Collected Poems 1935 - 1980 by Kathleen Raine

Collected poems 1935-1980 – Kathleen Raine

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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.

“One Power alone makes a Poet: Imagination, the Divine Vision.” – William Blake

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