Saturday, January 22, 2022

Says the Dreamer

This poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) was unpublished in his lifetime, and is not available on The Eldritch Dark, so here's the complete text:

My dream foresees the wilderness
of a future Atlantis
wherein the fiery phoenix will build
his necromantic nest.

It beholds in Mars the waterless
canals where frolic wantonly
the salamanders that flame
like internal fires.

It knows how the dragons,
spawn of a saffron sun
shake a wooded plain
with their enormous copulations.

It sips the bitterness
of the Mercurial lakes,
and proves the savor
of winter honeycombs in Venus.

It hears the unbreathing flowers
that sing in Jupiter
the doom of conquerors
that come from another firmament.

It assumes the wings of the seraph
and shares his blissful retreat;
it suffers the thirst of the vampire
And the hunger of the lycanthrope....

But whether my mooted fate
is a fable of my fear,
or is the dream of another Dreamer
my dreams have never known.

CAS also wrote a Spanish-language version of this poem entitled "Dice el soñador".

It's interesting to compare this poem to one that CAS wrote much earlier in his life with a similar title: "Said the Dreamer".  I blogged about that poem a few years ago:

Both poems document the fantastic encounters of a vivid dream, and both works  exult in weird imagery.  But where "Said the Dreamer" presents an apocalyptic vision ("Then in the dream I dreamt that Time was done"), "Says the Dreamer" focuses instead on alien exoticism ("winter honeycombs in Venus"), ending with a speculation as to the source of the incredible dream voyage described.  

Comparing the two poems, written almost forty years apart, provides an insight to CAS' maturing vision, where vast destructive powers at work on a cosmic level have given way to a musing on the forces that inspire the very act of dreaming.

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