Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Refuge of Beauty

Read "The Refuge of Beauty" at The Eldritch Dark:

One thing that strikes me right away about this poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) is the  lack of more demanding word choices.  CAS was well-known for having an extensive English vocabulary, and he often used that tool with great impact in both his poetry and his prose.  As a reader, I respect a craftsman who uses his tools well, and CAS' occasionally obscure vocabulary strikes me as entirely appropriate, just one aspect of the highly skilled work of master poet who had complete command of his language.

I read this poem as being spoken by the personification of death or oblivion, and who but CAS could lend such music to that voice:

Alas, for what have I to offer thee ? —
Chill halls of mind, dank rooms of memory

(Note that I fixed a small typo there - The Eldritch Dark incorrectly has "other" in place of "offer" in the first line I've quoted above).

I'm a sucker for a phrase like "Chill halls of mind", and "dank rooms of memory" ain't bad either.  This poem works because, like a fine wine, the pleasure is in slowing down, savoring the richness of CAS' language and technique, and allowing the words to wash over you.

No comments:

Post a Comment