Saturday, December 19, 2020


Read "Calenture" at The Eldritch Dark:

This poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) was first published in the Autumn 1949 issue of The Arkham Sampler.

"Calenture" presents a twisted vision, well in keeping with the delirium implied by the poem's title.  The withering landscape serves as a metaphor for the vicissitudes of love, and the exhaustion of a frustrated paramour:

The wine-flask at his side
Shown empty: he had spilled
The last drops for oblation on the dried
Pale rootlets dead with May
Of the small-seeded oats no man had tilled.

The harrowing image of "A faceless and colossal woman" that ends the poem has an almost misogynistic quality, and yet is strangely neutral at the same time.  The poem's speaker is clearly exasperated, and yet seems to be feeling thwarted rather than resentful.  One can only wonder if "Calenture" was inspired by a romantic interlude from CAS' own life.

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