Read "Alternative" at The Eldritch Dark:
This short poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) features dramatic contrasts between the chthonic realms of the first stanza set against the lofty heights of the second stanza. Each of these provide intimidating choices for "Who turns him from his earthly love".
Whichever path that forlorn individual chooses, the results will be grim: either to "kiss / The coal-hot lips of Baaltis" or become "starkly mad / In some delirium strange and glad".
CAS wrote many poems of love, but "Alternative" stands out for an unconventional approach to the subject, dressed in the rich strands of the fantastic and the weird that the author could weave so well. This is the sort of love poem that only CAS could write, and demonstrates his versifying talents at their very best.
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