Wednesday, January 8, 2020


Read "Chance" at The Eldritch Dark:

This sonnet from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) was described as "a trifle awkward" by his mentor George Sterling*, but I think it has a raw power that is invigorating:

This monstrous god, half-idiot and half-ape,
With fumbling hands omnipotent to shape
A harlot's breast or build great altars.

The notion of an all-powerful deity capriciously manipulating the universe he has created is certainly not original to CAS, and neither is this the only poem in which CAS addressed that idea.  But I think his cosmic vision and the dark incidents presented in this brief poem partially mirror The Hashish-Eater, and do so in a compact form which impacts me more than the somewhat rambling narrative of that much longer and more famous work.

*See letter #254 in The Shadow of the Unattained: The Letters of George Sterling and Clark Ashton Smith published by Hippocampus Press.

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