Saturday, 4 July 2009

The Forgotten Poets - Lucien Taylor 1908-1998

by Barry Van-Asten

Unwilling of time and change – Heaven knows!
Why something strange and stupid grows!

Love Lyrics.

It was in that great year of nineteen-eighty-nine that I first became acquainted with the celebrated scholar and antiquarian Lucien Taylor. Born in 1908 in the Welsh town of Caerleon, the son of the Reverend Mckenzie Taylor, Lucien was a delicate boy and from an early age he was ‘seized by a religious awe and wonderment’, and thus he was destined for a promising career in the Church. In adolescence, Lucien was deemed ‘sickly’ and ‘not prepared to propel himself into sport!’ Instead, Lucien, a solitary boy with an enquiring mind read voluminously on all subjects and became an enthusiast of archaeology and all things ‘Egyptian’, later becoming a member of the British Archaeological Society. He also showed a great interest and aptitude for chemistry. In fact, History and Science were the two loves of his life and he went up to Cambridge to take his degree in these subjects. It was at Cambridge that he became ‘gripped by a spiritual mania’ and he joined the Christian organisation known as the Illuminated Order of Man, reaching the rank of Minister Superior in 1934. He then spent a year preaching to the ‘unenlightened inhabitants of Birmingham’ which caused within him a crisis of faith which became a great spiritual hiatus in his life, whereby in the following year, the year of his mother Constance’s death, with much dissatisfaction and disillusion, he became an agnostic. But it was not until he chanced upon a copy of Gerald Gardner’s ‘High Magic’s Aid’ (1949) that his eyes were opened to the true course of his life’s path – witchcraft!

I curse the eyes of Christ
And Hail the fornicating God!

A keen investigator of the paranormal, he had on many occasions accompanied the great ‘ghost hunter’ Harry Price on his ‘ghost watches’ and remained a loyal friend until Price’s death in 1948. He also became acquainted with James Turner, the ‘farmer poet’ who lived at Borley cottage in Suffolk, and ‘shared many an afternoon smoking and talking of the poets’.
After several attempts at marriage Lucien gave up its pursuit, declaring it a ‘grave and malevolent mistake made manifest by a monstrous and terrible God on mere mortals!’
He enjoyed playing the cello in his local chamber orchestra; was an amateur water-colourist and chess player and he described himself as a ‘profound sceptic awaiting proof of alien advancement!’ He lived a simple life and was a connoisseur of fine cigars and a collector of rare books on Science, poetry, alchemy and fly-fishing. In fact it was through my own love of the latter that I encountered Lucien in the Highlands of Scotland and I found him a charming and knowledgeable personality.
Many of the early poems were written while he was living the life of a ‘charmed ascetic’ in Paddington, questioning his existence, his sexuality and his spiritual journey. They were dark and dreadful days and madness seemed never to be far away! But Lucien crossed an abyss in that room he liked to refer to as the ‘hermitage’ and it was here that he wrote his ‘Sonnets to Sebastian’ that ‘drips with gloom, for the vacant tomb of Sebastian.’ The verse tells of the downfall of Oscar Wilde through the eyes of Sebastian Melmoth, with his

Tempest triumphant ‘twixt his thighs
That oft’ in secret sadness lies!

There has been much controversy over Lucien’s latter years and many misunderstandings, for it is said that he developed an ‘abnormal affection for Lillah McDonald, the thirteen year old daughter of his housekeeper, Mabel. The scandal haunted him until his death in 1998 at the age of ninety. But the truth is that he found a soul to love and ‘age was of no consequence’ for ‘it matters not, for she had already lived through centuries…’

Tonight, the shake of sadness shall take your love away;
The darkness grows upon my rose that blossomed through the day.
I pierce your Christ-like passion with my spear of wood:
That your glorious wound shall comfort me in this hour of blood!

Long-legged Lilith

The High Priest and his Priestess were later joined in the traditional way within the craft, and he referred to her as his ‘golden-haired Aphrodite’ and she coursed through his blood much as she coursed through his poems, for he adored her:

Our dreams were given to us
In this suffering and renown;
And my dark heart bleeds tears
At the sweet love you have shown;
Wrapt in the blissful energy of your ways:
I was iron forged in the Ancient of Days!

To Lillah

And again


I have poured all my life’s love upon the mountainside,
That the temple’s wind should fan my mind this way;
My journey has been dark with no light upon the tide;
My shadow shifting silently from the lone night to the day…
And you in your soft honoured gaze gave all and more than this:
The parted perfection and sweet aroma of your youth unfolds to me
Your sanctity, your beauty, your blossom-blown forgiven kiss –
I was blinded in a wilderness and now am blessed to see!
My child, I have sworn, not from your side to stray
Nor hunger for the kiss of Hell in any known abyss…
The elements have formed this world, and in this world I pray
That this love divine between our souls shall never go amiss:
I have sought you in the pain of life, and our spirits now are set
To course this cursed earth of ours with no heartache or regret!

We disagreed on many things, but may his poems be a testament to his sweet and delicate genius, alas unrecognised in life and greatly misunderstood in death!

Rev. A. E. Dunn.

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