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This article is taken from PN Review 136, Volume 27 Number 2, November - December 2000.

Kathleen Raine Peter Redgrove

Kathleen Raine has kept faith with the ancient images. In her great Yeats the Initiate she quotes Porphyry: ' according to the opinions of some men aerial and celestial bodies are nourished by the vapours of fountains and rivers and other exhalations ... the souls of the dead ... condense this watery vehicle like a cloud ...'

For the non-feeling among scientists, this is an outworn and irrelevant imagery - unless one looks at it ecologically. The images are eco-poetry, true to the processes as they happen. These processes are so terrific that we cannot while maintaining truth escape the faculty of wonder, philosophical wonder.

Everything flows. The perturbation of a single quantum vibrates the whole universe. Is the Philosopher's Stone not comparable to the DNA that works behind all organic processes, manifesting on its many levels, tincturing the generations of living things, capturing the subtlest criminals with its formulating stains, controlling mating behaviours by its fragrances that reach up from the molecular level. The whole work, the great work.

The atmosphere and the waters thereof are full, as Porphyry says, of the DNA patterns of the live dead, and the environment is also crammed with those energies we call viruses. The ocean itself is almost all balanced virus, and the power of these nucleo proteins is like a divine power. Messages from the very small are transmitted everywhere, interacting as they go, like the information carried by spirits. Recent work shows the ...

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