Monday, March 4, 2019

White Death


Read "White Death" at The Eldritch Dark:


This sonnet from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) has a great deal of mystery about it, as he describes sunlight being defeated by the overpowering force of Death.  The opening sentence is particularly strong:


Methought the world was bound with final frost:
The sun, made hueless as with fear and awe,
Illumined still the lands it could not thaw.


Right away, the fact that the sun has been "made hueless" suggests a powerful force at work that can constrain the radiance of a star.  The writer returns to this theme in the closing lines of the poem, echoing some of the vocabulary of the opening lines quoted above:


All hues wherewith the suns and worlds were dyed
In light invariable nullifed;
All darkness rendered shelterless and pale.


Although Death is present as a physical force in this sonnet, the effective visualization of the light-destroying power of that spectre goes beyond obvious clich├ęs that lesser writers might have leaned on in addressing the same subject matter.

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