Read "Lethe" at The Eldritch Dark:
This somber sonnet from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) revisits a theme that he addressed several times in his poetic career, such as in a very early poem with the same title that I read several months ago.
That earlier quatrain did not impress me much, but in the present work CAS has developed the theme quite a bit, and has weaved Lethe's promise of forgetfulness throughout these lines, particularly in the impressive closing sestet:
The fruitless earth's denied and cheated sons
Meet here, where fruitful and unfruitful cease.
And when their lords, the mightier, hidden Ones,
Have drained all worlds, till being's wine is low,
Shall they not come, and from the oblivious flow
Drink at one draft a universe of peace?
The two middle lines of that stanza are absolutely gorgeous: "And when their lords, the mightier, hidden Ones, / Have drained all worlds, till being's wine is low".
There is a sense of defeat in these verses, and yet the welcome gift of the river Lethe serves to annihilate defeat itself (and much else besides). CAS had an apparent passion for the rich motifs of Greek mythology, and in this sonnet he has expressed that passion with great art and skill.
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