The River

“Evening at the River” by Christoph Gerber (2002 and 2004)

“It was better, he thought, to fail in attempting exquisite things than to succeed in the department of the utterly contemptible.”

-Arthur Machen
No truer words… I have a life that can like many, be measured out by ones many failures, and on occasion, some success. I have never met a deadline that I haven’t had to race against and then some. Yet, these failures seem to push the art along. I fail towards the side of aesthetics, willing to sacrifice the whole for the detail, for the nuance and a bit more. The latest Invisible College is within this realm. It has been a fretful event. The publisher has raised the price for printing so I am looking for another on-line printer, or a way to change the whole model.
It gets to be a bit of a challenge; it is all on a shoestring, and there really isn’t any fiscal reward for the efforts. That though shouldn’t be the guide. (though it would be nice to see more people pick up the magazine/journal) This is a labour of love IMPOV, and the fruits that it has and will bear are not all discernible at this point, but they are there and will continue to emerge over time.
We are always on the look-out for articles, artist, and hints that you’d find interesting for the Invisible College…
I have been working on this Turf for a few days, and it is just about right… Today’s Turf covers the Poetry of Kathleen Raine, renowned British Poet and Mystic. Her poetry sings, and rises up in a most beautiful way. We also have some great Arthur Machen quotes, and article on Kathleen Raine, and 3 videos from Nitin Sawhney… I just recieved the new album, and it is a wonderful one (Thanks Peter!)
Hope you enjoy this edition,
Oh yeah give the Radio a listen!
On The Menu:

Arthur Machen Quotes

Nitin Sawhney – Koyal

In Memoriam: Kathleen Raine 1908-2003

Nitin Sawhney – Letting Go (with the wonderful Tina Grace)

Her Poetry: Kathleen Raine

Biography of Kathleen Raine

Nitin Sawhney – Sunset

Arthur Machen Quotes:
“Every branch of human knowledge if traced up to its source and final principles vanishes into mystery”
“For, usually and fitly, the presence of an introduction is held to imply that there is something of consequence and importance to be introduced.”
“Now, everybody, I suppose, is aware that in recent years the silly business of divination by dreams has ceased to be a joke and has become a very serious science.”
“I dream in fire but work in clay.”

Nitin Sawhney – Koyal

In Memoriam: Kathleen Raine 1908-2003

-Christopher Bamford
Kathleen Raine was one of Britain’s deepest and most spiritual poets. A scholar of Blake and Yeats, she was also the founder of the Temenos Academy and Journal which have done much to keep alive in the modern world the vital link between the imagination and the sacred. When she died recently, we lost a champion of the sacred tradition in Western literature. She left behind four volumes of memoir plus a unique legacy of poetry and scholarship.
Kathleen Jesse Raine was British a poet, scholar, critic, philosopher and tireless worker for the spirit, who died on July 7, 2003, at the ripe old age of 95. She was the author of more than twelve books of poetry, an autobiography in four volumes, and many works of scholarly and philosophical criticism whose central concern was always the reaffirmation of what she believed to be the perennial, true and spiritual ground of poetry and inspiration. In the service of this truth, she delivered her seminal Mellon Lectures on Blake and Tradition and, more recently, in the 1970′s gave her “Summa Blakeana”-her lectures on Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job.
In such projects, as in all her work, Kathleen Raine constantly strove to elucidate the sacramental wisdom of the imagination, that wisdom inherent in reality, immanent in nature and in mind, which the poet, when he or she is most truly “original,” only uncovers or remembers. This symbolic gnosis, “of form and beauty inviolate,” in which “inner and outer reality are at one, the world in harmony with the imagination,” is, Dr. Raine believes, humanity’s original and natural state. It is the Earthly Paradise or Eden, which each must recover or else perish, but which once restored becomes its own joy, true science, and true poetry:
Sleep at the tree’s root,

