The Virgin


The Chapter known as

The Virgin

In which chapter it is related how beauteous and fair she was to behold, and with what joyaunce and jollity she greeted her many lovers, and how she fed off their kisses and growing bold was cast forth to feed amongst the swine.

“TO be a singer of sweet songs,” is the great ideal Crowley has enshrined before him; for varied as his powers are, entwined with satire, philosophy and mysticism, as a singer of lyrics and love-songs Aleister Crowley remains unsurpassed, unrivalled, among the host of present-day poets. His thoughts are as subtle, his imagination as gorgeous, his melodies as charming as those of Shelley himself; soft as a summer breeze, fresh as the dawn in May, sunny as a June day, and then furious with burning passion and vitriolic lust. So closely interwoven in spirit are the true lyrics with the remainder of his amatory poetry, that it would be dangerous to attempt to separate them, and such an attempt would almost certainly lead to repetition or a breaking of the chain of psychosexual sensations, dimming that lustre which thrills through these magnificent verses, from the chaste kiss of a mother to the Phaedrian embrace of a Sadistic sow.

In “Why Jesus Wept,” we have the ephemeral and headstrong passion of youth; whilst in “The Tale of Archais” we find it burning only as a pure and lambent flame, overcoming all adversity, sacrificing self-love and even self- honour to attain the ideal of its purpose.

Love is the predominant power in the universe; over and over again we shall find this enforced, greater than fame, than wealth, than glory, greater than knowledge, greater than wisdom, greater than the power of the Gods themselves; for they too must worship at the shrine of Love, the shrine of the great World Mother, the mystic Isis, goddess of beauty, mother of love, queen of laughter, mistress of pleasure. “I am all that has been, that shall be, and none among mortals has hitherto taken off my veil.1)

Innocent friendship or platonic love can never be a success where the rapture of a kiss is burning on the lips of two lovers; the first spells ignorance and the second failure, for love will out, and if not as a limpid and sparkling stream, then as a turbid and roaring torrent, reckless and horrible. This extraordinary phase of diverted2) love is very strongly illustrated in “The Fatal Force,” “The Mother’s Tragedy,” and also in “Jezebel”; not so in “Tannhäuser” and “The Nameless Quest,” where love is not restrained, but rather cramped by the gnostic idea of evil in the objective. This curious idea we will go into more fully later on, at present we shall content ourselves in dealing with the first phase of Love – love in youth.

In “Why Jesus Wept,” which is a satirical serio-comedy, mingled with heterodox ribaldry, and a shrewd and sweeping cynicism on the utter rottenness of social life, we find love in youth depicted in the person of Sir Percy Percival, aged sixteen. The first effusion of puberty is described in the-following three lines:

what shall slake
This terrible thirst,
This torment accurst?3)

This, as is usually the case, finds an outlet in the first pretty maid who happens to cross youth’s burning path, and in this case the fair damozel is Molly Tyson, and the first scene of their meeting is most typical:

Sir Percy. Ah, love, love, how I love you. This is the world! Love! Love! I love you so, my darling. Oh my white golden heart of glory!4)

Eternity is moulded in form of her kiss, and even if “Hell belch its monsters one by: one to stop the way! I would be there” cries Sir Percy as he and Molly rush backwards and forwards kissing and kissing before they can finally part. And no sooner has he parted with her, having sworn eternal love and to meet her at moonrise, than he stumbles across a bedizened hag of sixty-three (society), and in ten minutes, because she calls herself “the wretchedest girl on the wide earth,” discovers “she is most beautiful”; “How she speaks! It is indeed an angel singing,” and asks if he may call her Angela, and forgets his poor village girl, and utterly overcome when she says, (“I am a poor and simple girl, and my eyes are aching with the sight of you, and my lips are mad to kiss you!”) falls into her arms learning his first great lesson; for as Angela says, “it is dangerous, as well as cruel to leave a lover standing.” To wake again to all the effervesence of efflorescent youth:

          Awake! awake!
There is a secret in our subtle union
That masters the grey snake.
Awake, O Love! and let me drink my fill
Of thee – and thou of me!5)

His subtle union, however, is soon about to vanish, for Angela in a day or so will have just about had her fill:

Angela. Die, then, and kiss me dead!
Sir Percy. I die! I die!
Angela. Thy flower-life is shed
Into eternity,
A waveless lake.6)

He sleeps, and she awake becomes somewhat weary of these “jejune platitudes,” these “ululations of preposterous puberty,” these very “eructations of gingerbread” and “flatulence of calf-sickness.”7) Soon he is kicked flying out of her ladyship’s bed, and here we must leave him for a time to meet him again and his first love Molly further on, though not under the sunshine of youthful amorosis.

A different phase and a much more pleasing one of the impulsiveness of youthful love is given us in that glowing story “The Tale of Archais.” There are many mysteries in this poem. Charicles the desire striving after Archais the ideal, failing, and the ideal seeking the lost desire; but outwardly we have, and visible to all, a true poem of the self-sacrifice of Love, and as such I think we should principally read it, the poetry of life and hope, and not the mystic throbs of some deep aspiration.

Charicles and Archais are the golden children of the Tree of Life; she is under the curse of Jove – as all pure love has been under the anathema of some god – and he, blinded by his love, sets the mystic key in the secret lock, opening to his desire the hidden corridor of knowledge; the spell falls hissing as a snake. The picture of their meeting is beautiful indeed. Thus we find Archais:

She lay within the water, and the sun
Made golden with his pleasure every one
Of small cool ripples that surround her throat,
Mix with her curls, and catch the hands that float
Like water-lilies on the wave.8)
Chance bowed herself across the sunny bars,
And watched where through the silence of the lawn
Came Charicles, the darling of the dawn,
Slowly, and to his steps took little heed;
He came towards the pool, his god-wrought reed Shrilling dim visions of things glorious, And saw the maiden, that disported thus,
And worshipped…9)

As Percy, “a moment, and he flashed towards her side.” He clasps her to his breast, kisses her, is dismayed:

Her perfect eyelids drooped, her warm cheek paled,
A tear stole over it.10)

He is tender, pitiful, this is no Angela.

My perfect love, O love! for strange and dread
Delights consume me; I am as one dead
Beating at Heaven’s gate with nerveless wing.11)

Charicles then sings the rather mystic song which opens as follows:

Man’s days are dim, his deeds are dust, His span is but a little space,       He lusts to live, he lives to lust, His soul is barren of love or trust, His heart is hopeless, seeing he must       Perish, and leave no trace.”12)

He bids her gaze into his eyes,

With love, my cheeks with passion burn—
As thy clear eyes may well discern
      By gazing into mine.13)

Who could withstand the sweet witchery of such a lover’s wooing? least of all Archais; her breast, reluctant yet helpless, heaves with a soft passion, no wise understood, her pulse quickens, she speaks, he is enthralled:

        the piercing flame
Of love struck through him, till his tortured mind
Drove his young limbs, the wolf that hunts the hind,
Far through the forest…14)

And then again bursts from his lips the enraptured song:

Ere the grape of joy is golden
      With the summer and the sun,
Ere the maidens unbeholden
      Gather one by one, To the vineyard comes the shower,
No sweet rain to fresh the flower,
      But the thunder rain that cleaves,
      Rends and ruins tender leaves.
Ere the crimson lips have planted
      Paler roses, warmer grapes,
Ere the maiden breasts have panted,
      And the sunny shapes
Flit around to bless the hour,
Comes men know not what false flower:
      Ere the cup is drained, the wine
      Grows unsweet, that was divine.15)

These last two lines contain the whole secret of this story. The beauty of the clinging love of childhood is tinged with a glowing desire, the pink desire of the bud bursts into the passionate crimson of the rose, and as in “Alice,” “The dove gave place a moment to the swine;” – and yet hardly so! the pure desire of man and woman in whatever state of life, the weaving of the golden web of twain into one entity, is not lust, never was lust, never will be lust.

According to the conventional meaning of that word, lust expresses something unhealthy, unclean; and the love Charicles bore Archais was certainly not that. This love, to use a good old English word, was a “lusty” love, that is a healthy love, and not a lustful or perverted desire. The beauty of nature, the beauty of living, and above all the bright beauty of Archais; intoxicated him; before him whirled visions of loveliness, and as her eyes reflected the passion of his own, as they smiled back on him all the love he bore her, yielding, he caught her up as a flame would another, and the “iron rod of law” grew misty, for they were one, one in body, mind and soul; alone for that moment, sole inhabitants of this World – Infinite. The moment is over, the girl rises up a woman, the wreath of lilies is now a crown of roses, she has plucked the golden fruit of Eden, henceforth she is a priestess of Sorrow; the crushed and bruised flowers cry to her “such as we were we are not, such as thou wert thou canst never be again.” The horrid spell falls upon her, and she writhes from his arms a snake.

Charicles trembling, fearful, at last becomes aware that fate has overtaken them; then all the fury of manhood rises in him:

Erect, sublime, he swore so fierce an oath
That the sea flashed with blasphemy, and loath
Black thunders broke from out the shuddering deep.
He swore again, and from its century’s sleep
Earthquake arose, and rocked and raved and roared.
He swore the third time. But that Heaven’s Lord
Curbed their black wrath, the stars of Heaven’s vault.
Had rushed to whelm the sun with vehement assault.16)

Such is the power of Love, undaunted, infuriated in the cause of Freedom, Justice, and Truth. Charicles plunges into the waves of destiny, “And with his strenuous hands the emerald water gripped.” Onward he swims striving against Poseidon, god of the ocean, who heaps the sea foam against him, as he makes for the Paphian isle to seek aid from the goddess of Love; and in his blinding anger he sees her not, though she is by his side journeying homeward from Rome. She raises the swimmer to her pearly car and carries him to her fair home, where in the following beautiful symbolic action she promises to restore him his lost love – Archais.

