Kathleen Raine
(born 1908)

Poetry on Peace

Kathleen Raine:

Nocturne (1943)
Tree of Heaven (1946)
Peace of Mind (1949)

Edited by Peter Y. Chou


Night comes, an angel stands
Measuring out the time of stars,
Still are the winds, and still the hours.
It would be peace to lie
Still in the still hours at the angel's feet,
Upon a star hung in a starry sky,
But hearts another measure beat.
Each body, wingless as it lies,
Sends out its butterfly of night
With delicate wings, and jewelled eyes.
And some upon day's shores are cast,
And some in darkness lost
In waves beyond the world, where float
Somewhere the islands of the blest.

"Nocturne" from Stone and Flower (1943)



The peace of flowers. Heaven like a tree grows
In silence; has no voice
Till they come and perch in the branches, images of words
From two worlds, birds and angels,
Inhabitants of mute leaves, lovers of the plant's rapt blindness.

Heaven, simple like a seed, from its minute beginning
Rooted in flesh and blood, instinct with death and pain
Grows complex, manifold; grows great with living,
With green and blossom and bough, sky-covering
With world, where nothing was, until heaven's spring.
Pattern of tree and man, unfold within me—
Branch where the veins run, quicken at the heart,
Be felt in every nerve, and fruitful at the breast,
Vine, pattern of Christ, interior quiet,
Quicken this barrenness, flower in my desert!

from Living in Time (1946)



If the pool were still
The reflected world
Of tottering houses,
The falling cities,
The quaking mountains
Would cohere on the surface

And stars invisible
To the troubled mind
Be seen in water
Drawn from the soul's
Bottomless well.

from The Pythoness (1949)

Kathleen Raine, The Collected Poems of Kathleen Raine
Golgonooza Press, Ipswich, UK, 2000, pp. 10, 32, 58

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email: peter@wisdomportal.com (3-16-2003)