Monday, November 11, 2019

The Incubus of Time

Read "The Incubus of Time" at The Eldritch Dark:

This is a dour sonnet from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) that casts the very phenomenon of time as an incubus, or an agent of nightmarish impact.  Many words and phrases echo a theme of languor: "dolorous", "Weariness", "leaden woe", "ennui".  Time is characterized as a malign overseer:

And the thousand-chorded monotones of pain
Irresolubly played and played again
On broken souls and bodies ruinous.

The immense futility expressed in the opening octet is somewhat relieved in the closing sestet by a wish for the ultimate act of rebellion, casting God himself to the pits below "in deathless overthrow".  

Despite the extremity of the vision presented, the invocation of the eternal punishment of Tantalus places these frustrations within a broader context, and this artful approach to a grim vision of relentless human suffering makes "The Incubus of Time" both powerful and oddly comforting for the reader.

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