Monday, October 15, 2018

The Harbour of the Past

Read "The Harbour of the Past" on The Eldritch Dark:

This poem finds Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) working in his most effective voice, combining a whiff of nostalgia with echoes of doom and the certainty of inescapable fate.  The metaphor captured in the poem's title is powerful and evocatively detailed in this sonnet, where there is truly no word or image out of place.

Although I am reading CAS' poetic oeuvre in more-or-less chronological order, I have previously read some of his later poems, and the last lines of "The Harbour of the Past":

White tombs of kings once augustly enthroned,
And now by listless, dusty winds bemoaned.

...remind me strongly of a passage from "Nero" that I have practically memorized:

There have been many kings, and they are dead,
And have no power in death save what the wind
Confers upon their blown and brainless dust
To vex the eyeballs of posterity.

"The Harbour of the Past" thus seems like a hint of things to come in the later works of CAS, but nonetheless it remains a significant work in and of itself.

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