Then Aphrodite loosed a snake of gold
From her arm’s whiteness, and upon his wrist
Clasped it. Its glittering eyes of amethyst
Fascinate him. “Even so,” the goddess cried,
“I will bind on thy arm the serpent bride
Freed from her fate, and promise by this kiss
The warmer kisses of thy Archais.”17)

The handmaidens of Aphrodite gather round them, and their silver voices rise in one of those sweet clear songs, already so familiar to our ears, set like a gem in the gold of the narrative. The following rondel I choose for its simplicity and sweetness:

Sing, little bird, it is dawn;
Cry! with the day the woods ring;
Now in the blush of the morn,

Love doth enchain me and cling,
      Love, of the breeze that is born,
Love, with the breeze that takes wing.

Love that is lighter than scorn,
      Love that is strong as a king,
Love, through the gate that is horn,

The anger of Zeus is aroused. Aphrodite bids Charicles flee, but his passion is too great, he defies the powers. (They are only gods; would he have succeeded had they been Grundy?) The curse of Zeus is reversed:

His form did change, and, writhing from her clasp,
Fled hissing outward, a more hateful asp
Than India breeds to-day.
          …till day
Dropped her blue pinions, and the night drew on,
And sable clouds banked out the weary sun.19)

The whole course of events is now reversed, Charicles a venomous adder, Archais once again her own divine and glorious self. And this is how we find her the second time:

It was a pinnacle of ivory
Whereon she stood, the loftiest of three fangs
Thrust up by magic, in the direst pangs
Of Earth, when Earth was yet a whirling cloud
Of fire and adamant, a ceaseless crowd
Of rushing atoms roaring into space,
Driven by demons from before the Face.20)

So beautiful was she, that “the sun forgot his chariot, nor would set”; and in this mystic hour, the marriage of Day and Night, she prayed fervently to Aphrodite, fond goddess of lovers, and there amidst the thunder-smitten stone, beautiful and piteous, she waited, longing for that strong desire of love that had been so rudely snatched from her. Again, Love in the form of Aphrodite listens to her prayer, but is helpless to help her till she has sought aid from the lewd city of Aphaca, where Lust in the grim shape of Priapus dwelt.

The large-lipped drawn-out grinning of that court
That mouthed and gibbered in their swinish sport.21)

This curious duality of Love and Lust, or better, of Virtue and Vice, we shall attempt to explain more fully when we deal with the philosophy of Aleister Crowley.

From Priapus, Phallommeda gains her necessary information, and then seeking Charicles, appears first as an old hag, soon to change again into her own brilliant form, thus symbolizing the joy she brought him from out the hideousness of his fate; for during the day he should assume the form of the divinest of divine maidens, and only at the passionate hour of noon, crawl away before the full glory of the sun a wriggling serpent. She bids him seek Zeus, and leaves the rest to him. “To the lascivious shade of Ida’s deep recesses” he wends his way:

So fair, her image in the brook might make
A passionless old god his hunger slake
By plunging in the waters, though he knew
His drowning body drowned her image too.22)

There he, or now she, meets the great god wandering through the green trees and the cool groves, as Jahveh was wont once to do. Amidst those shades of Ida, where Paris adjudged the prize of beauty, overlooking the blue Hellespont, the greatest sacrifice, and thereby the purest that love can make, was to be demanded, and freely given – the sacrifice of a woman’s honour to save her lover; in fact to become a prostitute in body, and a virgin in spirit. He, Zeus, is “weary of women’s old lascivious breed,” and of “the large luxurious lips of Ganymede.” No freshness, no restraint, no virgin breast, no lips “without a taint of lewd imagining,” all the nymphs of those green wooded slopes, all are as brazen and cold as the meretrices of a suburrian lupanar, the fire of love having burnt itself out to the ashen lassitude of satiety. At length the god finds her asleep under some shady tree, and creeps towards her – little loath

To waken her caresses, and let noon
Fade into midnight in the amorous swoon.23)

His voluptuous lips touch her smooth cheek, she wakes, she flees, she is caught; “panting,” “timid,” “tremulous”:

And he with open lips voluptuous
Closed her sweet mouth with kisses, and so pressed
Her sobbing bosom with a manlier breast

She submits, not to the god, but to the man. Within the god, the godhood vanishes; for the power of love rules all, and the god once again becomes incarnated in the form of a divine man.25)

          So the morning past
And found them linked inexorably fast
Each in the other’s arms. Their lips are wed
To drink the breezes from the fountainhead
Of lovers’ breath.26)

Then all her senses leap to the melodious song of Zeus, a divine lyric; the following are two of its seven beautiful verses:

      O lamp of love! The hissing spray shall jet thee with desire       And foaming fire,       And fire from thee shall move Her spirit to devour, And fuse and mingle us in one transcendent hour.

      Godhead is less Than mortal love, the garland of the spheres,       Than those sweet tears       That yield no bitterness To the luxurious cries That love shrills out in death, that murmur when love dies.27)

The hour of noon approaches, it falls, and the curse resumes its sway; a fiery snake winds its coils round the sleeping god, and hisses in his ear, “awake!” The god has fallen, the god is caught, caught and bound in the lusts of the manhood he assumed. No Galilean is he to be crucified for his own or others’ sins, and he wins his freedom at the price of Charicles’ liberty. Nature breaks into a welcome chant of joy, the lovers are reunited, the men’s praise is for Archais, and the eyes of the maidens are fixed on Charicles. The tale is nearly ended, the lovers wend their way through the joyous throng midst song and chorus, then from the lips of Archais rises:

Light and dark are wed together
      Into golden weather:
Sun and moon have kissed, and built
      Palaces star-gilt
Whence a crystal stream of joy, love’s eternal wine, is spilt.28)

Such is one of the most pleasing of Aleister Crowley’s poems; touched by the genuine breath of adoration for the beautiful, a jewel set in fiery gold, a crimson sash embroidered with the pearls of the glowing orient; Archais is one of the tenderest and most touching of women, wholly pure, not like Molly Tyson, who afterwards fell to the lot of a worldly old lecher. The rosy couch of her first fiery experience soon withered to a thorny briar bed, as it has for most of us. Her curse was a god’s, Molly’s Society’s – poor Molly! Charicles’ love was the love of the hurricane, which carries all before it, typhoonic; he knew no fears, no bonds, he cursed the god who had defrauded him of his loved one; and plunged undaunted into the ocean of adversity; to win back their former state he sacrificed himself. He was no Sir Percy, flatulent with wind, who could not tell a harlot from a virgin; falling at once a prey to a bedizened old prostitute of sixty-three.

Those who should think the passion displayed in this tale as unbecoming and lustful, must indeed have minds composed of dung and cantharides, disappointed sterile old maids, or sated old matrons, pornophobics of the worst description. We know well the class, half Exeter Hall, half Empire Music-hall; “douée” (as a charming little French brochure describes one of this type), “du plus voluptueux tempérament courut longtemps les aventures… mais ses ans et le grand usage altérèrent ses charmes, et elle prit le parti ordinaire, de donner à Dieu ce qu’elle ne pouvait plus offrir aux hommes, et pleura dans l’hypocrisie trente ans d’amour et de plaisir.” We know the type well, and so does Aleister Crowley; his Angela, before she fell into the boiling sulphuric acid, which was being prepared to remove her enamel, was president of a Zenana Mission.

Love is, as must now be apparent, an all engrossing theme in the poetry of Aleister Crowley, every phase almost meeting with an illustration. We have seen the flatulent love of youth, and its counterpart in the divine poetic sincerity of Charicles and Archais; we will now view it in its maturer form, and firstly, in the form of true and sincere love, unconventional and pure, whether under the bond of marriage, or under the boundless bond of free love, between two souls of similar affinity. True love is a pure, unalloyed attraction, urging two souls from their inherited duality into their inherent oneness, that all are capable of attaining, and yet so few attain; and it is on account of the fewness of its adepts, that the magic of their worship has become to the clouded eyes of the many a heinous offence, reflecting a light that they cannot find in their gloomy atmosphere.

Laws are the concrete opinions of the many, morals the abstract sensations of the few. Outside ourselves ethics do not exist, for they are the great faculty of sentient existence. The law of the survival of the fittest is not moral, it is essential; but, manifested through reason it becomes ethical. As regards the aspirations of the sexes, nature cares little whether John loves Ann or Mary. Man, however, cares much. John is not married, Ann is; Nature implants a similar affinity in both, and they verge towards their own magnetic centre. Nature says “unite!” Man, however, thinks otherwise and so builds up a stout abatis out of the dead bones of unreasoning ages, fencing Ann in; and even if John does surmount this formidable obstacle, a moral fougasse awaits for his impetuous footstep, which will morally blow him to smithereens. Again, John is unmarried, and Mary is in a similar state of bliss, their affinities repel and do not attract: Nature says “keep apart!”; man says “I would rather see you unite with Mary than I would with Ann, affinities be damned!” They unite, and axiomatize the postulate of Hell. Nature now says “part!” man says “Oh! no you don’t.” Around them are then speedily constructed such labyrinthine entanglements, that few find their way out, and still fewer attempt so difficult a task – hence Churches and Brothels. If John, however, does not marry Mary, Ann squalls, but as the jailer can always let himself out of the prison, so can man, if he does not drop his keys through some matrimonial grating. Ann then locks up Mary in that Bastille of despair which is called Piccadilly (this is no paradox) – hence prudes and nymphs. Thus Nature is scouted and thumped on the nose because she is essential, and man is enthroned in her stead and smacked on the back because he happens to be moral – hence Universities and Lunatic asylums.

In Love, mankind eternally verges between folly and knavery, because man is a non-essential being, and Nature an un-moral power.

But before we enter on the above idea as demonstrated in the poems of Aleister Crowley, it will be necessary to elucidate matters, and first to enter on a brief description of the Essential and the Moral; showing that man as usual has got hold of “the muddy end of the stick”; that the majority of the human species live in a state of purulent hypocrisy and mental indolence, and that the minority should consider themselves exceptionally fortunate if they save their souls from incarceration in the bolgia of conventional respectability.

