Posts Tagged ‘Aleister Crowley’

Yeats and Crowley (thoroughly mad bastards)

Monday, April 20th, 2009

I had an afternoon to kill in Dublin last week so went along to the WB Yeats exhibition at the National Library.

Some remarkable objects on display…

Samples of Yeats’s automatic writing.

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Samples from his notebooks.

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His elemental weapons, made while an “Adeptus Minor” in The Hermetic Order Of The Golden Dawn. Pentacle, Dagger, Wand and Cup.

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Yeats was a member alongside Aleister Crowley (before Crowley was more or less chucked out following a great power struggle). Crowley fancied himself as a bit of a poet too and looking up my old copy of his Confessions has yielded some excellent quotes about Yeats…

I remember one curious incident in connection with this volume. I had a set of paged proofs in my pocket one evening, when I went to call on W. B. Yeats. I had never thought much of his work; it seemed to me to lack virility. I have given an extended criticism of it in The Equinox (vol. I No. II, page 307). However, at that time I should have been glad to have a kindly word from an elder man. I showed him the proofs accordingly and he glanced through them. He forced himself to utter a few polite conventionalities, but I could see what the truth of the matter was.

I had by this time become fairly expert in clairvoyance, clairaudience and clairsentience. But it would have been a very dull person indeed who failed to recognize the black, billious rage that shook him to the soul. I instance this as a proof that Yeats was a genuine poet at heart, for a mere charlatan would have known that he had no cause to fear an authentic poet. What hurt him was the knowledge of his own incomparable inferiority.

I saw little of him and George Moore. I have always been nauseated by pretentiousness; and the Celtic revival, so-called, had all the mincing, posturing qualities of the literary Plymouth Brother.

and…

There was one literary light, W. B. Yeats, a lank dishevelled demonologist who might have taken more pains with his personal appearance without incurring the reproach of dandyism…

I’m almost certain I remember reading that Yeats later described Crowley as a “poet of merit.” But I can’t find the quote.

You can read one of Crowley’s earliest collections of poetry, White Stains, published under the pseudonym George Archibald Bishop and is full of thinly veiled erection metaphors like “My Gigantic Charms” here.


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