Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Kingdom of Shadows

Read "The Kingdom of Shadows" at The Eldritch Dark:

This poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) presents a variation on a theme that features prominently in his work, that of human achievement being lost and buried with the march of time.  It reminds me of one of CAS' most exquisite passages, from his bellwether poem "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.

"The Kingdom of Shadows" is less epic in scope than "Nero", and that makes it an attractive companion piece, since one could choose to read "The Kingdom of Shadows" as describing the outcome of the emperor Nero's depredations.  The repeated quatrain that both opens and closes this poem could well be Nero's own epigraph:

A crownless king who reigns alone,
I live within this ashen land,
Where winds rebuild from wandering sand
My columns and my crumbled throne.

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