where the night is spun Into the stuff of worlds,

listen to the winds,

the tides, and the night’s harmonies,

and know All that you knew before you began to forget…
–Message from Home

She was convinced of the primacy of the imagination-that “mental things alone are real.” Her life and work were concerned with tracing, learning, and practicing the one journey of remembrance. This is the narrow track the soul must tread, from Eden to Eden, through all the hells until, end and beginning joined once more, hells transcended and illusion dropped away, the perfection of the original sphere—”the cell and seed of life”—is wrought again.
“Poetry,” she stated repeatedly, “is the language of the soul,” invoking by this distinction the traditional tripartite anthropology of body, soul and spirit (or intellect). For it is the soul, in Christianity and in Platonism, whose descent becomes a fall through self-love when, as an image enamoured of itself, it becomes entangled in the suffering that follows from thinking that it is substantial in itself, its own source. Thus for her it was the soul and its world, fallen and de-symbolized, which must be purified and educated. Once, raised up and reunited with its celestial double, its true original, the soul can then raise the world itself up, transforming its veil of illusion into the diaphanous and redemptive play of symbols:
Bright cloud,

Bringer of rain to far fields,

To me, who will not drink that water

–fall nor feel–
Wet mist on my face,

White gold and rose

Vision of light,

Meaning and beauty immeasurable.

That meaning is not rain, nor that

beauty mist.
—Bright Cloud

For her the drama of the soul, whose language is poetry, is that of life itself, of created things and of our earthly being, of the struggle to recall and, recalling, to unite with that higher principle which, following Plato and Yeats, she calls the Daimon. Kathleen Raine felt with Plato that if they do not recall and lead us back to Eden-if they do not partake of the “inner journey”-poetry and life are abused and have no true place in the ideal Republic. For her, as for all Platonists, life and art-social, ethical and aesthetic (as also biological physical) forms-have but one function, the perfection of being, which is the knowledge and remembrance of the Eternal Kingdom:

Their only task to recollect

Originals laid up in heaven…
—Ninfa Revisited

Her first guide in this was life itself, inscribed like a palimpsest with the century’s great themes of loss and anguish, rootlessness and passion, reductionism and materialism. She bore witness to these, overcame and transformed then by a continuous striving to be in all things true to herself, her vision and sacred calling. Next, her guides were Blake and Yeats (and to a lesser degree Keats, Shelley, Coleridge, Dante, Spenser and Milton). They led her to drink deeply at the “ancient springs” of Platonism, Hermeticism and Kabbalah, teaching her to attend closely to such perennial “singing masters of the soul” as Orpheus, Plato, Hermes, Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Proclus, Paracelsus, Boehme, Swedenborg and Thomas Taylor. Long labor in this school confirmed that Blake and Yeats were not at all “original” in the modern sense, but were fully so in the ancient one. They were not innovators, except in the precise etymological sense of those who “renewed,” that is made new again for their time what was perennially and continuously new: the wisdom and process of creation itself.
Realizing this, Kathleen Raine worked to recover the possibility of such a “renewal” or gnosis-that remembering which Plato called a “not-forgetting”-both for herself and for her age. It was always this that spurred her on; and her study and her scholarship were always secondary to it -”always incidental to the needs of a poet for knowledge of a certain kind.” Therefore she never fitted easily into an academic role and worked mostly on her own, independently and for the sake of the greater good. “Like Thomas Taylor,” she writes, “I read the books of wisdom for the sake of that wisdom, seeing scholarship always as a means to an end, never as an end in itself”:
Stone into man must grow,

