Thursday, January 20, 2022


This is another poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) that was unpublished in his lifetime, and is not available on The Eldritch Dark, so here's the complete text:

When in the desert
shine the saline waters,
I see the green eyes
of my saucy lass.

When amid thorns
ripen the bramble-berries,
I behold the ruddy nipples
of my pagan love.

When flies the moth
beyond the marish
seeking the flowers of nightfall,
I know her volatile soul.

When I hear at midnight
the owl in his pine,
I understand a prudent warning
that I soon forget.

CAS also created a Spanish-language version of this same poem entitled "Cantar".

This piece strikes me as a decidedly mature view of romantic entanglements, as might be expected from a poet who was in his late fifties when he wrote this.  The speaker has passionate memories of his beloved, and yet has no illusions as to "her volatile soul."  But the path of love does not follow the rules of logic, and thus the poignant final stanza:

When I hear at midnight
the owl in his pine,
I understand a prudent warning
that I soon forget.

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