“The Shadow of Lilith” … by Christopher Brennan … with comments by Alice B. Clagett

Dear Ones,

I feel that Lilith may be an archetypal image of the deep subconscious mind of humankind …

Image: Adam and Eve, by Divadonosoi. in Wikimedia Commons, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/98/Adamo_ed_eva.jpg … Eve is reaching up into a fruit tree. Grasping the trunk of the tree is a being with the head of a woman and the body of a lizard … this may be a depiction of the legendary seductress Lilith. 

The Shadow of Lilith, by Christopher Brennan (1)

“The tuberose thickens the air: a swoon
lies close on open’d calyx and slipt sheath
thro’ all the garden bosom-bound beneath
dense night that hangs, her own perturbing moon:
no star: and heaven and earth, seeking their boon,
meet in this troubled blood whereunder seethe
cravings of darkling bliss whose fumes enwreathe
some rose of rare-reveal’d delight: oh, soon! —
Ay, surely near — the hour consents to bless! —
and nearer yet, all ways of night converge
in that delicious dark between her breasts
whom night and bloom and wayward blood confess,
where all the world’s desire is wild to merge
its multitude of single suffering nests.

The painting “Lady Lilith” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1867. The model, Fanny Cornforth, was his mistress. (2)

“Cloth’d now with dark alone, O rose and balm,
whence unto world-sear’d youth is healing boon,
what lures the tense dark round thy pulsing calm?
Or does that flood-tide of luxurious noon,
richly distill’d for thy sweet nutriment,
now traitor, hearken to some secret moon.
Eve’s wifely guise, her dower that Eden lent,
now limbeck where the enamour’d alchemist
invokes the rarer rose, phantom descent;
thy dewy essence where the suns persist
is alter’d by occult yet natural rite:
among thy leaves it was the night we kiss’d.
Rare ooze of odour drowns our faint delight,
some spilth of love that languishes unshared,
a rose that bleeds unseen, the heart of night;
whose sweetness holds us, wondering, ensnared:
for cunning she, the outcast, to entice
to wake with her, remembering how she fared
in times before our time, when Paradise
shone once, the dew-gem in her heart, and base
betrayal gave her to the malefice
that all thro’ time afflicts her lonely face,
and all the mournful widowhood of night
closed round her, and the wilderness of space:
O bleeding rose, alone! O heart of night!

Image: “Lilith” by John Collier, 1892 … https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lilith_(John_Collier_painting).jpg … This painting shows a beautiful lady, disrobed, unperturbed by a very large snake that has wrapped itself around her body.

“This is of Lilith, by her Hebrew name
Lady of Night: she, in the delicate frame
that was of woman after, did unite
herself with Adam in unblest delight;
who, uncapacious of that dreadful love,
begat on her not majesty, as Jove,
but the worm-brood of terrors unconfest
that chose henceforth, as their avoided nest,
the mire-fed writhen thicket of the mind.
She, monsterward from that embrace declined,
could change her to Chimera and inspire
doubt of his garden-state, exciting higher
the arrowy impulse to dim descried
o’erhuman bliss, as after, on the wide
way of his travail, with enticing strain
and hint of nameless things reveal’d, a bane
haunted, the fabled siren, and was seen
later as Lamia and Melusine,
and whatsoe’er of serpent-wives is feign’d,
or malice of the vampire-witch that drain’d
fresh blood of fresh-born babes, a wicked blast:
faces of fear, beheld along the past
and in the folk’s scant fireside lore misread,
of her that is the august and only dread,
close-dwelling, in the house of birth and death,
and closer, in the secrets of our breath –
or love occult, whose smile eludes our sight
in her flung hair that is the starry night.”

A likely representation of either Ereshkigal or Ishtar (3)


(1) Reference: “The Shadow of Lilith,” by Christopher Brennan: Since this poem was published in 1913, I feel certain it’s in the public domain.

(2) “Lady Lilith is an oil painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti first painted in 1866–68 using his mistress Fanny Cornforth as the model, then altered in 1872–73 to show the face of Alexa Wilding. The subject is Lilith, who was, according to ancient Judaic myth, ‘the first wife of Adam’ and is associated with the seduction of men and the murder of children. She is shown as a ‘powerful and evil temptress’ and as ‘an iconic, Amazon-like female with long, flowing hair.’ –from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Lilith ..

The image in this blog is of model Fanny Cornforth … from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rossetti_lady_lilith_1867.jpg … public domain.

(3) “Rectangular, baked clay relief panel; modeled in relief on the front depicting a nude female figure with tapering feathered wings and talons, standing with her legs together; shown full frontal, wearing a headdress consisting of four pairs of horns topped by a disc; wearing an elaborate necklace and bracelets on each wrist; holding her hands to the level of her shoulders with a rod and ring in each; figure supported by a pair of addorsed lions above a scale-pattern representing mountains or hilly ground, and flanked by a pair of standing owls. Known as the “Burney Relief” or the “Queen of the Night”. The image in this blog was photographed by BabelStone, 24 June 2010 … https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:British_Museum_Queen_of_the_Night.jpg … Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication … public domain

More information: Burney Relief, Babylon (1800-1750 BCE). The figure in the relief was sometimes identified with Lilith, based on a misreading of an outdated translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Modern research has identified the figure as either Ishtar or Ereshkigal. “– from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilith ( Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License )


Link: “Jungian Archetypes,” in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jungian_archetypes ..


desire, mental filters, poems, sacred sexuality, stories, Christopher Brennan, desire, Lady Lilith, Lilith, mental filters, myths, psychology, ascension

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