Monday, September 17, 2018

The Music of the Gods

Here we have another poem unpublished during the lifetime of Clark Ashton Smith (CAS), and not available on The Eldritch Dark, so I'll begin with the poem itself:

I walked one silent eve while loud and strong
          A music fell as though from the empty sky--
          A sudden harmony, divine and high
That seemed of some unseen supernal throng,
Sweeping the heavens on mighty wings of song:
          Above, about, at once afar and nigh
          Surged waves of sound, that swelled in ecstasy
As music of the deep, sustained and long.
Invested by that sea as by the air
          My soul was swept to whirlwind heights of sound
And there depressed to maelstroms fathomless--
In antiphons of joy and vast despair,
Till from the music's culminating stress,
          I sank to earth with sight and hearing drowned.

Wow.  This is one heck of a portrayal of an intense experience of sound.  The narrator is practically assaulted by "A sudden harmony, divine and high", which leads in turn to his soul being "swept to whirlwind heights of sound".  The final impact of sinking "to earth with sight and hearing drowned" brings us to a hard stop.  It seems that in being exposed to "The Music of the Gods", the narrator has experienced something that is simply too much for mortal man to endure.

Reading works like "The Music of the Gods" reminds me why poetry is such an important art form, although often neglected in our un-literary modern culture.  In the short fourteen-line form of a sonnet, CAS has described an intense event with considerable dramatic flourish.  

Rendering this same idea in prose would very likely weaken it, so I'm all the more glad to be taking a long journey through the entire poetic corpus of CAS.  There are real gems in this body of work that are worth discovering and savoring.

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