Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The City of Destruction

Read "The City of Destruction" at The Eldritch Dark:


As with "To Beauty", which I read yesterday, this poem from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) is described as a fragment, and was later re-worked into a prose poem with the same title.

What catches my attention in reading "The City of Destruction" is the prominent use of internal rhyme, a technique not much evident in the early poems from CAS that I have read so far.  All of the stanzas include these middle rhymes, as is demonstrated with the first couplet shown below, where the rhyming words are bolded:

The incognizable kings of Night, within their unrevealed abyss,
Have built them a metropolis against the kingdoms of the light.

I find these internal rhymes very appealing, since the more traditional end rhyme, in the hands of lesser poets, can have a sing-songy character that distracts from the content of the words.  CAS was such a skilled poet that his end rhymes rarely suffer from this particular problem, but nonetheless I think "The City of Destruction" benefits from the use of internal rhyme, and does so with amazing impact:

The Powers to darkness ministrant have fortressed them supremely well,
Building their dreadful citadel with massed, eternal adamant

Quarried from the core entire of suns that night and ice entomb;
Their secret furnaces relume the stone that once was stellar fire.

What to say?  When CAS' poetic powers are in full evidence, no other writer can equal the scope of his imagination, and his ability to translate those imaginative flights into words is breathtaking - he was truly sui generis.

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