Jun 16, 2018

Ralph N. Chubb: The Mythology of the Teenage Boy

If you're familiar with Romantic poet William Blake, you know he's not just about "Tyger, tyger, burning bright."  Through many complex poems and drawings, he spins a vast mythology: Albion the primeval man, whose fall from grace results in the four zoas: Urizen (law), Tharmas (emotion), Luvah (rebellion), Urthona (creativity), each of which has a "fallen" form: Urthona's fallen form, for instance, is Los the Prophet, who creates the city of Golgonooza, where he and his female consort create the spirit of discord, Orc, who is actual an emanation of Luvah.

Got all that?  It goes on and on.

Ralph N. Chubb (1892-1960) created a similar canvass of poems and paintings evoking a vast mythology, except that his were overtly homoerotic.

He had a conventional childhood and education and served in World War I, but upon his return, he became involved with the occult community of 1920s Britain, as well as the underground gay movement.  For awhile he produced conventional paintings, but after spending some time with the gypsies of the New Forest, he moved to the village of Curridge, in Berkshire (with his brother Lawrence, who would be his benefactor and guardian for the rest of his life), and let his imagination roam freely.

Chubb self-published his illustrated poems on a home-made printing press, and sent copies privately to friends and correspondents: Manhood, The Sacrifice of Youth, The Book of God's Madness, The Sun Spirit, The Heavenly Cupid, Water Cherubs, the Secret Country.

They are heavy reading, full of obscure references to personal events in Chubb's life and symbols that only he understands, but we get the idea that a series of boy-messiahs has arisen throughout history, with one still to come, the redeemer of Albion,  the boy-god Ra-el-phaos, of whom Chubb was the prophet.

Many of the boys and men who he had met during his life were various emanations of Ra-el-phaos.

Although he drew his inspiration from Blake, Chubb was not a very good poet, as you can see from this description of an encounter between mortal man and boy god:

He a fully form’d human being in his way,
Myself a fully form’d human being in my way;
No patronage between us, mutual respect, two equal persons;
He knowing the universe, I knowing the universe, equal together;
I having every whit as much to learn from him as he from me;
From him to me, from me to him, reciprocal sexual spiritual love.

And later on:

O burning tongue and hot lips of me exploring my love!
Lave his throat with the bubbling fountain of my verse!
Drench him! Slake his loins with it, most eloquent!
Leave no part, no crevice unexplored; delve deep, my minstrel tongue!
Let our juices flood and mingle! Let the prophetic lava flow!

I want to yell "You had an orgasm.  Everybody has them.  Get over it!"

Chubb's paintings, which he usually sent to galleries without expecting payment, depict the past and future paradise of Albion, a world populated almost entirely by naked boys.

I'm surprised that his family (brother Lawrence, sisters Olive and Muriel) indulged his homoerotic and ephebophiliac interests.  I can only imagine how scandalous they would have been, if anyone outside of his circle of occult fellow-travelers actually read the poems and figured out what they meant.

None of his books have been published, but some of the poems and a lot of the artwork is available online.  After his death, his papers were donated to Cambridge University, to wait for some future scholar.

1 comment:

  1. Before the 70s, people believed any reasonable cover story. And before World War 2, the age of these partners wouldn't be as scandalous as their sex.


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