Saturday, August 10, 2019


Read "Coldness" at The Eldritch Dark:

This poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) reminds me of his similar "The Crucifixion of Eros", which I read a few days ago.  Both poems lament a lack of romantic reciprocation in a relationship, but "Coldness" is a more straightforward work, lacking the religious connections woven into "The Crucifixion of Eros".

What catches my attention most in "Coldness" is the repetition of the same word at the end of the first and last line of each stanza, so that the abba end rhyme scheme within each stanza actually has identical "a" elements.

This is a rhyme scheme that I don't recall CAS using before (in terms of my more-or-less chronological reading of his poetic corpus), and to my own surprise, I rather like it.  I've commented before on this blog about the negative impact that strong end rhymes can have, given that they can distract from the meaning behind the poet's words.  

But in this case, since each stanza ends with a slight boomerang effect (courtesy of a repeated word), the rhyme actually loses some of its "punchy" impact, which is reinforced by the judicious use of internal rhyme, as in the fourth stanza:

Thy days are void and vain as death:
The moons and morrows weave for thee
A sleep of light eternally,
Where life is as a dream of death.

In this stanza, CAS has used a combination of end and internal rhyme to disperse the impact of rhyming words, and the repeated use of the word "death" contributes to this outcome. Read loud, this stanza has a very even flow that does not accentuate the words at the end of each line.

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