Friday, December 22, 2023

The Centaur

Read "The Centaur" at The Eldritch Dark:

This poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) provides the title source for the most comprehensive volume of CAS criticism to date: The Freedom of Fantastic Things: Selected Criticism on Clark Ashton Smith (2006), an excellent collection edited by the estimable Scott Connors.

"The Centaur" was likely written when CAS was either in his late fifties or early sixties, and thus certainly represents the poet's mature viewpoint.  In contrasting "the freedom of fantastic things" with "the infamous labyrinths of steel and mortar",  CAS suggests that those of us who inhabit the latter have permanently lost our access to "the boundless realms of legend".

Or perhaps not entirely: for if the centaur can be "glimpsed by poets / Whose eyes have not been blinded", then there is still hope that some few of us may voyage to those elusive domains, at the very least on the strength of our imaginations.  I can think of no more worthy life goal than to be included among that rare set.

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