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Mr. B. P. Van-asten (London, England.)
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The Poems of Alice Meynell Complete Edition
The Poems of Alice Meynell Complete Edition
by Alice Meynell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.88

5.0 out of 5 stars The Poems Of Alice Meynell - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 15 July 2012
Alice Meynell, nee Thompson (1847-1922) was a poet, essayist and feminist writer who became a popular and successful poet through her several collections of verse: `Preludes' (1875), `Poems' (1893), `Other Poems' (1896), `Later Poems' (1901), `Collected Poems' (1913), `Ten Poems' (1915), `A Father of Women and Other Poems' (1918) and `Last Poems' (1923).
Although Meynell is not what one would call an `adventurous poet' in her technical ability, she is a typical Victorian and chooses to adhere to the simple rhyme format that is familiar and popular, yet many of her poems are of interest for their themes, particularly that of the mystery which surrounds religion (she was a Roman catholic).
The Poems of Alice Meynell, first published in 1923 contains all her major works from `Preludes', `Poems', `Later Poems', `A Father of Women and Other Poems' and `Last Poems'. Among her many poems are some truly beautiful and memorable works such as this from 1869 `On Keat's Grave' (sadly not included in the collection): `Down from the low hills dark with pines / Into the fields at rest, the summer done, / I went by pensive ways of tombs and vines / To where the place I dream of is; / And in a stretch of meditative sun / Cloven by the dark flames of the cypresses / Came to the small grave of my ended poet.' Magical! A joy indeed for all lovers of poetry!


The Complete Poems of Walt Whitman (Wordsworth Poetry Library)
The Complete Poems of Walt Whitman (Wordsworth Poetry Library)
by Walt Whitman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Complete Poems of Walt Whitman - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 10 July 2012
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was an innovative American `wandering' poet who produced some very extraordinary and original poems. `Leaves of Grass' (1855) is his first published collection of verse which he continued to revise and extend throughout subsequent editions. It is written in the free verse style which became synonymous with Whitman and also features the poem sequence `Calamus', considered to be quite obscene for its time. It was these poems which gave rise to the many theories concerning Whitman's sexuality, because of the homosexual interpretations of the poems.
Whitman worked as a clerk and during the Civil War he was a volunteer nurse at a hospital and it was during this time that he published another collection of poems called `Drum-Taps' in 1865. As a poet, he seems to invent a new vocabulary in an attempt to create a voice for the New World which is growing up around him: `I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul, / The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me, / The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into a / New tongue.' [Song of Myself] Poems such as: `When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd', `Pioneers! O Pioneers!', `I sing the body electric', `Out of the cradle endlessly rocking', `O Captain! My Captain!', and `Sometimes with one I love' are free from the conventional poetic restrictions and sweet with an almost pagan rejoicing of life! Upon my first reading of the complete poems I was completely surprised at how `modern' Whitman feels in comparison to his English contemporaries, such as Algernon Swinburne (1837-1909), Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) and Robert Browning (1812-1889). His inventive use of words and poetic structure seems totally alien to his period and throughout his works I found myself thrown by a word or a line as if struck by electricity! He is only one of two poets to have done so, the other being the great English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)!
Whitman has a sense of freedom and realism about him and this influenced such writers as D H Lawrence (1885-1939) and Ezra Pound (1885-1972). He may have looked like some Old Testament Prophet or a gruff old mountain man, but he was thinking years ahead of his time!