Aleister Crowley’s gospel of Love is the gospel of Freedom. As love is one of those particular qualities that cannot possibly thrive under the perception of restraint, so can it only bloom in perfect freedom, whether legalized or not; all other forms are Lust.

Nature is the All-perfect, she is existence taken as a totality, and everything being a part of her, consequently is subject to her government. The inorganic, and what we choose to call the organic, are her two greatest manifestations. Some consider these two as definitely separate; ethers that the organic is but a higher form of the inorganic; and others again that both are illusions, and that Reality, as we suppose it materially to be, does not exist outside our own minds. We do not intend to enter here the illusive paths of Idealism; but we might add, from a strictly logical point of view, that the latter system has much to support it. In all and every one of us lies a certain individual desire, which is strictly subjective, in the individual it is called character, in the nation government. The laws of a country are the compilation of a series of individual characterizations, a series of inner reflections of the outer object. In each one of us there is a slight difference of effect, and this variation results in the survival of the fittest intellect. Now the essential difference between the spirit of an individual and that of a nation is this: the first acts intuitively, the second mechanically; the former propels the latter, whilst the latter reacts as a drag on the former. If the former is in a healthy state so will the latter be; if the latter becomes corrupt it will then react and contaminate the former. This is the law of all Form – i.e., Government – and Reform.

The outlaw of to-day was the citizen of yesterday, so the law of to-day will become the crime of tomorrow.

Man being inherently lazy, and hence conservative, this power is forever reacting on him, and binding him down to a government unsuited to his times, and it is this power that he has chosen to call – the Moral code; notwithstanding the fact that it is not based in any way on the perceptions he has obtained from Nature’s code as it now is reflected, but on that reflection which was obtained by his ancestors, a far less worthy appreciation. And in this inherent conservativeness and horror of change lie most of the tragedies of love; for man trying to quench the natural flame of his desires in a torrent of chilly and criminal atavism, merely floods the virtuous path, leaving the by-ways of vice high and dry, inviting, crying to the sated wanderer.

Man lives by paradoxes and contraries; martyrs and tortures himself, building around him lofty restrictions bristling with moral frises, and broken ethical beer-bottles, digging deep trenches around his joys, and then filling them with the tears of exasperation at his lot. All is either monopoly, or slavery, or taboo. Free in his actions he conceived law and solicitors; free in his aspirations, religion and priests; free in his affections, marriage and wives. Inwardly he agrees that marriage is a success only when it comprises a total unison of mind, body and soul, of sympathies and passions; outwardly that it is a perpetual seal, sealed by God. Dr. Maudsley once said, “No one can escape the tyranny of his organization,” but woe to the man who cannot dissemble that he can! Marriage, the hackneyed sexual union, is a lie to love, a legalizing of prostitution, an abortive horror, over which broods the grinning form of the Jew-God – God of lechers and harlots, of David and Rahab. What sight more truly pitiable than to behold the tender heart of some young girl, or the ardent spirit of another, cramped by this unnatural bond, and denied the joys of a beneficent Nature, that yearning to love and be loved. But not with impunity do we thus triumph over our natures; love cannot be so rudely suppressed; the primary want of our being must inevitably conquer. Looking back on history we find few parallels to the general lust of the present day. Two thousand years of the Cross have to- day left as token of its morality 80,000 prostitutes on the London streets alone.29) “Can that have been human?” I see you point through the drizzling night to a cramped and shivering form. Can that have been a woman? That living death, degraded by crime, brutalized by vice, vitiated, unsouled; lower than a slave, worse than a dog; spurned by man, shunned by woman, a human wreck, a growing horror? Even so, once a smiling girl, sweet as a rose, pure as a lily; now the bedraggled gin-sodden harridan. O! marriage, thy name is Failure: O! priest, what hast thou done? Cramped the human mind, betrayed thy trust, sacrificed love on the altar of Mammon, leaving the heart as a blighted flower, the soul as a hollow shell, void, execrable.

Even love is sold, the solace of all woe
Is turned to deadliest agony, old age
Shivers in selfish beauty’s loathing arms
And youth’s corrupted impulses prepare
A life of horror from the blighting bane
Of commerce; whilst the pestilence that springs
From unenjoying sensualism, has filled
All human life with hydra-headed woes.

So sang Shelley. Now let us turn to Aleister Crowley, and we shall find his ideal no less great, noble and true than that of Shelley’s, the divinest of the poets and pioneers of Truth, Freedom, and Beauty.

Love is the finding in others what others cannot find in them, and it is of two degrees. The love of a mother towards her child; and the love of man and woman towards woman and man. The first is generally considered to be purer and more ideal, but this idea has only grown out of man’s entire ignorance regarding the physical relationships. The mother is in no way purer than the wife, neither is the virgin purer than the mother. The truest definition of chastity is that as given by Benjamin Franklin, which defines chastity as “the regulated and strictly temperate satisfaction without injury to others, of those desires which are natural to all healthy adult beings.”30) The reason for this idea of uncleanliness though certainly obscure is traceable more particularly to the utter mystery man saw in this supreme function, and also, that all hygienic laws being unknown to him, any disease resulting from the act was attributed indirectly to the woman – instead of to his own want of knowledge – and directly to the supernatural manifesting its wrath through her as a medium; for the supernatural to primitive man’s understanding invariably took the shape of malevolent and not benevolent powers. This and the periodic functions of the woman, as well as, as Westermarck says, “the instinctive feeling against intercourse between members of the same family or household,” developed the conception of uncleanliness in. an act which has been rightly stated by Geoffrey Mortimer as being “the eternal symbol of love and life, and the purest of human joys,” and which act being attributed to supernatural powers came under the authority of religion, and fell into the hands of an interested priesthood, giving them an immense power over women, and through women over men; an influence that has been exercised in every land, and every age, by these spiritual leaders: an influence by which they have in so many cases ruled the minds of men, and by which for so many centuries they have blighted the happiest prospects of many a human heart. But surely now that we have reached the twentieth century, thousands and thousands of years since these primitive times, should we not shake off these trammels of infant thought, and, assuming our manhood, decry an ideal that is not only brutal but absurd; instead of reverencing it because of its great antiquity, or because of our conservative sympathies with the past days of our fathers. Woman is as clean as man, and a wife married or unmarried as pure as any virgin. Generation is no more filthy than alimentation; both are necessary, both are accompanied by natural appetites; the one maintains the individual, the other the race; both may be carried to extremes, both may become lusts.

The world is ever progressing onward, and we must progress with it, or else stagnation and retrogression will set in; and in these competitive times the latter two spell social and moral death. What was good yesterday may be bad to-day, and what is good to-day may be evil to-morrow. What the ultimate end will be, none can tell, for it lies “behind the veil”; but what we must do is very certain, very definite, very sure. We must ameliorate our lot, not by the ephemeral laws of the dead, but through the needs and wants of the living, on the solid foundation of the truest possible morality, based on Nature, and manifested to us through our divine powers of reason. And much of this new morality do we find in the love-gospel of Aleister Crowley.

First turning to the love incarnate in motherhood, we find a touching case in the picture of Cora in “The Mother’s Tragedy.” Cora Vavasour, late of the halls, yet as true and noble a woman as ever lived, a type of woman that, thank Heaven, is not so uncommon among those whom the prudes call fallen classes. Cora was scarcely, however, one of these; living in luxury she tried to bury the recurring past, “Old hours of horror,” and she trusted that “God hath made smooth the road beneath the hearse” of her “forgetful age.”

Let me not shrink! Truth always purifies.
One night I stepped up tremulous on the stage,
Sang something, found my senses afterward
Only to that intolerable sound
Of terrible applause. They shook the sky
With calling me to answer. And I lay—
A storm of weeping swept across my frame—
Till the polite, the hateful Manager
Led me to face a nation’s lunatic
Roar of delight!31)

That was the beginning, but she soon got over that “and over – yes! the other thing.”

She fell sacrificed before Mammon, loved opulence, was quoted on the Stock Exchange, became the toy of the “prurient licksores of society” till her bastard child was born.

          Childbirth sobered me.
I loved the child, the only human love
I ever tasted, and I sacrificed
The popularity, the infamy,
Of my old life; I sought another world.
I “got religion” —how I hate the phrase!—
So jest the matron newspapers…
For I will do without a mother’s name
If only I may keep a son’s love still!32)

It is not here that we can enter on the fearful tragedy of these short dozen pages, suffice it to say, that it was that of Phædra and Hippolytus, the sexes however being reversed. Shamed, insulted by her son, she still dares kiss him:

          Why I dare
Now take your head between my hands and kiss
Your forehead with these shameful lips of mine,
These harlot lips, and kiss you unashamed?33)

Outraged, ravished by the offspring of her vice, yet child of her heart, she still can say as she sees him stand before her, a fiendish monster, with the bloody razor with which he has just slain Madeline, a pure and innocent girl:

Kill yourself.

Such was her love, her duty to her motherhood; very different indeed was the love of Ratoum. But anon.

Another picture of maternal affection, this time more musical, we find in “The Spring after,” of “Mysteries: Lyrical and Dramatic”:

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.34)

True love, the love of self in the soul of another, the poet paints very beautifully in the following charming lines:

Do you recall? Could I forget?
How once the full moon shone above,
Over the houses, and we let
Loose rein upon the steeds of love?
How kisses fled to kisses, rain
Of fiery dew upon the soul
Kindled, till ecstasy was pain;
Desire, delight: and swift control
Leapt from the lightning, as the cloud
Disparted, rended, from us twain,
And we were one:35)

This melting of the I in you, is the only true possible form of marriage, and the only form that can exalt it over the prostitution of the monde and demi- monde; for it matters little if a woman sell her body for a five pound note, or for a five million pound dot. The man who in his turn marries a woman for her wealth is as foul a male prostitute as ever shrieked his lewd obscenities in the street of Sodom, and down the by-ways of Gibeah. Tannhäuser expresses the whole celebration of this union in two pregnant lines:

That is true marriage, in my estimate.
Aspire together to one Deity?

