Sunday, November 22, 2020

Midnight Beach

Read "Midnight Beach" at The Eldritch Dark:

This poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) infuses the memory of a terrestrial reverie with elements of the weird purposed as powerful metaphors:

Some great, unspoken gramarie
Had exorcised that incubus,
The world, that fell away from us. . . .
Reborn, and dear, and perilous,
The past arose beside the sea.

The speaker relates the exultant feeling of release two lovers experienced at the meeting of the land and the water, and by describing that which they have been released from as "that incubus, / The world" CAS greatly enhances the feeling of ecstasy that informs this poem.  

This points directly at one of the reasons I think CAS was an unusually talented writer, able to reach well beyond the clich├ęs of the fantasy and science fiction genres with which he is most associated.  The "weird" elements in CAS' writings are never employed solely to tell a fantastic tale, but are always used at least somewhat metaphorically to explore larger issues of the human role in the cosmos.  

This is not to say that his writings are always deeply philosophical, but rather that he used his tools carefully to create works that resonate beyond what is on the page, and point towards larger concerns that are never explicitly addressed, but almost always lingering in the background for the willing reader to explore further. 

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