Thursday, October 18, 2018

Lost Beauty

Here's another poem by Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) that was not published in his lifetime, and not available on The Eldritch Dark, so here's the poem itself:

Whither doth Beauty pass?  What is the law
          Whereby her forms and colours bright and rare
          Merge in the vapid, achromatic air?
Doth she herself into herself withdraw?
Mayhap the gleam of dawn, the sunset's glow
          The fragile hues that point the flowers of Spring
          And all the songs the birds and brooklets sing,
Like streams refluent, whence they issued flow.

Yet, ah, shall ever sunrise render back
          The gold of dawns that that [sic] ravished us of eld?
The splendours of the later sunsets lack
          Some magic gleam of those we once beheld.
Nor may we gain from yonder songster's tone
          The dulcet notes of birds forever flown.

There is a powerful sense of nostalgia in this poem, perhaps not quite what we might expect from the teenaged CAS.  Although the narrator speaks of "dawns that...ravished us of eld" and "sunsets...we once beheld", I can't help but think the voice is really lamenting instances of beauty never experienced directly, and sings instead of a greater beauty presumed to have existed in the remote past before the narrator's own age.

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