Complete Edgar Allan Poe (Wordsworth Library Collection)
Complete Edgar Allan Poe (Wordsworth Library Collection)
by Edgar Allan Poe
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 10 July 2012
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), was orphaned at a young age and went to stay at the home of John Allan. Poe came to live in Scotland and England between 1815 and 1820 where he studied at various schools. His first volume of poetry `Tamerlane and Other Poems' was published anonymously in 1827 before he enlisted in the Army. A second volume of verse appeared in 1829 titled `Al Aaraaf', before he was dishonourably discharged from the Army in 1831. His `Poems' published in 1831 featured his famous poem `To Helen' but he began to take another direction and started writing short stories which were published in various magazines of the time. His `Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque' was published in 1840 and had such macabre classics of the Gothic genre as `Morella', `William Wilson', `Ligeia', `Metzengerstein' and `Berenice' etc.
His critically acclaimed `The Raven and Other Poems' appeared in 1845 which made Poe famous but his success brought little in the way of financial stability. He also wrote some excellent essays on the art and theory of poetry [`The Poetic Principle' and `The Philosophy of Composition']. Poe was a tragic figure suffering from poverty, bouts of ill health and alcoholism, and depression from the death of his wife whom he married at the age of twenty-six in 1835. Virginia Clemm was his thirteen year old cousin. She died of Tuberculosis in 1847. But through all the mental tortures he endured, his mind dragged from the dark depths of his soul, tales of such horror which ranged from his fear of being buried alive to sadism, obsession and incest and even necrophilia. It's no wonder that Freud found him so intriguing!
Poe's stories are riddled with sickness and decay, one only has to read `The Fall of the House of Usher', `The Premature Burial', `The Pit and the Pendulum', `The Masque of the Red Death', `The Black Cat', `The Tell-Tale Heart' or poems such as `Annabel Lee', `The Raven', `The City in the Sea', `Lenore' or the wonderful `Ulalume' to have a complete sense of the dark Gothic atmosphere that Poe makes his own. For me, it was the collection `Tales of Mystery and Imagination' first published in 1908 which I read as a young boy that introduced me to Poe's world of the fantastic and the macabre, but it also opened my eyes to a world of great literature and no author or book can have a greater achievement than that! This edition of The Collected Works has all of Poe's writings and is simply astounding! Definitely recommended!


The Equinox of the Gods
The Equinox of the Gods
by Aleister Crowley
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars The Equinox Of The Gods - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 28 Jun. 2012
First published in 1936, The Equinox of the Gods presents the reader with the facts and circumstances concerning, what is undoubtedly Crowley's greatest achievement, that of Prophet of the Law of Thelema. This fascinating book takes an in-depth look at the revelation which occurred in Cairo on 8th, 9th and 10th April in the year 1904, when Liber Al vel Legis (The Book of the Law) was delivered to mankind. The Book was dictated by a discarnate being named Aiwass, the Minister of Hoor-Par-Kraat (the Lord of Silence), to the great Master of Magick, Aleister Crowley, who is the Priest of the Princes, Ankh-Af-Na-Khonsu.
Within the three chapters of the Book of the Law, is a new order or `Law' for humanity, that of `Do What Thou Wilt'. This new Law of Love, Liberty and Light supersedes the old law of compassion and weakness and of the `dying god' religions in which suffering brings about redemption and sin which is considered shameful, as in Christianity, whereby the acolyte and worshipper are obedient servants to God's will; in turn, the new `aeon' or era of Thelema (Greek for `Will), the Law of the Strong, states that mankind must realise the true will of the individual and understand one's purpose in existence, for `every man and every woman is a star'.
Included in The Equinox of the Gods are the beautiful illustrations of the Stele of Revealing and a facsimile of the original manuscript in Crowley's handwriting, along with the Comment.
For years Crowley struggled to understand the significance of Liber Al and strove to ignore the message, but over time he came to realise the tremendous importance of what occurred during those three days in Cairo; he came to believe whole-heartedly in the authenticity of The Book of the Law and he dedicated the rest of his life to teaching and studying its beautiful and terrifying wisdom. Thelema is like no other religion, for it does not aspire to become dogmatic and `established' and its followers are `few and secret', but it is for the individual who chances upon the `glad word' and comes into contact with Thelema on their long journey through life to decide for themselves, if the Book, like so many other Holy Books of the past, inspires the mind and speaks to the heart and uplifts the soul with wondrous rewards - Love is the law, love under will.


