Monday, November 26, 2018

The Last Night

Read "The Last Night" at The Eldritch Dark:

Here we have a poem that Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) included in two of his milestone collections of published poetry, beginning with his first volume of verse, The Star-Treader and Other Poems (1912).  Perhaps more significantly, he also chose this work for inclusion in his career-spanning Selected Poems (1971).

CAS received early praise for this poem from George Sterling, very shortly after the two writers initiated their relationship via postal mail*.  It's no surprise that Sterling took a shine to these lines, since CAS has clearly mastered the sonnet form, and moreover presents a compelling vision of a dying sun defeated by Night, the victor in "that war of gulf-born Titans".

At least one commenter has identified "The Last Night" as a source of inspiration for CAS' Zothique cycle of short stories**, which would begin to see publication twenty years after this poem first appeared in print.  

*These letters can be found in The Shadow of the Unattained: The Letters of George Sterling and Clark Ashton Smith published by Hippocampus Press.

**See Jim Rockhill's essay "As Shadows Wait Upon the Sun: Clark Ashton Smith’s Zothique" in The Freedom of Fantastic Things: Selected Criticism on Clark Ashton Smith also from Hippocampus Press.

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