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Kathleen Raine

(1908 - 2003)

"Young or old / What was I but the story told / By an unageing one?" (Kathleen Raine, from 'Ah, many, many are the dead...')

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These poems come from a special recording for the Poetry Archive:

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Select bibliography

  • The Year One: Poems, H Hamilton 1952 - out of print
  • The hollow hill: And other poems 1960-1964, H Hamilton 1965 - out of print
  • Six dreams: And other poems, Enitharmon 1968 - out of print
  • Blake and Tradition (prose), Routledge 1969
  • Penguin Modern Poets 17, Penguin 1970 - out of print
  • Lost Country, H Hamilton 1971
  • On a deserted shore, Hamilton 1973
  • Yeats, the Tarot and the Golden Dawn, Dolmen Press 1973
  • The Land Unknown, Hamilton / G. Braziller, 1975 - out of print
  • The inner journey of the poet (prose), Golgonooza Press 1976 (500 numbered copies)
  • The oracle in the heart, and other poems, 1975-1978, Dolmen Press in association with G. Allen & Unwin 1980
  • Collected poems, 1935-1980, Allen & Unwin 1981
  • The presence: poems, 1984-87, Golgonooza Press 1987
  • Selected poems, Golgonooza Press 1988
  • Living with mystery: poems 1987-91, Golgonooza Press 1992
  • The Collected Poems of Kathleen Raine (ed. Brian Keeble), Golgonooza Press 2000
  • Blake and Antiquity, Taylor & Francis 2002
  • Kathleen Raine Reading from her Poems, The Poetry Archive 2005
Kathleen Raine (1908-2003) was the author of twelve books of poetry, four of autobiography, and much scholarly work, particularly on Blake and Yeats, which prove her transcendent understanding of the art of poetry, and the art of living. The latter led to her becoming one of the founders of the Temenos Review, of which she later became sole editor, and the Temenos Academy, both committed to what Raine referred to as "Learning of the Imagination". She was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 1992 and, in 2000, was made both a CBE and a Commandeur de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Her poetry is infused with the urge to approach the sacred through art, insisting - in 'Who are We?' - that we are "Presences of that omnipresence without end or beginning". The sacred is understood in a wide and inclusive sense, one in which there is room for Plato, Jesus, Buddha and Shiva, all alongside a visionary understanding of smaller things, such as the ephemeral 'Daisies of Florence' that open into an image of "her who walks through spring after spring in primavera robed". Yet these are woven into a human world that includes painter-friends, children and Raine's own mother, and natural details, such as 'The Leaf' that takes awareness away from aging human frailty for a moment through the speaker's rapt attention as it "turned and twirled / on invisible wind upheld".

Her technical skills incline toward echoes, assonance, and the cadence of her phrases - approaching a haiku-like purity in the fragments of 'Ah, many, many are the dead...' - yet there are also incantatory moments in this recording, such as in 'Into What Pattern...'. Her delivery has an oracular edge to it, giving a sense of the sublime that informs it, which is entirely apposite to a poetry, committed as it is to the transcendental outlook, that re-opens its readers, its listeners, to a sense of that sublime.

Her recording was made on 3 August 2000 at the poet's home in London and was produced by Richard Carrington.

Kathleen Raine's Favourite Poetry Sayings:

"One Power alone makes a Poet: Imagination, the Divine Vision." - William Blake

"I know now that revelation is from the self, but from that age-long memoried self, that shapes the elaborate shell of the mollusc and the child in the womb, that teaches the birds to make their nest; and that genius is a crisis that joins that buried self for certain moments to our trivial daily mind. " - W B Yeats from Autobiographies


1992 Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry

2000 Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres

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