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Blavatsky in Violet.


‘GIANTESS’ of transmigration—in impromptu puffs
Of ‘inextinguishable cigarettes’, Russian tobacco
Self-rolled with origamic finesse: white-eyed
Madame Blavatsky, neé Helena Petrovna
Of the Dolgorukaya dynasty of Novgorod on
The Volga, descended from Carolingian Knights
Of the Baltic-German Mecklenburg line;
Broad head ‘surmounted with silver’, smudges
Of thick curls giving her countenance the patina
Of one of her spirit-portraits palm-rubbed with
Plumbago through a sheet of paper, the self-
Described ‘hippopotamus of a woman’ addled
With kidney stones and lumbago (and probably
Tennis elbow), to whom anything of purely
Temporal import was simple ‘flapdoodle’;
Depicted by her theosophical pen-pal, Colonel
Henry Steel Olcott (surname uncannily echoing
‘Occult’), his affectionately abbreviated ‘H.P.B’,
…in her shabby wrapper… smoking cigarettes,
Her huge head with crinkled brown hair bent over
The page she was writing on… a look of introverted
Thought in her light-blue eyes…’; inveterate tester
Of selected friends, Blavatsky had a dragon’s
Tongue which ‘could breathe enough… fire to… singe
The green of Holland Park’, or scorch the stucco
Of Landsdowne Road, and plenty more digs
Besides; could cause conflagrations across her
Clairaudience sparked to raptures at her
Capacity to magic up crisp bank notes from
Deep within her tobacco basket; producer
Of the transcript, The Secret Doctrine, dictated
To her through automatic writing in Seraphic
Purple prose by supreme Tibetan adepts (she,
Their secretary, amanuensis), the resulting
Tome published as a ‘door-opener’—and -stopper—
For scientists all over the globe still ‘groping for
Light at the dead-end of materialism’ as Howard
Murphet put it in his biography of Blavatsky,
The mystically titled When Daylight Comes
That materialised through the Theosophical
Publishing House in 1975 replete with violet-
Tinted cover portrait of la Madame herself
(Violet the clairvoyant-colour) and violet-
Steeped photograph of Murphet on the jacket flap—
Signed copies from the other side… and possibly
Now, and forever, over there, Blavatsky is
Enveloped in her vanity project of afterlives,
Violet Unveiled, or Violet Observed, revealing
Itself through violet sleeves in violet tropes
On violet-scented notepaper from the violet-
Tinted afterlife, her will still holding out for
That which one of her apostles, W.B. Yeats,
Prefigured as the coming ‘greater renascence—
The revolt of the soul against the intellect’—
O violet emanations, O violet vibrations,
O violet leitmotivs, O violet liquefactions!

Alan Morrison was born in Brighton in 1974. His poetry collections include A Tapestry of Absent Sitters (Waterloo, 2009), Keir Hardie Street (Smokestack Books, 2010), Captive Dragons (Waterloo, 2011), Blaze a Vanishing/ The Tall Skies (Waterloo, 2013), Shadows Waltz Haltingly (Lapwing, 2015), Tan Raptures (Smokestack, 2017), Shabbigentile (Culture Matters, 2019), Gum Arabic (Cyberwit, 2020), and Anxious Corporals (Smokestack, 2021). He was joint winner of the Bread & Roses Poetry Prize 2018. His poetry has been awarded grants from Arts Council England, the Royal Literary Fund, the Society of Authors and the Oppenheim-John Downes Memorial Trust. He edits the international webzine The Recusant.

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