Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Crucifixion of Eros

Read "The Crucifixion of Eros" at The Eldritch Dark:

This sonnet from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) is suffused with more Christian imagery than is typical of his work, and the connection is made clear from the title itself.  Of course, the title also introduces an element of tension, since Eros is typically associated with the humble concerns of earthy love, as opposed to spiritual love.

The closing sestet of "The Crucifixion of Eros" is so good that it's worth repeating entirely:

Though this thy fearful lips would now deny,
Love is divine and cannot wholly die:
Draw forth the nails thy tender hands have driven,

And we will know the mercy infinite,
Will find redemption in our own delight,
And in each other's heart the only heaven.

Here CAS is really working the Christian symbology.  Those first three lines of the sestet invoke the divine and imbue earthly love with immortality, and press the lover being addressed to embrace the idea that love between two humans can ascend to those heights.

The last three lines of the sestet verge on the blasphemous, as the narrator consecrates this human love and robes it in qualities of the divine.  There is perhaps a slight mocking tone to "The Crucifixion of Eros", since it can be read with an irreligious slant, but such mockery is not the driving force behind these lines, and that non-dogmatic approach shows the hand of a true artist at work.  

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