Sunday, November 17, 2019

Argument of 'The Hashish-Eater'

Read "Argument of 'The Hashish-Eater'" at The Eldritch Dark:

I've now reached an important milestone in my journey through the poetry of Clark Ashton Smith (CAS).  I've been reading more-or-less chronologically through the corpus of CAS' poetry, and next up is his most well-known poem, "The Hashish-Eater; or, The Apocalypse of Evil".  

Clocking in at almost 600 lines, "The Hashish-Eater" is a significant work by any measure, and I'll be taking my time to read it, and also to read and reflect on some of the critical literature dealing this poem.  

Up first is a logical place to start, the "Argument" of the poem, in which CAS articulates the broad sweep of "what happens" in "The Hashish-Eater".  This short statement establishes a couple of key points; firstly, that the drug referred to in the title is used only as a symbol, and secondly that the terminus of the narrator's journey will bring him into contact with "the face of infinity itself, in all its awful blankness".  I am particularly interested in the phrase "awful blankness", implying that the poem's ultimate confrontation may have a nihilistic quality.  I'll see how true that is upon reading the poem!

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