Collected Poems

Collected Poems

by Kathleen Raine


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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Now in her ninety-second year she has chosen this work from eleven published collections and from other uncollected and unpublished sources.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.

About the Author:
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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781582431352
Publisher: Counterpoint Press
Publication date: 02/28/2001
Pages: 388
Product dimensions: 6.38(w) x 9.58(h) x 1.23(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


A bird sings on a matin tree
'Once such a bird was I.'

The sky's gaze says
'Remember your mother.'

Seas, trees and voices cry
'Nature is your nature.'

I reply
'I am what is not what it was.'
Seas, trees, and bird, alas!
Sea, tree, and bird was I.


This planetary blood
Streams crucifixion
In the space of bounded life's
Attraction and repulsion

Widening on the rude
Improvisation that the senses build
Staking extremities
To mark the victories

The streaming blood-bright
Iron-torrent of the wounds

As the cloudy mansions
Melt into clouds themselves

Beyond the fought-on
Woman-wept victory-vaunted


There is a poem on the way,
There is a poem all round me,
The poem is in the near future,
The poem isin the upper air
Above the foggy atmosphere
It hovers, a spirit
That I would make incarnate.
Let my body sweat
Let snakes torment my breast
My eyes be blind, ears deaf, hands distraught
Mouth parched, uterus cut out,
Belly slashed, back lashed,
Tongue slivered into thongs of leather
Rain stones inserted in my breasts,
Head severed,

If only the lips may speak,
If only the god will come.


Full of desire I lay, the sky wounding me,
Each cloud a ship without me sailing, each tree
Possessing what my soul lacked, tranquillity.

Waiting for the longed-for voice to speak
Through the mute telephone, my body grew weak
With the well-known and mortal death, heartbreak.

The language I knew best, my human speech
Forsook my fingers, and out of reach
Were Homer's ghosts, the savage conches of the beach.

Then the sky spoke to me in language clear,
Familiar as the heart, than love more near.
The sky said to my soul, 'You have what you desire.

'Know now that you are born along with these
Clouds, winds, and stars, and ever-moving seas
And forest dwellers. This your nature is.

Lift up your heart again without fear,
Sleep in the tomb, or breathe the living air,
This world you with the flower and with the tiger share.'

Then I saw every visible substance turn
Into immortal, every cell new born
Burned with the holy fire of passion.

This world I saw as on her judgment day
When the war ends, and the sky rolls away,
And all is light, love and eternity.


I saw the sun step like a gentleman
Dressed in black and proud as sin.
I saw the sun walk across London
Like a young M.P. risen to the occasion.

His step was light, his tread was dancing,
His lips were smiling, his eyes glancing.
Over the Cenotaph in Whitehall
The sun took the wicket with my skull.

The sun plays tennis in the court of Geneva
With the guts of a Finn and the head of an Emperor,
The sun plays squash in a tomb of marble,
The horses of Apocalypse are in his stable.

The sun plays a game of darts in Spain,
Three by three in flight formation,
The invincible wheels of his yellow car
Are the discs that kindle the Chinese war.

The sun shows the world to the world,
Turns its own ghost on the terrified crowd,
Then plunges all images into the ocean
Of the nightly mass emotion.

Games of chance, and games of skill,
All his sports are games to kill.
I saw the murderer at evening lie
Bleeding on the deathbed sky.

His hyacinth breath, his laurel hair,
His blinding sight, his moving air,
My love, my grief, my weariness, my fears
Hid from me in a night of tears.


FOR going out by night there is no place.
The sun upon the dark no region casts,
The rose beyond the evening cannot pass.

The flying sun withdraws colour and place,
Time, and all material attributes —
The rose beyond the angel cannot pass.

First of all flowers the crimson are in shade
With the unborn, the sleeping and the dead —
There is no place for going out by night.

And creatures all make room within the heart —
The heart no region and no sun requires,
Nor measuring time nor space for its desires.

The heart no region and no light requires,
The cannibal heart, that swallows up itself
Past the angelic sun, returns to life.

And errant night upon the table finds
That bread and wine upon the holy stone,
The body of the dead, and the unborn.

Since for going out by night there is no place
For the unborn, the sleeping, and the dead,
What sun, what sin, decrees the grail to fade?


The women burn throughout the dead of night,
Their red signs through the curtained windows peep.
What sacrilegious hand puts out the light,
And for what fallen body do they weep?

Christ, as I die, I own it is for thee,
Love, human nature, origin and shame.
The same light in the shrine and brothel see,
Wherever human passion lights its flame.

For of that red star are we virgins all,
And the red heart is stilled by the red fire
That moves the spirit more than its desire
Towards unmoving love, the point of will.

