Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Envoys

Read "The Envoys" at The Eldritch Dark:

One of my favorite poems by Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) is "Desert Dweller".  For this blogging project, I am reading more-or-less chronologically through CAS' poetic corpus, and thus "Desert Dweller" is still in the future, so I won't discuss it here.

That said, "The Envoys" seems to be inspired by the same sensibility that would lead to the creation of the later poem.  Here in "The Envoys", we have incredible visitors who traverse "the many-clangored mart" whose inhabitants lack the imaginative life spark necessary to comprehend that which walks in their very midst:

They strode upon the swooning pave,
They towered by the trembling spires,
Tall as apocalyptic fires
Above the peoples of the grave:
But, sightless and inveterate,
To Mammon vowed, the throng went by,
Charneled beneath an iron sky.

The drunken narrator alone bears witness to the fantastic occurrence:

I, too, bemused, inebriate,
Amort with splendor, could but stand
And see them pass, with empty hand.

"The Envoys" is less powerful than "Desert Dweller", but as an early expression of the same notion it is remarkable nonetheless, and once again speaks to the power of poetry to reveal what is right in front of us, if we are only willing to see it.

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