Hermetic.com » Aleister Crowley » Collected Works » Volume I

//search////add////forum////info//

Bookmark this page on these social networks

The javascript bookmark tool appears to not be working or you have javascript disabled  

Like this page on Facebook

Like THL on Facebook

 

+1 this page on Google

+1 THL on Google

 

 

The javascript metadata tool appears to not be working or you have javascript disabled

 

 

Join the
Hermetic Library discussions
at the


Hrmtc Underground BBS

 

 


MYSTERIES: LYRICAL AND DRAMATIC.

1898.

{columns resume}

 

THE FIVE KISSES.1

I.

AFTER CONFESSION.

DAY startles the fawn from the avenues deep that look to the east in the

heart of the wood:

Light touches the trees of the hill with its lips, and God is above them

and sees they are good:

Night flings from her forehead the purple-black hood.

The thicket is sweet with the breath of the breeze made soft by the kisses

of slumbering maids;

The nymph and the satyr, the fair and the faulty alike are the guests of

these amorous shades;

The hour of Love flickers and falters and fades.

O, listen, my love, to the song of the brook, its murmurs and cadences,

trills and low chords;

Hark to its silence, that prelude of wonder ringing at last like the

clamour of swords

That clash in the wrath of the warring of lords.

Listen, oh, listen! the nightingale near us swoons a farewell to the

blossoming brake;

Listen, the thrush in the meadow is singing notes that move sinuous, lithe

as a snake;

The cushats are cooing, the world is awake. {90A}

Only one hour since you whispered the story out of your heart to my

tremulous ear;

Only one hour since the light of your eyes was the victor of violent

sorrow and fear;

Your lips were so set to the lips of me here.

Surely the victory ripens to perfect conquest of everything set in our

way.

We must be free as our hearts re, and gather strength for our limbs for

the heat of the fray:

The battle is ours if you say me not nay.

Fly with me far, where the ocean is bounded white by the walls of the

northernmost shore,

Where on a lone rocky island a castle laughs in its pride at the billows

that roar,

My home where our love may have peace evermore.

Yes, on one whisper the other is waiting patient to catch the low tone of

delight.

Kiss me again for the amorous answer; close your dear eyelids and think it

is night,

The hour of the even we fix for the flight.

 

II.

THE FLIGHT.

LIFT up thine eyes! for night is shed around,

As light profound,

And visible as snow on steepled hills,

Where silence fills

The shaded hollows: night, a royal queen

Most dimly seen {90B}

Through silken curtains that bedeck the bed,

Lift up thine head!

For night is here, a dragon, to devour

The slow sweet hour

Filled with all smoke of incense, and the praise

More loud than day's

That swings its barren censer in the sky

And asks to die

Because the sea will hear no hollow moan

Beyond its own,

Because the sea that kissed dead Sappho2 sings

Of strange dark things –

Shapes of bright breasts that purple as the sun

Grows dark and dun,

Of pallid lips more haggard for the kiss

Of Salmacis,3

Of eager eyes that startle for the fear

Too dimly dear

Lest there come death, like passion, and fulfil

Their dreams of ill!

Oh! lift thy forehead to the night's cool wind!

The meekest hind

That fears the noonday in her grove is bold

To seek the gold

So pale and perfect as the moon puts on:

The light is gone.

Hardly as yet one sees the crescent maid

Move, half afraid,

Into the swarthy forest of the air

And breast made bare,

Gather her limbs about her for the chase

Through starry space,

And, while the lilies sway their heads, to bend

Her bow, to send {91A}

A swift white arrow at some recreant star.

The sea is far

Dropped in the hollows of the swooning land.

Oh! hold my hand!

Lift up thy deep eyes to my face, and let

Our lips forget

The dumb dead hours before they met together!

The snowbright weather

Calls us beyond the grassy down, to be

Beside the sea,

The slowly-breathing ocean of the south.

Oh, make thy mouth

A rosy flame like that most perfect star

Whose kisses are

So red and ripe! Oh, let thy limbs entwine

Like love with mine!

Oh, bend thy gracious body to my breast

To sleep, to rest!

But chiefly let thine eyes be set on me,

As when the sea

Lay like a mirror to reflect the shape

Of yonder cape

Where Sappho stood and touched the lips of death!

