Read "Avowal" at The Eldritch Dark:
This sonnet from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) gorgeously expresses a fervent longing for the glories of the mythic past. All those legends may exist today only in the imagination, but the considerable power of that same imagination can create a vision of "unestablished places" so real that it can be felt as a palpable loss.
The closing sestet of "Avowal" seems perfect to me:
No vintage grown in islands unascended
Shall quite supplant the old Bacchantic urn,
No mouth that new, Canopic suns make splendid
Content the mouth of sealed rememberings
Where still the nymph's uncleaving kisses burn.
What is so striking about those lines is the maturity of conception, as the cosmic grandeur of CAS' youthful "Star-Treader" period has evolved into something equally fantastic, and yet expressed in less lofty terms. The lines "No vintage grown in islands unascended / Shall quite supplant the old Bacchantic urn" invoke the unknown wonders of the unrevealed future, as well as the departed splendors of the fabled past, all expressed through the very tangible metaphor of well-aged wines.
Are you planning on covering vol. 3, the translations CAS did? I found them to be quite enjoyable, particularly the Spanish ones. I only wish I could read French/Spanish so I could understand the original poems he composed too!
I haven't decided yet about CAS' translations. While my French is good enough, I have almost no Spanish at all, so that will be a barrier. My plan is to complete my journey through the second volume of the Hippocampus series, and then open the third volume and see if I feel like I have something to say about the contents. Stay tuned!ReplyDelete