Friday, November 20, 2020

Strange Girl

Read "Strange Girl" at The Eldritch Dark:

Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) commented on this poem in a letter to August Derleth from 1943: 

Here's a poem (Strange Girl).  The girl claimed to be a cousin of Jack London and a niece of the late Henry Van Dyke--a combination of blood-strains that would drive anyone to the devil!

This poem relates a more earthy romantic encounter than we typically see from the pen of CAS, and the letter excerpt quoted above indicates that it was based on a real person.  

Although the poem contains the sort of references to classical mythology that often feature in CAS' love poems, he uses those elements sparingly, as in the fourth stanza:

Upon the delicate chin you turned
Venus had set her cloven sign.
Like embers seen through darkest wine
Your unextinguished tresses burned.

Overall, "Strange Girl" is quite a passionate ode to an apparently brief encounter, ending with the creation of a undeniably strong bond:

Sister you seemed to all the woe
My heart has known but never sung. . . .
Was it for this your fingers clung
To mine, as loath to let me go?

It's quite a bit more moving than CAS' more grandiose verses of romance, with the action located in a "familiar bar" rather than a bucolic woodland hideaway.  Even with his predilection for formal, metrical poetry, CAS could still write verse with a contemporary feel, and "Strange Girl" is an excellent example of that.

No comments:

Post a Comment