Monday, December 10, 2018

A Song from Hell

Read "A Song from Hell" at the Eldritch Dark:

This poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) was unpublished in his lifetime.  He did send a copy of the poem to his mentor George Sterling, who found the subject matter to be "distasteful".  

The version of this poem at The Eldritch Dark has enough typos in the opening ten lines that it's worth offering a corrected version here:

This song I got me from the nether pits,
Where, as a witches' cauldron-brew, that blends
Envenomed roots and herbs malignly foul,
With poison-essence drawn from charnel things,
And carrion found by night, the various damned
Bubble and seethe with their own agony,
And cry to upward firmamental gulfs
(Reddened with blotching flame as though with stars)
A chant that rears like some distillment weird,
Atwist with urge of pain from writhing lips:--

Despite the the choice of very dramatic topic, the poem strikes me as being fairly pedestrian, basically a catalog of woes from the damned in the eternal pit.  There is some wonderful poetry in at least one stanza:

We heighten to a hate that beats
In rage all impotently strong
Against the worlds that league with wrong,
Whose pain each other's pain completes.

But outside of that quatrain, there isn't much about "A Song from Hell" that is particularly noteworthy.

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