the human word carved by our whispers in the passing air is

the authentic utterance of cloud,

the speech of flowing water, blowing wind,

of silver moon and stunted juniper.
—Night in Martindale

Kathleen Raine was perhaps most precious to us because she was so much what she taught-which means that one cannot agree with her philosophy and remain untouched by her life, or admire her scholarship but deplore her philosophy. Her poetry, her life, her metaphysics, her aesthetics, her cosmology were all of one piece, a single seamless cloth. It was this wholeness that has allowed her to be one of those to perform for our time the same function that Pythagoras, Plato, Plotinus, Proclus, Eriugena, Ficino and Thomas Taylor performed for their times: the living transmission of Orphic Teaching. By this count the eighth in the succession, she may be said to mark the beginning of a new octave; and this, though fanciful, is at least metaphorically apt. For she became the prophet of that “new age” of the spirit in which the only true authority is the wisdom of the heart, Blake’s “True Man,” the Imagination.
Led to this “New Age” view by her life as by her study, she was also brought to confront its logical complement, the simultaneous reality of an ending, of what she calls “the leaf-fall of a civilization”-the natural end of European Christendom. From this stance on the cusp, she faced the end of the twentieth century with both hope for a new civilization and the fear of a terrible barbarism. She saw hope in “the seeds, the living among the dead, those who do not participate in the collective disintegration, but guard their secret of immortality, the essence of what has been and may be again.” But she feared the barbarism, the chaotic disintegration within which these seeds will germinate, lying among those who have no knowledge of “what has been and may be again,” and so have no past or ground, either ontological or historical:
To be a barbarian is to have no past;

For the past is the present of the

future, the human kingdom;

Some known to us, others unknown,

you, I, that still continuing few

To whose hearts the remembered and

forgotten dead are presences,

Ripening in memory the seed of cities

To scatter for what meagre crop this

poisoned stricken earth may bear,

Or harvest into that native land

we desire and remember,

Keep France, keep Christendom,

keep Athens in mind.
—Letter to Pierre Emmanuel

Here she deeds us another gift: her understanding of culture as that net of truths that a society must hold permanent so that others may be changed, as the society itself changes, endures change, and yet remains the same. These are the qualities that ensure continuity and order. They are the invisible bonds of shared value, humanly honed and perfected and passed on in innumerable ways, whose embodiment is both a practice and a gnosis. They are a living access to the knowledge sub specie aeternitatis that myth, ritual, history and literature transmit and evoke. Without such a cultural tradition, as the Russian poet Mandelstam realized when he underwent what Dr. Raine calls “the Marxist variant of our Western materialism,” history (and evolution) becomes “mere progress”—”the mechanical movement of a clock-hand, not the sacred succession of interlinked events.”
Most precious of all, there is her poetry in which for more half a century she has kept true to herself in language true to itself. She wrote poetry not dictated by the fashions of the moment but inwardly determined by what she experienced as the unifying links that bind the human soul to the larger cosmos whose she is and must strive to reveal. Her’s, in a sense, is sacred poetry, the paradox and promise of which is prophetically revealed in her first collected poem-which, as it should, resumes and stands as an introduction to the rest:

A bird sings on a matin tree

‘Once such a bird was 1.’
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 I was.

Seas, trees, and bird, alas!

Sea, tree, and bird was I.’
Nitin Sawhney – Letting Go (with the wonderful Tina Grace)


Her Poetry: Kathleen Raine

Love Poem
Yours is the face that the earth turns to me,

Continuous beyond its human features lie

The mountain forms that rest against the sky.

With your eyes, the reflecting rainbow, the sun’s light

Sees me; forest and flower, bird and beast

Know and hold me forever in the world’s thought,

Creation’s deep untroubled retrospect.
When your hand touches mine it is the earth

That takes me–the green grass,

And rocks and rivers; the green graves,

And children still unborn, and ancestors,

In love passed down from hand to hand from God.

Your love comes from the creation of the world,

From those paternal fingers, streaming through the clouds

That break with light the surface of the sea.
Here, where I trace your body with my hand,

Love’s presence has no end;

For these, your arms that hold me, are the world’s.

In us, the continents, clouds and oceans meet

Our arbitrary selves, extensive with the night,

Lost, in the heart’s worship, and the body’s sleep.