Thy subtle breath

Shall flow like incense in between our cheeks,

Where pleasure seeks

In vain a wiser happiness. And so

Our whispers low

Shall dim the utmost beauty of thy gaze

Through moveless days

And long nights equable with tranced pleasure:

So love at leisure

Shall make his model of our clinging looks,

And burn his books

To write a new sweet volume deeper much,

And frail to touch,

Being the mirror of a gossamer

Too soft and fair.

This is the hour when all the world is sleeping;

The winds are keeping

A lulling music on the frosty sea.

The air is free, {91B}

As free as summer-time, to sound or cease:

God's utmost peace

Lies like a cloud upon the quiet land.

O little hand!

White hand with rose leaves shed about the tips,

As if my lips

Had left their bloom upon it when they kissed

As if a mist

Of God's delicious dawn had overspread

Their face, and fled!

O wonderful fresh blossom of the wood!

O purpling blood!

O azure veins as clear as all the skies!

O longing eyes

That look upon me fondly to beget

Two faces, set

Either like lowers upon their laughing blue,

Where morning dew

Sparkles with all the passion of the dawn!

The happy lawn

Leads, by the stillest avenues, to groves

Made soft by loves;

And all the nymphs have made a mossy dell

Hard by the well

Where even a Satyr might behold the grace

Of such a face

As his4 who perished for his own delights,

So well requites

That witching fountain his desire that looks.

Two slow bright brooks

Encircle it with silver, and the moon

Strikes into tune

The ripples as they break. For here it was

Their steps did pass,

Dreamy Endymion's and Artemis',5

Who bent to kiss

Across the moss-grown rocks that build the well:

And here they tell {92A}

Of one6 beneath the hoary stone who hid

And watched unbid

When one most holy came across the glade,

Who saw a maid

So bright that mists were dim upon his eyes,

And yet he spies

So sweet a vision that his gentle breath

Sighed into death:

And others say that her the fairies bring

The fairy king,7

And crown him with a flower of eglantine,

And of the vine

Twist him a throne made perfect with wild roses,

And gathered posies

From all the streams that wander through the vale,

And crying, “Hail!

All hail, most beautiful of all our race!”

Cover his face

With blossoms gathered from a fairy tree

Like foam from sea,

So delicate that mortal eyes behold

Ephemeral gold

Flash, and not see a flower, but say the moon

Has shone too soon

Anxious to great Endymion; and this

Most dainty kiss

They cover him him withal, and Dian sees

Through all the trees

No pink pale blossom of his tender lips.

The little ships

Of silver leaf and briar-bloom sail here,

No storm to fear,

Though butterflies be all their mariners.

The whitethroat stirs

The beech-leaves to awake the tiny breeze

That soothes the seas,

And yet gives breath to shake their fairy sails;

Young nightingales,

Far through the golden plumage of the night,

With strong delight {92B}

Purple the evening with amazing song;

The moonbeams throng

In shining clusters to the fairy throat,

Whose clear trills float

And dive and run about the crystal deep

As sweet as sleep.

Only, fair love of this full heart of mine,

There lacks the wine

Our kisses might pour out for them; they wait,

And we are late;

Only, my flower of all the world, the thrush

(You hear him? Hush!)

Lingers, and sings not to his fullest yet:

Our love shall get

Such woodland welcome as none ever had

To make it glad.

Come, it is time, cling closer to my hand.

We understand.

We must go forth together, not to part.

O perfect heart!

O little heart that beats to mine, away

Before the day

Ring out the tocsin for our flight! My ship

Is keen to dip

Her plunging forehead in the silvering sea.

To-morrow we

Shall be so far away, and then to-morrow

Shall shake off sorrow

And be to-morrow and not change for ever:

No dawn shall sever

The sleepy eyelids of the night, no eve

Shall fall and cleave

The blue deep eyes of day. Your hand, my queen!

Look down and lean

Your whole weight on me, then leap out, as light

As swallow's flight,

And race across the shadows of the moon,

And keep the tune

With ringing hoofs across the fiery way.

Your eyes betray

How eager is your heart, and yet – O dare

To fashion fair

A whole long life of love! Leap high, laugh low!