Table of Contents

From Stone and Flower (1943)
`See, see Christ's blood streams in the firmament'3
Far-darting Apollo5
The Red Light7
Tu non se' in terra, si come tu credi8
Night in Martindale9
The Hyacinth9
The Night-Blowing Cereus10
In Time11
To my Mountain11
At the Waterfall12
Good Friday12
In the Beck14
A Strange Evening15
Returning Autumn15
On Leaving Ullswater15
Leaving Martindale16
London Revisited17
The Wind of Time17
The Golden Leaf18
Happy the captive and enchanted souls18
The Silver Stag20
The Speech of Birds21
London Trees21
The Sphere22
New Year 194323
The Healing Spring24
The Messengers24
The Hands25
From Living in Time (1946)
Seen in a Glass29
Winter Solstice29
The Trees in Tubs30
Mourning in Spring 194330
For Posterity31
The Tree of Heaven32
Four Poems of Mary Magdalene33
The Spring35
The Moment36
The Goddess37
The Rose38
From The Pythoness (1949)
Lenten Flowers42
Word Made Flesh45
Winter Fire45
Isis Wanderer47
Ex nihilo49
The Transit of the Gods50
Out of Nothing51
Question and Answer53
The Clue54
Woman to Lover55
The Journey55
The Traveller56
The World57
Peace of Mind58
The End of Love58
The Year One (1952)
Northumbrian Sequence61
Love Spell69
Spell Against Sorrow71
Spell to Bring Lost Creatures Home73
Spell of Creation74
The Unloved75
Amo ergo sum76
Spell of Sleep77
Spell of Safekeeping78
Two Invocations of Death79
A Word Known to the Dead82
Three Poems on Ilusion83
The Holy Shroud86
Three Poems of Incarnation87
The Victims90
The Company91
Seventh Day92
The Marriage of Psyche92
The Moment96
The Locked Gates99
Message from Home99
The Hollow Hill (1965)
Night Thought105
Night Sky106
Kore in Hades107
Bheinn Naomh
1. Sun109
2. Golden Flowers109
3. The Loch110
4. The Summit111
5. Man111
Childhood Memory112
The Hollow Hill115
The Well121
The Path122
The Reflected Light123
Eileann Chanaidh
1. The Ancient Speech124
2. Highland Graveyard124
3. The Island Cross125
4. Nameless Islets126
5. Stone on High Crag127
6. Shadow128
The Halt128
Moving Image129
The Elementals130
The Eighth Sphere131
The Wilderness132
As a child forgotten133
The Star133
Nine Italian Poems
Natura Naturans134
Old Paintings on Italian Walls136
Daisies of Florence137
The Eternal Child138
Scala Coeli138
Last Things140
Soliloquies upon Love142
From The Lost Country (1971)
A House of Music151
Letter to Pierre Emmanuel153
Ninfa Revisited154
A Painting by Winifred Nicholson157
By the River Eden158
Seen from the Window of a Railway-Carriage161
April's new apple buds on an old lichened tree162
I felt, under my old breasts, this April day162
`There Shall be no More Sea'163
On an Ancient Isle165
In Answer to a Letter asking me for Volumes of my Early
Message to Gavin168
The Dead168
Falling Leaves169
Long ago I thought you young, bright daimon169
Once upon earth they stood170
Homage to C. G. Jung171
The Crypt172
Hieros Gamos173
A Dream of Roses173
The River174
Told in a Dream176
On a Deserted Shore (1973)178
From The Oval Portrait (1977)
Secret companion220
November Dream220
What is it to be old221
Acacia Tree221
The Oval Portrait222
Your gift of life was idleness224
The Leaf225
Her Room225
With a wave of her old hand226
For the Visitor's Book227
Maire Macrae's Song229
Deserted Village on Mingulay229
Not that I have forgotten231
I went out in the naked night231
Eider afloat in the bay232
Crossing the sound I summoned you in thought233
All that is233
Blue butterflies' eyed wings234
Petal of white rose234
On basalt organ-pipes234
Turner's Seas235
The Poet Answers the Accuser235
Winter Paradise237
Harvest of learning I have reaped237
The very leaves of the acacia tree are London238
Afternoon sunlight plays238
Bright cloud239
From The Oracle in the Heart (1980)
I who am what the dead have made243
Into what pattern, into what music have the spheres
whirled us243
Unsolid Matter244
In My Seventieth Year244
Book of Hours246
A Love Remembered247
The Oracle in the Heart249
Behind the Lids of Sleep250
April 1976251
Summer Garden253
Ah, God, I may not hate254
My Mothers Birthday255
Sweet briar fragrance on the air255
Returning from Church256
Too many memories confuse the old257
Canna's Basalt Crags258
Homage to Rutland Boughton259
As a hurt child refuses comfort259
Winifred's Garden260
A Valentine260
A Candle-lit Room262
Short Poems263
From The Presence (1987)
A Departure273
In Paralda's Kingdom279
Light Over Water281
A small matter283
World's music changes284
Tell me, dark world284
I had meant to write a different poem285
The Fore-Mother286
Lily of the Valley286
The Presence287
Threading my way, devious in its weaving287
Say all is illusion289
That flash of joy289
An Old Story291
Blue Columbines294
Nameless Rose296
The Invisible Kingdom297
Story's End298
A Dream300
Who Are We?301
A Candle for All Saints, All Souls302
London Rain303
London Wind303
Words of Wisdom304
From Living With Mystery (1992)
Hymn to Time307
Memory of Sarnath310
A Head of Parvati311
London Dawn311
Not in Time312
Paradise Seed313
No Where313
The Dream314
All This315
Nature changes at the speed of life317
The turquoise sunset evening sky320
Prayer to the Lord Shiva321
Wanting no longer those things that from day to day322
At the back-end of time323
After Hearing a Recording of Music by Hildegard of Bingen324
Dissolving Identity324
Do I imagine reality325
Petite Messe Solennelle325
Uncollected and New Poems
Who listens, when in the concert-hall329
On a Shell-strewn Beach329
Descent into Hades331
The Chartres Annunciation332
My Father's Birthday333

What People are Saying About This

Cyril Connolly

A meditative, intimate, feminine poet with a real gift...they are thoughtful poems, full of ideas and feeling for Nature.

Louise Bogan

Miss Raine is in nature, as simply as a shell on a shore or a bird in a tree... When her nicety of observation (and she can observe as closely as a professional naturalist) coincides with a deep level of feeling, her poems fuse spirit and substance in a remarkable way.

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