Friday, March 25, 2022
Seer of the Cycles
Thursday, March 24, 2022
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
In Time of Absence
Here's another poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) that was unpublished in his lifetime, and is not available on The Eldritch Dark, so here's the complete text:
Bringing the wine-jug and the loaf of bread?
Among many poems of love that CAS wrote over his career, this one stands out for its stark recollection of the good days past and the darker days of the present. A passionate affair is recalled in the first stanza, only for the rest of the poem to give way to regrets over what once was, but is no more. The closing lines are particularly devastating:
There are no other footprints than my own.
Although the beauty of "In Time of Absence" has a melancholy nature, it is nonetheless a remarkably effective poem. I cannot help but be surprised that CAS did not choose to include this one in either of the Arkham House collections of his poetry that were published during his lifetime.
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
STYES WITH SPIRES
Here is another poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) that was unpublished in his lifetime, and is not available on The Eldritch Dark, so the complete text follows. Note that both the title and the body of the poem were written in all capital letters in the surviving manuscript.
A ROSE THRIVES WITH ITS ROOTS IN MUCK:
AND GOD, THE COINER, THRU THE FIRE,
PUTS MAN TO TEST THE COIN HE'S STRUCK.
DROSS WITH THE GOLD! BUT WHY REPINE?
HIGH DEEDS MAY BLEND WITH LOW DESIRES.
ROAST PORK IS GOOD, A ROSE DIVINE.
SO LET US BUILD OUR STYES WITH SPIRES.
In the Hippocampus Press edition of The Complete Poetry and Translations of Clark Ashton Smith, editors S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz describe this work as "A parody of modern poetry." That seems to be a reasonable assertion, especially given CAS' choice to present the poem exclusively in capital letters, thus commenting on the tendency of modernist poetry to experiment with odd line spacings, page formatting, etc.
"STYES WITH SPIRES" is most certainly a very minor effort from the Bard of Auburn, and it's no surprise he chose not to publish this one.
Monday, March 21, 2022
The Song of Songs
This poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) was unpublished in his lifetime, and is not available on The Eldritch Dark, so here's the complete text:
Savorous honey that the bees have sucked;
As seen in the text above, there are some gaps in the manuscript, indicating that this poem was a left in an incomplete state by the author.
It's unusual to find a poem from CAS that directly references a Biblical text. And yet given the very earthy nature of the Song of Songs (aka Song of Solomon), it's not necessarily surprising to find that CAS would be inspired by this particular work. His own metaphorical language echoes that of the King James version, part of which reads:
Behold, thou art fair;
Thou hast doves' eyes
Within thy locks:
Thy hair is as a flock of goats,
That appear from mount Gilead.
Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn,
Which came up from the washing;
Whereof every one bear twins,
And none is barren among them.
CAS' own incomplete poem is a rather minor work from his poetic corpus, but interesting nonetheless as a reminder of his great knowledge of classical source texts, including The Bible itself.
Monday, March 14, 2022
Friday, March 11, 2022
Lives of the Saints
Thursday, March 10, 2022
Ye Shall Return
Read "Ye Shall Return" at The Eldritch Dark:
The version of this poem at The Eldritch Dark has a significant typo in the third stanza at line eleven; the correct text reads:
To see earth's kingdoms gleam afar,
Litten with promise and mirage
Beneath a mistless diamond vault;
This poem seems to refer to ghosts or other entities returning (however briefly) from the afterlife, to once again experience the beauty, the sensuality, and the chaos of human life. But such visitants can only be tourists; their proper place is not within the earthly realm:
Into the shadow-land ye left,
And draw again your languored breath
Where breathe the poppies of the dusk.
CAS packs a great deal of emotion and visual splendor into the twenty short lines of "Ye Shall Return", while maintaining a steady rhythm largely devoid of any sort of rhyme. It's an impressive work of near-free verse from a writer who often excelled at the use of more traditional poetic forms.
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
What Dreamest Thou, Muse?
Saturday, March 5, 2022
Thursday, March 3, 2022
The Twilight of the Gods
Read "The Twilight of the Gods" at The Eldritch Dark:
One can only assume that Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) was experiencing a dark moment when he wrote this poem, which offers a sad commentary on the fate of classical divinity and heroism in the age of mercantilism.
The opening line "All the satyrs have been dehorned" seems to really say it all; the rest of the poem is just a sad catalog of the extraordinary reduced to the oh so very ordinary. Definitely not my favorite poem from CAS, and one reading is enough for me - on to the next poem!