The interior diagram, and other poems
The interior diagram, and other poems
by James Turner
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars The Interior Diagram and Other Poems - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 25 Jun. 2012
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Published in 1960, `The Interior Diagram' is James Turner's fourth book of poetry. This collection explores the spiritual and physical aspects of pain and human experience, celebrated in the ever-changing landscape. The title poem: `The Interior Diagram', looks at the connection between Christ's five wounds upon the cross and the five senses: touch, sight, taste, hearing and smell, in a journey beyond reality and the material basis of existence, exploring the `world' found within each `wound' and the sufferings and despair that unite us within our mortal life-span.
Mr Turner, in these poems, has really matured and throughout this collection (72 pages) there is the underlining motif of love, even in such poems where he is writing of death, as in `Zones of the Dead', or `Dying Gull', and `For Peggy, Dying...' - `Pain and leaving sorrow bear / Deeply into love, a sword / Thrust upon Golgotha'. Love also re-occurs in his beautiful `coastal' poems: `Autumn Beech', High Sea at Sunset', `Last Land', Kynance Cove', and `Rockpools'...
Turner, like that other nature poet John Clare (1793-1864), finds a spiritual aspect to all the natural wonders he encounters and finds God in every wayside flower along the hedgerows and every fleeting moment of birdsong. `The Interior Diagram', and in fact, all of James Turner's poetic output capture the essence and all the beauty of what it is to be human, immersed in nature and aware of the magic around us! Incredible!


On The Black Hill (Vintage Classics)
On The Black Hill (Vintage Classics)
by Bruce Chatwin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On the Black Hill - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 28 May 2012
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On the Black Hill, published in 1982 by the celebrated author and travel writer Bruce Chatwin (1940-1989) is my first introduction to Chatwin's work and within moments of opening the book, I was captivated. It is the beautifully written story of a Welsh Border hill farm called the `Vision' and its inhabitants. Amos Jones is a gentle man but age and life and hard work turns him into a bitter man and he frequently becomes cruel and aggressive to his wife Mary. The wonderfully drawn character of Mary, gradually falls out of love with her husband whose behaviour seems to stem from the fact that Mary has a thirst for knowledge and has travelled to the `Holy Land' and is better educated. When the children arrive, twin boys named Lewis and Benjamin, Mary stays with Amos for the sake of the children, but it is the long-suffering Mary who takes it on herself to enlighten the boys in the ways of intellectual learning, as if it is something forbidden and frowned upon, which of course it is by their father Amos who thinks no good will come of it. Lewis finds studying difficult but Benjamin seems to take to it, although his love for his brother and not wishing to hurt him or be parted from him, makes him feel duty-bound to sacrifice any leaning towards an education which may take him away.
Later in the novel, Amos after years of feuding with farm neighbours and almost losing the `Vision', becomes weary of brain and limb and dies after suffering an accident, leaving poor Mary, and the boys to look after the farm. It is here that she shows her own strength and good business acumen, acquiring more land.
The twins have an inseparable bond between them, feeling intuitively each other's pain. When poor Mary dies, the boys, who never got married, keep the farm almost as a shrine to her. But time moves swiftly on and we are witness to great changes such as the new farming techniques and mechanisation; to the historical events that surrounds the Vision and touches them, like the Great War and the Second World War, and minor events around the Black Hill.
In fact, the story captures all the minute nuances and emotions of life, revealing some of the facts in the lives of the twins, from birth to death, as if we are there at the time. Chatwin's portrayal of rustic folk and rural ways of life seem like a world away but they are exact and compelling in their characterisation; yet there is more to Chatwin, for he imbues a life force into Mary and the boys and the other people they come in contact with, which is very moving and it is as if they are pulled from our own memory. Tears are inevitable with this powerful and mesmerising book!


