Friday, November 30, 2018

Ode to Music

Read "Ode to Music" at The Eldritch Dark:

This poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) was included in his first published collection (The Star-Treader and Other Poems) as well as seeing publication in a local newspaper in Placer County, California.  In addition, "Ode to Music" was praised by George Sterling, who was just in the process of becoming a mentor to CAS at the time.  

Considering that pedigree, I am surprised to find that this particular poem does not do much for me.  So much so that I went back and re-read "The Pageant of Music", another early poem from CAS that I first encountered a few months ago.  That earlier poem is a sonnet, so it is quite a bit shorter than the 81 lines of "Ode to Music".  But I think it also handles the same topic of the experience of music much more effectively than this ode does.

This is not to say that "Ode to Music" lacks CAS' usual verbal magic; there are some great lines herein, such as:

And e'en as dews of morning fill
The opened flower, into his soul shall flow
High melodies, like tears that angels weep.

But in many ways this ode reads to me as a bit of a run-on, with lots of cascading ideas that don't really seem to build to upon each other, such that the poem's final sentence (making up the last seven lines) feels very awkward, including the cumbersome phrase "Time's intertexturings".  

I feel like I've missed something in failing to see what George Sterling apparently saw in "Ode to Music", but I suppose that's the nature of personal opinion, and a testament to the fact that different people experience the same work of art in different ways.

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