' (a journal devoted to the arts of the Imagination). Scholars and teachers, committed to what is now generally known as 'the perennial philosophy' - the learning of the Imagination - were invited to lecture and hold study groups and to teach the ever-growing number of devoted Friends and students.

From the outset the Academy was housed in His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales's Institute of Architecture in Regents' Park - now integrated with The Prince's Foundation. The Foundation has moved to new premises in Shoreditch: some Temenos lectures and seminars are held there, others in the West End.

The Academy offers three lecture terms: Autumn, Spring and Summer. The lectures cover a wide variety of subjects appropriate to the Ten Principles listed below.

It is an indication of the respect in which the Academy is held that speakers from all over the world are attracted to come and lecture, as are some of the most distinguished scholars of the day from the United Kingdom.

In addition to weekly lectures taking place in term-time, the Academy also arranges study groups in which a key text is examined in depth under the guidance of a scholar, expert in the chosen subject. A highlight of the Academy's year is the annual Interfaith Lecture. In addition the Academy holds an annual concert to thank those who have supported its work. His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales at St James’s Palace has for the last three years hosted this event.

It is the view of our Patron The Prince of Wales, our founder Dr Kathleen Raine, the Council and all who work for the Temenos Academy, that there is an urgent need to adopt a universal spiritual outlook consonant with Plato's view that all branches of knowledge lead to the same eternal truth. The Temenos Academy seeks to be a place where that ideal may, in some degree, be realised.

The Temenos Academy is an association dedicated to the teaching and dissemination of the perennial wisdom, which has been the ground of every civilisation.

Whereas in Shelley's words, 'the deep truth is imageless', the Arts (from architecture, painting, music and poetry, to the songs and dances of the villages and the designs of textiles and pottery), have within every civilisation been the flowering of a vision of the Sacred, embodied in some tradition of spiritual teaching.

The arts of the imagination flourish therefore in the Temenos - the precinct of that sacred centre, be that centre temple, synagogue, church, mosque, or the invisible sanctuary within the heart. Since knowledge is universal we seek to learn from all traditions. Within western civilisation, Temenos follows the Platonic and Plotinian tradition from its pre-Socratic origins to the present day.

Our purpose is to study the learning of the Imagination, both in the arts and also in such metaphysical teachings as are likewise the expression of traditional spiritual knowledge. We reject the premises of secular materialism, widespread at the present time, which deny the very ground of meaning and value. W.B. Yeats wrote of the soul:

Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence

Therefore we look also for contemporary expressions in the arts and other modes of thought which are rooted in that unageing spiritual reality.

Ten Basic Principles

Acknowledgement of Divinity.
Love of wisdom, as the essential basis of civilisation.
Spiritual vision, as the life-breath of civilisation.
Maintenance of the revered traditions of mankind.
Understanding of tradition as continual renewal.
The provision of teaching by the best teachers available of their disciplines, and of publications which set the highest standard in both content and design.
Mindfulness that the purpose of teaching is to enable students to apply in their own lives that which they learn.
To make Temenos known to all those who may benefit from its work.
Reminding ourselves and those we teach to look up and not down.
Governance of The Temenos Academy itself in the light of the above principles.


Earth no longer
hymns the Creator,
the seven days of wonder,
the Garden is over —
all the stories are told,
the seven seals broken
all that begins
must have its ending,
our striving, desiring,
our living and dying,
for Time, the bringer
of abundant days
is Time the destroyer —
  In the Iron Age
  the Kali Yuga
  To whom can we pray
  at the end of an era
  but the Lord Shiva,
  the Liberator, the purifier?

Our forests are felled,
our mountains eroded,
the wild places
where the beautiful animals
found food and sanctuary
we have desolated,
a third of our seas,
a third of our rivers
we have polluted
and the sea-creatures dying.
Our civilization’s
blind progress
in wrong courses
through wrong choices
has brought us to nightmare
where what seems,
is, to the dreamer,
the collective mind
of the twentieth century —
this world of wonders
not divine creation
but a big bang
of blind chance,
purposeless accident,
mother earth’s children,
their living and loving,
their delight in being
not joy but chemistry,
stimulus, reflex,
valueless, meaningless,
while to our machines
we impute intelligence,
in computers and robots
we store information
and call it knowledge,
we seek guidance
by dialling numbers,
pressing buttons,
throwing switches,
in place of family
our companions are shadows,
cast on a screen,
bodiless voices, fleshless faces,
where was the Garden
a Disney-land
of virtual reality,
in place of angels
the human imagination
is peopled with foot-ballers
film-stars, media-men,
experts, know-all
television personalities,
animated puppets
with cartoon faces —
  To whom can we pray
  for release from illusion,
  from the world-cave,
  but Time the destroyer,
  the liberator, the purifier?

The curse of Midas
has changed at a touch,
a golden handshake
earthly paradise
to lifeless matter,
where once was seed-time,
summer and winter,
food-chain, factory farming,
monocrops for supermarkets,|br> pesticides, weed-killers
birdless springs,
endangered species,
battery-hens, hormone injections,
artificial insemination,
implants, transplants, sterilization,
surrogate births, contraception,
cloning, genetic engineering, abortion,
and our days shall be short
in the land we have sown
with the Dragon’s teeth
where our armies arise
fully armed on our killing-fields
with land-mines and missiles,
tanks and artillery,
gas-masks and body-bags,
our air-craft rain down
fire and destruction,
our space-craft broadcast
lies and corruption,
our elected parliaments
parrot their rhetoric
of peace and democracy
while the truth we deny
returns in our dreams
of Armageddon,
the death-wish, the arms-trade,
hatred and slaughter
profitable employment
of our thriving cities,
the arms-race
to the end of the world
of our postmodern,
post-human nations,
progress to the nihil
of our spent civilization.
But cause and effect,
just and inexorable
law of the universe
no fix of science,
nor amenable god
can save from ourselves
the selves we have become —
  At the end of history
  to whom can we pray
  but to the destroyer,
  the liberator, the purifier?

In the beginning
the stars sang together
the cosmic harmony,
but Time, imperceptible
of all that has been,
all that will be,
our heart-beat your drum,
our dance of life
your dance of death
in the crematorium,
our high-rise dreams,
Valhalla, Utopia,
Xanadu, Shangri-la, world revolution
Time has taken, and soon will be gone
Cambridge, Princeton and M.I.T.,
Nalanda, Athens and Alexandria
all for the holocaust
of civilization —
  To whom shall we pray
  when our vision has faded
  but the world-destroyer,
  the liberator, the purifier?

But great is the realm
of the world-creator,
the world-sustainer
from whom we come,
in whom we move
and have our being,
about us, within us
the wonders of wisdom,
the trees and the fountains,
the stars and the mountains,
all the children of joy,
the loved and the known,
the unknowable mystery
to whom we return
through the world-destroyer, —
  Holy, holy
  at the end of the world
  the purging fire
  of the purifier, the liberator!

Kathleen Raine has published eleven volumes of poetry since 1943. She is a scholar of William Blake and W. B. Yeats. Her autobiography has been published in several volumes. She is the founder of the Temenos Academy, London, and the editor of the Temenos Review, wherein this poem will also appear.


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