777 And Other Qabalistic Writings Of Aleister Crowley, Including Gemetria & Sepher Sephiroth
777 And Other Qabalistic Writings Of Aleister Crowley, Including Gemetria & Sepher Sephiroth
by Aleister Crowley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £21.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 777 and Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 22 May 2012
Edited and introduced by Dr. Israel Regardie, a man who knew Crowley personally, this extensive collection of selected writings on the Qabalah is presented in three main sections. In part one there is Crowley's essay `Gematria' which is reprinted from `The Temple of Solomon the King', found in The Equinox, volume I, number 5. Gematria is a system based on the relative numerical `Qabalistic' value of words as found in the Hebrew Alphabet. Other forms of the literal Qabalah are `Notariqon', in which every letter of a word is taken from the initials or is an abbreviation of another word; and `Temura' which is a permutation, substituting one letter for another letter in the Alphabet etc. Also included is Crowley's `An Essay upon Number'.
In the second part of the book we find Liber 777 which first appeared in 1909 and is a series of tables showing the relationships or `correspondences' between certain numbers and objects, thoughts, ideas, symbols, elements and planetary spheres; various religions and magical systems - it is a structured, magical and philosophical dictionary.
And finally, in part three, we find `Sepher Sephiroth', which first appeared in The Equinox, volume I, number 8. It is a dictionary, listing hundreds of Hebrew words with their numerical values and equivalent words of the same numeration. This book is an invaluable source of reference!


New Aeon Magick: Thelema Without Tears
New Aeon Magick: Thelema Without Tears
by Gerald Del Campo
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Aeon Magick - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 22 May 2012
New Aeon Magick is a very unique and useful book to both beginners and experienced practitioners of Thelemic Magick. Written in a simple to understand manner, it tackles such important subjects as: `What is Qabalah and how is it used within a magical context?', `What is Magick?', `How do Thelemic Gods and Goddesses differ from established perceptions of God forms?', `How does one obtain or make one's magical tools?'
With the emphasis on `practice' rather than theory, New Aeon Magick looks at the Great Work in relation to everyday life, with chapters on: `The Philosophy of True Will', `Courage', `Love', `Silence', `Death', `Meditation', `Magical Ritual and Formulae', and much more.
I would highly recommend this book purely on the fact that there is not enough good `insightful' books on Thelema and also because it is a very good general guide on magick which can be used in daily practices.


Magical Diaries of Aleister Crowley: Tunisia, 1923
Magical Diaries of Aleister Crowley: Tunisia, 1923
by Aleister Crowley
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Magical Diaries of Aleister Crowley: Tunisia 1923 - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 22 May 2012
The Magical Diaries present us with a warts and all glimpse into the daily life of Aleister Crowley during the year 1923; a year in which Crowley had been banished from his Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu, Sicily, by order of Mussolini. These diaries record in detail the `Great Beast's' magical workings and the influences and results obtained. He writes down his thoughts on the Book of the Law and its commentaries; his use of drugs to achieve altered states of consciousness and his investigations into the practice of sex magick; also his use of the I Ching for general divination purposes. In fact, the diaries reveal a very `human' individual with doubts thrown into self-analysis and unsure of his next move; a man subjected to constant ill health that isn't afraid to laugh at himself and his failings. But, through all of this personal introspection we see a man dedicated towards his spiritual journey and tirelessly working towards its conclusion. Fascinating!


The Complete Stories of Lewis Carroll (The Complete Works)
The Complete Stories of Lewis Carroll (The Complete Works)
by Lewis Carroll
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars The Complete Stories of Lewis Carroll - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 22 May 2012
The stories of Lewis Carroll, pseudonym of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898) are a delight to read at any age and the enduring appeal of `Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' (1865) have captivated readers around the world since its publication. Carroll has the amazing gift of seeing the world around him as through the eyes of a child and his characters interact directly upon the child's imagination and appeals to our sense of adventure. In fact, one can't help but be absorbed into the fantasy world he creates, without the usual process of introducing morals and `lessons' as so many Victorian authors felt the need to do. Here you will find the `Wonderland' companion piece `Through the Looking Glass' (1871) and `A Wonderland Miscellany' - Carroll's puzzles and solutions etc from the Wonderland stories. `Bruno's Revenge and Other Stories'; the marvellously rambling `Sylvie and Bruno' (1889) and volume two: `Sylvie and Bruno Concluded' (1893); `The Hunting of the Snark' (1876) and Carroll's inventive games and puzzles.
With the original illustrations by Sir John Tenniel (1820-1914), this book is a real timeless classic!


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