Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Le Miroir Des Blanches Fleurs

This poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) exists in both English and French versions.  The title translated into English could be rendered as "The Mirror of White Flowers".

The poem was unpublished in CAS' lifetime, and is not available on the Eldritch Dark, so here is the complete text:

Remember thou the tarn whose water once allured us
In happy mornings,
See thou the tarn, encinct with mountain bushes,
Where the whiteness of the tiny flowers was mirrored
In a green depth darkened by the shadow of the fire.

It was a faery place, a place enchanted 
By the charms of olden time;
Here one had thought to see, from the elfin wood,
From the forest of romaunts, a queen emerge
Mounted on a pale palfray with mirific trappings.

The lofty rocks afar, the lofty trees nearby,
The silence of the waters
And the dark silence weighing down the branches, 
All seemed as if brought over from far spaces
Endrowsed by a white spell in the time of ballads.

Oh! in what chronicle, oh! in what legend 
Long hidden from our age,
Was this place haply pictured? ...Flowers of the little shore,
Have you not bloomed about the old-world waters?
How are you transported to this new altitude? ...

We lingered there, in our souls the sentiment
Of other times, of other scences:
The charm so potent was, and magical,
That an elfin king, coming full valorously
Had not surprised our hearts with his sweet horn.

--And thou, in whose loved eye the landscape was redoubled,
Of what high and stately dame
Hast thou borne for a little while the legendary pallor?
And of what troubadour, far-roaming in the boscage,
Have I known the love, the songs, and the chimera?

This is a much more "high fantasy" setting than is typical of CAS' work, reminiscent of Edmund Spenser's epic poem The Faerie Queene.  CAS' work is not a particularly memorable poem, but it is interesting to see him take on a subject and tone that is quite different from his more typical verse.

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