Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Song of Cartha

Read "The Song of Cartha" at The Eldritch Dark:

This is the fourth and final surviving poem penned by Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) that was proposed for inclusion in a longer dramatic work called "The Fugitives".  In earlier blog posts, I've lamented the fact that the complete play does not survive, and reading "The Song of Cartha" only strengthens that regret.

This poem has obvious connections to "The Love-Potion", which I read yesterday.  In that poem, the phrase "the languishing / Of a queen" caught my attention, and here in the final stanza of "The Song of Cartha" we encounter an echo of that phrase:

Queen, whose breasts were mine to keep
Through the moon-abandoned night,
Languid love and dead delight
In thine arms are fain to sleep.

What CAS envisioned for "The Fugitives" as a whole will likely never be known, but the four fragments that remain have a luxuriant decadence paired with amorphous yearnings suggested by the title.  These four short poems hint at what might have evolved into one of CAS' major works.

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