The River
In my first sleep

I came to the river

And looked down

Through the clear water –

Only in dream

Water so pure,

Laced and undulant

Lines of flow

On its rocky bed

Water of life

Streaming for ever.
A house was there

Beside the river

And I, arrived,

An expected guest

About to explore

Old gardens and libraries –

But the car was waiting

To drive me away.
One last look

Into that bright stream –

Trout there were

And clear on the bottom

Monster form

Of the great crayfish

That crawls to the moon.

On its rocky bed

Living water

In whorls and ripples

Flowing unbended.
There was the car

To drive me away.

We crossed the river

Of living water –

I might not stay,

But must return

By the road too short

To the waiting day.
In my second dream

Pure I was and free

By the rapid stream,

My crystal house the sky,

The pure crystalline sky.
Into the stream I flung

A bottle of clear glass

That twirled and tossed and spun

In the water’s race

Flashing the morning sun.
Down that swift river

I saw it borne away,

My empty crystal form,

Exultant saw it caught

Into the current’s spin,

The flashing water’s run.

The Ancient Speech
A Gaelic bard they praise who in fourteen adjectives

Named the one indivisible soul of his glen;

For what are the bens and the glens but manifold qualities,

Immeasurable complexities of soul?

What are these isles but a song sung by island voices?

The herdsman sings ancestral memories

And the song makes the singer wise,

But only while he sings

Songs that were old when the old themselves were young,

Songs of these hills only, and of no isles but these.

For other hills and isles this language has no words.
The mountains are like manna, for one day given,

To each his own:

Strangers have crossed the sound, but not the sound of the dark oarsmen

Or the golden-haired sons of kings,

Strangers whose thought is not formed to the cadence of waves,

Rhythm of the sickle, oar and milking pail,

Whose words make loved things strange and small,

Emptied of all that made them heart-felt or bright.

Our words keep no faith with the soul of the world.

Transit of the Gods
Strange that the self’s continuum should outlast

The Virgin, Aphrodite, and the Mourning Mother,

All loves and griefs, successive deities

That hold their kingdom in the human breast.

Abandoned by the gods, woman with an ageing body

That half remembers the Annunciation

The passion and the travail and the grief

That wore the mask of my humanity,

I marvel at the soul’s indifference.

For in her theatre the play is done,

The tears are shed; the actors, the immortals

In their ceaseless manifestation, elsewhere gone,

And I who have been Virgin and Aphrodite,

The mourning Isis and the queen of corn

Wait for the last mummer, dread Persephone

To dance my dust at last into the tomb.


Biography of Kathleen Raine

Kathleen Raine Kathleen Raine was born in London in 1908, where she grew up; taking on a number of unsatisfactory jobs. Through one of her later jobs she met the nephew of the Indian mystic Rama Coomaraswamy Tambimuttu, who invited her to contribute to his new magazine, Poetry London, she did of course, and soon developed a lifelong passion for all things Indian. Raine began to seriously write toward her late twenties, and by 1943 she had published her first collection of poetry Stone and Flower, which was illustrated by Barbara Hepworth. Three years later the collection Living in Time was released, followed by The Pythoness in 1949.
Raine married twice, each time unhappily due to dissatisfaction with domesticity. She was even quoted as saying she felt “as if I were living in someone else’s dream.” This unhappiness led to an affair with a gay writer named Gavin Maxwell. This affair helped to inspire the works in The Year One 1952, which she released in 1952. Raine stayed frequently with Maxwell on the island of Sandaig in the Scottish Islands. The relationship

ended in 1956 when Raine lost his pet otter, Mijbil, who inspired Maxwell’s best-selling book Ring of Bright Water. She published a book of poems called Collected Poems that same year.
She began her autobiography 1973 and it was out in 1977. Four years later Raine had founded her own magazine, called Temenos, to help articulate her views. Raine went on to win several awards, including the Harriet Monroe Prize, Edna St. Vincent Millay Prize from the American Poetry Society, and the Queens Gold Medal for Poetry in 1992. In 2000, she was made a Commander of the British Empire. ..

Sweet Return… one more time

Nitin Sawhney – Sunset


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