Kathleen Raine: Poems Quotes


Nothing is changed,

Not the river's course, the dynamos' or the trams',

The chimneys and the housetops are as always

But the world is ended.

Green radiance of a streetlamp in the trees

And pool of yellow light on the wet pavement

Shines quietly upon here and now

An End of the World

This poem by Raine immediately raises doubts in the reader's mind, since the title is 'An End of the World', rather than the usual phrase 'The End of the World'. This change of the definite article to the indefinite suggests that there are various different perspectives on the end of the world and that it is subjective. The poem opens with the declaration that 'Nothing is changed', an assertive, perhaps omniscient, statement. Typical sights in daily life are as they were before - "the river", "The chimneys and the housetops". The irony, or confusion, arises in the fourth line of the poem - "But the world is ended" - which stands in opposition to the idea that "Nothing is changed". At this point, the poem creates a liminal, unworldly aura through its elaboration of colors that seem to be playing off of each other, with the intimation of rain. The fact that the "pool of yellow light [...] / Shines quietly upon here and now" makes "here and now" - something abstract - into something concrete, blurring the boundary between time and space.

So many gathered in my room last night.

I felt them close, all round me, existences,

Living presences, invisible essences,

Each centred in its own secret joy

The Company

This extract from 'The Company' portrays a poignant, very human scene. The speaker finds themselves in their bedroom, surrounded by loved ones, who have most probably passed away. There is a great emphasis on emotion and tactile intimacy and the evanescent quality of their appearances. They are 'existences, / Living presences, invisible essences', alluding to the fact that whilst their physicality might have disappeared they are still present in spiritual form. The use of punctuation in this section hints at a desire on the part of the speaker to move towards a more accurate description of his or her relatives.

I came, yes, dear, dear

Mother, for you I came, so I remember,

To lie in your warm

Bed, to watch the wonder flame

Burning golden gentle and bright the light of the living

Kore in Hades

In this poem, the speaker addresses their mother. It opens in the affirmative, "I came, yes", with the repetition of "dear" implying an emotional intimacy. The touching phrase "Mother, for you I came" is one that most readers will be able to identify with, the implication being that this speaker's Mother is now elderly. Time's prominence continues in this passage; now there is a return to childhood, with a verb of memory ("I remember") cementing this interpretation. The speaker remembers what it was like "To lie in [their mother's] warm / Bed". The ambiguity of the image "the wonder flame" points at a childlike knowledge of what things really are. Ending with the image of it "Burning golden gentle", this opening to 'Kore in Hades' is a tender recollection of childhood and a reflection on the passing of time.

Here and now is over, the garden

Lost from time, its sun and moon

Mother, daughter, daughter, mother, never

Is come; there is nothing, nothing for ever.

Kore in Hades

This passage appears towards the end of 'Kore in Hades'. The moment evoked in the opening has the passed. Locations that were important before no longer exist, "Lost from time". After an upbeat, nostalgic opening, the poem takes a nihilistic turn ending with negatives like 'never' and 'nothing, nothing for ever'. The intertwined nature of the mother-daughter relationship is evoked through the use of the technique of chiasmus (ABBA) - "Mother, daughter, daughter, mother" - suggesting that both are equally important to one another in terms of their life story.

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