Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Rêves printaniers

This sonnet by Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) was unpublished in his lifetime.  He created versions in English and French, both using the French title, which can be translated into English as "Spring Dreams".

Since neither version of this poem is available on The Eldritch Dark, here is the complete English text:

Far, far from the unfolded leaves and flowers, 
My dreams go wandering in thy secret gardens,
My dreams go wandering, clandestine and discreet,
To seek the living roses of the spring.

Alas! for all alone and vainly do they go,
Within these gardens where my lips and hands
Aforetime went to mollify their fevers,
To cull, as in a tender unleafing,

The sweetness of thy breasts and all their balsams...
Flowers that have made me drunk, like bergamots,
Or the nocturnal flowers of apricots!

Beneath what falling crescent, or in the dawn
Of what moon that wanes anew,
Shall I possess again these ravishing poppies?

This is quite an erotic work from CAS, who often credited his saucy verses to the pseudonym Christophe des Laurières (but apparently did not do so in this case).

The metaphor of a garden bursting with new life in springtime presented in the opening octet pairs perfectly with the resolution in the closing sestet, where the narrator turns his thoughts to the "ravishing poppies" of his lover's buxomness.  One can only hope that the "Flowers that have made me drunk" will indeed be the narrator's seasonal reward!

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