Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Besieging Billows

Once again, we have a poem unpublished in Clark Ashton Smith's (CAS) lifetime, and not available on The Eldritch Dark, so let's jump right in to the work itself:

When the high, rock-battlemented shore
          Unyielding, grim and pitiless
The foaming, raging seawaves evermore
          Like fortress-storming legions press.

Though ever flung defeated, shattered, back
          Impotent, futile all their might
New billows form and rush to the attack
          Renewing the disastrous fight.

The ancient war continues night and day.
          Ne'er doth the sea its siege abate
And slow it wears the haughty shore away
          Relentlessly and sure as fate.

In a mere twelve lines of verse CAS delivers a stirring tale of a never-ending conflict, although he suggests that the sea will manage to win in the end ("And slow it wears the haughty shore away / Relentlessly and sure as fate.")

The only weak point of this poem is that very last line, where the phrase "sure as fate" seems quite awkward to me.  It satisfies the rhyme scheme, but otherwise concludes a poem full of strong dramatic flourishes with a rather underwhelming outro.

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