"A Perfect Pianissimo." The original signed, holograph manuscript of a mystical/erotic poem, written over 4 pages, with numerous corrections. Aleister CROWLEY.
"A Perfect Pianissimo." The original signed, holograph manuscript of a mystical/erotic poem, written over 4 pages, with numerous corrections.

"A Perfect Pianissimo." The original signed, holograph manuscript of a mystical/erotic poem, written over 4 pages, with numerous corrections.

ND ( 1916 ). A lengthy poem of some 500 words written in black ink on the rectos only of four sheets of plain quarto (11 x 8 1/2 inch) note paper. A first or early draft, hastily written, with various crossings out, revisions and ink spots. Signed "Aleister Crowley" (with an interesting early use of his "phallic A" signature), at the end of the poem. Instructions to a typist "1 carbon [copy]" in pencil in Crowley's handwriting next to the title. The poem was first published in the famous "Cocaine" issue of "The International: A Review of Two Worlds", Volume XI, Number 10, October 1917. Importantly, the manuscript has a dedication (struck through with pencil) which does not appear in its published form. The dedication, which is at the end of the poem, reads: "for 'Ratan Devi,' for YONI" [the final word in Enochian characters] - an obvious reference to the sexual nature of their relationship. Ratan Devi was the stage name of Alice Ethel Coomaraswamy (nee Richardson, 1889-1958) the Yorkshire-born musician and singer who was the second wife (of four) of the famed Indian art historian Ananda Coomaraswamy. In 1916 Crowley, then living in New York, was well acquainted with Coomaraswamy, who asked him to promote his wife's career, which Crowley did by various means, including reviews of her performances in "Vanity Fair." She and Crowley soon became lovers - by Crowley's account with her husband's approval - becoming partners in sex-magick and indulging in a passionate affair. There is some uncertainty as to whether or not Crowley regarded Devi as having held the position of "Scarlet Woman" although he did grace her with a dubious zoomorphic nickname ("The Monkey") as he did with many of his "recognised" consorts. The affair ended when Devi returned to England with her husband in 1917. In the interim Devi had fallen pregnant with Crowley's child, but miscarried while ship-board, an occurence that deeply distressed Crowley. Both poem and dedication, bear witness to the intensely sexual relationship between the two. Several rust marks to the upper corner where a paper clip once secured the pages, first page somewhat dusty and darkened, all pages lightly discolored, and with some creasing to the corners and a couple of tiny chips. A rare, and important, early signed poem by Crowley. Item #67200

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