Thursday, November 19, 2020


Read "Postlude" at The Eldritch Dark:

This poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) revisits his common theme of ruminating on a past romance.  I think "Postlude" is one of the better examples of this sort of verse from CAS, since he uses the connection between two people as a metaphor for larger concerns about the place of the individual within human society:

What have you found amid the many faces?
Nothing remains for me, save the spent echoes
Of words we said in falcon-hovered places.

From a technical point of view, there are a couple of effective uses of repetition, creating slight refrains that reinforce the musical character implied by the poem's title:

  • Third stanza: "O tryst too long delayed, too long denied!"
  • Fourth stanza: "Empty the forest now, empty the stream;"

Although there are just two such occurrences of repetition in a twelve-line poem, CAS plants them strategically at the opening of each of the last two stanzas, giving the reading a rhythmic uplift as it comes to a close.  These small but careful uses of literary devices seem to be characteristic of CAS' very best verses, a group into which I place "Postlude".

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