I love you – so! – {93A)

One kiss – and then to freedom! See the bay

So far away,

But not too far for love! Ring out, sharp hoof,

And put to proof

The skill of him that steeled thee! Freedom! Set

As never yet

Thy straining sides for freedom! Gallant mare!

The frosty air

Kindles the blood within us as we race.

O love! Thy face

Flames with the passion of our happy speed!

The noble steed

Pashes the first gold limit of the sand.

Ah love, thy hand!

We win, no foot pursuing spans the brow!

Yes, kiss me now!

 

III.

THE SPRING AFTER.

NORTH, by the ice-belt, where the cliffs appease

Innumerable clamour of sundering seas,

And garlands of ungatherable foam

Wild as the horses maddening toward home,

Where through the thunderous burden of the thaw

Rings the sharp fury of the breaking flaw,

Where summer's hand is heavy on the snow,

And springtide bursts the insuperable floe,

North, by the limit of the ocean, stands

A castle, lord of those far footless hands

That are the wall of that most monstrous world

About whose pillars Behemoth is curled,

About whose gates Leviathan is strong,

Whose secret terror sweetens not for song.

The hoarse loud roar of gulphs of raging brine

That break in foam and fire on that divine

Cliff-base, is smothered in the misty air,

And no sound penetrates them, save a rare {93}

Music of sombre motion, swaying slow.

The sky above is one dark indigo

Voiceless and deep, no light is hard within

To shame love's lips and rouse the silky skin

From its dull olive to a perfect white.

For scarce an hour the golden rim of light

Tinges the southward bergs; for scarce an hour

The sun puts forth his seasonable flower,

And only for a little while the wind

Wakes at his coming, and beats cold and blind

On the wild sea that struggles to release

The hard grip from its throat, and lie at ease

Lapped in the eternal summer. But its waves

Roam through the solitude of empty caves

In vain; no faster wheels the moon above;

And still reluctant fly the hours of love.

It is so peaceful in the castle: here

The night of winter never froze a tear

On my love's cheek or mine; no sorrow came

To track our vessel by its wake of flame

Wherein the dolphin bathed his shining side;

No smallest cloud between me and my bride

Came like a little mist; one tender fear,

Too sweet to speak of, closed the dying year

With love more perfect, for its purple root

Might blossom outward to the snowy fruit

Whose bloom to-night lay sleeping on her breast,

As if a touch might stir the sunny nest,

Break the spell's power, and bid the spirit fly

Who had come near to dwell with us. But I

Bend through long hours above the dear twin life,

Look from love's guerdon to the lover-wife,

And back again to that small face so sweet,

And downwards to the little rosy feet,

And see myself no longer in her eyes

So perfectly as here, where passion lies

Buried and re-arisen and complete.

O happy life too sweet, too perfect sweet,

O happy love too perfectly made one

Not to arouse the envy of the sun {94A}

Who sulks six months8 for spite of it! O love,

Too pure and fond for those pale gods above,

Too perfect for their iron rods to break,

Arise, awake, and die for death's own sake!

That one forgetfulness may take us three,

Still three, still one, to the Lethean sea;

That all its waters may be sweet as those

We wandered by, sweet sisters of the rose,

That perfect night before we fled, we two

Who were so silent down that avenue

Grown golden with the moonlight, who should be

No longer two, but one; nor one, but three.

And now it is the spiring; the ice is breaking;

The waters roar; the winds their wings are shaking

To sweep upon the northland; we shall sail

Under the summer perfume of the gale

To some old valley where the altars steam

Before the gods, and where the maidens dream

Their little lives away, and where the trees

Shake laughing tresses at the rising breeze,

And where the wells of water lie profound,

And not unfrequent is the silver sound

Of shepherds tuneful as the leaves are green,

Whose reedy music echoes, clear and clean,

From rocky palaces where gnomes delight

To sport all springtime, where the brooding night

With cataract is musical, and thrushes

Throb their young love beside the stream that rushes

Headlong to beat its foamheads into snow,

Where the sad swallow calls, and pale songs flow

To match the music of the nightingale.

There, where the pulses of the summer fail,

The fiery flakes of autumn fall, and there

Some warm perfection of the lazy air

Swims through the purpling veins of lovers. Hark!

A faint bird's note, as if a silver spark {94B}

Struck from a diamond; listen, wife, and know

How perfectly I love to watch you so.