Or again in the song of Nuith:

We are lulled by the whirr of the stars;
      We are fanned by the whisper, the wind;
We are locked in unbreakable bars,
      The love of the spirit and mind.
          The infinite powers
          Of rapture are ours;
We are one, and our kisses are kind.37)

A true wife, that is a woman whose very soul palpitates in harmony with that of her husband or lover, is the greatest joy of life. Burns sang:

To make a happy fireside clime
      For weans and wife,
Is the true pathos and sublime
      Of human life.

And from the other side of the sphere the melodious lines of Kalidasa reverberate with the same perfection of pure wifehood. In the Raghuvançha the stepmothers of Rama greet Sita thus, when she blames herself for the misfortunes which befell her husband:

          Dear daughter, rise!
(So said they) “Tis thy spotless life alone
That brought thy Lord and Lakshman through their toils
Triumphant.” Then with loving words and true
They praised her, worthy wife of worthy Lord.

What a melody lives in those words, “Twas thy spotless life alone.” Rama through all his misfortunes, through all the snares of life, finds ultimately that all his woes are but a teardrop to be swallowed up in that boundless ocean of love – the heart of a chaste and loving wife. And so did Ahinoam in Jephthah when he said:

And my wife’s eyes were welcome more desired
Than chains of roses, and the song of children,
And swinging palm branches, and milk-white-elders.38)

No thunderous note (so common in the poems of Crowley) lies in the above three lines, to roll on into the stillness of Immensity; it is but the song of the nightingale by the rill of life. Here as a vision we see a fair form embroidering the web of existence with the flowers that grow on the banks of life’s flowing stream, collecting as she works the stray threads of philosophy, of science, of industry, of war, and of peace; the sweat, the laughter, the tears of existence, to weave them into the great garment of Love.

This again is the true, the Higher Love:

          A thousand years have passed,
And yet a thousand thousand; years they are
As men count years, and yet we stand and gaze
With touching hands and lips immutable
As mortals stand a moment;…
The universe is One; One Soul, One Spirit,
One Flame, One infinite God, One infinite Love39)

Truly the poet has here refined the dross and poured out before us the glittering metal. Yet what a difference he makes between the two great world forces: the love of man for a good woman, and the love of man for a bad woman; the first is supreme, yet the other is far from being infernal. Listen:

Yes. A good woman’s love will forge a chain
To break the spirit of the bravest Greek;
While with an harlot one may leap again
Free as the waters of the western main,
And turn with no heart-pang the vessel’s beak
Out to the oceans that all seamen seek.”40)

Another, this time a weird, charming little picture of a lewd little mistress with “a generous baby soul,” we include here; for such a one at any rate is not a true prostitute, rather a poor deluded girl, yearning to love and be loved, romantic and foolish, yet kindhearted and charitable to a fault: often the plaything of man, and oftener the means of livelihood of some bad woman. As Jenny wrapped in “the homage of the dim boudoir,” was Nina; one of that large flotsam of fragile girlhood which forms the better drift of vice, the first to be swallowed in the social Maelstrom.

Yes: Nina was a thing of nought,
A little laughing lewd gamine,
Idle and vicious, void of thought,
Easy, impertinent, unclean—
Utterly charming! Yes, my queen!
She had a generous baby soul,
Prattled of love. Should I control,
Repress, perhaps, the best instinct
The child had ever had? I winked
At foolish neighbours, did not shirk.
Such café Turc I made her drink
As she had never had had before;
Set her where you are sitting; chatted;
Found where the fires of laughter lurk;
Played with her hair, tangled and matted;
Fell over strict nice conduct’s brink,
Gave all she would, and something more.
She was an honest little thing,
Gave of her best, asked no response.
What more could Heaven’s immortal King
Censed with innumerous orisons?41)

What more indeed! Nina is charming, and we wish we could say the same of many a Society dame who holds her breath each time she passes such a one. We have by now certainly slightly diverged from True Love, let us now enter those enchanting realms of Free Love, which is True Love in its truest form. Nina is our guide, pointing us out the hill-top road which will lead us above the social plain, and awed by the mystic love of woman, Racing and maddening from the crown of flame, The monolithic core of mystical Red fury that is called a woman’s heart.* *Tannhäuser, vol. i, p. 232.

Enter the sphere of Free Love, and sit by the side of Alice, look into the depth of her eyes, the depths of her heart.

As a seeker sees the gold
In the shadow of the stream;

see there her love,

As a diver sees the pearl
In the shadow of the sea;

and murmur not above our breath

Ah! you can love, true girl,
And is your love for me?42)

“Alice, an Adultery.” As golden a book of poetry as Mademoiselle de Maupin is of prose.

The first poem in the book is called “Messaline.”43) It is in a way a foreword to the ensuing sonnet-sequence, and yet in a way it is not, its spirit being more essentially of Lust; for whatever the “unco gude” may say, that of Alice and her lover is not. To adulterate is to debase; but there is no debasement here. Love burns pure as a flame, and if it is, as it is here, between a married woman and a lover who is not her legal husband, so much deeper the lesson, so much vaster the love; defying all for its own sake: and here, as we shall see in the end, sacrifices itself, so as not to tarnish the names of innocent children, which the old harridan Society would otherwise have besmirched with her foul saliva. In “Messaline” we however have, as the poet says “leprous entanglements of sense”; here is a magnificent passage heated with passion and not a little lust:

Breast to great breast and thigh to thigh,
We look, and strain, and laugh, and die.
I see the head hovering above
To swoop for cruelty or love;
I feel the swollen veins below
The knotted throat, the ebb and flow
Of blood, not milk, in breasts of fire;
Of deaths, not fluctuants, of desire;
Of molten lava that abides
Deep in the vast volcanic sides;
Deep scars where kisses once bit in
Below young mountains that be twin,
Stigmata cruciform of sin,
The diary of Messaline.44)

A little further on – before the sonnets commence – another poem greets our gaze and charms our senses, it is called “Margaret”:

The moon spans Heaven’s architrave;
      Stars in the deep are set; Written in gold on the day’s grave,
      “To love, and to forget”;
And sea-winds whisper o’er the wave
      The name of Margaret.45)

In these two short poems we have the spirit of Alice offered us, passionate and sublime; a harmonious blending of Messaline and Margaret in the form of one sweet woman.

In none of the sonnets can it be said that there is a single scene of lechery. True we shall have our Buchanans and their ilk, and we still have Rossetti’s poems with one of his finest sonnets excised to please Mrs. Grundy; but matters it what the sewer-rat thinks of the linnet’s songs? leave him in his dank drain, for we need him not, neither his opinions.

There is a great lesson embodied in this poem. The lesson that Love is only worthy its hallowed name, when free; that it is only worth having when freely given, and worth keeping when freely held, without bond or writ. This freedom we find in the very first sonnet:

Against the fiat of that God discrowned,
      Unseated by Man’s Justice, and replaced
      By Law most bountiful and maiden-faced
And Mother-minded: passing the low bound
Of Man’s poor law we leapt at last and found
      Passion; and passing the dim halls disgraced
      Found higher love and larger and more chaste,
A calm sphinx waiting in secluded ground.46)

The first day of meeting he gazes on her, and wonders whether Fate had found at last a woman’s love for him; hopelessly he turns away and sinks the dream of his soul in despair and “Kindled a corpse-light and proclaimed ‘The day!’”

Thither I fled, busied myself with these;
      When – lo! I saw her shadow following!
      In every cosmic season-tide of spring
She rose, being the spring: in utter peace
      She was with me and in me: thus I saw
      Ours was not love, but destiny, and law.47)

Such is True Love, whether it be the love of a virgin, a harlot, or a wife. No man-made law, no convention, no ceremony can create it; for it is spontaneous, anarchic; few are its children, and still fewer its warriors. All that this lover sees breathes “Alice”; all that he hears reverberates with her name; all that he smells holds the clinging scent of her hair, Alice, Alice, Alice! He feels she is beyond him; yet in his ear whispers the Master; whose power is rapture.

I drew a hideous talisman of lust
      In many colours where strong sigils shone;
      Crook’d mystic language of oblivion,
Fitted to crack and scorch the terrene crust
And bring the sulphur steaming from the thrust
      Of Satan’s winepress, was ill written on
      The accurséd margin, and the orison
Scrawled backwards, as a bad magician must.

By these vile tricks, abominable spells,
      I drew foul horrors from a many hells—
      Though I had fathomed Fate; though I had seen
Chastity charm-proof arm and sea gray eyes
      And sweet clean body of my spirit’s queen,
      Where nothing dwells that God did not devise.48)

The sonnets relating the events of the seventh to the tenth day are dismal, attempting to drown Love in Lust. On the twelfth a little flame burns up, then comes the poem, which Alice receives and reads. Every verse is as charming, simple, and fascinating as the following two:

One kiss, like snow, to slip,
Cool fragrance from thy lip
      To melt on mine;
One kiss, a white-sail ship
To laugh and leap and dip
      Her brows divine; .
One kiss, a starbeam faint
With love of a sweet saint,
Stolen like a sacrament
      In the night’s shrine!

One kiss, like moonlight cold,
Lighting with floral gold
      The lake’s low tune;
One kiss, one flower to fold,
On its own calyx rolled
      At night, in June!
One kiss, like dewfall, drawn
A veil o’er leaf and lawn—
Mix night, and noon, and dawn,
      Dew, flower, and moon!49)

That Alice was charmed, that the above was a love-philtre, the thirteenth day discloses – the birthday of their first kiss:

Breasts met and arms enclosed, and all the spring
Grew into summer with the first long kiss.50)

They are henceforth lovers, passionate and ardent; and not till now do they discover that man-made honour is but as winter snow. All is hence Alice, as is shown in that sweet and simple song which bears her name:

The stars are hidden in dark and mist,
      The moon and sun are dead,
Because my love has caught and kissed
      My body in her bed.
No light may shine this happy night—
Unless my Alice be the light.

