Ah, God I May Not Hate – Kathleen Raine

Ah, God, I may not hate
Myself, who am your thought, who made
Earthworm and spider, gave
Being to the burying-beetle and the maggot,
Beak and talon and teeth, hunger to all creatures
Made to be your begetters and destroyers. 
I who am living you from the numberless dead have raised
From the deathless dust of the grave
Dust of gleaming wings borne on the wind, seed
In the womb of the wind, borne
In cloud and tempest over the world
On tide and current made and unmade,
I am what you will, what you have willed
Life after life, maggot and spider, seed and harvest,
        chromosome, flame. 
Kathleen Raine by Mayotte Magnus, September 1977

Seed – Kathleen Raine

From star to star, from sun and spring and leaf,
And almost audible flowers whose sound is silence,
And in the common meadows, springs the seed of life.

Now the lilies open, and the rose
Released by summer from the harmless graves
That, centuries deep, are in the air we breathe,
And in our earth, and in our daily bread.
External and innate dimensions hold

The living forms, but not the force of life;
For that interior and holy tree
That in the heart of hearts outlives the world
Spreads earthly shade into eternity.
Jules Breton, Song of the lark

Night Thought – Kathleen Raine

My soul and I last night
Looked down together.
I said, 'Here we are, come
To the worst. Look down
That chasm where all has fallen,
The rose-bush and the garden 
And the ancestral hills,
Every remembered stone.
Of that first house
There is no trace, none.
You'll never cross that burn,
Again, nor the white strand
Where lifted from the deep
Shells lie upon the sand
Or among sea-pinks blown,
Never hear again
those wild sea-voices call,
Eider and gull rejoicing.
Turn away, turn
From the closed door of home,
You live there no longer,
Nor shall again.
You have no place at all 
Anywhere on earth
That is your own, and none
Calls you back again.'

Soul said, 'Before you were
I spanned the abyss:
Freedom it is, unbounded,
Unbounded laughter, Come!'

Kathleen by Juliet Van Otteren

Stringing words together

Barely, barely, can I do even this. I have only the most meagre of fragments to offer these days – too much is changing and I am sea sick. Are we sinking? Or rising from the depths? I don’t have my bearings yet. My garments are heavy, and the collective cloth threatens suffocation. Are you feeling this too?

Craigie Aitchison

I turn to Kathleen for solace. I borrow her words and let them wash over me. She knows.


If you go deep
Into the heart
What do you find there?
Fear, fear,
Fear of the jaws of the rock,
Fear of the teeth and splinters of iron that tear
Flesh from the bone, and the moist
Blood, running unfelt
From the wound, and the hand
Suddenly moist and red.

If you go deep
Into the heart
What do you find?
Grief, grief,
Grief for the life unlived,
For the loves unloved,
For the child never to be born,
Th’unbidden anguish, when the fair moon
Rises over still summer seas, and the pain
Of sunlight scattered in vain on spring grass.

If you go deeper
Into the heart
What do you find there?
Death, death,
Death that lets all go by,
Lets the blood flow from the wound,
Lets the night pass,
Endures the day with indifference, knowing that all must end.
Sorrow is not forever, ad sense
Endures no extremities,
Death is the last Secret implicit within you, the hidden, the deepest
Knowledge of all you will ever unfold
In this body of earth.

Beautiful Kathleen Raine

Before you were

An uncounted number of scenery changes are now mounting behind me. How long will this continue? I start to feel a little internal wobble, like a snail with a crack in its shell. Home is on my back, in my heart and hands.

I am reminded of this fine creature. It was spring, and I was walking with my favourite fearless nature buddy on the waters of the Olympic Peninsula. This sea snail wanted to show us her own powerful version of the upstream swim.


Lost in forgetfulness

When considering the patterns of the individual and the patterns of family and heritage, the homeland draws a frame.

England, that tiny land mass with such disproportionately significant influence throughout history, is no longer standing. It is on its knees. There is a subservience that clouds the eyes and minds of the people, an unquestioning obedience to authority, an unthinking adherence to mechanical routines. A discordant mix of cultures and ideologies has been artificially forced into claustrophobic proximity; tensions ferment ominously as the dull sport of grumbling-about-the-mundane releases a little steam and fills the streets with its pointless noise.

Until you go elsewhere and re-acclimatize over time, you are a fish in water. The English water is indeed murky, muddied most recently by two brutal wars that brought about a high velocity crushing of morale and annihilated generations of men in one fell swoop. The brave were destroyed; those who returned were damaged. The right to bear arms has long since gone, and the inability to protect home and family has stripped us of our power and our sovereignty. Men cannot defend those they love, and beyond that, most of them fail to see that they have allowed this tragedy.

Long Man of Wilmington, by John Holloway

This is our land, and we have forgotten.

The Wilderness by Kathleen Raine

I came too late to the hills: they were swept bare
Winters before I was born of song and story,
Of spell or speech with power of oracle or invocation,

The great ash long dead by a roofless house, its branches rotten,
The voice of the crows an inarticulate cry,
And from the wells and springs the holy water ebbed away.

A child I ran in the wind on a withered moor
Crying out after those great presences who were not there,
Long lost in the forgetfulness of the forgotten.

Only the archaic forms themselves could tell!
In sacred speech of hoodie on gray stone, or hawk in air,
Of Eden where the lonely rowan bends over the dark pool.

Yet I have glimpsed the bright mountain behind the mountain,
Knowledge under the leaves, tasted the bitter berries red,
Drunk water cold and clear from an inexhaustible hidden fountain.

A sense of what is being lost is tangible to all who choose to look below the surface of our current material stupidity. I write these observations with great sorrow, and I grieve for this once powerful land as it falls dormant. It has produced so much goodness and beauty.