Sunday, December 5, 2021

Bygone Interlude

Here is another haiku from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) that went unpublished in his lifetime.  It's not available on The Eldritch Dark, so here's the complete text:

I waited on the hot bank:
Naked and cool,
You floated in the river-pool.

There is a nice transition in temperature gradients here, as CAS takes us from a "hot bank" to the "Naked and cool" of the speaker, who has presumably just emerged from the water, where his companion floats "in the river-pool", which one can assume is the coolest spot of all.

I'm always impressed with how much CAS was able to get across in the short form of the haiku poem.  Simon Armitage, who is the current Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, has described haiku as "those finicky, fiddly little three-line poems about nature and the weather that look so simple, but are almost impossible to perfect."  Armitage is no doubt correct about the challenges of the haiku form, and yet somehow CAS was able to master those challenges time and again.

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