Asmodel, by Aleister Crowley

Sulamith Wülfing - Flower
Sulamith Wülfing – Flower (1931) – from Pigtails in Paint

This is a beautiful and strange poem about a loved girl who seems to come from an outer world, maybe from dreams, or from a star, a spiritual bride descending on the bed of the desiring poet, and their mystical union mixes extasy with agony. Both erotic and esoteric, full of hidden meanings, these verses are difficult to interpret. The 1905 edition of the poem states that the title means: ‘One of the “Intelligences” of the Planet Venus.’ CONTINUE READING / CONTINUER LA LECTURE…

Aleister Crowley parodies Lewis Carroll

John Tenniel - The White Knight, In Through the Looking-Glass
John Tenniel – The White Knight, In Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1897)

Crowley’s The Sword of Song (1904) consists mainly of two long poems, ‘Ascension Day’ and ‘Pentecost,’ both critical of Christianity; they are preceded by an Introduction and followed by lengthy notes. The title, with its subtitle and long dedication, is itself rather ironic: CONTINUE READING / CONTINUER LA LECTURE…

In a lesbian meadow, by Aleister Crowley

William-Adolphe Bouguereau - Les noisettes
William-Adolphe Bouguereau – Les noisettes (1882) – from The Athenaeum

In Crowley’s collection Oracles, the poem “Ode to Sappho” is immediately followed by its companion “In a lesbian meadow,” on the same topic of love between girls. Through these beautiful verses shines a soft eroticism, mixing tender kisses with the beauties of nature—indeed, arising from true love. CONTINUE READING / CONTINUER LA LECTURE…

Ode to Sappho, by Aleister Crowley

Gustav Klimt - Sappho
Gustav Klimt – Sappho (c.1888-90) – from Wikimedia Commons

Crowley’s 1905 collection Oracles, subtitled The Biography of an Art, consists of unpublished poems written between 1886 and 1903. According to The 100th Monkey Press, Crowley had planned to publish a special limited edition, printed in one hundred copies only, and containing additional matter; however it never materialized. Moreover, ten poems in it were originally meant to appear in a separate collection titled Green Alps, which was never published, as a fire at the publisher destroyed it. CONTINUE READING / CONTINUER LA LECTURE…

My wife dies, by Aleister Crowley

Jenn Violetta
Jenn Violetta – from Facebook

The collection Oracles, subtitled The Biography of an Art, consists of unpublished poems written by Crowley between 1886 and 1903. It was first published in 1905, then included in Volume II of The Collected Works of Aleister Crowley (1906), where the editor mentions:

Concerning the title Crowley writes, “The sense is of dead leaves drifting in the dusty cave of my mind.”

My first choice in it is a strange love poem, both sensuous and grim. CONTINUE READING / CONTINUER LA LECTURE…

Red Poppy, by Aleister Crowley

Cicely Mary Barker - Fairy-Rings: The Poppy Fairy
Cicely Mary Barker – Fairy-Rings: The Poppy Fairy

From the collection Alice: An Adultery, a beautiful love poem for Mary Alice Rogers, a married woman with whom Crowley had a passionate affair in Hawaii. In the privately published 1903 edition, there was an 11th stanza , I reproduce it below. In the 1905 edition published by the Society for the Propagation of Religious Truth, it was titled “The Poem”, so in the 1906 edition of Crowley’s Collected Works, there was a footnote to the title, indicating “The poem in question.” CONTINUE READING / CONTINUER LA LECTURE…

Poetic Eros

Odilon Redon - The birth of Venus
Odilon Redon – The birth of Venus (1912) – from WikiArt

In the post “Components of Love” I presented the three types of love and friendship according to the ancient Greeks:

  • Eros is sexual love, generally driven by beauty; it is discriminating and it can be versatile, blooming or withering fast.
  • Storge is natural love, as it exists between members of a family, or the love of parents for children; contrarily to Eros, it is unconditional and long-lasting, and it grows slowly.
  • Philia is friendship, generally within a group, mediated by activities shared in common; it includes also philanthropy and humanitarian work.

The ancient Greeks also used the word Agape for affection and tenderness, similar to Storge. Then in Christianity, this word evolved to mean a purely spiritual, selfless and undemanding love embracing all humanity; in fact, such an ideal love is extremely rare in real human beings. CONTINUE READING / CONTINUER LA LECTURE…

Alice, by Aleister Crowley

Zinaida Serebriakova - Sleeping girl in the blue
Zinaida Serebriakova – Sleeping girl in the blue (Katyusha on a blanket) ( 1923) – from Pigtails in Paint

Around 1900, the occultist Aleister Crowley sailed for Hawaii aboard the Nippon Maru. On the ship he met a married woman named Mary Alice Rogers and had a love affair with her. He wrote a series of poems about the romance, which he collected in a booklet entitled Alice: An Adultery. It was published privately in 1903, then a second edition was published by the Society for the Propagation of Religious Truth in 1905. CONTINUE READING / CONTINUER LA LECTURE…