Monday, December 31, 2018

In the Desert

Read "In the Desert" at The Eldritch Dark:

This verse by Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) reminds me of his poem "The Moonlight Desert" which I read last month, and likewise it has echoes of his poem "Nero".  Compare these lines from "In the Desert":

A wind
Rose loudly on the middle night, and passed,
Laden with nameless, immemorial dust,
The shapeless ghost of empires.

With these wonderful lines from "Nero":

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.

While "In the Desert" is not necessarily a standout in CAS' poetic corpus, it is nonetheless a solid meditation on a theme that he revisited in many different works: that of the transience of all human endeavor, and even of life itself.  That CAS could render such a morbid theme with such beautiful language is a cornerstone of his impressive powers as a poet.

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