Wednesday, December 29, 2021

La Muse moderne

This poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) was not published in his lifetime, and is not available on The Eldritch Dark, so here's the complete text:

In muddled sleep a soused neurotic baud,
Chemised with bumwad, burps beneath the sink,
And when she farts, the whoreson bardlets think
Some new divine afflatus blows abroad.

The French title of this poem can be translated into English as "The Modern Muse".  It shares much in common with "Almost Anything", another poem from CAS which I blogged about earlier this month.  

CAS was no fan of modernist poetry, and "La Muse moderne" demonstrates both his sardonic humor and a seeming contradiction in his artistic taste.  CAS was a great admirer of Charles Baudelaire, one of the most notorious figures of the nineteenth-century French decadent movement.  One could argue that Baudelaire and his peers were not above seeking "divine afflatus" in the "muddled sleep" of  "a soused neurotic baud", and yet in "La Muse moderne" CAS wants to parody that very strain of artistic inspiration.  

I think CAS did not give modernist poetry the consideration it deserved; as with all artistic movements, modernism produced some awful things, but there are some truly inspired works that emerged from the same movement.  One need look no further than the verse of CAS' California contemporary Robinson Jeffers to see that the modernist impulse was capable of creating true poetry.

No comments:

Post a Comment