Sunday, July 22, 2018


Read "Cloudland" at The Eldritch Dark:

As a famous writer once said, in my journey through the poetry of Clark Ashton Smith (CAS), I will begin at the beginning, and go on until I come to the end, at which point I will stop.

But first I have to begin.

So that brings me to "Cloudland", the very first poem in the Hippocampus Press edition of CAS' complete poetry.  And this is a fitting place to start, since this poem is replete with the rich language and evocative imagery that will be encountered throughout my journey.

I imagine the author deriving this poem from an experience of looking at clouds on a clear day, and going through the familiar exercise of envisioning meaningful shapes in all that water vapor.

While there is nothing deep going on here, it is notable that CAS may have written this poem when he was only seventeen years old, and I am interested in a theme that emerges in these lines:

Vales long and broad and uppiled mountains lie,
          Upon their pinnacles eternal snows
          Within its bounds; a silv'ry river flows
Across yon plain within a lake to die.

While this poem generally traffics in light and pleasant imagery, it's interesting that CAS chose to end these lines on an image of a river dying as it merges into a lake.  There are any number of ways that the author could have built that particular image, and I think there is a suggestion here of CAS' larger outlook on life that we will experience more throughout this journey.

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