Monday, July 8, 2019

Aspect of Iron

This unpublished poem by Clark Ashton Smith is not available on The Eldritch Dark, so here's the complete text:

From iron mountains graven on the sky--
          A sharp horizon past the burnished noon
          And all the desert's grasp of bronze--were hewn
Amidst remote, mute giant Memnons high 

The granite sentries of eternity
          That stand distinct above each brazen dune,
          Or glittering lutes, metallic to the moon,
And on whose breast the shields of mornings lie.

All other lands I know are not as this:
          Girt with strange rigors of definitude,
          Exactnesses of iron permanence
As the last height that fronts the last abyss.

This poem reads to me like a draft, in that some of the diction doesn't quite flow, which is unusual for CAS' completed poems.  Some specific lines seem quite awkward, for example:

Girt with strange rigors of definitude,

"Definitude" is a difficult word to work into poetic rhythms, and the use of the word "Exactnesses" on the following line has much the same sort of problem.

It's interesting to see such an incomplete item from CAS, since it reinforces that notion that his finished poems were carefully wrought, requiring much editing and re-writing to get to a final form that satisfied the author.

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