Wake, lover, wake, but stir not yet the child:

Wake, and thy brow serene and low and mild

Shall take my kisses, and my lips shall seek

The pallid roses on thy perfect cheek,

And kiss them into poppies, and thy mouth

Shall lastly close to mine, as in the south

We see the sun close fast upon the sea;

So, my own heart, thy mouth must close on me.

Art thou awake? Those eyes of wondering love,

Sweet as the dawn and softer than the dove,

Seek no quick vision – yet they move to me

And, slowly, to the child. How still are we!

Yes, and a smile betokens that they wake

Or dream a waking dream for kisses' sake;

Yes, I will touch thee, O my low sweet brow!

My wife, thy lips to mine – yes, kiss me now!

 

IV.

THE VOYAGE SOUTHWARD.

HOLY as heaven, the home

Of winds, the land of foam,

The palace of the waves, the house of rain,

Deeper than ocean, dark

As dawn before the lark

Flings his sharp song to skyward, and is fain

To light his lampless eyes

At the flower-folded skies

Where stars are hidden in the blue, to fill

His beak with star-dropt dew,

His little heart anew

With love an song to swell it to his will;

Holy as heaven, the place

Before the golden face {95A}

Of God is very silent at the dawn.

The even keel is keen

To flash the waves between,

But no soft moving current is withdrawn:

We float upon the blue

Like sunlight specks in dew,

And like the moonlight on the lake we lie:

The northern gates are past,

And, following fair and fast,

The north wind drove us under such a sky,

Faint with the sun's desire,

And clad in fair attire

Of many driving cloudlets; and we flew

Like swallows to the South.

The ocean's curving mouth

Smiled day by day and nights of starry blue;

Nights when the sea would shake

Like sunlight where the wake

Was wonderful with flakes of living things

That leapt for joy to feel

The cold exultant keel

Flash, and the white ship dip her woven wings;

Nights when the moon would hold

Her lamp of whitest gold

To see us on the poop together set

With one desire, to be

Alone upon the sea

And touch soft hands, and hold white bosoms yet,

And see in silent eyes

More stars than all the skies

Together hold within their limits gray,

To watch the red lips move

For slow delight of love

Till the moon sigh and sink, and yield her sway

Unto the eastern lord

That draws a sanguine sword

And starts up eager in the dawn, to see

Bright eyes grow dim for sleep,

And lazy bosoms keep

Their slumber perfect and their sorcery,

While dawny winds arise,

And fast the white ship flies {95B}

To those young groves of olive by the shore,

The spring-clad shore we seek

That slopes to yonder peak

Snow-clad, bright-gleaming, as the silver ore

Plucked9 by pale fingers slow

In balmy Mexico,

A king on thunder throned, his diadem

The ruby rocks that flash

The sunlight like a lash

When sunlight touches, and sweeps over them

A crown of light! Behold!

The white seas touch the gold,

And flame like flowers of fire about the prow.

It is the hour for sleep: –

Lulled by the moveless deep

To sleep, sweet wife, to sleep! Yes, kiss me now!

 

V.

THE ULTIMATE VOYAGE.10

THE wandering waters move about the world,

And lap the sand, with quietest complaint

Borne on the wings of dying breezes up,

To where we make toward the wooded top

Of yonder menacing hill. The night is fallen

Starless and moonless, black beyond belief,

Tremendous, only just the ripple keeps

Our souls from perishing in the inane,

With music borrowed from the soul of God.

We twain go thither, knowing no desire

To lead us; but some strong necessity

Urges, as lightning thunder, our slow steps

Upward. For on the pleasant meadow-land

That slopes to sunny bays, and limpid seas

(That breathe like maidens sleeping, for their breast

Is silver with the sand that lies below,)

Where our storm-strengthened dragon rests at last, {96A}

And by whose borders we have made a home,

More like a squirrel's bower than a house.

For in this blue Sicilian summertime

The trees arch tenderly for lovers' sleep,

And all the interwoven leaves are fine

To freshen us with dewdrops at the dawn,

Or let the summer shower sing through to us,

And welcome kisses of the silver rain

That raps and rustles in the solitude.