This night shall never be withdrawn—
Unless my Alice be the dawn.51)

Yet Alice is full of fear; they question their love, and Love conquers. The still horror creeps silently on, enveloping them in the shroud that man has woven as the garment of love:

Since our pure shame unworthily destroys
The love of all she had, her girls and boys,
      Her home, their lives: and yet my whisper stirs
      Into live flame her passion, and deters
Her fear from spurning all the day’s due joys.52)

The pudibonderie of the English would call this lust. Indeed, drunken on their own crapulous imagination, choked by their venomous vomit, they cannot see the divine form of Love through the mist of their steaming sensuality. For what reason did man tie woman to him? For what reason did he devise the horrors of indissoluble marriage? And the answer is: that he might ever have at least one poor victim to sate his vile carnalities on. Lust and Indolence are the parents of Marriage and Law, but not even the menials of Freedom and Free Love.

      We clung still closer, till the soul ran through
Body to body, twined like sunny snakes,
Sinlessly knowing we were man and wife.53)

Alice, still fearful, foresees the end; such love as theirs is too supernal to be platonic; she flies in vain; for she has to console her sad lover with the truth. The storm-clouds gather on the twenty-fifth day:

      Mouth unto mouth! O fairest! mutely lying,
Fire lambent laid on water – O! the pain!
      Kiss me, O heart, as if we both were dying!\
Kiss, as we could not ever kiss again!
Kiss me, between the music of our sighing,
      Lightning and rain!54)

A curious conflict this ‘twixt love and fear, “honour and lust, and truth and trust beguiled”; they wandered in the scented garden of man’s heart, and all their restraint was as ephemeral as the fleeting hour. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” (N.B. — Husband: neither church nor registry office is mentioned!)

Linked in the tiny shelf upon the ship,       My blind eyes burned into her mild ones: limbs
      Twined to each other while fine dew bedims
Their quivering skins: lip fastened unto lip:
Whole soul and body frenzied meet and clip;
      And the breath staggers, and the life-blood swims!
      Terrible gods chant black demoniac hymns
As the frail cords of honour strain and slip.

For in the midst of that tremendous tide
      The mighty vigour of a god was mine!
      Drunk with desire, her lamentations died.
The dove gave place a moment to the swine!
      Rapturous draughts of madness! Out she sighed
      Uttermost life’s love, and became a bride55)

Not like Adam and Eve, however, did they then discover that they were naked, such epilogues being more especially suited to the author of “Lot and his Daughters” and “The Concubine of Gibeah,” than the author of “Tannhäuser” or “Alice.” Nevertheless reproach followed, if shame did not, the celebration of love’s mystic eucharist. Reproach rises, but falls enamoured to his kisses; all is extremes, there is no heaviness, no deadness of sentiment, the smoke curls as high as the flashing flames, and tears wash out smiles, and blushing cheeks dry tears; all is effluent glory, glorious as a Sun of gold lingering on the blushing bosom of Dawn:

We lay in naked chastity, caressed
Child-like or dreaming, till the dawn repressed
Our sighs: that nuptial yet hath never ceased.56)

Still the future rises up before them, as a serpent, “prescience of next year”; the Minotaur, “prodigious offspring of the fatal graft?” But the present is a sublime kiss, and the future as hollow as the emblem of two parted lips, “while love was hovering and our lips were fain?” Soon the parting draws nigh, he attempts to detain her; but he knows he must inevitably fail, as he knew his first kiss must inevitably lead to their great love and surrender. They spend the last melancholy day together:

Strong kisses that had surfeited a score
Of earthly bridals in an hour we squandered.57)

And at last:


At noon she sailed for home, a weeping bride
      Widowed before the honeymoon was done.
      Always before the rising of the sun
I swore to come in spirit to her side
And lie like love; and she at eventide
      Swore to seek me and gather one by one
      The threads of labyrinthine love new spun,
Cretan for monstrous shadows serpent-eyed.

So the last kiss passed like a poison-pain,
      Knowing we might not ever kiss again.
      Mad tears fell fast: “Next year!” in cruel distress
We sobbed and stretched our arms out, and despaired,
      And – parted. Out the brute-side of truth flared;
      “Thank God I’ve finished with that foolishness!”58)

This last line is almost staggering, but such a cruel truth is soon given the lie: “I am a fool, tossing a coin with Fate,” says he; and again, “I love you, and shall love you till I die.” “I love you, and shall love you all my life.” “I love you and shall love you after death.” This is the Higher Love; and so ends one of the greatest poems of true and pure love ever written, musical as the breath of stormy Aeolus. Fascinated we read its verses again and again, dazzled with their mystic beauty, their harmony, and, above all, their intense human love. As the Editor says, those who fail to find religion in such poems must indeed be idiots, idiots who would bowdlerize Shakespeare, Shelley, and Browning. Neither was their love a mere selfish gratification of the senses. Anxiously they waited to see “whether the mother stood behind the bride,” falteringly he would not part with her till she held the key of the hereafter”; and ultimately they resigned all for the sake of others:

Even while I begged her, I well knew she must.
      We could not, loving to see children laugh,
Let cowards twit them with their mother’s lust.
Even our own purity confirmed the trust.
How long, O Lord, how long? Too long by half
Till men read, wondering, wedlock’s epitaph.59)

Aleister Crowley is but editor60) of these magnificent sonnets; let us now see how the ideas in his own poems correspond.

In the case of Nina, we have already seen that a good heart can throb in a lewd little breast, and can overcome all except a false society; which overwhelms it not by bravery, or craft, or even by cunning, but by the dull and stunning power of a leaden club. In the “Honourable Adulterers” we find a poem strikingly reminiscent of “Alice,” a boundless, and what Ydgrunites would call “an illicit love,” but more, a well-aimed shaft against the horrors of the social marriage tie, which is denominated as “The devilish circle of the fiery ring,” which, as their love grew, “Became one moment like a little thing.”

If I am right, the heart of this poem bleeds generous indignation against the marriage bond. We read:

It was no wonder when the second day
Showed me a city on the desert way,
      Whose brazen gates were open, where within
      I saw a statue for a sign of sin,
And saw the people come to it and pray,
      Before its mouth set open for a gin.61)

Before this statue he is brought; her bronze and chilly loins are girded with the sacred gold of lust, her lips are lecherous and large, inviting to kiss:

But somehow blood was black upon them; blood
In stains and clots and splashes; and the mud
Trampled around her by the souls that knelt,
Worshipping where her false lewd body dwelt,
Was dark and hateful; and a sleepy flood
Trickled therefrom as magic gums that melt.62)
I am a man, nor fear to drain the bowl.63)
Now some old devil, dead no doubt and damned,
But living in her life, had wisely crammed
      Her fierce bronze throat with such a foul device
      As made her belly yearn for sacrifice.
She leered like love on me, and smiled, and shammed,
      And did not pity for all her breast of spice.64)

Man though he was, he is thrust into her Moloch arms. When lo! a miracle! he is plucked by his own fearlessness from the horrid maw, “Free, where the blood of other men is wet,” mingling in life till “ten thousand little loves were brought to birth”; then came the one woman who looked so deeply in his eyes till hers grew, shielding the sun, as a purple ring:

Then in the uttermost profound I saw
The veil of Love’s unalterable law
      Lifted, and in the shadow far behind
      Dim and divine, within the shadow blind
My own love’s face most amorously draw
      Out of the deep toward my cloudy mind.

O suddenly I felt a kiss enclose
My whole live body, as a rich red rose
      Folding its sweetness round the honey-bee!
      I felt a perfect soul embracing me,
And in my spirit like a river flows
      A passion like the passion of the sea.65)

So ends the first part of this mystical and symbolic poem, In the second part the Queen speaks, her love is similar to that of “Alice,” if not sublimer: “I was so glad he loved enough to go” – “my arms could never have released his neck.” The King dies and soon the Queen also. Love is symbolized in this poem in its higher form as above death. She seeks and finds “There is no sin.”

And I? I knew not anything, but know
We are still silent, and united so,
And all our being spells one vast To Be,
A passion like the passion of the sea.66)

Besides the freedom of lovers, Aleister Crowley advocates the freedom of the children of love; he does not visit the sins of the fathers on the children, as conventionality cruelly does. Though he is a firm believer in the chain of cause and effect as is strongly shown in “The Mother’s Tragedy,” he does not carry it further into the realms of Biblical vice. The children of what is known as an illicit love – which in most cases is true free love – have time after time proved themselves better and greater than those engendered in the unimpassioned embrace of the marriage-bed. Shakespeare brings this point out forcibly in King Lear, when Edmund speaks as follows:

          …why brand they us
With base? with baseness? bastardy? base, base?
Who in the lusty stealth of nature take
More composition and fierce quality
Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed,
Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops,
Got ‘tween asleep and wake?

In “Jephthah” we find an almost identical rendering of the above, concerning the children of free love:

Turn not thy face from us in wrath, for we
Are thine own father’s children, and his loins
With double fervour gat a double flower;
And we indeed were born of drudging wives,
Pale spouses whom his heart despised, but thou
Wast of a fairer face and brighter eyes,
And limbs more amorous assuaged thy sire;
And fuller blood of his is tingling thus
Now in thy veins indignant at our sin.67)

Thus we find free love is the great, pure, and only true love. Its name has been soiled and fouled by the feculencies of Holywell Street, its celebration misunderstood and prostituted by the Church, and its life threatened and blackguardized by the Law. But wherever two hearts beat in unison, there is its abode, North or South, East or West, it knows no locality, no time, no space; for it is love sublime, eternal, inscrutable; its greatest foe is Lust, and the most fearful form of lust is Marriage: Whom God hath joined let no man put asunder.

