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From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" 
Subject: (urth) CWilliams
Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2002 08:00:38 -0800

Hartshorn wrote:

> Specifically, the real-life Japanese kamikazi is an expression of a
> which literally deifies a tribal leader - the Emperor.
> Catholics regard this with horror.

The horror! The horror! 

(See, he was right.)

> See the mystical/Catholic poetry of Charles Williams, TALIESSIN THROUGH
> LOGRES and THE REGION OF THE SUMMER STARS, for a powerful expression of
> horror.

Ummmm.... While I agree that the Emperor of P'o-Lu is a very powerful 
image, I'm not as certain as you of several things here ... beginning
with the idea that Williams' poetry was "Catholic." 

Charles Williams was, depending upon how you take him, either an Anglican or

a weird, possibly-heretical Christian mystic who derived too many of his 
ideas from the Golden Dawn circle. -- the "either" there was not intended as

a binarism, btw, but as an indicator of the extremes of opinion; mine falls 
rather in between. Williams was very much an admirer of the early medieval 
Catholic church -- and quite as much an admirer of the Orthodox church; 
Byzantium is every bit as much an image of holy order in the "Taliessin" 
cycle as is Rome (though, admittedly, the image of Byzantium is the image 
of the holy-ordered Empire: and, while much of the Byzantine imagery is the 
imagery of the Orthodox churhc, nothing about his "Byzantium" presents any 
direct challenge to the religious authority of the Pope).

Second, I am not as certain as you that the headless Emperor of P'o-Lu is an

image of the tribal leader deified. He is, I think, an image of a demon 
deified; of the reality that lurks behind an idol. His being headless is the

key here: he is an Authority with no authority, with, indeed, no mind at
(I have occasionally wondered whether Williams was familiar with HPL's 
Azathoth, but that's a separate matter...) His servants are not humans but 
octopotowockles of some sort: details slip my mind.

Third, I am not as certain that the word "Catholics" is the correct word to 
use when you say "Catholics regard this with horror." I think that
of most denominations* regard the deification of a human leader with a 
justifiable horror, whether it be the Son of Heaven or the Great House.

* Including that denomination that goes under the very peculiar
  name "nondenominational"

All that aside, I very much second the recommendation of Williams' Arthurian

poems, which I have been reading, and occasionally understanding, for a
of a century now. These poems were praised by both CS Lewis and TS Eliot -
when these two agreed on anything about poetry, it was a momentous occasion.

Williams published two collections of his major Arthurian poems in his
called (as Hartshorn notes) TALIESSIN THROUGH LOGRES and THE REGION OF THE
SUMMER STARS. These might be available in either of two useful forms. 

The older edition is an omnibus from Eerdman's, a Christian publisher in the

American North, which is (sadly) out of print but not hard to find. It
not only these two books but a third, ARTHURIAN TORSO, which was itself a
of omnibus containing (1) a brilliant but unfinished (because he died) essay
Williams on the history of the Arthurian legends; and (2) an essay by CS
on Williams' Arthurian poetry, valuable to someone who (like me) finds
in general and modern poetry in particular rather hard going.

The newer is an edition in the "Arthurian Poets" series, edited by David
Dodds, which contains the two collections mentioned above, a number of
Arthurian poems, and a number of additional poems (finished and unfinished)
had written for a third volume, unfinished at his death, plus a more textual
and less beginner-friendly essay by Dodds.

Amazon US wants to charge you $72.00 for it, and takes "5 to 6 weeks" to

Amazon UK will charge only 13.59, and will "usually dispatch" within 24
but shipping to the US may make it a push for Americans, both financially




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