Kathleen Raine

Ivor Griffiths, Poet, Novelist & Short Story Writer

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Kathleen Raine
Kathleen Raine

Kathleen Jessie Raine (June 14, 1908 – July 6, 2003) was a British poet, critic and independent scholar writing in particular on William Blake and W. B. Yeats. She was born in Ilford, Essex (now a part of London), and brought up partly in Northumberland. She read natural sciences and psychology on an Exhibition at Girton College, Cambridge. While in Cambridge she met Jacob Bronowski, William Empson, Humphrey Jennings and Malcolm Lowry.

Her first book of poetry, Stone And Flower (1943) was published by Tambimuttu, and illustrated by Barbara Hepworth. Her Collected Poems (2000) drew from eleven volumes. Her Blake and Tradition was published in 1968.Her classics include "Who are we". She founded Temenos, a periodical, and later the Temenos Academy, in support of her generally Platonist views on poetry and culture in general (more accurately, neo-platonist, after Plotinus).

Kathleen Raine taught at Harvard for at least one course about Myth and Literature offered to teachers and professors in the summer. She also spoke on Yeats and Blake and other topics at the Yeats School in Sligo, Ireland in the summer of 1974.

Her complex and unsatisfactory private life included marriage to Hugh Sykes Davies, whom she left for Charles Madge — their subsequent marriage with two children broke up — and an unrequited passion for Gavin Maxwell. The title of Maxwell's most famous book Ring of Bright Water (subsequently made into a film of the same name starring Virginia McKenna) was taken from a line in Kathleen's poem The Marriage of Psyche. The story of this life is told in a three-volume autobiography that is notable for the author's attempts to read (or impose) a structure on her memories that is quasi mythical, thus relating her own life to a larger pattern. This reflects patterns that can be detected in her poetry, in which she was clearly influenced by W. B. Yeats. The three books were originally published separately and later brought together in a single volume, entitled Autobiographies (the title itself is in conscious imitation of Yeats), edited by Lucien Jenkins.

  • Temenos Academy
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