We have already seen marriage described in “The Honourable Adulterers” and in “The Star and the Garter”; we get a pregnant glimpse of it again in the one speech, “A bargain’s a bargain, a thousand a year and a flat in Mayfair are better than Farmer Tyson’s butter and eggs.”68) In these few words are practically summed up the raison d’être of all mariages de convenance. The affluent marry out of sensuality, or to engender sons to inherit their selfishness, the middle orders trot their daughters round the London ball- rooms just as strumpets fall in to the cry of descendez, mesdemoiselles! Women marry for title, clothing, shelter, and food; men because they think it is cheaper to keep a cow, and once and for all have done with it, than to be constantly running round the corner for a penny-worth of milk; and the lower stratum – the blesséd poor – spend most of their lives in the act of engendering the elite of heaven and the scum of this earth, “mere shells, husks of the golden wheat that might grow even here,”69) if it were not for our prudery, our religion, and our laws.

Percy – the Percy of “The Poem,” and not of “Why Jesus Wept,” is optimistic enough concerning that vast army of unsexed women who are degraded by want of food and surfeit of marriage; for it is to these two that their existence as such is chiefly due. If wives were a success, man would not want to go neighing after other women; if food were not so expensive, women would not sell their bodies for offal. Vaughan says to him, pointing to a prostitute, “Do you find beauty in her?” to which Percy answers: “No, but I see in her history a poem, to which I trust that God will write an end!”70) And so the God, who is eternal Love at present does – in the Lock Hospital or over Waterloo Bridge. Nevertheless there is a great truth hidden in this line. The truth that love shall triumph over mind, or rather that both shall agree. If the carnal act is foul, it is then as foul in the palace as in the brothel: mere prostitution of the body need not necessarily mean a similar prostitution of the mind, as we saw in the “Tale of Archais.” Every woman’s body is as free a possession of her own as that of every man is of his own, and what is disgraceful to woman is equally disgraceful to man, and vice versâ. Law to be true must be just, and as long as man wages war against woman for sins that he condones in himself, so long will vice reign supreme, so long will women prove themselves deceivers, harpyiæ and sirenes, let alone Eumenides. Most will recognize the following as the opening scene in Terence’s “The Mother-in-Law,” which play sums up the matter tersely enough:

Philotis. I’ faith, Syra, you can find but very few lovers who prove constant to their mistresses. For instance, how often did this Pamphilus swear to Bacchis – how solemnly, so that anyone might have believed him – that he never would take home a wife so long as she lived. Well now, he is married.

Syra. Therefore for that very reason, I earnestly both advise and entreat you to take pity upon no one, but plunder, fleece, and rend every man you lay hold of.

Philotis. What! Hold no one exempt?

Syra. No one; for not a single one of them, rest assured, comes to you without making up his mind, by means of his flatteries, to gratify his passion with you at the least possible expense. Will you not, pray, plot against them in return?

Philotis. And yet, upon my faith, it is unfair to be the same to all.

Syra. What! unfair to take revenge on your enemies? or for them to be caught in the very way they try to catch you? Alas! wretched me! why do not your age and beauty belong to me, or else these sentiments of mine to you?

So long as we mentally castrate ourselves, so long will this world remain a stew-pot of vice; for it is only when we have realized the ideal of Free Love, and have taken the matrix of prostitution and cut from it the gem which underlies all its gross vulgarity and sensuality, that we shall become initiates in the code of the Essential and ameliorate our lot. To this poem indeed we trust, that God will write a fitting end.

If at one end of a sequence we find abuse, then at the other extremity we shall inevitably discover disuse; polarity is universal; hot, cold; good, bad, etc. This duality is in reality only apparent, there being no definite line of division. So in Love, if one system of Ethics tends towards abuse, then we may be certain that the reverse will be uselessly sterile, and that the only possible system to follow will as usual lie directly between these extremes, and in this case, in the region of Use. If now, supposing at one end of our pole we find Lust seated crimson as a rose, then at the other we shall find Chastity white as a lily.

This system of extremes has during the world’s history exerted an overwhelming force on the will of man. Beholding a satyr he worshipped a virgin; feeling the ills of the flesh, he conceived the bliss of the soul. This diametric opposition, verging ever towards the extreme circumference of utility, has given and is giving birth to numerous world-wide systems and philosophies.

The taboos of the South Seas, the restrictions laid on widow-remarriage in India, the purdah of the Mussulman, the veil of the Vestal, the numerous accounts of Virgin-mothers, all find their origin in this idea. The laws of the Vedas, of Manu, of Buddha, the codes of Confucius and Lao-Tze, the Talmudic books of the Jews, and the Koran of the Mohamedans, all maintain its direct influence and restrictions; and in the West in the old mythologies of Teuton and Celt, in the old Norse sagas, more so in the Roman and Grecian law, and still more so on the Christian edicts of Constantine, Theodoric, Athalaric, and Justinian, and the innumerable codes of the Middle Ages: all of which growing one into the other have produced that truly revolting state of affairs belting the world with Lust. As every one of us has been bred on dead flesh, so every one of us passes along our way spiritually encumbered with the dead bones of our ancestors’ opinions; and living with them we die, only to add more mental tibias and spiritual metatarsals to the groaning back of the future.

In the Kingdom of Love these extremes gave birth to two forces, “Neronic Lust” and “Platonic Affection.” From a heterogeneous mass of ics, ists, and ians, sprang the idea that there was an inherent evil in the culmination of the nuptial state; and out of it grew the preying vampirism of Paul. ‘This inherent evil supposed to lie latent in matter, as opposed to the bliss of spirit, Crowley sets forth very forcibly in several of his poems. In “The Growth of God” we have most of the argument in the following lines:

The Shapeless, racked with agony, that grew
      Into these phantom forms that change and shatter;
The falling of the first toad-spotted dew;
      The first lewd heaving ecstasy of matter.71)

The idea grows still more powerfully in the next verse:

I see all Nature claw and tear and bite,
      All hateful love and hideous: and the brood
Misshapen, misbegotten out of spite;
      Lust after death; love in decrepitude.
Thus, till the monster-birth of serpent-man
      Linked in corruption with the serpent-woman,
Slavering in lust and pain – creation’s ban.
      The horrible beginning of the human.72)

In Tannhäuser, which is an intensely psychologic drama, we find the Knight speaking thus to Venus:

Ah, if pure love could grow material!
There are pure women!

and this is her answer:

          There you make me laugh!
Remember – I have known such. But besides
You ask hot snow and leaden feather-flights!73)

Which contains a great truth, namely, that platonic love is no love at all. An affection it may be, but love it cannot be if it dare not see its form mirrored in the eyes of a loving woman. Its failure in the end is a certainty; certain ascetics may compel their wills to conquer their natures, but men as a whole cannot. Certain maniacs such as Origen may emasculate themselves for the Kingdom of God, but the great human masses will let the Kingdom of God go to the Devil, if a pretty pair of lips is in question. Not for long in any case can we change our natures, as the anchorites of the Libyan deserts only too fearfully proved; boiling with carnalities they feared to see their own mothers, and were even forbidden to keep in their possession animals of the female sex – O Stylites! they are now in heaven!

How we clave together! How we strained caresses!
How the swooning limbs sank fainting on the sward!
For the fiery dart raged fiercer; in excesses
Long restrained, it cried, “Behold I am the Lord!”74)

Such is the ultimate end of platonic love. That it has many noble forms, that it sprang from the true abhorrence of the vile, cannot be denied; that its field of combat is an Aceldama, all this is true enough:

          …whose red banners beat
      Their radiant fire Into my shrivelled head, to wither Love’s desire?75)

but that it must die on the field of its choice is also most certain.

In “The Nameless Quest” and “Tannhäuser,” we find represented this striving after a more spiritual and platonic ideal of love. In the former, questing for the ideal of his hopes, man falls tangled into the arms of the real; in the latter, entangled, he strives to tear away the meshes of his passion, and at length succeeds in releasing himself from the magic threads.

In “The Nameless Quest,” Gereth is in love with the Queen, and the King calls on a knight to go on the Nameless Quest to a certain pillar which lies at the end of the road which leads from Human desire to Divine contentment; around it lie the bones of the “questing slain” unburied, unremembered, unconfessed; Gereth’s name is cried aloud, and the King bids him God- speed, girding on him his own true sword, whilst the Queen draws from her finger a ring and places it on his. Then when he has left their presence he notices for the first time:

There was no jewel in the ring she gave!

for it was the emblem of her total surrender:

Oh my pure heart! Adulterous love began
So subtly to identify the man
With its own perfumed thoughts. So steals the grape
Into the furtive brain – a spirit shape
Kisses my spirit as no woman can.
I love her – yes; and I have no escape.76)

On the Quest he goes, ever tormented by the cry of the inner self, ever striving to overcome it.

Again the curséd cry: “What quest is this?”
Is it worth heaven in thy lover’s kiss?
A queen, a queen, to kiss and never tire!
Thy queen, quick-breathing for your twin desire!”
I shudder, for the mystery of bliss; I go, heart crying and a soul on fire!77)
Still, I stepped onward. Credit me so far!
The harlot had my soul: my will, the star!
Thus I went onward, as a man goes blind,
Into a torrent crowd of mine own kind;
Jostlers and hurried folk, and mad they are,
A million actions and a single mind.78)

As he proceeds along his weary path, he feels a strengthening within him of the higher self, struggling against his desire, again and again every nerve in him cries, “halt”: at last he reaches the land of lost ideals:

The plain is covered with a many dead.
Glisten white bone and salt-encrusted head,
Glazed eye imagined, of a crystal built.
And see! dark patches, as of murder spilt.
Ugh! “So my fellows of the quest are sped!
Thou shalt be with them: onward, if thou wilt!”79)

He sees in the distance the pillar:

          Quaintly shaped and hued,
It focussed all the sky and all the plain
To its own ugliness…80)

and yet as he looked again he saw it in another form:

A shapeless truth took image in my brain.

Then from the centre of Eternity came a voice, “Tell thou the secret of the pillar.” “Eternal Beauty, One and absolute!” flashes from his tongue. Again the voice asks, “Thou knowest me for Beauty! Canst thou bear the fuller vision?”

Then on my withered gaze that Beauty grew-
Rosy quintessence of alchemic dew!
The Self-informing Beauty! In my heart
The many were united: and I knew.81)

And yet:

          I was wed
Unto the part and could not grasp the whole.