But in the night there came to us a cry:

“The mountains are your portion, and the hills

Your temple, and you are chosen.” Then I woke

Pondering, and my lover woke and said:

“I heard a voice of one majestical

With waving beard, most ancient, beautiful,

Concealed and not concealed;«Macroprosopus.» and awoke,

Feeling a stronger compulsion on my soul

To go some whither.” And the dreams were one

(We somehow knew), and, looking such a kiss

As lovers' eyes can interchange, our lips

Met in the mute agreement to obey.

So, girding on our raiment, as to pass

Some whither of long doubtful journeying,

We went forth blindly to the horrible

Damp darkness of the pines above. And there

Strange beasts crossed path of ours, such beasts as earth

Bears not, distorted, tortured, loathable,

Mouthing with hateful lips some recent blood,

or snarling at our feet. But these attacked

No courage of our hearts, we faltered not,

And they fell back, snake's mouth and leopard's throat,

Afraid. But others fawning came behind

With clumsy leapings as in friendliness,

Dogs with men's faces, and we beat them off

With scabbard, and the hideous path wound on.

And these perplexed our goings, for no light

Gleamed through the bare pine-ruins lava-struck, {96B}

Nor even the hellish fire of Etna's maw.

But lucklessly we came upon a pool

Dank, dark, and stagnant, evil to the touch,

Oozing towards us, but sucked suddenly,

Silently, horribly, by slow compulsion

Into the slipping sand, and vanishing,

Whereon we saw a little boat appear,

And in it such a figure as we knew

Was Death. But she, intolerant of delay,

Hailed him. The vessel floated to our feet,

And Death was not. She leapt within, and bent

Her own white shoulders to the thwart, and bade

Me steer, and keep stern watch with sword unsheathed

For fear of something that her soul had seen

Above. And thus upon the oily black

Silent swift river we sailed out to reach

Its source, no longer feeling as compelled,

But led by some incomprehensible

Passion. And here lewd fishes snapped at us,

And watersnakes writhed silently toward

Our craft. But these I fought against, and smote

head from foul body, to our further ill,

For frightful jelly-monsters grew apace,

And all the water grew one slimy mass

Of crawling tentacles. My sword was swift

That slashed and slew them, chiefly to protect

The toiling woman, and assure our path

Through this foul hell. And now the very air

Is thick with cold wet horrors. With my sword

Trenchant, that tore their scaly essences –

Like Lucian's sailor writhing in the clutch

Of those witch-vines – I slashed about like light,

And noises horrible of death devoured

The hateful suction of their clinging arms

And wash of slipping bellies. Presently

Sense failed, and – Nothing!

By-and-by we woke

In a most beautiful canoe of pearl

Lucent on lucent water, in a sun {97A}

That was the heart of spring. But the green land

Seemed distant, with a sense of aery height;

As if it were below us far, that seemed

Around. And as we gazed the water grew

Ethereal, thin, most delicately hued,

Misty, as if its substance were dissolved

In some more subtle element. We heard

“O passers over water, do ye dare

To tread the deadlier kingdoms of the air?”

Whereat I cried: Arise! And then the pearl

Budded with nautilius-wings, and upward now

Soared. And our souls began to know the death

That was about to take us. All our veins

Boiled with tumultuous and bursting blood;

Our flesh broke bounds, and all our bones grew fierce,

As if some poison ate us up. And lo!

The air is peopled with a devil-tribe

Born of our own selves. These, grown furious

At dispossession by the subtle air,

Contend with us, who know the agony

Of half life drawn out lingering, who groan

Eaten as if by worms, who dash ourselves

Vainly against the ethereal essences

That make our boat, who vainly strive to cast

Our stricken bodies over the pale edge

And drop and end it all. No nerve obeys;

But in the torn web of our brains is born

The knowledge that release is higher yet.

So, lightened of the devils that possessed

In myriad hideousness our earthier lives,

With one swift impulse, we ourselves shake off

The clinging fiends, and shaking even the boat

As dust beneath our feet, leap up and run

Upward, and flash, and suddenly sigh back

Happy, and rest with limbs entwined at last

On pale blue air, the empyreal floor,

As on a bank of flowers in the old days

Before this journey. So I think we slept.

But now, awaking, suddenly we feel

A sound as if within us, and without,

So penetrating and so self-inspired {97B}

Sounded the voice we knew as God's. The words

Were not a question any more, but said:

“The last and greatest is within you now.”

