Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Pageant of Music

Read "The Pageant of Music" at The Eldritch Dark:

This poem presents an early use of the sonnet from by Clark Ashton Smith (CAS).  In traditional Italian sonnet form, the first eight lines (or the "octave") present a problem, and the following six lines (the "sestet") provide a resolution to that problem.

Here in "The Pageant of Music", CAS sets up a dream scenario in the octave, and his description of the music he encounters therein is powerful:

          Loud as the ocean's thunder tempest-bred,
          Yet fair and delicate as flowers that shed
Their scent on meadows coloured like the sea.

CAS skillfully weaves a visual experience of music into this poem, an idea that is strengthened by the dream setting:

I heard and saw the music of all things —
          Their sound-soul visible, that as a dawn,
                    For one age-moment bared the spirit's night.

The theme of the impermanence of something beautiful has been addressed before in the early poems by CAS that I have read so far, and of course it's a common theme throughout poetry in general.  I think CAS handles it well in "The Pageant of Music", and the expanded sensory perception of the dream scenario is used effectively as well.

One final note: although the version of this poem presented at The Eldritch Dark does not include it, the version in Hippocampus Press' The Complete Poetry and Translations renders this poem with multi-level indented lines (which I have tried to capture in the quotations above).  I have to admit not quite following CAS' strategy in his use of line arrangement in this particular poem, but it's an interesting detail that I'll be paying attention to it future poems.

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