Thus, I was broken on the wheel of Truth.
Fled all the hope and purpose of my youth,
The high desire, the secret joy, the sin
That coiled its rainbow dragon scales within.
Hope’s being, life’s delight, time’s eager tooth;
All, all are gone; the serpent sloughs his skin!

The quest is mine! Here ends mortality
In contemplating the eternal Thee.
Here, She is willing. Stands the Absolute
Reaching its arms toward me. I am mute,
I draw toward. Oh, suddenly I see
The treason-pledge, the royal prostitute.82)

Thus does he fail at the very threshold of his higher self. He hears echoing “Gereth, I am thine!” And falling back on his purpose, the illusions of spirit and mind dissolve to the desolate cry of “Unready.” Haggard and worn, back to the court he wends his weary way, back to the King, back to his self’s desire; and there, taunted by the husband of the mistress he had denied himself in vain, stung with insult and vile word, he slays him:

Stark dead. The queen – I hate the name of her!
So grew the mustard-seed, one moment’s lust.83)

Wounded himself, he is nursed back to life by the wife of his adversary.

Ah God! she won that most reluctant breath
Out of corruption: love! ah! love is strong!
What waters quench it? King Shalomeh saith.84)

Thus failed the Quest, as all quests against love must inevitably fail. A man who truly loves a woman loves her so intensely that all else is as naught; she grows before him gigantic through the mist of his desire, swallowing him up in the affinity of her being. The King’s sword was of little use; the pillar of the Higher Self lay in the salt-encrusted plains, saline with the tears and sobs of failure; the ring emblematic of surrender, without beginning or end, was emblematic also of the eternality of love, that circling girdle of the world.

In “Tannhäuser” we have a similar idea, though reversed; for Tannhäuser enmeshed in the web of the Venusberg, strives against the sensual to gain a spiritual victory; whilst in “The Nameless Quest” the knight, fearful of falling in the sensual slough, seeks, and loses his straight way in the spiritual desert. Thus, as in the latter case, the striving against the desire of a pure love leads to an almost certain failure, so in the former, when sunk deep in the mud of an impure affection, even if released from its circling arms, worldly mercy is as cold to him who has plunged through the Cytherean sea as a winter in Gaul. Thus Ignorance has bound, fettered, and manacled love to the dingy fornices of the lupanar. Once sink, and instead of extending a helping hand, your head is thrust for a second and third time beneath the waters of affliction by the hands of lechers and louts.

The drama entitled “Tannhäuser” is (as the author states in his preface) almost identical with “The Pilgrim’s Progress.” It is an intricate mass of psychology and philosophy closely interwoven with a moral – which we shall see more fully developed when touching upon the philosophy of Aleister Crowley – and it is this: that Happiness, Wisdom, Knowledge, and at length Perfection, can no more be gained by solely travelling along the direct and spotless road of Virtue, than man can be evolved from the primal protoplasmic jelly without countless generations of weeping and tortured life. The path of Vice we must tread before we can find the high road of Virtue, and Vice we must wed before we can open the gates of a more perfect understanding. The great Commandment is: “Live in the midst of Vice; but heed that Vice doth not live in thy midst.”85)

“God is the Complex and the Protoplast.” And so are we; entwined within us, as in the poem of Tannhäuser, lie the countless threads of inherited tendencies. To suspend our soul on one alone leads only to utter destruction; to climb to heaven we must grasp the whole tangled skein of our experiences and mount from Malkuth to Kether through the gates of Knowledge, Wisdom, and Understanding. That we shall be pestered on our way by swarms of human blow-flies, that we shall tread on the scorpions of religion, the toads of society, and the blind-worms of the law; that around us will whirl the vampires of the past, the kites of the present, the succubi of the future, is certain enough; as a shrieking mass of hideous animosity they will conglobe around us, deafening us with the expletives of earth, blinding us with the fumes of hell, and rendering us insane with the inanities of heaven:

This were my guerdon: to fade utterly
      Into the rose-heart of that sanguine vase,
And lose my purpose in its silent sea,
      And lose my life, and find my life, and pass
      Up to the sea that is as molten glass.86)

Nirvana. The drowning of self in eternity. Yet if the mind returned not from its abode, and ever rested with God, all would run smoothly enough; but such a possibility is too transcendental to be actual. If it were,

Then this dull house of gold and iron and clay Is happy also – ‘tis an easy way!87)

But this cannot be. The dice are in God’s lap, and in him alone rests the Ultimate goal. In “Tannhäuser” we find the great dual power of redemption, the interminglings of the powers of Virtue and Vice. In him, as in the hero of “The Nameless Quest,” they wage an eternal contest, it not being till he has passed through the Venusberg of mental and physical lust, that he attains the graal of his hopes and aspirations:

O God, Thy blinding beauty, and the light
Shed from Thy shoulders, and the golden night
Of mingling fire, and stars and roses swart
In the long flame of hair that leaps athwart,
Live in each tingling gossamer! Dread eyes!
Each flings its arrow of sharp sacrifice,
Eating me up with poison! I am hurled
Far through the vaporous confines of the world
With agony of sundering sense, beholding
Thy mighty flower, blood-colored death, unfolding!
Lithe limbs and supple shoulders and lips curled,
Curled out to draw me to their monstrous world!88)

Tannhäuser now enters the palace of the great queen Venus, the false Isis,

Life! Life! This Kiss! Draw in thy breath! To me! To me!89)

He is lost!

Act II opens with two beautiful songs. Venus sings the praise of spring and summer, and Tannhäuser that of autumn and winter. He finds the latter chill season the best:

But best is grim December,
      The Goatish God his power;
The Satyr blows the ember,
      And pain is passion’s flower;
When blood drips over kisses,
      And madness sobs through wine—
      Ah mine!—
The snake starts up and hisses
      And strikes and – I am thine!90)

In the above we still find the now almost dead echo of his higher self, yet Venus entices him on, comparing their fierce lust to the lukewarm affection of those little lovers who strip their maidens bare, “And find them – naked! Poor and pitiful!” directly the glamour of their foolish honeymoon has tarnished. His uneasiness is soon dispelled: “Come, in this sweet abandonment of self” – whispers the singing voice of Venus, and so following he sings:

Come, love, and kiss my shoulders! Sleepy lies
The tinted bosom whence its fire flies,
The breathing life of thee, and swoons, and sighs,
And dies!
None but the dead can know the worth of love!
Come, love, thy lips, curved hollow as the moon’s!
Bring me thy kisses, for the seawind tunes,
The song that soars, and reads the starry runes,
And swoons!
None but the dead can tune the lyre of love!91)

Such are two out of these six superb lyrical verses.

Tannhäuser sleeps. “None but the dead can know the worth of love!” None but the dead, dead to all else. To love is to die and be born again in another world, to slough the skin of the terrene and be robed in all the supernal glory of the celestial. Love changes as Death, it effaces the past, it brightens the future, beautifies as the hand of some mystic artist, all misery, all sorrow, all woe, overwhelming, illimitable. Now we see the horrid form of his lower self, which he once strove to cast off, bending over him; the Venus of his body rises lecherous over the pure Isis of his soul, the carnal lusting over the Spiritual, as Iago slavered over Desdemona.

Come! ye my serpents, warp his body round
With your entangling leprosy! And me,
Let me assume the belovéd limber shape,
The crested head, the jewelled eyes of death,
And sinuous sinewy glitter of serpenthood,
That I may look once more into his face,
And, kissing, kill him! Thus to hold him fast,
Drawing his human spirit into mine
For strength, for life, for poison! Ah, my God!
These pangs, these torments! See! the sleeper wakes!
I am triumphant! For he reaches out
The sleepy arms, and turns the drowsy head
To catch the dew dissolving of my lip.
Wake, lover, wake! Thy Venus waits for thee!
Draw back, look, hunger! —and thy mouth is mine!92)

The vision of Elizabeth, the loved one of his boyhood – his pure ideal – rises before him.

          …so delicate and frail,
Far, white, and lonely as the coldest star
Set beyond gaze of any eye but God’s.93)

And he tells Venus of her. To which she answers:

          Thine old desire
Was just to touch the mere impalpable.
To formulate the formless…94)

Again Tannhäuser bursts into song, one of those magnificent lyrics, flashing like a ruby, warm and flaming in the glowing gold of this drama. And thus does his song end:

Whose long-drawn curse runs venom in my veins?
      What dragon spouse consumes me with her breath?
What passionate hatred, what infernal pains,
      Mixed with thy being in the womb of Death?
            Blistering fire runs.
            Scorching, terrific suns,
Through body and soul in this abominable
            Marriage of demon power
            Subtle and strong and sour,
A draught of ichor of the veins of Hell!
            Curses leap leprous, epicene, unclean,
            The soul of the obscene
Incarnate in the spirit: and above
            Hangs Sin, vast vampire, the corrupt, that swings
            Her unredeeming wings
Over the world, and flaps, for lust of Death – and Love!95)

“Kill me,” cries Tannhäuser. “In the kiss,” answers Venus: thus ends Act II.

Act III opens a different scene. The outer materiality of body is all but sated, the starved soul within cries for sustenance; he murmurs “Elizabeth,” and then wakes strong through her perfection. Venus still entices, but her power has vanished, and at the name of “Ave Maria!” the exorcism entangled round the souls of the victims of the Venusberg vanishes in a vast roll of thunder and amidst the fierce flashes of dazzling lightning which rush through the leaden sky rending the depths of despair. Tannhäuser is released from his bondage, and the shackles of lust fall from his soul; he is free, and kneeling by a Calvary.

