Friday, January 21, 2022

Eros in the Desert

Here's another poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) that was never published in his lifetime, and since it's not available on The Eldritch Dark, here's the complete text: 

I am the Love that wandereth alone
In weary lands beside a weary sea.
Grey reefs whereon the shoaling waters moan,

Marshes where salt and sterile blossoms be,
And all the sleep of mountain-ending sands,
Are mine to range, and roam eternally.

But emptier than these mine idle hands,
And hot as my insatiable soul,
Fulfilled with light, the fiery desert stands;

And roofed with flame, the mighty skies unroll.

This is a beautiful poem of romantic exile, describing a psychic landscape that is reminiscent of CAS' fictional realm of Zothique.  The intermingling of wastage with spiritual vastness imparts a dance-like progression to this poem; the third stanza particularly builds its image piece-wise, as in this edited excerpt: "hot as my insatiable soul, / ...the fiery desert stands".

It's a wonder to me that CAS did not publish this poem, or include it in the planned contents of his omnibus Selected Poems (1971).  For such a short work, it packs a lot of gorgeous poetry into ten near-perfect lines.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, this is indeed a very beautiful poem. As to why he never published it, my guess would be that he considered it unfinished and decided to wait for another surge of inspiration which unfortunately sometimes never comes. It is, like you said, a short work and to me at least it does kinda feel like it ends just as it's about to get interesting. Imagine if Desert Dweller was cut in half.

    By the way, I left another comment on Twilight Song and some other stuff. Just wanted to let you know since I don't get any notifications about comments so it's possible you don't either.