Sunday, December 27, 2020


Read "Mithridates" at The Eldritch Dark:

This poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) shares a similar title and subject with his prose poem "The Mithridate":

The two works were written almost twenty years apart: the prose poem in 1929, and the verse poem likely in 1947.

Both works refer to the mythical universal antidote for any poison.  Interestingly, A.E. Housman addressed the same subject in the last stanza of "Terence, this is stupid stuff", poem LXII from his famous collection A Shropshire Lad (1896).

CAS' short take on the subject in "Mithridates" is a simple paean to love:

Life the toxicologist
Proffers all the magistrals
Of death:
I chose love,
And I draw immortal breath.

I'm not sure I've ever read such a succinct evocation of the power of love to counter life's disappointments and degradations, making "Mithridates" one of CAS' most successful poems of love.

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