Act IV again brings our knight before the gaze of the world. He has eaten of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and of Evil, and has become as a god. He wends his way to the Court of the Landgrave and there meets Elizabeth, “His far-off baby-love,” as Venus called her, and whispers to himself, “Cannot purity be brought to know aught but itself?” Herein lies the note of his misfortunes. Purity was but ignorance, and Tannhäuser was now a god, knowing both good and evil:

Man is made one with God, an equal soul.
For he shall know
The harmony, the oneness of the Whole.
This was my purpose.
Remains the life of earth, which is but hell,
Destiny’s web, and my immense despair.96)

And this despair – as sorrow so frequently does – creates in him a deep cynical disgust for the world:

Man, a bad joke; and God, mere epigram!
If we must come to that. And likewise love.97)

Only a donkey fastened to a post
Moves in a circle.98)

He taunts them, insults God; and tells all, shouting it far and broad, that his road was the road of the Mount of Venus, the road of Lust, the fiery baptism of Vice which impels Virtue. Then the silence breaks, the foul mob of the Self-sufficient, the spawn of ignorance, and the slime of superstition, let loose their hell-hound voices— fiend! atheist! devil! are hurled at his head; kill him! Crucify him! death! death! But Tannhäuser stands a colossus amid the bursting bubbles of this Stygian mire of corruption, and turning to the Landgrave he says:

            Will they answer you?
My arm is weary as your souls are not
Of beastliness: I have drawn my father’s sword.
Hard as your virtue is the easy sort,
Heavy to handle as your loves are light,
Smooth as your lies, and sharper than your hates!
I know you! Cowards to the very bone!99)

And he drives them out. To Rome he goes, symbolic of the world’s opinion, and relates truthfully his sojourn in the Venusberg, and for telling the truth he is execrated by the Pope:

            So he
Cried out upon me, “Till this barren staff
Take life, and bud, and blossom, and bear fruit,
And shed sweet scent – so long God casteth thee
Out from His Glory!”100)

When lo! – in the very moment of his supreme despair, his Genius mysteriously manifests, and “darting long rugged fingers and deep eyes” reaches to the sceptre with his word and will:

Buds, roses, blossoms! Lilies of the Light!
Bloom, bloom, the fragrance shed upon the air!
Out flames the miracle of life and love!
Out, out the lights! Flame, flame, the rushing storm!
Darkness and death, and glory in my soul!
Swept, swept away are pope and cardinal,
Palace and city! There I lay beneath
The golden roof of the eternal stars,
Borne upon some irremeable sea
That glowed with most internal brilliance;101)
            And verily
My life was borne on the dark stream of death
Down whirling aeons, linked abysses, columns
Built of essential time. And lo! the light
Shed from Her shoulders whom I dimly saw;
Crowned with twelve stars and hornéd as the moon;
Clothed with a sun to which the sun of earth
Were tinsel; and the moon was at Her feet—
A moon whose brilliance breaks the sword of song
Into a million fragments; so transcends
Music, that starlight-sandalled majesty!
Then – shall I contemplate the face of Her?
O Nature! Self-begotten! Spouse of God,
The Glory of thy Countenance unveiled!
Thy face, O mother! Splendour of the Gods!
Behold! amid the glory of her hair
And light shed over from the crown thereof,
Wonderful eyes less passionate than Peace
That wept! That wept! O mystery of Love!
Clasping my hands upon the scarlet rose
That flamed upon my bosom, the keen thorns
Pierced me and slew! My spirit was withdrawn
Into Her godhead, and my soul made One
With the Great Sorrow of the Universe,
The Love of Isis! Then I fell away
Into some old mysterious abyss
Rolling between the heights of starry space;
Flaming above, beyond the Tomb of Time,
Blending the darkness into the profound
Chasms of matter – so I fell away
Through many strange eternities of Space,
Limitless fields of Time…102)

Such is the ecstatic rapture of Tannhäuser, in which he loses all perception of earthly love in the intoxication of the divine:

Were it not only that the selflessness
That fills me now, forbids the personal,
Casts out the individual, and weeps on
For the united sorrow of all things.103)

And such is the divine love to which we all must attain, “For the united sorrow of all things.”

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Inscribed on the statue of the Goddess.
”Perverted” I object to here, as it is but a synonym of ‘converted’ from a different point of view.
Why Jesus Wept, vol. iii, p. 28.
Why Jesus Wept, vol. iii, p. 30.
Why Jesus Wept, vol. iii, p. 40.
6) , 7)
Why Jesus Wept, vol. iii, p. 41.
The Tale of Archais, vol. i, p. 7.
Ibid. vol. i, p. 8.
10) , 11)
The Tale of Archais, vol. i, p. 8.
12) , 13) , 14)
The Tale of Archais, vol. i, p. 9.
The Tale of Archais, vol. i, pp. 9, 10.
The Tale of Archais, vol. i, p. 12. Cf. the Qabalistic Dogma of Pistorius: “Schema misericordiam dicit, sed et judicium.” The Infinite Being when exercising his power upon the finite must necessarily chastise to correct and not to avenge himself. The strength of the sin does not exceed that of the sinner, and if the punishment be greater than the offence, he who inflicts it becomes executioner and is the real criminal, who is wholly inexcusable, and himself alone deserving of eternal punishment. Any being who is tortured above measure, enlarged by an infinitude of suffering, would become God, and this is what the ancients represented in the myth of Prometheus, immortalized by the devouring vulture, and destined to dethrone Jupiter. —The Mysteries of Magic, p. 120.
The Tale of Archais, vol. i, pp. 13, 14.
The Tale of Archais, vol. i, p. 14.
The Tale of Archais, vol. i, p. 16.
The Tale of Archais, vol. i, p. 17.
The Tale of Archais, vol. i, p. 19.
22) , 23)
The Tale of Archais, vol. i, p. 21.
24) , 26)
The Tale of Archais, vol. i, p. 22.
Eros (ש) descending upon God (יהוה.), transforms God into (יהשוה.) Christ.
The Tale of Archais, vol. i, p. 23.
The Tale of Archais, vol. i, p. 24.
In 1861 Henry Mayhew stated that the assumed number of prostitutes in London was about 80,000. And further adds— “large as this total may appear, it is not improbable that it is below the reality than above it. One thing is certain – if it be an exaggerated statement – that the real number is swollen every succeeding year, for prostitution is an inevitable attendant upon extended civilization and increased population.” —London Labour and London Poor, p. 213.
A disciple of Pythagoras once asked him, when was it permitted him to cohabit with his wife? To which that philosopher replied: “When you are tired of resting.” Théano, wife of Pythagoras, was also once asked: “How long does it take for a woman to be purified who has known a man?” To which she answered: “If it is with her husband, she is purified by the act, if with another she is for ever defiled.” For it is not marriage which sanctifies love, but love which justifies marriage. —EDOUARD SCHURÉ
31) , 32)
The Mother’s Tragedy, vol. i, p. 157.
The Mother’s Tragedy, vol. i, p. 161.
Mysteries; Lyrical and Dramatic, vol. i, p. 94.
Star and Garter, vol. iii, p. 13.
Tannhäuser, vol. i, p. 259.
Orpheus, vol. iii, p. 218.
Jephthah, vol. i, p. 82.
Mysteries: Lyrical and Dramatic, vol. i, p. 120. The woman is technically a harlot.
Mysteries: Lyrical and Dramatic, vol. i, p. 121.
The Star and the Garter, vol. iii, p. 10. Nina is not a prostitute, of course, in the commercial sense.
The Three Shadows, Rossetti.
In the second edition, the first edition began with White Poppy.
44) , 45)
Alice, an Adultery, vol. ii, p. 63.
Alice, an Adultery, vol. ii, p. 64.
Alice, an Adultery, vol. ii, p. 65.
Alice, an Adultery, vol. ii, p. 66.
Alice, an Adultery, vol. ii, p. 69.
Alice, an Adultery, vol. ii, p. 70.
Alice, an Adultery, vol. ii, p. 71.
52) , 53)
Alice, an Adultery, vol. ii, p. 73.
Alice, an Adultery, vol. ii, p. 76.
Alice, an Adultery, vol. ii, p. 77. “Many sins are forgiven this woman because she hath loved much.”
Alice, an Adultery, vol. ii, p. 79.
57) , 58)
Alice, an Adultery, vol. ii, p. 84.
Alice, an Adultery, vol. ii, p. 82.
The authorship, however, is acknowledged in vol. ii, which was published after this chapter was written.
Mysteries: Lyrical and Dramatic, vol. i, p. 99.
Mysteries: Lyrical and Dramatic. vol. i, p. 99
Ibid. vol. i, p. 100
Ibid. vol. i, p. 100.
Mysteries: Lyrical and Dramatic. vol. i, p. 100.
Mysteries: Lyrical and Dramatic. vol. i, p. 101.
Jephthah, vol. i, pp. 70, 71.
Why Jesus Wept, vol. iii, p. 42.
The Poem, vol., i, p. 57.
The Poem, vol., i, p. 58.
The Temple of the Holy Ghost, vol. i, p. 178.
The Temple of the Holy Ghost, vol. i, p. 198. (Also Tale of Archais.)
Tannhäuser, vol. i, p. 237.
The Temple of the Holy Ghost, vol. i, p. 173.
Aceldama, vol. i, p. 2.
76) , 77)
The Temple of the Holy Ghost, vol. i, p. 188.
Ibid. vol. i, p. 189.
The Temple of the Holy Ghost, vol. i, p. 190.
80) , 82)
The Temple of the Holy Ghost, vol. i, p. 191.
The Temple of the Holy Ghost, vol. i, p. 191.
83) , 84)
The Temple of the Holy Ghost, vol. i, p. 192.
Vide Hosea.
86) , 87)
Tannhäuser, vol. i, p. 227.
Tannhäuser, vol. i, p. 228.
Tannhäuser, vol. i, p. 229.
Tannhäuser, vol. i, p. 230.
Tannhäuser, vol. i, p. 234.
Tannhäuser, vol. i. p. 234.
Tannhäuser, vol. i. p. 236.
Tannhäuser, vol. i. p. 237.
Tannhäuser, vol. i. p. 239.
96) , 97)
Tannhäuser, vol. i, p. 253.
Ibid, vol. i, p. 254.
Tannhäuser, vol. i, p. 257.
Tannhäuser, vol. i, p. 260.
101) , 103)
Tannhäuser, vol. i, p. 261.