Then fire too subtle and omniscient

Devoured our substance, and we moved again

Not down, not up, but inwards mystically

Involving self in self, and light in light.

And this was not a pain, but peaceable

Like young-eyed love, reviving; it consumed

And consecrated and made savour sweet

To our changed senses. And the dual self

Of love grew less distinct and I began

To feel her heart in mine, her lips in mine. …

Then mistier grew the sense of God without,

And God was I, and nothing might exist,

Subsist, or be at all, outside of Me,

Myself Existence of Existences.

. . . . .

We had passed unknowing to the woody crown

Of the little hill. There was a secret Vault.

We entered. All without the walls appeared

As fire, and all within as icy light;

The altar was of gold, and on it burnt

Some ancient perfume. Then I saw myself

And her together, as a priest, whose robe

Was white and frail, and covered with a cope

Of scarlet bound with gold: upon the head

A golden crown, wherein a diamond shone;

Within which diamond we beheld our self

The higher priest, not clothed, but clothed upon

With the white brilliance of high nakedness

As with a garment.11 Then of our self there came

A voice: “Ye have attained to That which Is;

Kiss, and the vision is fulfilled.” And so

Our bodies met, and, meeting did not touch

But interpenetrated in the kiss

. . . . .

This writing is engraved on lamina

Of silver, found by me, the trusted friend {98A}

And loving servant of my lady and lord,

In that abandoned Vault, of late destroyed

By Etna's fury. Nothing else remained

(Save in the ante-room the sword we knew

So often flashing at the column-head)

Within. I think my lord has written this.

Now for the child, whose rearing is my care,

And in whose life is left my single hope,

This writing shall conclude the book of song

His father made in worship and true love

Of his fair lady, and these songs shall be

His hope, and his tradition, and his pride.

Thus have I written for the sake of truth,

And for his sake who bears his father's sword –

I pray God under my fond guardianship

As worthily. Thus far, and so – the end.

 

Jephthah | Index | The Honourable Adulterers

 

1. Crowley's biographer will note the astonishing coincidences of scene and incident between this poem and the events of 1903-4.

2. Sappho, the great lyric poet of Greece, plunged from a rock into the sea, according to later tradition.

3. A stream into which a man plunged, and was united, as a Hermaphrodite, with its attendant nymph. The reference is connected with Sappho's loves. See her Ode to Aphrodite and Swinburn's Anactoria and Hermaphroditus.

4. Narcissus, a beautiful youth, inaccessible to love. Echo, a nymph enamoured of him, died of neglect. To punish him, Nemesis caused him to behold his image in a pool; he pined of love for the reflection, and was changed into the flower which still bears his name.

5. The reader may consult Keats's poem of “Endymion.”

6. A gentle sophistication of the story of Actaeon who beheld Artemis at the bath, and being changed into a stag, was torn to pieces by her hounds.

7. From sophistication Crowley proceeds to pure invention.

8. In Arctic latitudes the sun hardly rises at all from September to March, and is only visible in the south.

9. Referring to the story of the accidental discovery of the mine of Potosi by a man who, plucking of a plant, found its roots shining with silver.

10. The Spiritual Journey towards the Supreme Knowledge which is life and bliss.

11. See the Description of the robes and crown of the Magus in the“Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage.”

 

Home | Features | Fellows | Figures | Forms | Reflections

Hermetic.com | About | Contact | Participate | Become a Patron

Hermetic Hosting | Hermeneuticon | Hrmtc Underground

Hosted by Hermetic.com

— fileinfo: path: '../hermetic.com/crowley/collected-works/i/the-five-kisses.html' created: 2016-03-15 modified: 2016-03-15 …


Thelema

If you have found this material useful or enlightening, you may also be interested in

Trademark

Ordo Templi Orientis, O.T.O., and the O.T.O. Lamen design are registered trademarks of Ordo Templi Orientis.

Copyright

All copyrights on Aleister Crowley material are held by Ordo Templi Orientis. This site is not an official O.T.O. website, and is neither sponsored by nor controlled by Ordo Templi Orientis.

The text of this Aleister Crowley material is made available here only for personal and non-commercial use. This material is provided here in a convenient searchable form as a study resource for those seekers looking for it in their research. For any commercial use, please contact Ordo Templi Orientis.