Saturday, September 14, 2019


Read "Inferno" at The Eldritch Dark:

This melancholy sonnet from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) is worth several re-readings, both for its lush language and the unusual rhythm created by the ellipsis in the first line of the sestet.  The Italian sonnet form typically has a clear split between the "proposition" in the opening stanza and the "resolution" in the closing stanza, and CAS' slight violation of that arrangement in "Inferno" creates a notable tension.

The narrator of this poem finds a certain solace in linking his "soul that found no sanctuary" to the experiences of Lucifer and his minions, for whom "hell is anywhere".  It's a grim vision, but somewhat alleviated by the exotic description of "the blowing spice / In winds from off Sumatra", which suggests that even the experience of a hell is rich with sensation and and lived experience.

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